After being completely missing from the previous week’s episode 6, the protagonist of Fargo season 5, Dot Lyon, is back in episode 7, as we see her wild adventure through the state of North Dakota. More about Dot’s past, especially about how she met with Roy Tillman for the first time, is also revealed, and there are some really grisly details in this context. Lastly, more on Ole Munch and one more misstep by Gator are also featured in the new entertaining episode 7.
What is Camp Utopia?
Dot’s first appearance in Fargo season 5, episode 7, comes when she is seen driving away the red Kia car that she has been using for her personal adventures. The woman has been evidently driving for very long hours at a stretch, as she is seen almost falling asleep at the wheel. It is almost her luck that prevents Dot from meeting with a horrible car crash, and the woman finally decides to stop at a gas station, which also has a diner nearby. Parking her car at the truck stop, Dot walks into the diner for some coffee and food. The server’s friendly question of whether she is going home or running away from there confuses and scares Dot. She nervously asks for some pancakes and looks around in the diner to spot a postcard and then a pinned recipe for chicken piccata, that was once very well-known to her.
Dot drives away from the truck stop and reaches a particular spot in the open fields, where she digs up a small box containing a postcard that someone had seemingly left behind for her. This postcard is the same as the one seen at the diner, and it is from a place called Camp Utopia, where our protagonist is incidentally headed at the moment. The postcard that Dot retrieves only has a few words of apology from someone named Linda, and the woman seems linked to Dot’s personal history. As the protagonist reaches the location of the camp, her car runs out of fuel, and she has to walk the remaining distance. Dot makes her way inside the community hall at Camp Utopia, where a puppet show is being watched by a group of women. She, too, takes a moment to see the show, only to realize that it is a retelling of an act of domestic violence, and Dot cannot help but remember the violence she once had to bear with. The woman cannot hold on much longer, as shock and fatigue both take over her body, and she faints.
When Dot wakes up the next morning, things become clearer to her, even though they actually make matters more confusing for the viewer. Camp Utopia is essentially a community of women who have all run away from an abusive household after having been tortured, both physically and mentally, by their husbands. At the place, they stay and recover, and then share their personal stories through puppet shows, following which they are finally able to get over the trauma and be reborn in a different identity. Incidentally, all the women choose to be named Linda, in honor of the founder of the camp, whose original name was Linda, and so she is now referred to as St. Linda, to avoid confusion.
As Dot meets with St. Linda and confronts her immediately, it becomes clear that the woman has something to do with the protagonist’s past. It turns out that Linda was the first wife of Roy Tillman, and she had managed to escape the sheriff’s house and the life of abuse and torture to heal herself and create her own identity in the world. But when Dot wants to take Linda away from Camp Utopia, she is told that she must first share her story and therefore prove that her account of the past is true through a puppet show. Dot does not take this instruction seriously, as she even has to make her own puppet and then organize the show for everyone to see and judge. However, the woman realizes that there is no other option left for her, and eventually, Dot starts to make the puppet very diligently and then puts up the show, which is entirely about earlier events in her life. At the end of this show, Dot is able to impress every survivor woman at the camp, and Linda also agrees to go with her to wherever she intends to take the woman.
The contents of the puppet show are discussed in the next section, while we skip forward slightly in the episode, when Dot is suddenly seen back at the diner once again, with the same pancake with a smiley on it in front of her. The woman seems to wake up from a deep slumber, and she is immediately concerned about Linda, whom she believes to be with her, yet Dot is alone. She feels that Linda is in her car, but then a bizarre accident takes place, in which a truck crashes into her car, destroying it completely and also injuring Dot. When the woman finally wakes up at the hospital and asks for Linda, the nurse cannot tell her anything about any woman being found.
While it initially seems possible that Dot had stopped at the same diner while returning with Linda and the woman had indeed been inside her car, the reality seems to be otherwise. There are a couple of hints strewn across the episode to suggest that Dot had indeed been dreaming, and her encounter with Linda and the whole of Camp Utopia was just part of her drowsy imagination. The fact that numerous women all live in peace at a camp after having escaped their torturous husbands is almost an impossibility in the far depths of America being shown in Fargo season 5. Dot’s search for Linda is so that she can prove her life’s story to the authorities, but she does not really know where Linda is. Thus, visual cues like a postcard from Camp Utopia, which, to Dot, is like the ultimate definition of a community of women survivors, or the recipe for chicken piccata, which Linda often used to make, take her into this fantastical place. A place almost shrouded in mystery, as cars run out of fuel near it, and where harsh realities have to be acted out through soft and sweet puppet shows, but one that has no existence in reality.
How had Dot first met Roy Tillman?
