FARGO, Season 5, Episode 5: ‘The Tiger’

Dot (Juno Temple) and daughter Scotty (Sienna King) escape trouble in “Fargo” (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 Tiger’

(Original air date: Dec. 12, 2023)

We open the episode on Lorraine Lyon. She’s thinking over what’s happened to her son while mulling her complicated relationships with Dot. Thinking. She’s got a plan.

The title screen reads, “Chapter Five: The Tiger.” We hear a documentary style voiceover, with Dot (Juno Temple) as the tiger in question. Of course, we know that Ole Munch called her a tiger in an earlier episode. We’ve seen the evidence. 

The tiger is most dangerous when cornered, we’re told. True. Danish Graves (Dave Foley) arrives with orderlies from the mental hospital. Dot is thinking over all the options. Gives the men a warning. They can come for her but will feel pain. Here is real Dot, the tiger.

We then see them wheeling Dot out, but the two men are injured — true to her word. She’s now bargaining with the lawyer and orderlies. But she’s still plotting. This is a ruse, the tiger documentarian states. 

In the hospital, she pins another orderly with a wicked nose-picking action. Straps him down and then disables the nurse and steals her clothes. She walks out. This is probably bad for a lot of people. Whenever Dot leaves her safe, comfortable fantasy of domestic life, people get hurt. What happened to her? Something tells me we’re going to find out.

Next, we’re in a fancy restaurant with Lorraine Lyon (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and two businessmen. Danish Graves is missing. They don’t want to talk to her. She’s trying to buy their bank but they don’t take her seriously. She’s got their number. Knows their financial secrets. She wants to combine debt collection with financial services. The boys get the cheeseburgers she ordered for them as she leaves. 

Back at the hospital, Dot tries to make small talk with the desk staff, which proves to be a mistake. “You’re not Sarah.” Dot tries to lie, but just walks out instead. Pushes a lady in a wheelchair out the door, all natural like. Dot is a tiger, but sloppy. She’s pure chaos. 

Here comes Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm) to talk to Lorraine at her house. She wonders if he’s there raising money for charity. Roy says isn’t here to save the orphans. He’s more of a let them fight for sport guy. In other words, a libertarian, he says. (In truth, a libertarian wouldn’t make children fight. He would convince them it’s in their best interests).

Roy is here to tell Lorraine about her daughter in law, who he married as Nadine. Lorraine would love to be rid of her, but she’s not handing Dot over. 

Roy says Nadine belongs to him. Suddenly, Lorraine recalls Roy’s name as “one of those constitutional sheriffs.” All the rights, none of the responsibility, she says. 

“There’s only one person on earth who gets that deal” says Lorraine. “A baby. You’re fighting for your right to be a baby.”

Her answer is, you guessed it, “no.”

Lorraine is hard to figure. She’s not as ideological as she seems. She’s a power player. She won’t sell out family members, if only because she perceives them as hers. 

Roy and Danish walk out the Lyon mansion. Danish gives him his card. Roy threatens Danish. The funny thing about Danish Graves is that he looks like an eccentric character but behaves exactly like a regular lawyer all the time.

Deputy Indira Olmstead (Richa Moorjani) arrives. Turns out, Dot escaped. 

Roy calls in Plan B to Gator (Joe Keery) and the boys, which is basically to kidnap Wayne for leverage. Roy asks for Bowman, instead of Gator. Bowman tells Gator to stay in the truck while they go get Wayne out of the hospital.

The lady tiger can outsmart the best hunters, says the voiceover. Dot snatches a lady in the wheelchair and evades security and Roy’s men simultaneously. 

Gator spots the FBI agents showing up at the hospital. Runs inside to call them off.

Dot evades the security. She hides in the room with the angry man from last episode (here’s the payoff). She smothers him when he gets unruly. “Why do you have to be so rude?” 

Dot finally gets to her husband’s room after switching the door signs with the rude man to throw off the Tillman squad.  

“Let’s get you to the bathroom,” said Dot. 

“I just went,” said Wayne. “Poop came out.”

