Funny, but my reaction to the “meta” quality of the show is quite the opposite. Its rehashing of the same themes and visiting the same characters is what makes it good and original; not what creates a staleness requiring “venturing outside the lines.” The whole appeal is in the high-wire act of exploring new dimensions from inside the lines.
Nikki’s “swagger,” while sexy and appealing, aren’t what make her unique and interesting in an “anti-Gloria” fashion. Both Nikki and Gloria are strong and interesting female characters. The“swagger” is merely a character trait built-in for many strong female protagonists. It’s her devotion to Ray, all the way through giving the money to Mr Wrench, that makes her interesting. She’s the stronger and more worldly of the two and yet she sees past your own description of him as much older than her and less handsome than his brother. (Isn’t it just the same actor in a ‘hillbilly haircut’ wig?) Ray is far more compelling in his purity and struggle than his older brother. Compare, for starters, the women each ends up with .. and not just on the basis of how they look standing up from a hot bath.
I don’t think Nikki’s death has anything to do with the series’ built-in “virtue barometer” or her orchestrating the death of fellow criminals. She kills a cop in the end, and her motivation seem to encompass both good and bad. She has traces of Anton Chigurh in her, again emphasizing the meta theme of Fargo and that we are all “all things” .. the handsome brother ugly and the ugly beautiful.