Fargo Season 3, Episode 3 Review: The Law of Non-Contradiction

Oh, we’re going be awhile unpacking this one. Just what in the frozen Minnesota hell happened last night? A swerve. In the third episode of Fargo Season 3, we got a swerve. Eden Valley’s ex-chief of police Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) heads to Los Angeles to continue looking into the murder of her stepfather Ennis Stussy (Scott Hylands), or should we say Thaddeus Mobley.

But Stussy’s death was an open and shut case, right? Maybe not. His assumed killer was Ray’s halfwit parolee, Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy — a Fargo-ish name is there ever was one). The police even found LeFay’s fingerprints at the scene. And yet, the circumstances of Ennis’s killing still seemed off somehow. For example, why did LeFay glue Ennis’ mouth and nose shut just to steal some stamps? It’s an odd way to kill a man (I presume), and rather too severe — even for Fargo. Something doesn’t add up.

Why travel to L.A. to pursue such a dubious investigation? What is Gloria hoping to learn? Why, the meaning of life, of course… or in the parlance of Fargo: the meaningless of life.

Perhaps it might help to break down this episode’s title: The law of non-contradiction, which is a type of philosophy (or “classical logic,” for all you smart kids). It’s a simple principle, wherein two contradictory statements cannot both be true; in other words, a proposition wherein “A is B” and “A is not B” are mutually exclusive (well, according to Wikipedia… I’m a film major y’all). Clears everything up, right? So, it’s a dichotomy, I think; Ennis is Thaddeus, but Ennis is not Thaddeus. Right?

To help explain everything (and nothing), we get an epic, cocaine-laden, ’70s flashback depicting the short Hollywood career of young Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann), a promising sci-fi author, and his tragic encounter with a pair of ruthless grifters, Howard Zimmerman (Fred Melamed) and Vivian Lord (Francesca Eastwood). Also, connecting the past to the present is a prolonged animated interpretation of Mobley’s award-winning novel, “The Planet Wyh,” which Gloria reads throughout the episode. It’s all very surreal, and maybe a little bit pointless, which is actually kind of the point.

Gloria stays at the same dive where Thaddeus worked on hisscreenplay; the Hollywood Premiere motel, where you can smell the ocean… there’s no view, just a smell. What she learns in L.A. isn’t what she expected, but it underscores the theme of this season (and maybe all of Fargo, generally): happiness is found in all the little things, like a nice visit to Arby’s — you know, for the curly fries.

It’s why Gloria’s chasing down dead leads on a closed homicide case, and can be seen in the Solverson’s existential crises of the previous two seasons. Fargo, if nothing else, laughs at reality, and snorts at its false meanings and dim promises. You’re better off, really, sharing a thick Jamocha shake with your kid. Whew, I need something stronger than this cup of coffee this morning.

Grade: A

Have you discovered the true meaning of Fargo Season 3 yet? Let us know in the comments down below!

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David Kozlowski

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.

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