Fargo Season 3's second episode has picked up the pace, bringing us even deeper into the web of tangled mysteries in which we love to be caught. "The Principle of Restricted Choice" also gave us a lot to chew on, not least with its title (see point 4): As V.M. Varga further encroached on Emmit's territory, Sheriff Burgle got a talking to about updating the police force's '50s-style tech standards, and Nikki deployed feminine hygiene as a weapon, there was plenty of subtext amidst the Theatre of the Absurd-style misunderstandings for the diligent viewer to ponder well after the end of the episode.
Let's take a closer look at four of those instances from "The Principle of Restricted Choice":
1. A Stan Grossman Tease From The Movie 'Fargo'
Although the Fargo TV show loves a good callback to the many films in the Coen brothers' back-catalogue (just see last episode's Big Lebowski odes), it's not every episode we get a reference to a character from the actual OG #Fargo movie.
In the scene in which Sy comes to tell Emmit the bad news about V.M. Varga hauling god knows what into one of his lots, they agree they should talk to a certain Stan Grossman about building condos on that same plot of land.
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As you might remember, Stan Grossman was Wade Gustafson's business partner and accountant at Gustafson Motors — a car dealership — in the '80s when the Fargo movie takes place. When Wade's daughter, Jean, is kidnapped and held ransom for $1 million, Stan advises Wade to pay up and deliver the money in person — an act which ends in Wade's demise. Although Stan didn't know that would be the result, he did benefit from it financially, as it's likely that in 2010 he finds himself the sole owner of the business — and also dabbles in real estate.
2. A Thaddeus Mobley Mystery
So far details are thin on the ground about who Thaddeus Mobley exactly was. However, Sheriff Burgle's pretty sure that this is the real name of her murdered step-father, who went by the name of Ennis Stussy for as long as she'd known him.
In Episode 1 she discovers a box with sci-fi books by Thaddeus Mobley hidden under the floorboards in Ennis's house. We also spotted a Hugo Award (for science fiction and fantasy writing) in the house, leading to the conclusion that he'd probably written those books. Other curious items in the box include a newspaper clipping stating Mobley had won a Golden Planet award, and a woman's headshot, signed "With all my love, Vivian Lord."
Mobley apparently hailed from Los Angeles, and it seems we're set to follow the good sheriff as she goes to investigate his past in LA in Episode 3.
3. Who Is Yuri Gurka?
Your stereotypical Eastern European hitman, Yuri sports a track suit and a sourpuss stare. While it might seem like he's just the muscle to David Thewlis's wickedly charismatic V.M. Varga, there seems to be more to him than first meets the eye.
If you remember back to the very first scene in Fargo Season 3 ("The Law of Vacant Places"), we found ourselves in East Berlin in 1988, where a man had been misidentified as a certain Yuri Gurka and charged with the murder of his girlfriend. The police officer states that the real Yuri is originally from the Ukraine, and that he's 20 years old.
When we run into Yuri in 2010, he's looking about 40 years old and he's approaching Emmit's attorney, Irv Blumkin, in the parking garage, asking him if he's from "the old country," Ukraine, before throwing him off the side of the building. Age? Check. Name? Check. Nationality? Check. Criminality? Check. Ding ding ding, we have a winner!
4. The Principle Of Restricted Choice
Just as most Fargo Season 1 episodes are named after a paradox or riddle, and Season 2's were named after existential or nihilistic works, the theme of Season 3's episode titles seems to be Bridge and Logic principles.
Episode 1, "The Law of Vacant Places," is named for the Bridge principle of the same name, which is a method used to deduce the probability of the location of any card in a person's hand.
Episode 2, "The Principal of Restricted Choice," again pertains to a Bridge principle that states that the probability a player has a card of equivalent value decreases after they play that particular card. So if they go high, the likelihood of them having a card with equally high value decreases, whereas if they go low, they might very well have the ace.
Throughout the episode there are a lot of metaphorical cards played, and an equal number of shoddy deductions. While V.M. Varga seems to be an expert Bridge player and has poor Emmit and Sy cornered, the actual Bridge players, Nikki and Ray, seem a little less masterful. But I guess that's the nature of human error in the comedy of life, and that's the core of what makes Fargo so wonderfully absurd.
'Fargo' airs Wednesday nights at 10p.m. on FX.
Are you a Bridge player? Give us your insight on the Bridge-related Fargo titles in the comments!