‘Fargo’ Season 5 Episode 1 Recap & Ending Explained: Who Is Dorothy “Dot” Lyon?


The American black comedy crime drama series that has arguably done a lot for this specific genre, Fargo, is back for its fifth season with a fresh new story, as always. The setting is once again the midwestern state of Minnesota, where most of the Fargo iterations took place, including the Coen Brothers’ 1996 original film. This time around, the plot takes place in the town of Scandia, Minnesota, in a relatively recent time of 2019. This film is immediately referred to in the season opener episode through an iconic scene that is bound to remind viewers of the work, and Fargo season 5 already promises to be one of the better iterations of the show in recent times.

Spoiler Alert

Who is Dot Lyon?

Fargo season 5 opens in the middle of utmost chaos, for a simple board meeting in a middle school has turned extremely violent for some undisclosed reason. Amidst parents throwing punches at each other are a woman and her young daughter, both of whom are shocked by the unnecessary action all around them. The woman, Dorothy “Dot” Lyon, instructs her daughter Scotty to get up from her seat and leave the hall carefully in order to avoid any trouble. Dot is evidently very scared and nervous during this strange situation, and she is ready with a taser gun to bring down anybody who might attack her or Scotty. When a school teacher approaches Dot from behind and taps her shoulder, he immediately gets tased to the floor, and soon, a similar fate befalls a police officer as well. Dot obviously had no intention to attack the policeman, and it was her nervousness that had made her do so without even checking whom she was tasing. Despite any lack of ill-intent, attacking an officer of the law is a criminal offense, and Dot is immediately arrested by the police.

Police deputy Indira Olmstead takes Dot into custody, and she is not very easy on the woman, despite knowing that her assault on the officer was an accidental one. Back at the police station, Dot is kept behind bars for some time, but she is more concerned about the fact that her fingerprint is digitally taken at the beginning of the procedure. She casually asks Indira whether these prints are put in some sort of national database, and the deputy jokingly responds with a question, asking Dot whether she is a fugitive with some past criminal record. Although this conversation is done in the most casual and joking manner, Dot’s worried face while behind bars is hard to miss. The woman definitely has some past criminal record, and she later accepts that she has had some experience in shootouts and sticky situations earlier.

Dot is married to Wayne Lyon, a mild-mannered and often timid man who is also extremely loving towards his wife. Although Wayne runs a small car dealership business, he hails from a rich and influential family in the town, and it is with this influence that he intends to solve his wife’s arrest record for the accidental assault on the police officer. Although Dot is also seemingly loving towards Wayne, something from the morning’s events keeps her distant from her husband that night. It is, again, perhaps not difficult to connect that the woman is worried that her secret past will be dragged out. In fact, whenever the woman shuts her eyes to get some sleep, she is reminded of a particular memory, which is from her undisclosed but dreaded past.

The next morning, things go from bad to worse for Dot when two men, their faces covered with masks, break into her house when the woman is all alone. The men, Donny and Ole Munch, chase Dot all over the house with the intention of kidnapping her, and this scene is almost exactly resemblant of a similar scene from the 1996 film. But there are some differences between the two wives, Jean Lundegard (from Fargo 1996) and Dot, starting with the fact that the latter is much more intelligent and crafty when it comes to avoiding kidnappers. She fights back with a handy combination of spray and lighter, but the woman trips on her own yarn of wool and falls down the stairs, again, in a manner exactly akin to Jean. Dot is, after all, kidnapped by the two crooks.

Why is Wayne’s family going to be important?

As stated earlier, much of Wayne Lyon’s influence and money comes from his family business, which is sternly run by his mother, Lorraine. Wayne is not someone to throw around his money or influence and is more interested in building his own modest life, all of which is against the wishes of the mother. Lorraine is extremely unaccepting of Dot, even years after the latter’s marriage to Wayne, and she still feels that her son has recklessly married someone totally undeserving. The conservative-minded woman does not support the couple’s decision to dress up their daughter in a suit, as opposed to a more feminine appearance, and she is also judgmental of Dot’s arrest.

There is clearly a tiff between the two women, and Wayne is stuck right at the center, with his easily scared nature also acting against him. Both when Dot is arrested and then when she goes missing, the man goes to his mother for help, and during both of these times, Dot is upset that he has told his mother about the events. Lorraine is definitely someone very distant from Dot, both in relation and in choices, which is evident in a hilarious scene towards the beginning of the episode, when Lorraine gets her family Christmas photo taken with all of them holding guns to show their power. Thus, when Dot goes missing, Lorraine does not care too much about it and is confident that throwing some money at the kidnappers will get the woman released soon enough. She is also very sure that the whole matter has taken place only to get ransom money from her.

The Lyon family business strangely already has kidnapping insurance, which means that money has already been put aside in case there is ever any kidnapping in the family. This probably suggests the dangerous line of work that the Lyons are involved in, as till now, it has only been revealed that they run a money-lending business. The attorney also mentions how the volatile market has been making their business extremely successful, further suggesting that the family business has some shady and suspicious ties. It could be that they are involved with the gun trade as well, making the bizarre family Christmas photo a little more relevant. Either way, the Lyon family, and particularly Lorraine, is going to be extremely important in this season of Fargo.

How does Dot react to her kidnapping?

Along with setting the plot’s premise, the opening episode of Fargo episode 5 also brings along exciting action right away, which comes after Dot has been kidnapped. The two crooks drive towards their destination with the woman in the backseat of their stolen car when a police trooper vehicle approaches them on the freeway. While this police check is because of the stolen car, Dot makes use of this distraction to get out of the car and run away from the place, knowing very well that a shootout is about to follow. Before the two policemen can understand what is happening, Donny and Ole open fire, killing one of them, while the other, Witt Farr, also manages to run from the place and call for backup.

Both Dot and Witt take shelter at a nearby convenience store, where tense action soon plays out. Witt is almost immobile as he has been shot in the leg, and so Dot has to do most of the intelligent fighting. She manages to take down Donny, who tries to enter the store through the washroom stall. Dot’s assault with an ice bag makes Donny stumble backward and hit his head on the commode, killing him from the injury and blood loss. Ole Munch is also brought down, but he manages to escape from the store before the police backup arrives. Interestingly, and much to Witt’s surprise, Dot also disappears from the place before the rest of the squad arrives.

This makes it all the more certain that Dot has some mysteries in her past, because of which she is running from both the law and the goons. The woman returns home, and even though Wayne is confused and surprised to see her in such a situation, Dot keeps denying that anything unnatural has happened to her. She states that she had just gone away to clear her mind after her arrest the previous day, and there was nothing strange involved. When Wayne mentions how blood samples of two different people, which belonged to Donny and Ole, had been found in their house, Dot does not say anything about it. Instead, she keeps stirring the cereal mix for Scotty, fixated, almost as if on the brink of a breakdown. Her condition all the more ties in with a phrase and its meaning, displayed at the very beginning of the episode—”Minnesota Nice,” referring to a situation when people forcefully claim to be happy and alright despite them being in a lot of turmoil and disturbance. It is with this unusual behavior of Dot that episode 1 closes, with the promise of an exciting thriller to come.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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