Fargo: 3.03 The Law of Non-Contradiction
The following review contains full spoilers for this episode of Fargo.
The Law of Non-Contradiction stands out from the show's pantheon of odd yet excellent episodes because it has almost no connection to any of this season's many conflicts. In fact, most of the episode takes police chief Gloria away from every familiar element and places her in a setting where the characters and mannerisms are completely foreign to her small-town, Minnesotan mindset: Los Angeles.
Fresh off the discovery that her grumpy stepfather Ennis Stussy was actually Thaddeus Mobley, a science fiction novelist from the 70s, Gloria set off to La La Land, hoping to find a connection between Ennis's past life and his murder. The viewer knows that this is a wild goose chase, so it seems like an odd choice to spend an entire hour without any plot advancement. However, the episodes makes up for that lack of progress by packing that hour to the brim with plenty of philosophical quandaries, eccentric supporting characters, and even a mini-mystery for Gloria to solve.
The story of Thaddeus Mobley (played exceptionally by Thomas Mann) is one of deception. A young, doe-eyed writer, Thaddeus falls victim to the seductive pitch of film producer Howard Zimmerman, who promises to adapt Thaddeus's award-winning novel into a blockbuster hit, in exchange, of course, for a large sum of cash. Kept unaware of the scam by copious amounts of drugs and sex with Zimmerman's actress cohort Vivian Lord, Thaddeus only discovers the truth once he's lost everything. The resulting confrontation is violent and life-changing for Thaddeus, who changes his name and moves across the country to escape that dark past.
So, what exactly does that have to do with Fargo? The Law of Non-Contradiction serves as the show's longest parable yet, demonstrating that just as Thaddeus was too naive to see the dark underbelly of Los Angeles, Gloria is too entrenched in the olden days of small-town America to recognize the changes that have already left her behind. In a world where two brothers will take lives over a postage stamp, Gloria keeps her door unlocked. Social media has taken over our lives, and she doesn't even have a Facebook!
Gloria is a step behind in the evolution of society, a fact that Fargo makes sure we understand with actual discussions on evolution and an animated recreation of Thaddeus's existential novel, "The Planet Wyh." As odd as some bits of the episode are -- is that box actually the robot's power switch? -- it's also one of the show's most heavy-handed bits of metaphorical character development since Lester's shotgun wound in season one.
All the same, The Law of Non-Contradiction establishes Gloria as this season's most empathetic character, and actress Carrie Coon shines under the pressure of carrying a full hour of a notoriously wide-lensed series. And now that the police chief is on the tail of Ennis's real murderer, the action will only get juicier from now on.