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

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Fargo finds brilliance in the mundane and seemingly pointless. Gloria’s trip to Los Angeles in search of answers about her sort-of-stepfather’s death reaps no rewards for her, but for us it’s a rich and entertaining study of a single character.

The classic fish out of water approach to “The Law of Non-Contradiction” gets a natural Fargo twist as Gloria navigates LA. She’s entered a mystical land that’s hot, features kooks dressed as Santa in said heat (who also run off with her luggage), and where the people really just aren’t nice unless they want to sleep with you. What Gloria doesn’t realize is that she’s entered a land where people are truer to themselves than they are in Minnesota. What we learn about Gloria here is that she doesn’t fall into that bracket. She is who she is, and that is a resilient, strong, persistent woman who doesn’t take no for an answer, yet also one who has a tough time finding her place outside of her community. When Officer Hunt (a delightful turn from It’s Always Sunny‘s Rob McElhenney) is obviously hitting on her at the bar, she seems committed to not letting him charm her, which obviously frustrates him, hilariously. But Gloria is all business all the time, until the guy she sat next to on the plane (Ray Wise) treats her like a human being. Gloria only has time for people that aren’t putting up a facade, just as she isn’t.

And thus, LA is not the town for her. With clues pointing her nowhere significant, to just a thing that happened in her stepfather’s life, she stumbles across the Stussy logo on her toilet and we cut to her on the plane home. Upon returning, fingerprints are presented to her from the man Nikki killed with the air conditioner. Finally, back home, she gets a lead. Gloria may not fit in in Minnesota, but that doesn’t not make it home.

Interjected throughout the episode are flashbacks to her stepfather’s time in Hollywood and a crudely animated version of the sci-fi novel he wrote that almost turned into a movie. These elements add a bizarre flavor to the episode, while still keeping the focus clearly on Gloria. The story ends with the robot shutting itself down after several millennia of existence, something one could never achieve in the icy desert of Minnesota. The juxtaposition to Gloria’s journey here is profound, proving that Fargo can still go big without sacrificing its inherent personality.

But “The Law of Non-Contradiction” may just open the show up to a whole new realm of creative possibilities. Fargo‘s characters are typically second to its tone and how that uses the characters to its advantage. Here the show has married the two, with a deep dive, similar to how The Leftovers would tear into a character for an hour, that makes the tone essential for its storytelling. And just as with that show, God bless Carrie Coon for her raw displays of humanity on both these series right now. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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