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The Law of Vacant Places
Season 3, Episode 1
Episode Information
Air Date:

April 19, 2017


1.42 million

Written by:

Noah Hawley

Directed by:

Noah Hawley

Episode Chronology
Previous Episode:


Next Episode:

The Principle of Restricted Choice


The Law of Vacant Places is the first episode of Season 3 of Fargo, as well as the twenty-first episode overall. It premiered on April 19, 2017.


A petty sibling rivalry between two brothers escalates and brings chaos to a small Minnesotan community.


In 1988 East Berlin, Colonel Horst Lagerfeld interrogates citizen Jakob Ungerleider, believing him to be a Ukrainian immigrant named "Yuri Gurka", wanted for the murder of his girlfriend, Helga Albracht. Lagerfeld observes that Ungerleider lives at Gurka's address, but Ungerleider points out that Gurka could have lived there before him and that he is a married man. Lagerfeld dismisses this as a mere story, stating that for Ungerleider to be innocent, the state would have to be wrong, which is an impossibility.

In 2010, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, parking lot entrepreneur Emmit Stussy and his lawyer and confidant Sy Feltz meet with banker Buck Olander to discuss paying back a large loan Stussy Lots had taken under financial duress. Sy notes that their loaner was impossible to contact, which Buck does not know what to do about. Emmit leaves to go celebrate his 25th anniversary with his wife, Stella, his estranged parole officer brother Ray and ex-con fianceé Nikki Swango in attendance. Ray meets with Emmit, demanding compensation for an incident that occurred in their childhood, involving a stamp that he believes Emmit owes him in place of a car. Emmit dismisses him, and Ray leaves with Nikki. Driving home, Nikki excitedly talks about an upcoming bridge tournament. Ray, knowing that going out of state will violate her parole, is hesitant, but gives in when she mentions he will be financially independent from Emmit if they win.

Eden Valley police chief Gloria Burgle goes to pick up her son, Nathan, from his job with her alcoholic stepfather Ennis Stussy at a supermarket. She experiences some trouble with the automatic door and reminds Ennis that they will see him tonight for Nathan's birthday.

Ray hires parolee Maurice LeFay to steal Emmit's stamp after he fails his urine sample test, offering to scrap the results if he can get it. He writes down Emmit's address and sends him off. Accidentally losing the address, Maurice, high, decides he can remember the address himself. Emmit gets a call from Sy, saying a man from the company they loaned to is waiting for them at their office. The two meet V.M. Varga, who refuses the payback and insists that they are now business partners, warning them to not tell anyone about him or his company, Narwhal.

At Ennis' house, he gives Nathan a birthday present, a wooden carving of a boy talking to a man laying down. He and Gloria discuss her being replaced as chief because of Eden Valley's absorption by the Meeker County police force, and her ex-husband's marriage to a man. She and Nathan leave after dessert, and Ennis drinks while watching TV. Maurice, searching in vain for Emmit's house, calls Ray, who is busy at his bridge tournament. He sees a sign for Eden Valley and mistakes it for Eden Prairie, stealing a phone book from a gas station and selecting Ennis' address, confusing "Ennis" and "Emmit".

Nathan realizes he has left Ennis' carving at his house, and Gloria turns around to get it. She and Nathan discover the house broken into and Ennis dead in front of his refrigerator. She orders Nathan back into the car and sweeps the house with a shotgun, not finding the culprit, but finding a collection of science fiction books under a loose floorboard written by "Thaddeus Mobley". She notices that the cover of one of them matches Nathan's carving.

Ray and Nikki return to Nikki's apartment and Maurice follows them, entering while they get in the bathtub. Initially happy, believing that Maurice got the stamp, Ray realizes that he robbed the wrong man and attacks him. Maurice pulls a gun, and, after a failed attempt to disarm him, demands financial compensation or he will go to the police. As he leaves the building, Nikki kills him by loosening her apartment's AC unit and pushing it onto Maurice from three stories up.

Gloria's ex-husband, Ron, and his husband Dale arrive to take Nathan with them for the night. Gloria agrees that Nathan will not go to school tomorrow, and they leave as she watches EMTs carry Ennis' body out the front door.


Main cast

Guest Starring


  • Dan Willmott as Buck Olander
  • Graham Verchere as Nathan Burgle
  • Andrew Moxham as Ron Burgle
  • Joel Labelle as Dale
  • Daryl Shuttleworth as Earl
  • Caitlynne Medrek as Grace Stussy
  • Mara Stevens as Female Ex-Con
  • Daniel McDoughall as Male Ex-Con
  • Jordan Forester as Mennonite Ex-Con
  • Austin Siever as Waiter #1
  • Jacob Kohl as Valet #1
  • Aaron Belot as Young Stasi Officer
  • Andrew David Long as Toothpick Man
  • Jay Chahley as Toothpick Man's Partner
  • David LeReaney as Therapist
  • Maggie Sullivan as Momma
  • Niko Koupantsis as Dennis
  • Steve Belford as Emmit Acting Double



  • First appearance of Emmit Stussy.
  • First appearance of Ray Stussy.
  • First appearance of Stella Stussy.
  • First appearance of Grace Stussy.
  • First appearance of Nikki Swango.
  • First appearance of V.M. Vargas.
  • First appearance of Gloria Burgle.
  • First appearance of Nathan Burgle.
  • First appearance of Ron Burgle.
  • First appearance of Dale.
  • First appearance of Buck Olander.

Season 3 episodes

01. "The Law of Vacant Places"
02. "The Principle of Restricted Choice"
03. "The Law of Non-Contradiction"
04. "The Narrow Escape Problem"
05. "The House of Special Purpose"

06. "The Lord of No Mercy"
07. "The Law of Inevitability"
08. "Who Rules the Land of Denial?"
09. "Aporia"
10. "Somebody to Love"