I delayed writing this review of The Law of Noncontradiction because I didn’t like the episode. Plain and simple, I felt like this episode was filler to pad out a ten episode season. I was reminded of Legion and how at least one episode felt like a retread of everything we’ve seen before. I mulled everything over, rewatched the episode and I can safely say that my initial opinions have changed. The Law of Noncontradiction see’s Carrie Coon’s Gloria Burgle travel to Los Angeles (the first time outside the midwest in the show) to investigate Ennis’ true identity, Thaddeus Mobley. Told with interspliced flashbacks of a young Mobley (Thomas Mann), episode 304 is a great character piece and a fish-out-of-water story with multiple layers.
Gloria’s reading of The Planet Wyh brings with it a crudely animated recreation of the story with Ewan McGregor and David Thewlis providing some vocal talent. The wander of Minski, an android trying to send word back to his home planet is stuck to roam earth for 2.38 million years. Minski sees the creation of man, civilization, and the destruction and restoration of society. His mission is to gather information to send back to his home planet but is revealed to be the one with answers everyone else is looking for. Like Minski, Gloria’s trip to LA is just her left to wander a new world with the same mission and naivete as the wandering android.
Coon’s portrayal of a small fish in a big pond is subtle and makes the episode rewatchable just to see the expressions on her face. Coon delivers a nuanced performance that would have probably gone to the wayside if not for receiving her own episode.
Mobley’s backstory is heartbreaking, to say the least. Young, full of ambition and drive is swindled by a low-life producer and an actress (Fred Melamed, Francesca Eastwood) for his money and loses nearly everything. Much like Gloria, Mobley enters a world that he knows nearly knowing about. Unlike Gloria and more like Minski, Mobley is consumed by this world and the inhabitants and is spit out with knowledge, decommissioning himself. This draws even more parallels to the mysterious box Gloria finds in her hotel room. A box whose only feature is to shut itself off. She’s drawn to it, flipping the switch to see the model hand turn itself off just before going to bed. Why take the box, though? Could the box represent both sides to her investigatory mindset? Digging for clues and not being able to, or forced to turn away? I made mention of Gloria’s aversion to technology before, could this box be a metaphor for herattempting to take down Varga in a future episode? I’m fairly certain it may take on double meaning as the series progresses. Right now, the box represents the dichotomous clash between Gloria and Chief Dammick, and it could come to represent her clash with Varga, or anyone else for that matter. Gloria, unlike the Lou Solverson from season one, isn’t in a position take everything head-on; there’s always going to be a clash whether it’s her new boss, her soon-to-be-gay-ex-husband, or anything else.
There is a lot going on in this episode but most is for naught. Gloria comes to the conclusion we’ve known since episode one but it takes one hour to get to there. I doubt anything we’ve seen here regarding LA will make it to future episodes, but I’ve been wrong before.
Also, what do the UFOs mean? Did season one and two not really happen? A film poster in the opening flashback might suggest the UFOs seen in the penultimate episode of Fargo season 2 might be fictional. The episodes do open with a disclaimer “This is a true story,” with true fading out first leaving “This is a story,” onscreen for a short while. The tagline of the fictitious poster even shares the pleas of many fans from last season: “A mystery beyond explanation? Who are they and what do they want?”