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Nikki and Ray are the Clarence and Alabama of 'Fargo' Season 3

By Dustin Rowles | Fargo | April 20, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Fargo | April 20, 2017 |

Spoilers for the third season premiere of Fargo

“I killed him,” Clarence Worley — beaten to a pulp — says to Alabama Whitman in True Romance, after confronting and eventually murdering her pimp, Drexel.

“I think … ” Alabama says, hesitantly, over and over again, as Clarence’s concern that he’s done something wrong rises, as he fears the worst. That Alabama loved her pimp. That she will never forgive him.

“I think what you did was so … romantic.”

In True Romance, there’s no better way for two damaged people to prove their love for one another than by committing a crime, or risking their own lives to murder someone who was hurting their significant other. In its own fucked up way, it really is one of the most romantic movies of the 90s, and while Noah Hawley’s third season of Fargo clearly traffics in what may be becoming a staid Coen Brothers formula, there’s something very Clarence Worley and Alabama Whitman about Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Through the pilot episode, at least, I reluctantly agree with Ryan’s review of the third season of Fargo (reluctant not because he’s not right, but because I don’t want to find fault with a series that’s been so good for two seasons). The setup in the third season feels somehow obvious, the unpredictable nature of the Coen Brothers’ mixup, murder, and coincidence having taken on a weirdly predictable quality. Of course the police officer’s step-dad is going to be killed by the parole officer’s drunken parolee, and of course, the murderer is going to wind up murdered, and of course, the characters in Fargo are going to spend the next eight episodes figuring out how these seemingly unrelated crimes fit together. That’s how Fargo works.

But Fargo has always been a platform for its characters more than anything else, and while the third season pilot does not yet have a character as compelling as Lorne Malvo, Molly Solverson, or Mike Milligan (although David Thewliss’ V.M. Varga may rise to that level), we still have the Tarantino-esque romance of Ray Stussy and Nikki Swango, Minnesota’s Clarence and Alabama, a couple so in love that they not only forgive each other’s failings, but admire the intentions behind them.

Rather than chide Ray for the botched robbery he put into motion, Nikki fawns over the lengths to which her boyfriend would go to get her an engagement ring. “That’s so romantic,” she said, still naked from the celebratory bath a giddy Nikki and Ray were taking after placing third in a card game against senior citizens. Nikki didn’t criticize her boyfriend for failing to take the gun away from Maurice LeFay. Instead, after LeFay threatened to expose Ray unless he gave him $5,000, Nikki did exactly what Alabama Whitman might have done in that position: She pushed an air conditioner out of a window and smashed LeFay’s head in.

And Ray? He gazed upon his girlfriend with eyes anew, smitten all over again. She had killed for him, just as Clarence had killed for Alabama. “I think what you did was so … romantic,” the look in his eyes said. She’s a hot mess, and he’s just a mess, but, you guys, their love is real.

Whatever else one wants to say about the third season of Fargo, I’m really rooting for these two. I just hope that, when White Boy day comes, Ray can survive it and at the end of the story, there’s a pie waiting for them.


Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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