‘Fargo’ Season Three, Episode Three: The Law Of Non-Contradiction

Well, that was an interesting episode of “Fargo,” but I am not sure, right now, how necessary it was to the plot. We finally found out the truth of Ennis Stussy/Thaddeus Mobley, but my question is how does this pertain to the overall story? I am sure it will, but as of now I am kind of baffled.

On the other hand, I was entertained. So there is that.

Well, “Fargo” this episode leaves the barren winter cold of Minnesota for the soul sucking experience of Los Angeles. The episode pops between 1975 and 2010 (along with an animated version of the plot points of Mobley’s book “The Planet Wyh”) as we see Gloria trying to find out just who her stepfather was prior to moving to Minnesota and the audience actually seeing his rise and downfall in flashbacks.

Young Thaddeus Mobley is an award winning science fiction author (at the start of the episode he had just won the “1975 Singularity Award for Best Science Fiction Novel”) who is approached by Howard Zimmerman, a movie producer who wants to make his novel, “The Planet Wyh,” into a film. This, it turns out, is the beginning of a crazy/tragic experience in the film industry for young Mobley.

We then time jump back to 2010, as Gloria herself is experiencing the hell that Los Angeles can be for some people. I mean, as she is checking into her hotel (the same one Mobley stayed at in 1975) she has her suitcase stolen by a thief dressed like Santa Claus. In fact, the hotel is full of people dressed like Kris Kringle because of a Santa convention going on, which sounds like one of the weirdest conventions ever.

The officer handling her robbery is Ronald McDonald Oscar Hunt, who is probably secretly embarrassed Gloria didn’t use an Ocular Pat Down to assess her surroundings prior to being robbed. Also, Rob McElhenney is the second “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star to be in “Fargo.” Glenn Howerton (who plays Dennis Reynolds) was in season one.

Gloria is trying to see if there is anything from her stepfather’s past that may have lead to his being asphyxiated via having his nose and mouth glued shut. And she follows some leads which brings her to some shocking revelations about Ennis.

In 1975, Howard is struggling to find funding to back Mobley’s “space opera” (love the “Star Wars” reference there) and introduces him to Vivian Lord, a young actress who hangs around the producer. This leads to a relationship between the young man and woman, as Howard is bilking him out of all his money (we get a nice montage of Thaddeus signing checks over to the guy, who seems to have enough money to be shoveling Scarface amounts of cocaine up his nose) to get the movie made, or so he says. This also leads Mobley to an unhealthy cocaine addiction himself, because as we all know the 1970s was fueled by coke — at least that’s what I learned from Martin Scorsese films.

Meanwhile, Gloria has tracked down Vivian from some of Ennis’ collections. Vivian claims to not remember who he was, and that she has been sober for almost three decades. She claims stuff before her sobriety is hazy at best. Is this a dead end for Gloria? Nope, as we soon learn.

Back at the hotel, her suitcase is back, though all it contains is an empty Whatchamacallit wrapper and a note from Officer Hunt asking her out for a beer.

This date is excruciatingly uncomfortable. Hunt just mocks her accent while telling Gloria how amazing Facebook is. This is a date from hell.

But the scene is saved by Ray Wise (star of one of my favorite shows ever, “Twin Peaks”) who rescues Gloria from having to sit and listen to Hunt talk about how many Facebook friends he has. He tells Gloria about the Bill of Divorce (“Fargo” loves paradoxes, as do I) where a soldier offers his young bride a contract where if he doesn’t come back within a year, they were divorced because he is likely dead. But if he does come back, they were married the whole time. The thing is, until that year is up, they are both married and divorced. It is kind of like Schrödinger’s cat. I found this fascinating.

Gloria continues her investigation, going to Writers Guild of America to see if they have anything on Mobley. Turns out, they do. His script for “The Planet Wyh” and the producer credit on it: Howard Zimmerman.

She tracks the man down, but he has been hospitalized for a long time. Some sort of accident that nearly killed him. He also claims to not know who Mobley is, though he does say Mobley was a failure. He obviously is not comfortable speaking about the guy.

The pieces of the puzzle are now slowly coming into play. What happened three-plus decades ago that had Vivian go sober and landed Howard in the hospital permanently?

Well, in a 1975 flashback, Mobley shows up at Vivian’s apartment looking for some coke, and he finds Howard there. He quickly learns the two of them have scammed. They have bankrupted him. Howard plays it off as a learning experience for Mobley as Vivian continues to mock him for his stupidity. Howard even chokes him, muscling him into realizing he has lost, that he needs to leave. That they have won.

And like any wronged cokehead, Thaddeus grabs what I believe was Howard’s cane and gives the sleazy producer a beatdown that he will never forget (and will never get him out of the hospital). And he scares Vivian straight by frightening the bejesus out of her and telling her she is a terrible person.

A night like that would probably change anyone’s life.

And because he realized he might have just beat a man to death with a cane, Mobley runs back to his hotel, where he frantically packs his things and vomits. And the vomiting, well the toilet in which he loses his lunch into, is actually a revelation for Gloria decades later.

She sees (as did Thaddeus) that the maker of the toilet was from Dennis Stussy & Sons, except the “D” in Dennis had eroded.

Thaddeus Mobley became Ennis Stussy after a coke-up beatdown that lead to his praying to the porcelain god thereafter. And in a panic, he moved to Minnesota to lay low.

And Vivian tells Gloria the vicious near-death beating of Howard at the hands of Gloria’s stepfather. She admits she wasn’t a good person, but neither was Thaddeus. Which is true.

But Gloria found no answers to Ennis’ death, only his insane life in Los Angeles in the mid-’70s.

Gloria returns to Minnesota (the new chief has been demanding she return all episode) for Ennis’ funeral. And only she and her son Nathan are there.

But a new clue has emerged in Ennis’ murder: Fingerprints from his house were discovered and they have identified them: Maurice. Unfortunately, Maurice met his fate when that AC unit was dropped on his head. But now Gloria is on the scent that might lead her to the Stussy brothers.

Observations:

  • Why is the new chief, Moe Dammik, demanding Gloria come back to Minnesota? He told her last episode to take some time off. That made no sense to me.
  • Nice call back to the film with everyone wanting to go to Arby’s for dinner. Marge Gunderson also eats Arby’s in the film.
  • I enjoyed the animation sequence, as the alienation Gloria is feeling is a lot like what the “The Planet Wyh” is about.
  • All those people on their phones in the restaurant is as infuriating on screen as it is in real life.
  • Officer Hunt once had an attractive woman friend on Facebook that turned out to be a male Nigerian looking for money.
  • I liked the color contrast between California (bright, colors popped) to Minnesota (stark, almost no color).
  • Honestly, Howard had that beating coming.
  • “I gotta drop the kids off at the pool.” “You have kids?” “I gotta take a s***.”
  • “I don’t sound like that, do I?” “I mean — yeah.”
  • “Could you stop saying Facebook?”
  • Will the UFO thing from season two come into play with this science fiction stuff?
  • The hotel in Los Angeles looked a lot like the hotel where the Massacre at Sioux Falls took place.
  • When Gloria wants to talk to her son on the phone, she has the police pull over his school bus.