Cameron Lee 20′ / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers for the season 3 episode 3 of Fargo.
This week’s Fargo was unlike any episode this show has ever done before. The episode follows Gloria (Carrie Coon, who by the way is the actress to watch at the moment; not just with this, but also The Leftovers) in her search for answers regarding her stepfather’s past, which takes her to Los Angeles. Here we learn through flashbacks the unfortunate past of her stepfather while also getting a story within a story through the telling of the story of one of her stepfather’s science fiction novels. She’s the only main character in the episode and not much happens until the final scene of the episode. But Fargo should take more chances like this in the future to further expand its world to different places and to explore new ideas.
The episode begins with an extended flashback of a young Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann) meeting a big Hollywood producer Howard Zimmerman (Fred Malamed) in the mid 1970’s after receiving an award for Mobley’s science fiction novel The Planet Wyh. Zimmerman approaches Mobley about making the book into a movie. Then, an animated sequence based on The Planet Wyh begins with Gloria doing the narration. The story is about a small robot whose job is to observe and report. He can only say one phrase “I can help!” and has been stuck on Earth for millions of years after his spaceship crash landed. He experiences millions of years worth of different civilizations come and go, the planet changing, and everything else. He is recovered by the Federation of Union Planets which, after determining that he is the oldest sentient being, thanks him for his efforts of recording all of human history. They tell the robot that his job is done and he can shut himself off, which he does. The story is guaranteed to parallel many of the actions in the season to come because what’s the point of wasting precious screen time if it’s a pointless story.
Gloria arrives in L.A. and goes to her motel. While in her room, she finds a useless machine that, when turned on, immediately turns itself off (good use of symbolism). She tracks down Zimmerman, who is now crippled in a nursing home, but she can’t get much out of him. Another flashback reveals what really happened to Mobley: Mobley is tricked by Zimmerman and the film’s actress Vivien Lord into giving them large sums of money under the notion that it’s for financing the film. After learning of the deception, Mobley beats Zimmerman to a bloody pulp and flees L.A., but not before finding his new name by accident when he’s vomiting in the toilet. He sees the manufacturer as Dennis Stussy and therefore will change his name to Ennis Stussy in the future.
Back in the present, Vivien, who now works as a waitress, finishes telling her story to Gloria. Gloria realizes her stepfather’s past has nothing to do with his murder. She packs up her belongings in her motel room and discovers that she had the same motel room as her stepfather after discovering the toilet bowl. Gloria flies back to good old Minnesota where she gets the fingerprints of poor old Maurice and she puts the pieces together. Then she takes her son out for Arby’s (her police partner gives the best laugh of the episode when he reacts to hearing Arby’s).
Your enjoyment of this episode will vary and next week looks like a normal Fargo episode (whatever that means) but it gave development to a character that needed it and gave us another great performance by Carrie Coon. Seriously, she needs to be on every major show from now. She makes everything better when she’s in it.
Episode Grade: B