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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Does Ray really hate his brother Emmitt, or is Nikki just convincing him that he hates him? Ray seems to genuinely enjoy their forgiving conversation in the second episode, but does his desire to reconcile linger after their botched ploy? How much of Nikki's justification for their actions does he actually believe? And as of "The Lord of No Mercy," why didn't Ray take the stamp back? Was it because he thought it would make everything he and Nikki did up to that point worthless, or because he could only see their feud ending in the demise of the other?
      • Possibly because he needed to win over his brother, and Emmitt giving him the stamp was Emmitt still winning.
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    • Paul Marrane; he comes across almost like a Guardian Angel, but is he really as benevolent and supernatural as he seems? He appears to be a good person but there's something undeniably unsettling about him at the same time. He gives Nikki a speech telling her You Are Better Than You Think You Are and helps her attain closure with her grief, but he also asks her to pass along a message to "the Wicked." When she does relay the message in the finale, it's to Emmit and her trying to follow Paul's instructions stalls her enough that it leads to her death. Did Marrane intend for her die? Was the message even supposed to be relayed to Emmit? Was her confrontation with Emmit meant to be a Secret Test of Character that she failed? Or is Paul simply not as omniscient as he appears?
    • In the finale, did Nikki really intend to kill an innocent highway patrol officer, or was she aiming for Emmet but missed (because he ducked) and killed the officer by accident?
      • Also from the finale, why did Wrench kill Emmit? Was it to finish what Nikki started, or was it to avenge her?
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  • Award Snub: Many feel that Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Michael Stuhlbarg should have been nominated for their work at the Emmys.
  • Awesome Music: Peter and the Wolf, complete with narration from Billy Bob Thornton, is applied to the season's main characters to stunning effect.
  • Broken Base: While still critically acclaimed, this season has proven to be a bit more divisive than the previous two, with some criticism aimed at the pacing and a perceived lack of depth in some of the characters.
    • "The Law of Non-Contradiction," the third episode of the season, follows Gloria in Los Angeles investigating a dead end lead on Ennis Stussy's murder. The audience knows it's a dead end from the start, and Ray's and Emmitt's plots are completely absent, leading some to call it the biggest offender of the season's Slow-Paced Beginning. Still, there are those who defend it for following its own unique story and featuring a heavy dose of off-beat humor. It sort of becomes Subverted later on in "Who Rules the Land of Denial?" when Paul Marrane, a seemingly one-off character from the aforementioned episode, returns and adds an element of Magical Realism to the story in one of the season's most acclaimed scenes.
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    • The ambiguous ending of the season definitely didn't sit well with some fans, and drew comparisons to the controversial ending of The Sopranos.
  • Complete Monster: V.M. Varga, the enigmatic Big Bad of this season, is a supposed middle-manager representing the Narwhal company. In reality, Varga's the head of a criminal enterprise who threatens his way into Emmit Stussy's company. To send a message to his unwilling business partner, Varga murders Emmit's lawyer, Irv, for merely trying to Google Varga. Anti-Semitic to the point of considering Jews "half-animals", Varga takes every opportunity to harass Emmit's Jewish best friend and business partner, Sy, which culminates in poisoning him, causing Sy's subsequent coma and brain damage. Whenever blood needs spilling, Varga unleashes Yuri and Meemo, and is apathetic to the excessive collateral damage they leave in their wake. One instance has an assassination attempt on Nikki, leading to them derailing a prison bus and murdering numerous prisoners, police, and innocent bystanders for getting in their way. When Emmit confesses to accidentally killing his brother, Ray before Varga's done using him, Varga has Meemo kill a few locals with the last name Stussy in a convoluted plot to make Ray's death look like the work of an unusual serial killer, even arranging a fall guy to "confess" to the crimes. Varga, a man defined by his insatiable greed, believes that the lives of the wealthy have inherently more value than poor ones, and is compelled to consume everything in his wake regardless of those he kills in the process.
  • Creepy Awesome: David Thewlis's performance as V.M. Varga. He's such a vile and deeply unsettling character and every scene he's in carries a malevolence. He's similar to Billy Bob's Malvo from season 1, but while Malvo had a threatening physical presence behind him, Varga manages to be scary without that.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Michael Stuhlbarg has received praise for his performance as the incredibly bufoonish but also quite pitiable Sy Feltz. Many critics rank his character on the same level as the mains, such as Ray and Nikki.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Emmit's marriage ending when Ray and Nikki's plan to blackmail him with a fake porn video backfires because Stella found it by accident is a lot worse now that both Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead's respective marriages ended when they were caught making out with each other.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks!: The AV Club's Zach Handlen sparked quite a bit of outrage with his middling reviews, with many accusing him of blaming the show simply for not being the exact kind of story he wanted, rather than judging the story as it is. Then came his downright bizarre insistence that Mr. Wrench might not be the same character as had been on the show before, including saying that a point in favor of this "theory" was that he was "still deaf", which some found offensive seeing as the actor really is deaf.
