Misunderstandings, miscommunications, mistaken identities and missed opportunities are the dominant themes of the third season of Fargo. FX's gem of a show, an extension of the Coen Brothers' classic movie in the same way that Athena was an extension of Zeus' head, is obsessed with the permutations of storytelling. That's all there in the opening scene of last night's premiere: coincidences pile up in the fabulistic prologue, setting the stage for a season of mix-ups to come. It also carries a new take on the tongue-in-cheek "this is a true story" disclaimer: "That is called a 'story.' And we are not here to tell stories. We are here to tell the truth."

There's no better description for the shenanigans on display in the world of Fargo than "unfathomable pinheadery." But even that evocative turn of phrase doesn't do justice to the exquisite stupidity of characters like Scoot McNairy's stoned Maurice LeFay, who somewhat-inadvertently sets off a chain reaction of violence that is sure to echo throughout the entire season. Before all that comes to pass, he's just an ex-con trying to understand himself: "I'm always having thoughts... Insightful," he tells his therapist. "For example: where does the President of the United States buy his clothes? Do they shut down like a whole JC Penny, just so he can try on a suit?"

From its unlikely first season through its masterful second one, Fargo's DNA has always been imprinted with the mythology of its namesake movie (especially with the central character tropes: the steely-eyed and moralistic cop, the Lucifer-like criminal apparition, and the easily-corrupted dummy). The first two seasons of the crime anthology series had its fair share of rageful twerps and bumbling lowlifes running schemes left and right, but creator Noah Hawley was also exploring a wide range of Coen Brothers films for cues, drawing on the dark existentialism of The Man Who Wasn't There, the timeless standoffs of Miller's Crossing and the otherworldly purposefulness of No Country for Old Men.

Aside from Carrie Coon's no-nonsense police officer, the newest season is almost exclusively stacked with characters out of the Coen's blackest of comedies, with the closest analogy the greedy, prideful buffoons of Burn After Reading (or perhaps the Nihilists from The Big Lebowski). As a result, Fargo the show has never been funnier—but for the first time, it also feels like it may be treading ground that's a little too familiar. You can see the broad strokes of the plot, from the tragic-stupidity of the sibling rivalry to the path of that falling air conditioner, from a mile away. I'm not sure if that's an inherently limiting thing though—just because audiences have caught on to viciousness lurking inside the heart of "Minnesota nice" doesn't mean it isn't a joy to watch Ewan McGregor pull double duty as equally empathetic and pathetic brothers who are more similar than they realize (that includes them both having their own Lady MacBeth's guiding them).

In the premiere, we are introduced to three primary storylines to kickoff the new season: successful businessman Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor #1, aka Perm McGregor) is the "parking lot king of Minnesota," who along with his right hand man, Sy Feltz (Coens veteran Michael Stuhlbarg), took a major bridge loan from the wrong people a year ago. That organization is represented by the Satanic V.M. Varga (David Thewlis, like Billy Bob Thornton's season one villain Lorne Malvo spliced with Bond villain Jaws), whose eloquence is only matched by his confident, sinister threats.

Then there's Emmit's brother Ray (Ewan McGregor #2, aka Ace Hole McGregor), a balding parole officer who has gotten into the competitive Bridge circuit with his cunning and vivacious girlfriend Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who gets the best introduction here). Ray seemingly resents his brother's success, which he thinks largely stems from a childhood slight over a priceless stamp collection; Ray is convinced that their lives went down separate paths after that fateful screwing over.

To top things off, there's the aforementioned no-nonsense officer Gloria Burgle (the wonderful Carrie Coon, playing the Marge Gunderson character to a tee), who is so uncomfortable with the changing landscape of the modern world—and especially with technology—that automatic doors don't open for her. Similar to the confusion of the prologue, two similar sounding locations and two identical last names leads to Maurice breaking into Gloria's stepfather Ennis Stussy's house and killing him, while in pursuit of the other Stussy's priceless stamp.

There's plenty of time and episodes ahead for twists and curveballs galore (season two had a similarly sleepy start only to flourish by episode four into something truly special), but the ultimate outcome of this whole saga feels tragically, comedically inevitable. All the major players are headed on a deadly collision course with one another, and a lot of bystanders will get mowed down on the way there. How Fargo—and Hawley's other show, Legion—stands out amongst a crowded field of prestige TV shows is in its execution, which here swings from haunting (Gloria discovering her stepfather) to audacious (Swango & Stussy's swinging Bridge montage), from flashy (the piss montage) to absurd (the bathroom meeting) to thrilling (the air conditioner falling on Maurice).

The journey has always been more important than the destination with Fargo, and Hawley has built up enough confidence to keep us entranced with his snow-bound narratives. Hopefully the precarious balance between comedy and tragedy stays true to the Coens, and in the meantime, there's plenty more unfathomable pinheadery to admire.