Fargo – Season 5 Episode 3 “The Paradox of Intermediate Transactions” Recap & Review

The Paradox of Intermediate Transactions

Episode 3 of Fargo’s new season begins with Roy Tillman reaching the gas station where Alvie was murdered by Ole. Gator was spared so he could relay the message they “owe” him. Roy instructs Gator to dump the body with the truck and make it look like an accident. Since they control all the evidence, they can easily falsify it. They’ve been doing it in a lot of cases, as we discover later in the episode. Roy also asks his son to visit the police station where the evidence on the fallen kidnapper, Donny Ireland, is stored.

Witt, who has now been discharged and advised to bed rest, comes down to the station. He is startled when he sees Gator hovering around the evidence box. He also sees the entitled and deluded fascist putting something in his pocket. When confronted, Gator simply asserts his perceived authority over Witt. His megalomaniacal outlook is evident in how he handles the state trooper. Witt shortly receives an email from Indira with a photo of Dorothy. He now starts researching the Tillman father-son duo and their corrupt procedural practices.

Roy goes back home that night to find Odin, his father, at the house. Roy remarks the presence of Odin’s men outside. On the allusion, Odin demands that Roy get them more weapons. However, the sheriff sternly establishes that given the current situation, it would be a risky move. His current wife, Karen, invites him for a drink but Roy goes to check on their twin girls. When Karen comes up to bed with Roy, he is deep in thought, looking at the ceiling and smoking a cigarette. She tries to entice him into role play – it is indicated they do it frequently – but Roy’s eyes are affixed on an apparition of Dorothy, who was Nadine to him.

Dorothy doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned. During the wee hours of the night, she goes around the streets changing the name signs in order to confuse Tillman’s men. She anticipates they will be coming for her family soon and decides to go to Gun World on the eve of Halloween. Her crisp knowledge of weapons surprises Wayne. After spending a handful of money, she discovers that there is a mandatory waiting period of a week for background checks before she can get the weapons. 

In an inspired and strange flashback, which jumps at us out of nowhere, we are explained the origins of Ole’s ancestors. Almost 500 years past in 1522 in Wales, we see Ole -or one of his ancestors – participating in a bizarre religious rite and eating food from a bowl placed on a cadaver in a coffin. What he is really eating is someone else’s sin. Usually, in British traditions, such sin-eaters were poor wretchers. They “leased” their own soul to save that of others. 

For them, sin became a vicious cycle from which they couldn’t escape…something that we see with Ole. The man has made his way to Bismarck, North Dakota in the present. He takes refuge at an old woman’s house, telling her clearly “I live here now.” Indira and Captain Muscavage visit Lorraine at her office. Danish is by her side and the duo dismiss any questions Indira tries to pose. It is a blatant display of power and class, undermining the authority of the police. 

It is also revealed that Danish has put an ex-CIA agent to task to find out Dorotthy’s past life. In a smartly edited montage that intercuts between Ole, Dorothy, and Roy, we see a lot of action on Halloween Night. Roy has come up with a plan to use Halloween to send Gator and some trusted men to take out Dorothy. Ole has his own revenge arc that will finish at Tillman’s house. Dorothy goes trick-or-treating with Wayne and Scotty, fully aware of what is coming for her. Roy had earlier called her at the house, indicating that something was going to happen that night.  

When she sees a dubious-looking van going around in circles and finally reversing to stop near her house, Dorothy prepares herself and the house. In a bizarre sequence, we see Ole visiting a crypt room in the middle of nowhere (it looks like Roy’s farm), stripping himself completely naked, and bathing in the blood of a sacrificed goat…it is really too much and too little to comment on right now. But one thing is for sure – Karen and the twins are in danger, as the final scene in the episode is of Ole going into Tillman’s house. 

The Episode Review

Magical realism and Fargo are no strangers. Regular viewers of the show will be well versed with the UFO in Season 2 or the mysterious bowling alley from the third season. But I did not expect this sort of realization of the story strand in Season 5. Ole Munch was quaint, for sure…but now he is much more than that. Mythical, mystical, and as the final shot suggests – endlessly primal. 

The razor-sharp editing to bring everything together at the very end is only one of the episode’s brilliant ingenious moments. The barrage of subplots and narrative conceits looks set to continue in the upcoming episodes. It has always been the case with all Fargo seasons till now. Because the gestation period for the plot is so short, things keep coming at you from all directions. There is no holding back in terms of the extremes of what could happen. It is precisely what makes these narratives so surreal to watch.

All of this is because there is so much story to tell. The eclectic collection of characters and the depth of creativity in the writing keeps the action going. Lorraine’s socio-politically charged monologue and Ole’s symbolic sin-eating allegory ensure that Episode 3 establishes a discourse around race, class, and man playing God…one that should only gather momentum as the ball gets rolling.

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You can read our full review of Fargo Season 5 here!
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