“Minnesota nice” isn’t how I’d describe the biblical school board meeting brawl that pulls us into the 5th season of Noah Hawley’s freaky take on the 1996 Coen brothers classic, Fargo. But then again, when does Hawley’s show ever domesticate itself within the frame it constructs in every season? I didn’t see a fifth season coming and giving us another chance to gawk at some bizarre happenings around Minnesota. And boy, have I missed the snowy terrain preserving trippy secrets and loops of convoluted family dynamics!
What’s Going On With The Lyons?
First things first, although this is a disclaimer mainly meant for the newcomers joining the Fargo in its 5th installment, take the title card’s ‘true-story’ claims at the start of each episode with a grain of salt. None of it is true, to say the least, and the longer you stick around to enjoy the strange ride Hawley has in store for you, the more you become a part of this funny little inside joke. Exactly what sort of school board meeting gets so out of hand that people start throwing hands? That’s not for us to waste time wondering about, at least as of now. For now, let’s just turn our eyes to our manic heroine, a lioness, as per her justification to the cop who’s giving her a ride to the police station, all for the crime of protecting her cub Scotty by accidentally tasing a cop.
Dorothy “Dot” Lyon plays the role of a perfect housewife quite perfectly, with the help of her adorably docile husband, Wayne, of course. But she’s got things going on that the people closest to her aren’t particularly aware of. Why else would she frown at the thought of her fingerprints going into the system? Jon Hamm’s cowboy, Sheriff Roy Tillman, showing up in the fleeting glimpses of her active subconscious must have more than just something to do with whatever it is that Dot is hiding. Come the time for the Lyon matriarch Lorraine’s orders for a jolly family portrait, though, Dot’s all dolled up with the most amicable smile on her face. Not that she has much of a choice, considering Lorraine’s the kind of woman who chastises her suit-clad granddaughter with a nasty “cross-dresser” remark, gives Dot an adorable little nickname, “the outlaw,” and hands assault rifles to each member to pose with for the Christmas pictures. Family values and all that, you know?
How Does Dot Get Home Safe?
Starting off the day with a plate of Bisquick isn’t nearly as thrilling as running from two masked intruders who’ve severely underestimated this tiny woman’s capacity for terrorizing men twice her size. And when I tell you that it’s a treat to watch Juno Temple break out of her “Ted Lasso” influencer shell, I’m absolutely not doing justice to exactly how big of a treat it really is. You’d have to pardon my humble vocabulary for being absolutely awestruck by this adorable menace of a woman. And I doubt you’d hold a grudge against the man whose attempt at kidnapping her is smoked and barbequed by Dot’s makeshift flamethrower. Ole Munch had to put up with getting stabbed in the ear with a ski boot, though. He has a far grander, far more blood-soaked journey laid out for him. Did you really think Dot’d wait around for the cops to whisk her away to safety when the kidnappers’ van was pulled over? This evidently isn’t her first rodeo. But babysitting the limping cop, Witt Farr, is something Dot could do without.
Devising just the right methods of attack and protection comes strangely easy to this Minnesota housewife. And when all is said and done, when the store clerk’s paid his dues for being dumb enough to try and prank Ole with an air horn, and when the other dude’s cracked skull has made a mess in the bathroom, that’s when Dot’s at her softest again. Looking after Witt’s open tap of an artery and quickly coming up with the ridiculous plan to go home, make breakfast for Scotty, and just hopefully, put this whole nightmare to rest. Sounds unbelievable? You clearly aren’t as devoted and madly in love with Dot as Wayne is. To hell with the frowny-faced local sheriff’s investigation, which found traces of blood from two people in the messed-up house, Dot has been AWOL! If his wife says she simply had one of those days and went out for a drive, Wayne’d better be a good little husband and accept each word like the gospel.
Who Is Roy Tillman? What’s His Connection With Dot?
You’ve got to admit that you’ve been bracing yourself for this ever since Roy Tillman’s cult leader-esque frame was seen haunting Dot’s most secret dream, even though none of us actually knew what we were waiting for. But the Tillman I imagined most certainly wouldn’t have been the protector of the constitution of God—casually dehumanizing and tanning a disgusting wifebeater’s hide for having laid hands on his old lady—only because he did it for no justifiable reason. In the land that’s marionetted by the chastising hands of Roy Tillman, beating your wife for questioning your authority is okay. Geez! I wonder why Dot left! The man severely overestimates his son Gator’s caliber, though. The kid’s lucky that he only got one broken bone out of the risk he took by trying to wipe out our terrifying nihilist, who only wanted to be paid for having faced Dot, plus pain and distress, of course. Absolutely rocking a towel with his face on it while showing the two FBI agents who’s boss is just a regular weekday afternoon for Tillman. He’s got his ranch to look after, useless kids to whip into shape, and people to hire to get back at Dot for breaking her vows. Oh, that’s right. Dot’s the wife who got away about 9–10 years ago. If we know Roy Tillman, and I think we know what kind of man he is pretty well by now, he’s not just going to let things slide just because it’s been a decade since Dot’s gotten herself out of the cult.
