Fargo Brings Back the Dark Humor in Season 5: Season Premiere Recap

S5E1, “The Tragedy of the Commons” & S5E2, “Trials and Tribulations”

Dorothy holds her daughter, Scott close during a brawl in the Fargo Season 5 premiere
CR: Michelle Faye/FX

The following recap contains spoilers for the Season 5 premiere of Fargo, S5E1, “The Tragedy of the Commons” & S5E2, Trials and Tribulations ” (written & directed by Noah Hawley)

Fargo is one of those shows that you either love or hate. I believe you need a specific type of humor in order to really understand the genius that is Noah Hawley. Set in the Midwest, Fargo is an anthology series that follows seemingly ordinary people who get caught up in murder investigations. Usually, though, things aren’t what they seem.

Such is the case in the latest season.

Season 5 opens with a brawl in a school auditorium. Parents and school staff can be seen pulling hair, throwing punches, and throwing items across the room as a Fall Festival Planning Committee sign hangs behind the stage. Amongst the rioters are Dorothy Lyon (Juno Temple) and her daughter, Scotty (Sienna King). Dorothy tries to protect her daughter as they make their way towards the exit, but unfortunately, one of the men decides to put his hands on Dorothy. She tasers him and then a police officer who happens to be in close vicinity.

Dorothy is arrested for assaulting that officer and it is here that we begin to get a picture of who she truly is, or rather, isn’t.

On The Outside

Dorothy is married to car dealership owner, Wayne Lyon (David Rysdahl). He comes from a well-to-do family. His mother, Lorraine (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is the CEO of the largest debt collection agency in the U.S. and is thoroughly disappointed in Wayne for being such a sensitive, un-masculine man. She is also disappointed in his choice of spouse. She exudes power and isn’t afraid to use it to her advantage. Despite his family, Wayne lives a simple life with Dorothy and his daughter in Minnesota. Dontcha know?

Dorothy is a stay at home mom, who cooks pancakes in the morning and likes to knit. She’s part of the PTO and has been fighting to expand the murder mystery selection of books at the middle school. To anyone looking in, it appears to be a normal, boring, family.

As is learned by the end of Episode 1, this is far from the case.

Roy Tillman & The Kidnapping

Fargo wouldn’t be Fargo without some outlandish shit going down. Enter the almost failed kidnapping. The day after she is released from jail, Dorothy is home alone knitting and watching daytime television. Two men enter the home in search of her. Their efforts to take her are almost thwarted as Dorothy burns kidnapper #1 in the face with hairspray and a torch. This buys her enough time to run, but she trips over the laundry, which for some reason is at the top of the stairs, and goes flying to the floor below. She’s fine though and uses an ice skate to slice kidnapper #2 in the face. Despite her mercenary moves, they are able to grab her and off they go.

Roy Tillman sits on a horse and admires a billboard of himself.
CR: Michelle Faye/FX

In North Dakota we are introduced to Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm), Sheriff and rancher in Stark County, North Dakota. Turns out he and Dorothy were married and at some point she ran off into hiding. What he did to her to make her leave is unclear at this point, but what is clear is that he is an asshole.

While he is Sheriff, he has a Vick Mackey way of doing things. At one point the FBI pays him a visit to question why things in his town aren’t being handled in accordance to the law, and he gives a short speech about who he is and how he runs things, basically shutting them up and stopping them in their tracks. Something tells me they will be back.

Tillman’s son, Gator (Joe Keery) is a deputy who is his father’s “enforcer.” While he tries to be tough and make his father proud, he seemingly fucks up every time. It’s not clear if Gator is also Dorothy’s son, or if he was a product of a rendezvous prior. If he is her son, it adds to the drama since Dorothy has a daughter now with Wayne.

The kidnappers and Dorothy make it to North Dakota, but are pulled over by the cops because #1 decided to use a stolen vehicle, much to #2’s dismay.

Dorothy immediately jumps out of the car and hauls ass past the cops. They keep their focus on the two perps though. A gunfight ensures and one of the cops is killed; the other, Deputy Farr (Lamorne Morris) gets away and runs to a nearby gas station where Dorothy is also hiding out.

This is when we see what she is truly capable of. Knowing that the kidnappers would come there, she creates traps and weapons out of random convenient store items. She even takes care of the officers’ wounds.

