This is a true story. Cognitive dissonance — a psychological theory created by Leon Festinger — explains how the human brain attempts to seek consistency in all things, leading to a stressful response when two opposing beliefs, or ideas, present themselves. For example, like how that highly-regarded friend you thought was the salt of the Earth doesn't tip after a delightful meal. Or when Adam Sandler stars in a modern movie that is actually funny.
Alternatively, in television terms (and to make this glorified introduction relevant) when Fargo — a show with the prelude "this is a true story" — disjointedly wedges mysterious scenes involving UFOs into its narrative, something we can all agree doesn't seem to be that truthful. The tantalizing sprinkling of the supernatural is seemingly out-of-place, but what does it all mean? Fortunately, there are clues in the #Fargo Season 3 premiere to suggest we may finally get an explanation.
The opening episode, "The Law of Vacant Places," picks up in the style typical of Noah Hawley's gem; the sibling rivalry of brothers Ray and Emmit Stussy (#EwanMcGregor's joint role) pushes the first domino (and air conditioning unit) that'll set the chain of peculiar, interlinked events in motion. Ray asks his probation client, Maurice, to steal a valuable stamp from Emmit, but through his drug-fuelled haze, Maurice mixes up addresses and instead arrives at the house of Ennis Stussy.
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The Aliens Are Back!
I can practically hear you cry: YES, but what about the aliens? Well, here's where we deviate from the plot and instead jump headfirst into the symbolism. When the camera peers into Ennis's apartment, he's watching TV. Nothing strange there. However, as Ennis walks to the fridge to grab a swig of vodka, the camera zooms in on the television, showing the below image:
If it looks familiar, it's because it is. In fact, it's a like-for-like shot of the alien UFO scene in Season 2, near the end of a climatic free-for-all-blood-bath at the motel at Sioux Falls. After a planned ambush to lure the Gerhardts goes terribly wrong, Lou is wrestling with Bear — about to be strangled to death — as a blinding light beams from the sky. As Bear is distracted, Lou seizes the opportunity and shoots him in the head. Here's a screenshot from that episode:
Although one could argue this is a coincidence, even the briefest of inspections aligns these two images. They're the same, not just similar. Take a look at the scene in its entirety below:
So why was Ennis watching a video of an apparent UFO sighting that happened in 1979, some 31 years prior to events in Fargo Season 3? Was he at the hotel, recording? Is he an alien (probably not)? Is it a Free-Willy-sized red herring?
The Sci-Fi Mystery Of Ennis Sussy In 'Fargo'
Cue Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon), the stepdaughter of Ennis and local police chief of the Eden Valley Police, to shine some more light (pun fully intended) on the mystery. She returns to Ennis's home to collect her son's birthday gift, only to find the house ransacked. Without her gun, she instinctively grabs a solid object from a tabletop. But it's not just any object — it's a Hugo Award, the most prestigious award for science fiction writers.
After finding her stepfather dead (there are hints of the supernatural in his death, too) and taped to a chair, Gloria searches the rest of the house. As she goes upstairs, she notices a loose floorboard, and uncovers... books. Hidden books, with the titles "The Dungeon Lurk" and "The Planet Wyh." Now, why has Ennis hidden these seemingly innocuous works of fiction?
All the evidence points to Ennis being a famed sci-fi writer with a secret identity, hence the award. But why is he in "hiding?" Could the television recording have something to do with it? Perhaps Ennis, somehow, created fiction based on truth (a neat link to the opening interrogation scene based in 1988 East Berlin), somehow tapping in to real-life supernatural events?
The alien influence has been an enigmatic ingredient of Fargo since Rye Gerhardt sees the UFO when leaving the Waffle Hut, shortly before he's run over by Peggy. Although there's a return to the shoot-out scene mentioned above, it didn't really influence the plot. With the Fargo Season 3 premiere heavy on the supernatural influence, perhaps finally the alien element will be explained, adding some cognitively dissonant stress into the true story.
Do you have any theories on the alien influence in Fargo?