[This story contains spoilers from Fargo’s season five finale, “Bisquik.”]
For Fargo season five star Juno Temple, nothing was going to get in the way of Dorothy “Dot” Lyon’s mostly happy ending.
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When the dust settled on Noah Hawley’s tremendous fifth season of Fargo, Dot finally overcame her wickedly abusive ex-husband Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm), his hired gun who happened to be a 500-year-old sin-eater named Ole Munch (Sam Spruell) and her mistrustful mother-in-law, Lorraine Lyon (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Dot thought her quarrel with Munch was settled when he saved her and freed her at Roy’s ranch so she could put a stop to the latter’s vicious cycle of abuse once and for all, but a year after Roy ended up in handcuffs, Dot and her daughter Scotty (Sienna King) arrived home to see Munch sitting in their living room with their respective, unsuspecting husband and father, Wayne (David Rysdahl).
The subsequent final sequence purposefully harks back to the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men (2007), when Carla Jean Moss (Kelly Macdonald) finds Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) waiting in her bedroom, so he can fulfill the lethal promise he once made to her deceased husband, Llewelyn (Josh Brolin). However, Dot refuses to play Munch’s deadly game and instead kills him with kindness in a way that’s helpful, not harmful. But make no mistake, if Dot’s biscuits of forgiveness failed to mend fences, Temple believes that she still had a backup plan for the sake of protecting her loved ones.
“In this moment, she has the two things [Wayne and Scotty] she loves the most in that room with her, and yes, I’m sure she’s prepared at any given moment to make sure that those two things are utterly safe. Nothing else matters,” Temple tells The Hollywood Reporter. “But she knows that no one has been kind to Munch in a very, very, very long time and that kindness is going to have some kind of an impact. I don’t think she knew what that impact was going to be, but she had faith that it was going to be something that wasn’t violent.”
Unfortunately, the tragic aspect of Dot’s otherwise feel-good ending happened during the Tillman Ranch conflict, as the well-intentioned North Dakota State Trooper, Witt Farr (Lamorne Morris), intervened right before Dot could finish off a wounded Roy. In the proceeding gunfire between Roy’s local militia and law enforcement, Roy was able to flee on foot, and Witt pursued him to his underground tunnel, only to meet the wrong end of Roy’s knife. A year later, Dot, Scotty and Indira (Richa Moorjani) are shown visiting his grave, and Temple believes that Witt’s death will haunt her for the rest of her days.
“She’s going to be aware of her involvement in the passing of an extraordinary life that died saving her and a lot of other people,” Temple says. “So I don’t think the regret of not shooting [Roy] in one go is something she will feel, but she will absolutely regret that she couldn’t prevent Witt Farr from dying.”
Temple is most proud of the fact that she was able to portray a heroic survivor of domestic abuse, someone who still went on to have a rewarding second act. During filming, the English actor and Ted Lasso star collected a number of stories from survivors and their loved ones, and those real-life accounts helped inform Dot and her behavior.
“A lot of brilliant, brave people shared things with me that are now a part of Dot, and I’m so proud of that,” Temple says. “It is really important that we talk about these experiences that women go through, because it only ends in two ways: either you survive it or you don’t. So they are truly unsung heroes, and we walk past them every day.”
Below, during a recent spoiler conversation with THR, Temple also discusses one of the season’s most satisfying arcs between Dot and her mother-in-law.
So the season began with a showdown between Dot and Ole Munch (Sam Spruell) and it ended with a showdown between the two of them at the dinner table. But instead of one killing the other, Dot killed him with genuine kindness. Were you relieved that Noah Hawley chose to end this story by stopping the long-running cycle of violence?
Absolutely. I thought it was truly genius. Munch is the one that is carrying the debt. He’s the one that keeps an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and a life for a life. So the fact that this character is dealing with that and this installment ends with the forgiveness of that, I think it’s magic television.
As the scene moved from the living room and kitchen to the dining room, do you think Dot had contingencies in place if her offer of forgiveness didn’t land?