When Dot presents her life’s events through the puppet show at the fantastical Camp Utopia, the exact details about her past are revealed. The woman had to go through a very difficult childhood without any proper guidance or protection from her parents, who were seemingly not present, and she had to fend off boys and men by herself. When Dot was just a teenager, she had to resort to stealing as well, shoplifting from local grocery stores, and when she was once caught in the act by a storekeeper, her life changed drastically. A helpful woman, considerably older than Dot, stepped in to protect the girl from the angry storekeeper, and the two became friends. This older woman was Linda, who was the erstwhile wife of Sheriff Roy Tillman.
Linda took Dot back to her home in Stark County and introduced her to Roy, who did not mind supporting a young girl by providing her with shelter and amenities. The couple already had a son by then, Gator, and the young boy was delighted to see Dot, whom he soon started to look up to as an older sister. Thus, on nights when Roy would brutally hurt Linda, the two kids huddled together and found support in each other in the confusing and scary moments. But what followed was absolutely heartbreaking, as the full extent of Roy Tillman’s vile and pathetic nature came out. There were days when Linda would go away from the house to visit her parents, and during one such time, Roy took advantage of being alone with the fifteen-year-old Dot. On every next instance, when Linda left the house, the man continued abusing the young girl, announcing her to be the woman of the house, whose duty it was to please him. In essence, the sheriff had started to groom Dot at that very time.
Eventually, a day came when Linda probably found out about her husband’s horrific acts with Dot and saw this as an opportunity to carve out her own escape from such a dreadful life. Soon, Linda was gone from the house forever, even leaving behind her young son, Gator, and Roy eventually thrust the role of his wife upon the young Dot. This is the reason why Dot holds Linda responsible for having used her to prepare for her own exit from Roy Tillman’s life. What followed for Dot was absolute horror, as she was tremendously beaten and tortured by her husband, photographs of which we have already seen in episode 6.
This horrific past of Dot is what has been keeping the woman running away from Roy so desperately, even though the story behind her escape the first time around is still a mystery. However, the woman seems to finally run out of luck, as she meets with an accident and is admitted to a hospital in North Dakota. Here, she is identified by her original name, Nadine Bump, and so the husband who so endearingly comes to visit her is Sheriff Roy Tillman. The treacherous man finally is able to get hold of his long-missing wife, and it seems like he is all the more desperate to catch her because matters of sexual assault against a child have been involved. It is possible that Tillman got the bizarre accident at the truck stop to play out like that, as he was probably alerted of Dot’s presence by someone at the place. Considering how the man is and how Linda has been shown to exist only as a figment of Dot’s imagination, it might also be possible that Roy Tillman killed Linda after her escape too.
How does Gator unknowingly create more trouble for himself and his father?
Fargo season 5 episode 7 begins with a scene from Bismarck, where Ole Munch has become the newest boarder at a house, along with the old woman, whose name is now revealed to be Irma. Ole was indeed not Irma’s biological son, despite his decision to call the woman his mama, and her real son now appears at her house. The son is clearly a wastrel who still depends on his mother for money, and he is also extremely disrespectful towards her. His heated words against her make Ole Munch come down and show himself to the man, but the latter is not deterred at all. Instead, he unabashedly collects rent from the hitman, saying that he will return every month to gather these payments. Ole does not take this well, and he almost immediately kills the man with an ax.
However, Ole does not dispose of the man’s body and instead makes it a shadowy safeguard against his enemies, who are sure to show up, according to Ole. Surely enough, Gator soon arrives at the house in Bismarck, using the tracker that he had fitted on Ole’s car. Gator wants to get rid of the hitman by hook or by crook, and upon seeing the shadow of a tall, brooding figure seated by the window of the house, he shoots his rifle, believing that he has finally killed his rival. However, in true Home Alone fashion, this figure was not actually Ole, but the dead son of Irma, and the hitman does not even realize that someone has shot his decoy.
Back outside on the street, Gator spots the bag of money that his father, Roy Tillman, had given to Ole Munch, kept inside his car. The young man decides to take back the money with him since he knows that the hitman is now dead, and this creates even more trouble for him. As he shatters the car’s window, the old woman, Irma, catches him in the act and tries to fight him off. A short scuffle follows, in which Gator pushes the woman away, and she lands on the curb, dying within moments of the fatal fall. While Gator runs from the scene with the bag of money, Ole comes out to check what has happened after hearing the scuffle. The man is shocked and angered to find his motherly figure lying dead on the street. He surely figures out that it was Gator, or someone from Roy Tillman’s camp, who had committed this act, for the bag of money is missing, and the hitman will now definitely go on another rage-fueled campaign against the father and son.