FARGO, Season 5, Episode 3: ‘The Paradox of Intermediate Transactions’

Joe Keery in Fargo
“Gator” Tillman is portrayed by Joe Keery, best known for his role on the Netflix thriller “Stranger Things.” (PHOTO: FX)

Northern Minnesota author Aaron J. Brown reviews each episode of “Fargo” with an eye for unique details from the place where the show is set. The ratings range from INTERESTING  (bad), to COULD BE WORSE (not so good) to PRETTY GOOD (not so bad), and OH, YA! (real good then).

Beware the spoilers.

‘The Paradox of Intermediate Transactions

(Original air date: Nov. 28, 2023)

Last week, Ole Munch made his intentions known to the Tillman clan. Now, they’re dealing with the aftermath.

Roy (Jon Hamm) meets son Gator (Joe Keery) at the very unlucky service station where there’s now a dead deputy in the back of Gator’s truck. Roy chides his son for letting Ole get the jump on him … again.

Turns out, Gator hired the other guy (the guy with his head in the toilet). Ole came with him, so they don’t know him well.

Roy tells Gator to tell the dead man’s fiancees, plural. 

They’re going to stage an accident to explain the deputy’s death. They seem to have a system for that, so this isn’t the first time. Roy tells Gator to watch out. “High Noon” only happens in the movies. “In real life they’ll slit your throat while you wait at the light.” That is actually true. Ambush by rife was vastly more common in the Old West than pistol fights. Why would you do it any other way?

Roy comes home where a militia leader is sipping whiskey in his living room. The sheriff’s department is supplying munitions and the militia guy has become impatient for more guns. I always wonder what the end game is when constitutional sheriffs and militias finally end up in charge? Ironically, reminds me of the salad days of the Russian Revolution. Lotta dead folks litter the path to the first proper dictator. 

Roy watches his twin girls in tub. They seem, um, kind of big for that, no?

The sheriff seems rather tore up over this Dot business. Likes his doobie, though. His wife comes into the bedroom. Time for role play. Angry feminist? Nope, Roy’s too sad. Waives away sexy time wife, who seems terrified that he’s not in the mood. He sees Dot. How, not sure. 

Back in Scandia, Dot (Juno Temple) glances nervously out the window. She’s switching around all the street signs in her neighborhood, presumably to throw Roy’s goons off her tail. Dot’s making a list of weaponry. But she’s also thinking about the family Halloween costumes.

Meanwhile, in Bismarck, an old woman trundles into her snow-covered home with a load of groceries that is mostly beer. It’s Halloween; the kids are trick-or-treating. She hears a noise upstairs. It’s Ole Munch (Sam Spruell). “I live here now.” Very menacing.

Then we fade back 500 years to Wales in 1522. They’re speaking English, so nope. But that’s Ole, 500 years ago alright. He’s eating the sins of the dead, apparently. Part of a ritual. He gets the pennies from the eyes and a few bites. But he’s got all those sins, now. Probably not so good for him, then.

Recurring sound of tennis. Clacking. Something with the sound design. It means something. But Ole lives there now. In Bismarck.

Dot and Wayne (David Rysdahl) go to the Gun World. The clerk’s eye patch is not part of the pirate costume. Hunting accident. Dot knows a lot about guns it would seem. Wayne writes a check. The background check is a problem for Dot. She needs guns now. She’ll settle for some pepper spray.

We’re back in North Dakota. Gator feels bad. His room is like a lot of older brothers’ rooms in a lot of trailer houses. “I’m a winner” he repeats to himself, with some degree of uncertainty at first.

Witt Farr (Lamorne Morris) walks on crutches into the state patrol station. He’s the trooper who survived the encounter with Munch in the first episode. He’s still curious about Dot. Gator is already in the basement evidence room, though. Witt sees him stealing something from evidence. Tense moment. Very disrespectful to mothers.

Witt finally gets ID on Dot. We also see that Roy’s re-election bid seems to be in doubt. Tough race, according to the Google. 

Olmstead (Richa Moorjani) is interrogating Lorraine (Jennifer Jason Leigh) about Dot’s kidnapping. Lorraine is not helpful. She monologues. Police have no function inside the walls of power, only outside, to keep the rabble out. The lawyer Danish Graves (Dave Foley) is such an interesting character with no good lines. 

Ole Munch lives in that room now, with all the red light and ominous vibes. 

Roy and Gator are plotting to go get Dot (Nadine, actually). Roy lights a candle in church while everyone gets ready for Halloween. Wayne is a zombie. Ole is eating pages of a book — bible, maybe? Something reminiscent of an 80s horror flick here, the set up with the montage and such. Ole calls the old lady mama. Is she? No.

Dot has the nail mace bat for Trick or Treating, but the phone is ringing. Oh, it’s Roy. Singing “Nadine.” So, that’s for real now. We’re doing this. The Tillman forces are converging on the Lyons. Ole Munch is converging on the Tillmans. There’s an old steam house. Ole is rubbing goat blood all over himself. Sure, this is a thing alright. Throat singers even. The direction through this segment is pretty cool. 

Dot and Scotty, the zombie hunters, are out on the streets. Dot’s got her eyes on. Van pulls up in front of the house. Gator’s creepy mask guys are here. Pretty sus, for sure. Not super covert. They walk up to the door. But then we see another door.

Bloody Ole walks into the Tillman house. Ruh row, as Scooby Doo would say, which in the original Welsh means “cliffhanger.” 

EPISODE GRADE: Pretty Good, only because they pushed the best stuff to next week.


Halloween Blizzard! Oh ya! But it’s in Bismarck. Interesting

Losing an eye seems like more of a fishing thing than a hunting thing. Could be worse

Episode 3 before we get a proper cop car/prowler reference. Pretty good

You know, most of these episodes offend Minnesotans in some way, but this one goes out of its way to disrespect the Welsh. Cymru am bith! Subtitle that beautiful language, Noah Hawley.

Read more at the Fargo Review page.

Previous Episode: “Trials and Tribulations

Next Episode: “Insolubilia


  1. I can accept Ole is 500 years old, this series has always flirted with the supernatural, but the lack of geographic accuracy is maddening. When Roy gives the order, its 2PM. Gator assembled a ragtag crew, drove a van that looks to get 6 MPG from Western North Dakota to Scandia, MN before the kids were done trick or treating? That’s a whole day, not 4 hours…..

    Love the reviews, love the show, just wish the producers had a map…..

  2. Joe musich says

    Interesting in that the Welsh were some of first to do mining up there. The phrase you use according to a very brief goog seems to have com in play around 1915. All of which has me wondering why Wales ? Next time I go to Costco I will ask the young man who I talk with who works there who immigrated from Wales. As to pronunciation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-0TJlrzCNw&t=26s.

    Thank you.

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