  • He Really Can Act: Not that anyone considered her to be a bad actress but Mary Elizabeth Winstead's performance as Nikki won her a lot of acclaim.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Both David Thewlis and Carrie Coon would go on to star in comic book films as villains, with Thewlis as Ares in Wonder Woman (2017) and Coon as Proxima Midnight in Avengers: Infinity War. This makes the final scene of the season a little surreal to watch.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: While this is a show where Anyone Can Die, most people probably weren't expecting lead character Ray to bite it four episodes before the end. He was also one of two characters played by the season's biggest name, making it even more surprising.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Nikki guns down an innocent cop who just happened to stop by while she was about to finish her revenge on Emmit. In keeping with the season's moral themes, she simultaneously pays with her own life.
  • Nausea Fuel: The blood of Meemo's first Stussy mixing with the milk he was grabbing at the beginning of "Aporia".
    • V.M. Varga poking his gums with a metal toothpick to the point of drawing blood.
  • Pair the Spares: The Nikki/Wrench ship has its fans.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Varga ordering Meemo to kill anyone and everyone in the area with the surname Stussy.
  • The Scrappy: Sheriff Moe Dammick, a completely stereotypical Da Chief who exists entirely to put Gloria's back against the wall. While superficially similar to Bill Oswalt from the first season, he at least had the excuse of not wanting to believe his childhood friend capable of murder, while Dammick is just ridiculously obstructionist purely for its own sake, something Varga is quick to exploit.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: Probably the biggest complaint of this season is that things don't pick up until the sixth episode. While, in keeping with formula of the first two seasons, the first episode features a murder or two and the second deals with the fallout, the next three still spend most of their time setting things up for the second half of the season. Ray's death in "The Lord of No Mercy" and Mr. Wrench's reintroduction in "The Law of Inevitability" are commonly cited as the two places where the action picks up.
  • Signature Scene: The two most talked about scenes of the season have to be the air-conditioner murder from the first episode and the scene with Paul Marrane in the bowling alley in "Who Rules the Land of Denial?"
  • Squick: Varga is a walking example of this trope.
    • There was him rubbing his dick inside Sy's World's Best Dad mug, then making him drink from it at gunpoint.
    • Then there's how he got those ugly teeth, through a combination of throwing up in toilets and picking at his teeth with a metal pick until his mouth bleeds.
    • And there is the sight of him sloppily eating ice cream while seated on a toilet. The episode much later transposing his open mouth chewing over Emmit's face.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Some feel this way about Ray, who was one of the season's most complex and interesting characters, but died a little over halfway through the season.
  • Tough Act to Follow: As explained above, season 3 has been… divisive, to say the least. Especially following on the heels of the critically acclaimed second season.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The spinning camera on the air conditioner in the Season 3 opener is absolutely stunning. As is the flipping of Nikki's prison transport bus by Yuri and Meemo, both in slow-motion from the inside at the end of "The Law of Inevitability" and from the outside in real-time in the opening of "Who Rules the Land of Denial?".
  • What an Idiot!: It's established from the get-go that Ray's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but him leaving behind the ten thousand dollars he takes from Emmit's bank account when he and Nikki are trying to escape Varga's henchmen definitely crosses into this territory. Made even more tragic when his going back to get it ultimately results in his own death.
  • The Woobie: Sy was slowly creeping towards this from the start of the season, but "The House of Special Purpose" cements it. First, Varga rubs his dick inside in his World's Best Dad mug and makes him drink from it, then Emmit berates him for letting the situation with Ray spiral out of control. When he tries taking matters into his own hands, Yuri and Meemo intervene and beat the absolute shit out of Nikki right in front of him. By the way he grimaces, you almost feel worse for him as he's forced to watch. Almost. A couple episodes later he finally has an emotional breakdown in front of his wife, and when she asks what's wrong, he can only say "The world!" And then Varga poisons him with laced tea, leaving Sy in a coma for several months. The finale shows he eventually woke up, but even then it's suggested he has some brain damage.
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