Eventually the kidnappers come and she takes them down. #1 has his skull damn near crushed with a bag of ice, while #2 manages to slip away while she tends to Deputy Farr.

We come to know #2 as Ole Munch (Sam Spruell). He goes back to Tillman with news of what transpired. Tillman isn’t pleased and has Gator take Munch out back to have him assassinated Munch uses his skills and is able to kill everyone minus Gator, who suffers a gunshot to the shoulder. Another failure on his part.

Back Home

Wayne comes home with his daughter to see blood on the floor and signs of a struggle. Deputy Olmstead (Richa Moorjani) arrives and takes in the scene. It is concluded that it was a kidnapping and they begin forensics. Tests show that there are two types of blood in the house and they don’t match Dorothy, clearly indicating that someone else was in the house.

Wayne is a mess and goes to his mom for help. She isn’t worried about Dorothy, but about the negative publicity it could bring to her and the family. She also doesn’t want the police snooping in her affairs. Her lawyer, Danish (Dave Foley) prepares a ransom.

Later in the night, Dorothy returns home barefoot and bloodied. She rushes to the kitchen where she begins whisking together pancake batter. Wayne enters in shock. Dorothy wants to get a head start on breakfast and laughs away the idea of a kidnapping. She claims she just needed time to herself to clear her head after the arrest and all.

Naively, he goes with it.

Deputy Olmstead isn’t so quick to believe Dorothy’s story especially since there were other blood types in her home. Wayne and Dorothy refer her to Danish if she has any questions.

Dorothy and Lorraine sit in the kitchen at the table having a chat.
CR: Michelle Faye/FX

Lorraine doesn’t buy it either but also thinks Dorothy set up her own kidnapping in order to extort money from the family. The true Dorothy emerges as she nicely threatens her mother in law to stay in her lane, or she will feel the wrath of a true mama lion. Lorraine backs off for the moment.

Dorothy begins making homemade booby traps and even includes her daughter in the process, who enjoys the quality time with mama. Wayne returns and sees this and has some concerns. Dorothy is able to persuade him once more into thinking it’s just normal protection since they can’t afford a fancy alarm system. Ignorance is bliss.

Far From Over

While the Lyon family seems to be getting back into their routine, the hunt for Dorothy is not over and now she has even more people looking for her. Deputy Olmstead makes a trip to North Dakota to pay Deputy Farr a visit in the hospital. He describes Dorothy and everything she did that night. He wishes he could see her again and thank her. At the same time, Gator comes to visit as well and tries to get all the info he can on Dorothy, and of course, Olmstead gives it to him. He has her address now and the names of her new family. As she pulls a picture up on her phone to show Deputy Farr, Gator snatches it and “accidently” deletes it.

He brings the news back to his father who looks pained to hear about her new marriage and child. Vows are made to find her.

But, let’s not forget about Munch. He isn’t pleased that Tillman tried to have him killed. He follows Gator to the gas station, and kills his co-deputy. We close out the episode with a scared Gator standing over the body, looking around in fear.

What Next?

Well, this can go in so many different directions, and because it is Fargo, it probably will go in all of them. Clearly, Dorothy has been through some shit. She’s giving Liam Neeson vibes and has a particular set of skills. Did Tillman teach her those? Did she acquire them while married to him and watching all his shadiness? Or maybe she was into some crazy shit when he met her?

Whatever the case, she’s preparing for something to go down. I think Gator will inevitably fail at his task to retrieve her. Roy will make his way to Minnesota. Or maybe he will get his hands on her in North Dakota and Wayne will have to put his big boy testes on and rescue her?

Lorraine will play some part for sure. She has the money and power to help or hurt Lorraine. I would hate for her to somehow join forces with Tillman, but you never know.

Olmstead is being too nosey and while I know it is her job, I think she will get hurt for doing so. Farr will definitely be an ally and perhaps be part of Tillman’s takedown.

What about Munch? He’s tried to murder basically everyone at this point. Will he get Tillman before the others do?

Fargo doesn’t always have happy endings and it’s possible everyone will just die. That’s what makes it fun.

Written by Felicia Nickens

Lover of television, film, & the macabre.

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