So, anyway, Wayne is clearly compromised by the high voltage from last week’s episode. 

“The nurses say we’re rich. I don’t know what that means,” he says.

Dot locks Wayne in the bathroom so he’s safe. Here comes Bowman and the Tillman gang. But Dot switched the door signs, so they’re foiled. 

Then, Dot runs into the FBI. They want to help. But she’s not certain she wants to work with them.

Here comes Gator. He sees her talking to the FBI. Tells Bowman, but they are busy stealing the rude guy who Dot smothered. Not dead I guess. Not Wayne either, but they don’t know that.

Dot uses the agents to dodge hospital security into a bathroom. She’ll use her pursuers as shields against still more pursuers. Out the window she goes. She escaped all of them. For now.

Back at the Lyon mansion, Deputy Olmstead questions Lorraine about why she committed Dot. Lorraine responds with a detailed record of Olmstead’s debts. $192,000 in various bills.

Lorraine keeps referring to her as a debtor. That’s the old term, like from Victorian times. 

Olmstead is defensive, but Lorraine hit her where it hurts. The debt. How it hapened. She’s got a pretty good handle on all of that. Olmstead is in the zoo. Lorraine is the zookeeper. 

Finally, we get a reprisal of the great line from Raising Arizona, “why are you sitting here drinking coffee in the one place in this state where that girl ain’t at?” 

Meantime, Dot reunites with Scotty in a field near the Lyon mansion. They’re getting out of there. Scotty saw Sheriff Roy at Grandma’s. “He’s no-one,” says Dot. But even Scotty knows that’s not true.

Private security asks Danish Graves for ID. He doesn’t like that. See, this is where Danish Graves is underwritten. Great actor. Great character. But in spots where he could have good lines he has boring ones. 

But Scotty is missing now. We know she’s with Dot. Here come more pursuers for Dot. It almost feels like a plan on her part, but she’s not telling anyone what it is. Not yet.

Olmstead pulls up to her house. Dot is already there, with Scotty. She made coffee. Olmstead knows this will be a long night. Her cable’s been cut off, but Dot and Indira plunk Scotty in front of a Little Mermaid DVD so they can talk. 

Dot thinks Olmstead has a nice face. The husband is out in the garage hitting golf balls. Olmstead is tired of him racking up debt on golf gear. Dot is asking a pretty big favor of the officer here. Would she watch Scotty for three days? Olmstead asks for the truth in exchange for the favor. 

Dot explains how some fellas came for her a couple weeks ago, and again on Halloween. Her first husband. She was 17 when she married Roy. 

“They never hit you when it’s going their way,” said Dot. “It’s when they’re weak and just pretending to be strong.”

Indira’s husband Lars comes in from the garage, every bit as clueless about the financial havoc he continues to cause and only dimly aware there is a person in their kitchen. It’s decided. They’re going to watch Scotty. “Like an actual kid?” he asks.

Dot has found an unlikely ally in Olmstead, but for how long? Finally, Dot pulls away in the family vehicle, off to settle old scores.

EPISODE GRADE: Oh ya! This one was compelling and finally has me in the “Fargo” spirit. This episode more clearly establishes Dot as both noble and chaotic, combining some of the archetypes from previous seasons of “Fargo.” In a way, Olmstead is the yin to her yang. 

There are so many sharks out there, and next week it looks like Dot has Ole Munch to worry about. But she is a tiger.


The Walter Mondale Care Center is a nice homage to our former Vice President and most recent presidential nominee. The security in this place proves to be about as good as Fritz’s chances in 1984. Oh ya!

Dot steals the rude man’s jacket for the getaway. Jackets are important in Minnesota, especially after Halloween. Oh ya!

Oh, but that’s not an authentic Minnesota license plate in the closing scene. Oof. That’s like watching the Vikings fumble out the side of the end zone reaching for a touchdown. Which is a thing that happens. Interesting

Read more at the Fargo Review page.

Previous Episode: “Insolubilia

Next Episode: “The Tender Trap

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