'Fargo' recap: I don't sound like that, do I?

Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) tracks down Vivian Lord (Frances Fisher).
Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) tracks down Vivian Lord (Frances Fisher) on 'Fargo.'
Byron Cohen | FX

Every week on "Aw Jeez: A 'Fargo' podcast," hosts Tracy Mumford and Jay Gabler recap the latest episode, and interview experts about the mayhem, the mob and the Minnesota moments in season three of "Fargo." Listen to the audio for more analysis.

"Fargo," show creator Noah Hawley has said, will always take place in the winter. There will always be snow. There will always be parkas.

The only way to get a little sunshine and swimming pools into the mix is to leave the Midwest behind entirely — and that's exactly what happened in this season's third episode, "The Law of Non-Contradiction."

It was a full-on "Fargo" vacation.

Gloria Burgle, Eden Valley's police chief (for now), booked a ticket to Hollywood, chasing the specter of her stepfather's secret sci-fi life. After Ennis Stussy was murdered in a botched home invasion, she uncovered his true identity: Thaddeus Mobley, a one-time Golden Planet-winning author.

Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) on a non-date with Oscar Hunt (Rob McElhenney)
Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) on a non-date with Officer Hunt (Rob McElhenney) on 'Fargo.'
Chris Large | FX

Mixed in with his sci-fi paperbacks that she found was a newspaper clipping showing young Mobley hobnobbing with a film producer outside a California motel. So Gloria flies west and books herself a room in that very same motel, which happens to be overrun by a Santa Claus convention. A man in "elf pants" steals her bag.

Amidst her California wanderings and a misfire of a maybe-date with a Facebook-obsessed cop, Gloria pieces together Mobley's Hollywood secrets.

The young author came to Los Angeles from Baraboo, Wis., we learn, in 1975. With glitz and glamor and a little cocaine, he was wooed by Harold Zimmerman, the so-called producer, and his slinky companion, Vivian Lord. Write the screenplay, Harold says, and we'll make your book a movie.

Soon, Mobley is financing the whole production, writing check after check to Harold and paying for Vivian's steady diet of nose candy.

Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann) confronts Howard Zimmerman (Fred Melamed).
Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann) confronts Howard Zimmerman (Fred Melamed).
Chris Large | FX

He realizes too late that there will never be any movie.

Hawley, though, gives us a glimpse into the sweetly melancholy story Mobley was writing. This episode of "Fargo" features long animated stretches telling the adventures of the robot MNSKY, the oldest — and perhaps loneliest — creature in the universe. (A devastatingly chipper "I can help!" seems to be all the robot can say.)

It's tempting to ask here: What is Hawley doing? A California side plot with '70s flashbacks and cartoon robots? On a show that's inspired by a body going through a wood-chipper?

One criticism of "Fargo"'s third season thus far has been: "been there, done that." We've seen the murders and the snow and the accents all before. But, you have to admit, the robots are a first.

And for those who thought last season's brief foray into the supernatural, with a UFO hovering over the final dramatic shootout, would be a one-time thing, sci-fi is clearly a bigger obsession for Hawley than we realized. (Perhaps his work on the comic book-inspired show "Legion" is bleeding over?)

In Hollywood, Gloria manages to track down the players from Mobley's past — Harold and Vivian — all while fending off jokes about her accent. (Yeah, we say "pop." What's it to ya'?)

She finds Vivian working a diner job, under the watch of her younger, starlet self, whose picture is framed on the wall. ("You know how many walls I'm on in this town?" she asks.) And she finds Harold, hobbled and talking through an electrolarynx, maimed in an accident no one wants to talk about.

That accident, it turns out, was a raging Thaddeus Mobley. Realizing he'd been used, young Thad snapped back in 1975, beating Harold with his own cane and returning to his motel room to pack, the blood still on his hands. (It's not an episode of "Fargo" without a little blood.)

Gloria Burgles (Carrie Coon) says goodbye to her stepfather on 'Fargo.'
Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) says goodbye to her stepfather on 'Fargo.'
Chris Large | FX

Sick with what he'd done, he lost his lunch in the motel bathroom — and found a new name for his new life. There, stamped on the porcelain bowl, was the toilet's brand: "Dennis Stussy & Sons," with the "D" worn off.

Ennis Stussy, Gloria's stepfather.

Vivian confesses the whole sordid history to Gloria, who realizes that her California whim was just that — a whim. Nothing about Ennis' old life in Hollywood, however dark and violent, has anything to do with his death back in Eden Valley.

After risking her job to fly out there, she returns home again — back to the snow and her son and Ennis' poorly attended wake.

But there's been a break in the case while she was gone, her Arby's-loving deputy tells her. The fingerprints at Ennis' house matched to Maurice Le Fey, the parolee who was conveniently pancaked by an air conditioner days before.

Before investigating, though, she's gotta eat.

"Probably have a milkshake, some curly fries. Ponder all future moves," she says. "We may solve this thing yet."

Volume Button
Volume
Now Listening To Livestream
MPR News logo
On Air
MPR News