Analyzing The Music Of ‘Fargo’: The Cossacks Are Coming! The Cossacks Are Coming!

Cultural Critic
05.25.17

FX

What an episode! Let’s pour one out for Ray Stussy. Let’s pour another one out for Varga’s gums. As for the music, Fargo served up a reliably eclectic mix: A little blues, a little Beethoven, a little Russian nationalism. Let’s turn it up.

Song: The Red Army Choir, “Cossack’s Song”
Scene: Yuri and Meemo are on the move

Isn’t it odd how this season of Fargo is so… prescient? As our nation is gripped in a hysteria over the president’s alleged ties to Russia, Fargo this season has tracked the slow implosion of Emmit Stussy’s parking-lot empire caused by an ill-advised decision to reach out to an evil foreign crime syndicate in a time of need. Emmit thought he was taking out a shady loan to cover a short-term financial loss, but in reality he was exposing himself to a virus that is slowly but surely eating away at everything in his life. He’s lost his business, his wife, and now his brother. What’s left? Whatever it is, Varga and his goons will take it. Like I said, this is all very… resonant, right?

Musically, Fargo has defaulted this season to folk songs from Russia and Eastern Europe, helping to create a feeling of displacement and foreboding as Varga stages his invasion of middle America via mounds and mounds of paperwork concealing phony accounting ledgers and sham shell companies. You might also recall that scene from episode two, in which Yuri talks about the fearsome military force of the Cossacks before throwing Emmit’s lawyer out of a parking garage. But who are these guys exactly? Yuri is Russian, Meemo is Chinese, and Varga is British. Are they really just stand-ins for that eternally terrifying “other” that Americans are always over-reacting against? Whatever they are, the foreign infiltration of St. Cloud, Minn. has been both suffocatingly figurative and destructively literal.

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