When Ray Wise showed up in the third episode Fargo Season 3, we thought for a second that some sort of insane Twin Peaks crossover was occurring right before our eyes. However, let's remember that #RayWise is an actor of many talents and he's lent them expertly to dozens of roles throughout his career. His first foray into Fargo as the comforting yet enigmatic Paul Marrane seemed like an all too brief, symbolic appearance in an episode that differentiated itself from the rest of the season both thematically and stylistically. Although we'd kind of forgotten about him by Episode 8, his reappearance as some kind of celestial being in "Who Rules the Land of Denial?" has given us plenty to talk about.
Who Is Paul Marrane?
When we first met Paul in Episode 3, he presented himself as a tired businessman on his sixth flight of the week (and it was only Tuesday!). He was sitting next to Gloria as she made her way to LA to investigate Ennis Stussy/Thaddeus Mobely's past, and they got talking about Mobley's book she was reading, Planet Wyh. Later, they run into each other again at a bar, where Gloria turns down the rude, crude police officer who invited her to get a drink, but obviously had other not-so-subtle plans in mind.
Throughout both of these interactions, Paul gave off an easy-going but contemplative vibe replete with poetic turns of phrase and anecdotes about anything from divorce to evolution. Although we didn't get much out of him, it was plain to see that he was a wise, caring soul. And now, in Episode 8, we finally found out who rules the Land of Denial.
The Legend Of The Wandering Jew
As Nikki Swango and Mr. Wrench hauled their injured selves out of the woods, they stumble into a practically deserted bowling alley. The folks working there pay absolutely no heed to their wounds and soon Nikki's swigging a double whiskey at the bar next to — you guessed it — old Paul Marrane.
Now, before we go any further, we need to talk about Paul's name. Paul Marrane is not original to Fargo but is in fact the name given to the legendary figure of the Wandering Jew in the book The Turkish Spy (otherwise known as Letters Writ by a Turkish Spy by Giovanni Paolo Marana). Throughout history, the Wandering Jew (or the Eternal Jew) has gone by many titles and is often used as a scapegoat. Legend has it, he taunted Christ on the cross and because of his actions was cursed to wander the earth eternally.
Clearly, this sad being has wandered into Fargo and even has some divine clout. He knows exactly who Nikki and Mr. Wrench are, and he's in the position to help judge their souls' innermost characters, saying, "We all end up here eventually, to be weighed and judged, as it is now for you and your friend." He's basically the rabbinical version of The Stranger (Sam Elliott) in the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski, but with a touch of cabalistic mysticism. The bowling alley is a sort of waiting room, and Mr. Marrane is part of the committee that decides whether or not those who arrive go on to punishment or if they get another chance.
"This is the universe at its most ironic," he says, as he offers a green VW Beetle in which Nikki and Mr. Wrench can go back to the normal world; and he makes a final request of her before she leaves:
"Deliver a message when the time comes, to the wicked:
'Though thou exalt thyself like the eagle; though thou make thy nest among the stars; thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.'"
It's clear that the evildoers he's speaking of (quoting from the Hebrew Bible verse Obadiah 1:4, btw) are V.M. Varga and his associates. And indeed, one of them, Yuri Gurka, proceeds to roll into the bowling alley and is confronted with his own family's history as part of the murderous gang Wolves’ Hundred he's so proudly touted, in addition to the killing of Helga Albracht from the very first scene. It seems that once you arrive at judgement and are found lacking, you stay behind, and later in the episode (after several months have passed) it is revealed that Yuri has indeed vanished.
Before Nikki leaves the bowling alley, Paul asks: "Who will take a stand against evildoers?" It seems Nikki is the chosen one (perhaps alongside Gloria). So, go get 'em!
What do you think of Fargo Season 3 so far?