Will Dot Be Able To Get Lorraine Off Her Back?
Granted, it’s been just two episodes, but at no point does a show like Fargo run on just one conflict. What’s the fun in putting just one obstacle between Dot and her dream of having a peaceful life, being a soccer mom, and having a devoted husband? Wayne may be head over heels for his wife enough to gulp down whatever preposterous lies she feeds him, but his uber-rich, influential matriarch of a mother clearly doesn’t harbor half as much affection for her daughter-in-law. She’d agreed to the marriage only reluctantly, just because Danish’d found no dirt on Dot and there was nothing substantial to dissuade Wayne with. But that doesn’t mean Lorraine would lap up the unbelievably unconvincing story that Dot’s concocted. But it’s just how deeply Dot’s buried the ugly traces of her past that’s saving her neck. Before a not-so-subtle frame screaming “No,” all Lorraine can get herself to be concerned about is her money.
Danish is hardly an active part of Lorraine’s speculation that Dot might’ve been in cahoots with the kidnappers. A ransom won’t be a meager amount. And if anything, any convincing harm befalling Dot would only pave the path for her to creep her way deeper into the family’s core. Lorraine simply won’t have it! If it takes sending Danish to knock some sense into the naive Wayne by literally slapping him, Lorraine would do just that. It’s no wonder that Wayne loves Dot the way he does. Growing up under the thumb of a mother who’s this ferocious, Wayne must’ve felt small all his life. On the contrary, he’s found this breathtakingly kind yet humblingly strong woman in Dot, and she treats him with the reassuring kind of love he must’ve always longed for. There’s nothing that Lorraine and Dot wouldn’t do to protect what they hold dear to their hearts.
For Dot, it’s the life she’s built with Wayne. And for Lorraine, it’s the Lyon family’s name, influence, and wealth. I, for one, can’t wait to see the mind-bogglingly wild turn this conflict between two lionhearted women takes with the progression of the season. But for now, I’m content with the way Dot’s eyes turn from passively aggressive to full-on vicious as Lorraine threatens to disrupt the peace she’s bled to acquire. And if Dot and Scotty’s way of home-alone-ing up their house is any indication, she’s raising her daughter to be a warrior too. Of course, a sledgehammer hanging from the ceiling and the windows being lined with naked electrical wires aren’t what Wayne expected to come home to. But when you’re married to Dot, you’ve got to let a lot of unreasonable things slide. Coming home after getting bashed up by his mom’s one-eyed right-hand man, hoping to convince his wife to come clean about the very obvious kidnapping scenario, what does Wayne manage to achieve? Dot’s love has him in such a stronghold that he goes from freaked out to a state of being really eager to buy her guns in the blink of an eye. Dot’s really upgraded from the last man she gave vows to, hasn’t she? But it’s no fun when two very deplorable parties are out for blood—or, at the very least, a generous fulfillment of the promises she’s made to both.
From the looks of it, Roy Tillman is nowhere close to giving up on his wife, even though she has a whole new family now. Not that it’s any surprise, considering the family values wisdom that he was imparting on the man who was unfortunate enough to be a different variety of abuser. Tillman’s narcissism is almost on par with that of Lorraine. The only difference between the two is the way they conduct themselves. Are we looking at a possible impasse between the two? Between Tillman’s manpower and Lorraine’s blind rage against anyone who poses a threat, the tug of war would be one hell of a show. But as the ending sequence points out with a wicked grin, there will be hell to pay for every party involved in this mess. Dot’s caught Indira’s eye. There’s no way she’s backing down from the investigation now. And as luck would have it, her path crosses with the cop, who owes our lioness of a protagonist his life. How far can Tillman go to keep his fugitive wife away from the eyes of law enforcement? Gator’s so clueless about his own ineptitude that he’s ready to give himself a pat on the back after the simple task of deleting Dot’s picture from Indira’s cellphone. I mean, how’s that going to stop her from dropping by Dot’s place and getting another?
Moreover, ever since her arrest, Dot’s in the system now. I’m also getting a possible whiff of a moral conflict arising between Indira and Witt—one sees Dot as this sketchy woman who can’t keep away from complicated situations involving tasers, blood, burned masks, and a wrecked-up gas station, and she’s a hero to another. Before getting to Dot, though, Tillman will have another, more immediate threat to diminish. Ole may be a nihilist, but he clearly doesn’t take betrayal too lightly. He’s already taken care of one of Tillman’s men. Judging by Gator’s petrified face, red from the spicy jerky he was trying to show off his machismo with, Ole is coming after everything that Tillman holds dear. With FBI agent Joaquin breathing down his neck, understandably peeved by the unsolicited flashing situation involving a makeshift hot tub, Tillman’s got a lot on his plate. Let’s just hope that her enemies’ enemies help Dot out in the long run. She’s earned the peace she’s forged out of nothing. She’ll certainly need to come up with more convincing lies if she wishes to protect the life she’s found away from the authoritative clutches of Roy Tillman.