Fargo S5E8 Recap: A Painful Viewing of Domestic Violence In All Its Forms


Tillman stands with Dorothy while she signs discharge paperwork at the hospital.
CR: Michelle Faye/FX

The following recap contains spoilers for Fargo S5E8, “Blanket” (written by Noah Hawley & Thomas Bezucha and directed by Sylvain White)

This week’s episode opens with a warning about the depiction of domestic violence. Since Tillman (Jon Hamm) had found Dorothy (Juno Temple) at the hospital I was already anticipating (not in a good way) that the warning would be because of what he would be doing to her. From beginning to end, I felt secondhand fear for Dorothy and those around her.

I’ll start with the lighter parts of the episode if you could call them that. Olmstead (Richa Moorjani) stops at home at midday to change her clothes when she finds her husband in bed and a naked woman hiding in her closet. She doesn’t make a big fuss as she tells him to be gone by the time she gets back. She also lists his failings as a man out loud, just so the new lady knows what she’s signed up for. Then, as if her luck can’t get any worse, Olmstead’s car is being repossessed as she leaves the house.

Meanwhile, Danish (Dave Foley) is having paperwork finalized that will legally change the names of three clients to Roy Tillman. We’ll see the fallout of this later when Tillman goes to the town hall to have his election debate.

Before the debate happens though, Tillman is in the process of having Dorothy discharged from the hospital when Deputy Farr (Lamorne Morris) happens to come in with an injured man. He spots Tillman and Dorothy and senses her fear. He offers to take her home, but she declines. He insists further, but Tillman begins with his threats and right on cue, Gator (Joe Keery) and the posse walk in. Dorothy tells Tillman she won’t go with him if he doesn’t let Farr go. Although, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been that simple. Regardless he, Dorothy, and Gator/crew leave the hospital.

Farr calls Olmstead to tell her where Dorothy is. I thought she would’ve jumped into action sooner but she goes home and walks into her domestic bullshit.

Back at the Tillman ranch, Dorothy is placed in shackles inside a shack. She tries to appeal to Tillman’s conscience, I suppose, as she speaks to him about Scotty and how Scotty will miss holidays with her mother. Tillman looks as if he is getting angry and not softened. Dorothy then goes on about how in love she is with Wayne. I’m surprised Tillman doesn’t place his hands on her at this point and I felt the tension building, which had me nervous. He gives his speech about her belonging to him under God, blah, blah.

Dorothy makes it clear that she will kill him. That’s when wife #3 walks in and slaps Dorothy for talking shit. Later in the car, she blames Dorothy for the family’s bad luck. It sounds like such a bitch thing to do, but I’m sure it’s out of fear for herself and her children. She is doing what Linda did but focusing on Dorothy to remove it from herself.

Tillman and his wife leave for the town hall debate but leave Gator behind. Gator comes in to talk to Dorothy. At first, he seems to be kind (well, his version of it) to her, but that changes once she brings up his mother. She tells him she knows where Linda is and can take him to her if he helps her get free. He looks hopeful for a split second before calling her a liar. She then tells him why Tillman never named Gator after him as was the tradition in every generation of the family. She tells him it was because Tillman knew he was weak and would rather have the name die with him.

Gator is angry and takes off in the car. Little does he realize, Munch is hiding in the backseat.

Tillman shows up at town hall and goes on stage with the other candidates who are, to his surprise, all named Roy Tillman. The host begins her questions but Tillman is frustrated as the other Tillmans mock his every word and move. Eventually, his anger gets the best of him as he throws things across the stage and even punches the female host.

Danish of course walks away with a smile. Later, while he is getting gas, Deputy Farr spots him and tells him that Dorothy is captive at the ranch and that he better do something now before it’s too late. Danish pulls his phone out to call Lorraine but changes his mind and puts his phone away. I had to question why he wouldn’t speak to her first. I thought perhaps he wanted to keep her stress-free and deal with the situation on his own, but at this point it is unclear.

Tillman stands on stage during the debate with three other Tillman's.
CR: Michelle Faye/FX

Tillman gets home and after his wife gives him an earful about how everything wrong in his life is Dorothy’s fault, he silently exits the car and strides towards the shack where Dorothy is being held. The long drawn-out walk to the shack and the look on his face had my heart racing because I knew what was coming and I’m so happy it happened off-camera. Although, you could hear the beating, which was horrible in its own right.

Back in the shack, Dorothy is lying there bloody and disheveled. She stays strong and still insists that she will kill him. He goes after her once more, but she is able to wrap her chain around his neck and they struggle across the room. He pulls the chain from the floor and gets Dorothy off of him. Before he can do more damage, one of his men comes in and tells him that Danish is there and wants to talk. Dorothy gets a satisfied smile on her face and for a moment I believed that she believed she would be rescued.

It’s not that easy.

Olmstead arrives at Lorraine’s house. She agrees to take the job but more importantly, she tells her about Dorothy and where Tillman has her.

Danish meets with Tillman in his home. He gets to the point and tells him he will 100% lose the election unless he returns Dorothy to her family. He is willing to help him and will make it so that he can win, but only if those terms are met. Tillman, without much response, shoots and kills Danish. His body is driven out near the shack where Dorothy watches from a window as they dump his body into a silo that hides under Tillman’s hot tub.

Earlier, Dorothy threatened Tillman and said she’d get away again like Linda. He told her he would bury her next to Linda’s body. This answers my question from last week if Linda was still alive. I’m guessing her body is down there with Danish.

Dorothy watches from the window and I believe realization hits her. She might not get out.

There’s still a reasonable amount of episodes left to leave this story open for so many possible outcomes. I think it is fair to say that Tillman will get his and I’m sure Dorothy will be the one to give it to him. While I would love to see someone end him completely, I think the real punishment for him would be to be locked up forever and to be able to see everyone move on without him, especially Dorothy. Munch will probably kill Gator and while Tillman doesn’t seem to care much for his son, it may hit him later that he lost all of his children in one way or another.

In the end, I would just love to see justice served. Sexual abuse, physical abuse, or abuse of any kind for that matter is not OK and too many people get away with it. At least in the world of Fargo, the abuser will get what’s coming to him.

Written by Felicia Nickens

Lover of television, film, & the macabre.


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  1. This display of violence towards women is not entertainment. I will no longer watch this show. Too bad the writers decided to capitalize on physical abuse of women. A sad statement indeed.

    • I agree that it is hard to watch and is one of the reasons I appreciate that a lot of the physical violence happened off screen. I can’t speak for the network and show runners but I think that when you look past the violence you will see Dorothy’s strength and determination. In the end, I believe Tillman will get what is due to him and Dorothy will live a long happy life with her family. Depending on how one chooses to look at the season as a whole, it can be seen in a positive light. Women can survive abuse and they can leave their abusers. They can be inspirations to other women as was the case with Linda’s camp for battered women. The way Olmstead got rid of her man-child husband and how Lorraine is doing what is in her power to help Dorothy. I can also be about women coming together to over power those who have tried to push them down.

      Now, if something were to happen to Dorothy or Tillman gets to go free and unpunished then I would agree that this season was pointless and that there was no reason to focus on domestic violence unless there was a lesson to be learned.

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