I’ll say it. FARGO is one of the weirdest damn shows I’ve ever seen. This season has gone to especially strange and unsettling places (remember all that UFO stuff last year? yeah, that child’s play) and it’s only three episodes into its new season. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but there were times with the third episode, titled “The Law of Non-Contradiction” that I wished the creators would have reeled it in a bit. There is a point where being outlandish is serving the story, and then there are times where you get the distinct feeling that the writers are being eccentric to serve their own egos “We’re gonna do this differently because we’re Fargo and we can get away with anything.”
I know I’m probably in the minority with that opinion, but if they were going to go as strange as they did last night, it may have served them better to do this stand-alone episode of Chief Gloria Burgle traveling to Los Angeles later in the season. I’m barely hooked in to the main stories of Emmit and Ray Stussy and theirs took a break for the entirety of the episode this week. Instead we got Gloria searching for her step-dad’s murderer two thousand miles in the wrong direction–which we know because we know who killed Ennis Stussy (aka Thaddeus Mobley). We saw it happen in the first episode. So how does this third hour in the series ties in to the rest of the season? It’s hard to see right now.
We opened the episode back in the 70’s, where an innocently bright-eyed author Thaddeus Mobley just won an award for his science fiction novel (one of the ones that in 2010, Gloria found under her step-dad’s secret compartment below his floorboards). He soon meets with movie producer Howard Zimmerman, who tells him he wants to pay him to write the script for his award-winning novel. Zimmerman wows the kid, taking phone calls from Warren Beatty, and introducing him to the beautiful movie actress Vivian Lord. He also has Thaddeus cut him a check to help make a movie happen–and I knew something was off here right then. I was excited for Fargo to return to this era, even if it wasn’t in Minnesota. It reminded me of how great last season set in the late 70’s was. While writing, Thaddeus stays in a hotel in Hollywood, room 203.
This is important because that’s the exact hotel and room Gloria stays in in 2010 when she comes to Los Angeles to investigate the murder of her stepfather Ennis Stussy, who she believes to have changed his name from Thaddeus Mobley. She immediately starts tracking down people she knew associated with him, but not before her suitcase gets swiped and she has to call the LAPD to do a little investigating on her behalf. The officer she interacts with is Officer Oscar Hunt (played by It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia‘s Rob McEllhenney–making it two Sunny alums to join the cast of Fargo). He’s a dick, making fun of her accent, but eventually tracking down her suitcase. They get a drink and when she lets him know she has no interest in sleeping with him, he leaves. A short stint for Mac, but good to see him in another role.
Gloria then goes down to a diner where Vivian Lord now works as a waitress. When Gloria asks her about Thaddeus, she says that the 70’s is a hazy time for her–lots of booze and coke. And we do see her and young Thad ingesting plenty of those things in the flashbacks as they fall in love. Or at least so Thad believes. Ultimately, Vivian tells her she can’t help her. Gloria then heads to the Writer’s Guild of America building where she inquires if they have anything on Thaddeus Mobley. She acquires a script of his with a producer’s name attached–Howard Zimmerman.
She tracks old Howard down in a sort of nursing home where he’s not doing too well. He tells her that somebody once told him about quantum theory, and that we’re all just particles but every once in a while we collide to make a real connection. This clearly doesn’t give her what she needs to know about Thaddeus and she leaves more confused than ever. But the next morning a note is slipped under her door to call Vivian Lord. At that point we see the flashback to the 70’s of how everything unfolded. Young Thad realizes he’s been duped out of money and his script is never going to be made–Howard admits that much. But he’s really hurt by Vivian who he thought he had a connection with. Thaddeus becomes so enraged he beats Howard Zimmerman close to death, then runs. Present day, Vivian tells Gloria that was the last time she saw Thad.
Back at his hotel room he packs up his things and starts vomiting in the toilet. In 2010, Gloria knocks over something off the bathroom counter and bends down to see something on the toilet. A company insignia. “Dennis Stussy.” But the D is faded. Thaddeus and Gloria see this at the same moment in the show. Ennis Stussy is the name Thad chooses to go to Minnesota and start a new life with. That is who Gloria came to know him ass. She heads back to Minnesota with only this.
However, when she gets there it turns out that some prints came back from the crime scene of Ennis’s aka Thad’s murder. A guy named Maurice, who died in a freak air conditioner accident not too long ago. Why would he want to kill Ennis? She has no clue. But I have a feeling once she goes to speak to Maurice’s former parole officer, Ray, who also has the last name Stussy, she may just start to piece things together.
Season 3, Episode 3 (S03E03)
Fargo airs Wednesday at 10PM on FX
Paul Gulyas | Contributor