Much has been made about Carrie Coon this month, and rightfully so. The Ohio native (but devout Chicago Cubs fan) has taken our televisions by storm with starring roles in the final season of “The Leftovers” and the latest chapter of “Fargo.” In the HBO drama, she plays Nora Durst; a fraud investigator who lost her entire family when 2 percent of the world’s population disappeared. Over on FX, she’s police officer Gloria Burgle who’s busy investigating the death of her step-father.
The two roles are very different, linked only by the actress who plays them (as well as great, dynamic writing). But there is one more common thread tying together Coon’s characters to one another: Machines don’t work for either of them.
Now, before you start thinking, “Wait — a woman who can’t operate technology? Am I watching ‘The Newsroom’?” Know this: It’s not that Nora and Gloria can’t figure out how to send an e-mail or turn on a blender, it’s that the technology breaks down when they try to use it. And it breaks down a lot.
We first noticed the issue during in the “Fargo” premiere, but then it gained steam in the second episode of “The Leftovers” before hitting trifecta status in Wednesday night’s follow-up to “Fargo.” Machines hate Carrie Coon. It’s not just Gloria with bad tech juju, and it’s not just Nora. It’s both of them. It’s happening to both of them. It’s happening…to Carrie Coon.
It all started in the first episode of “Fargo” when Carrie Coon (Gloria) went to meet her son at his grandpa’s shop. Upon arriving, ol’ Ennis was asleep and her son wasn’t paying attention. That would be fine, but neither was the automatic door, and it’s cold in Minnesota! Despite standing directly in front of the entryway and waving, nothing happened. The door’s sensor seemed to be broken.
Let her in, kid! She’s cold! Good thing Carrie (Gloria) has such a loving, calm demeanor. She passed it off as “weird” and moved on — so we did, too. It was an odd malfunction, but one easy to pass off as a common error… that is, until it happened again.
Just a few days after the “Fargo” premiere, the second episode of “The Leftovers” Season 3 dropped, and it was an hour all about Carrie Coon (Nora). After righteously disproving a faked departure, Carrie aimed to continue her hot streak by busting up a scam involving sending people to their departed family members. The only problem: She had to fly to St. Louis to do it.
That’s when it happened again: Technology turned against Carrie Coon at the airport when she tried to check in at a not-so-handy kiosk.
Though she clicked through the first two questions without issue, the screen would not let her choose “no” when asked if she was traveling with an infant. Now, that question carries its own significance: Not only did Nora lose her children in the departure, but we found out in Episode 2 (spoiler alert) she had recently given up her adopted daughter, Lily, and wasn’t coping well.
In fact, her whole trip to St. Louis was a front. Sure, she wanted to shoot down another religious hoax, but she really wanted an excuse to visit Lily, who’s living with her birth mom in Kentucky. So after an unnerving meeting with Mark Linn-Baker, Carrie Coon rents a car, loads up, and sets a course to Eminence, KY. Far be it from us to say what’s inappropriate, but when her car GPS refused to give her directions, perhaps Carrie should’ve taken it as a foreboding sign for her trip.
Nora Cursed, indeed. But Carrie wasn’t about to believe in any signs from on high, and I’d be quaking in my boots if I was the god above trying to warn her — especially after her final technology fail brought about this reaction:
Coon! Hot damn! Way to hulk out on that parking machine! But aside from living out a fantasy we’ve all had on our worst days, what is going on with Carrie Coon and the machines? The question stuck with us for a few days, even though what happened to Carrie Coon in “The Leftovers” seemed way more significant than what happened to Carrie Coon in “Fargo” …until Wednesday night.
During the first third of “Fargo” Episode 2, “The Principle of Restricted Choice,” Carrie’s bad luck streak with electronics comes up again. Standing in front of the police station’s electronic door, again the sensor doesn’t pick up on Carrie’s presence. It’s a different door, but the same problem.
Carrie looks to her partner and asks, “I’m here, right? You see me?” He obviously does, but, more to the point (a.k.a., more to our conspiracy theory), the door sees him and opens up as soon as he’s in range. He’s even standing near the edge of that range, and it still works just fine.
Once inside, the duo meets the new chief, and we discover that not only does technology dislike Carrie, but Carrie dislikes technology. She refers to computers as “computer boxes.” She’d rather type out a report and fax it on “the Telex” than use the internet. She likes the old way of doing things.
Now, we should note that not all technology stops working for Ms. Coon. The camera she uses to record testimonials at the start of “Don’t Be Ridiculous” was running just fine, as was the lift she used to catalogue the Tower Man’s remains with her bae, Kevin (Justin Theroux). Nora’s cell phone works, too (until Mark Linn-Baker throws it in the toilet), but Gloria’s cell phone does not. The signal sounded like she was “in a silent movie,” as Gloria described it.
But her car still runs, the stove worked fine, and we can only assume that Telex of hers is as reliable as any machine built in the 1980s. Gloria isn’t totally blacked out, and neither is Ms. Coon. After all, her Twitter account is straight fire.
But something is definitely up. Sure, it would be easy to point to Gloria’s struggles as a metaphor for her old school attitude and general disconnect from the world. She’s operating in 2010, after all, and her remote Minnesota town is like a time capsule unto itself. Then there’s Nora, who’s refusal to accept any form of inexplicable explanation relates back to the trauma she suffered because of an inexplicable event.
Or, as Ms. Coon told us in a recent interview:
“I think what’s interesting about your question is that she makes a decision in that moment to avoid a taboo,” Coon said about Nora’s refusal to click “yes” on the kiosk. “By [making that choice] she’s saying there’s something superstitious about saying ‘yes,’ and that to me speaks to faith.”
“All those layers of superstitions and taboo exist in different cultures,” Coon said, referencing the Millerites shown in the opening scene of Season 3. “In the modern age and in the past, humanity is inclined to have these completely irrational beliefs about reality. That’s something inherent in us.”
By that logic, we can choose to irrationally believe just about anything when there’s an evident connection, and we choose to believe Carrie Coon’s technology issues on two separate shows can’t be a coincidence. Is Ms. Coon some sort of “lens” for electronics, like Nora was accused of being for departures? Will “Fargo” and “The Leftovers” somehow connect? Did Damon Lindelof and Noah Hawley secretly collaborate on a hybrid season of both series? Are we already watching it?
OK, probably not. But it sure is fun to believe.