Warning: The following post contains spoilers about tonight’s fifth season finale of FX’s Fargo, “Bisquik”
Who knew a TV series based on an iconic Oscar-winning Coen Brothers noir movie had so much juice in it five seasons out?
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But Fargo series creator Noah Hawley continues to prove that there’s a thousand bodies buried in those Minnesota snow drifts.
Granted, M.A.S.H. ran for 11 seasons; the industry joke being that the CBS show ran longer than the actual three-year Korean War. But similar to how Larry Gelbart pulled a relentless amount of inspiration from that 1970 Robert Altman, Hawley’s mind for ‘true stories’ about folksy Scandinavian-Midwesterners isn’t blank yet like a freshly fallen snow.
Typically, especially in streaming times, a series checks out around season 3, and to see Fargo in a renaissance, testosterone mode this season has even given Hawley a new sense of hope for the FX series. We thought he was about to close the book on these kooky earnest people in exchange for shooting space aliens in Thailand this year, but as the Austin, TX citizen promised at the top of season 5, he’s not done yet with the near-decade old series. He’s just warming up.
“I’d be lying if I said this is not the most fun, I have in my year making this show,” Hawley told us back at the premiere in November, “I haven’t run out of ways to tell these stories. Why wouldn’t I keep going?”
Having wrapped a racially themed Fargo season 4 set against the 1950s Kansas City mob wars punctuated by a rare dramatic turn by Chris Rock, as well as Jessie Buckley who by 2020 standards won the best portrayal of a ‘Don’t-Cha-Know’ citizen (only to be beat this season by the kickass, ferociousness of Juno Temple’s Dot Lyon), Hawley always had a plan to turn his scope on wealthy Trump America –and did he ever. But, also pulling off an intense thriller with twists and turns? Who saw that coming?
The big shocker wasn’t so much Dot shooting her ex hubby, North Dakota Sheriff, Roy Tillman at the top of tonight’s episode. I’m still reeling from Tillman gunning down Lorriane Lyon’s (Jennifer Jason Leigh) smooth operator lawyer and fixer, Danish Graves (the hysterical, eye-patched David Foley in a huge TV comeback) in cold play during Episode 9.
Hawley tied up loose ends quickly in tonight’s season 5 ender. Following the Feds Waco-like standoff with Tillman’s posse, Hamm’s character keeps on the run in an underground passageway, where he eventually kills Lamorne Morris’ Deputy Witt Farr. Roy’s other wife, Karen Tillman (Rebecca Liddiard) gets arrested while Dot is rescued by the Feds. Before it all ends, Gator Tillman shares a tender moment with Dot/Nadine — did she really see his mom, Linda, another one of Dad’s victims?
Says Temple’s character, “No, hon, I thought I did. She was just a beautiful angel in a dream.” (Dot/Nadine in a previous episode told Gator she saw his mom in an effort to sooth him, in an effort to escape, letting the bad dude know that a mother would never give up her son).
Dot heads back to the homestead where she’s met by a fully re-covered Wayne (David Rysdahl). And in further ‘they’re not-so-tough character’ moments on Fargo, we see Dot and Lorraine, who were at each other’s throats verbally this season, have a nice kiss-and-make-up. Ya see, they always had the same enemy in Roy Tillman.
“I just got the download, you shot him in the stomach; that’s my girl,” Leigh’s Lorraine says hugging Dot.
“There, there,” adds Lorraine, “Good for you.”
We then jump a year.
The biggest takeaway here is that Lorraine visits Roy at the Federal Penitentiary in Thompson, Ill. Yes, he survived, but that’s not the good news. Lorraine condemns him, “I want you alive for a very long time. While you live, I want you to feel everything your wives felt, every blow, each humiliation, fear.” Her forte is debt after all. She doesn’t specifically name any specific person who’ll rain terror on Roy, but she indicates that she’s paid off all the cell blocks to tumble on his head. There’s no escaping it, Roy, there’s going to be hell to pay.
“I’m not afraid of you,” says Roy.
“It’s not me you need to be afraid of,” says Lorraine pushing forward a pack of cigarettes.
“These might come in handy,” she adds.
But Hawley saves the best for last in what is utter Fargo: Goody-goody on the outside with some underbelly on the inside, and it’s in a zany, final scene where Dot and her daughter arrive back at home to find Wayne who’s getting a visit from grumpy, nasty, murderer Ole Munch (Sam Spruell), an elephant who doesn’t forget when it comes to a blood debt that needs to be paid.
“Man frees tiger, so the tiger can finish her fight. This does not mean that the man is finished with her,” he warns Dot.
Wayne answers politely, “We saw a tiger once at the Minneapolis Zoo, you can hear them roar from two miles away…they run like 40 miles an hour.”
“The debt must be paid, a man’s flesh was taken — now a pound is required in return,” says the grim reaper of several centuries.
Dot reasons with him, straight-up, catching flies with honey, instead of unholstering a gun: “Everyone says a debt must be paid, but what if you can’t?” she tells Ole, “If you’re too poor or lose your job? Or maybe there’s a death in the family — doesn’t that mean that the debt should be forgiven?”
Ole is stumped.
Dot then orders him: “We’re halfway to supper, it’s a school night…You either wash your hands and help, or do this another time.”
She tells the relentless murderer, “You took a job, you got hurt, you can’t be mad at the risk.”
“That’s like getting mad at the table you stubbed your toe on,” she schools him, reminding Ole that his mom would have done everything for him, just like Dot did to save her own daughter.
Ole then proceeds to help Dot make Bisquik biscuits for the family’s chili dinner. She shares the secret ingredients with him to make them killer: Buttermilk and honey.
Dot’s last bit of wisdom to Ole as the camera freezes on him chomping on the baked dough: “You gotta eat something made with love and joy and be forgiven.”
Until it’s not, in a great way. And so one of the most suspenseful seasons of Fargo ends with biscuits.
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