Dot knows that Munch knows that they’re somewhat equals when it comes to a violent fight. He has experienced that. She also knows that there is kindness there, because he brought the tiger out of the hole [at Roy’s ranch] and told her that it’s not a fair fight to fight a tiger in a cage. So she knows that he respects her and she definitely respects him. She also knows how dangerous he can be. So, in this moment, she has the two things [Wayne and Scotty] she loves the most in that room with her, and yes, I’m sure she’s prepared at any given moment to make sure that those two things are utterly safe. Nothing else matters. But she knows the kindness that is there, and she knows that no one has been kind to Munch in a very, very, very long time and that kindness is going to have some kind of an impact. I don’t think she knew what that impact was going to be, but she had faith that it was going to be something that wasn’t violent.
Early on, the show led me to wonder if Dot and Munch were both superhuman forces to varying degrees. Munch has seemingly been around for hundreds of years and has seen everything there is to see, and the way he spoke about Dorothy and her survival skills with such fearful reverence is probably what made me consider, however briefly, that she, too, may be supernatural. Did you ever entertain that thought to the point of asking Noah?
No, she’s an unsung hero. We walk past them every day. We meet them every day. She’s a survivor of severe domestic abuse, and she’s a survivor who’s come out of that with forgiveness and kindness and the absolute utter desire to love. So that makes her a hero in itself.
Dot also helped put a stop to Roy’s (Jon Hamm) pattern of violence, but Lamorne Morris’ state trooper, Witt Farr, lost his life in the process. He nearly died trying to protect Dot in the first episode as well. Do you think she’ll wrack herself with guilt over not killing Roy with her only and only shot? Is she going to toss and turn at night over not hitting him in a vital organ?
I think she intended for Roy to feel it. She did not want Witt Farr to go after him, but Witt wouldn’t let that happen. Of course, she’s going to be aware of her involvement in the passing of an extraordinary life that died saving her and a lot of other people. But I think she wanted Roy to feel each bullet. So I don’t think the regret of not shooting him in one go is something she will feel, but she will absolutely regret that she couldn’t prevent Witt Farr from dying.
I can only imagine what it would be like for survivors of domestic abuse to watch Dot’s arc unfold. Have you received any messages or letters from various survivors around the world?
No, I haven’t yet, but when we were filming, a lot of people talked to me about it and about their experiences with it, whether it’s happened to them or happened to somebody incredibly close to them. (Temple gets emotional.) And it was something that really shaped Dot for me. I had so many people that were open and honest about their experiences, and I am truly in awe of what women survive and how they can then tell their stories. A lot of brilliant, brave people shared things with me that are now a part of Dot, and I’m so proud of that. It is really important that we talk about these experiences that women go through, because it only ends in two ways: either you survive it or you don’t. So they are truly unsung heroes, and like I said, we walk past them every day.
One of the most heartwarming aspects of this season has been the evolution of Dot’s relationship with Lorraine (Jennifer Jason Leigh), her mother-in-law.
As a reader or viewer, were you quite moved by that scene where Indira (Richa Moorjani) opens Lorraine’s eyes to their similarities and everything Dot has endured?
Absolutely. Lorraine and Dot had that great scene earlier where Dot disarms her, but Indira stops Lorraine [in episode six] and she has to listen and she has to process. It’s not, “What am I going to do about this little tart that my son fell in love with?” This is a moment of like, “Huh, maybe this woman is teaching me something.” So that’s a great moment for Lorraine. Noah and I talked about how Dot wants a mother figure, and obviously, Lorraine has not given it to her. And as we watched this season, they have such great scenes of feline activity and battling against each other, but then Lorraine learns more and more how similar they are.
Dot then asks Lorraine on that phone call [in the penultimate episode], “Why are you saying this? Why [help] now?” She needs to know what Lorraine wants from Dot coming home, and she did not expect to finally get the mother she’s always wanted in that moment. It’s like if Scotty was playing a hockey game and she wasn’t playing her best and she just missed a big shot. She’d then run to her mom and her mom would tell her, “You’ve got this. You’re going to get the next one.” So that phone call was Lorraine’s version of that for Dot, and I’m not sure that Dot has had that before. So, yeah, that relationship was one that I thought was really special, and I’m including Indira in that equation and how she starts to respect and help Dot, too.
Earlier this season, David Rysdahl and I discussed how genuine Dot’s feelings were for Wayne and whether she viewed him as a sanctuary at first. And he was convinced that it was all genuine, otherwise, she just would’ve kept running.
She loves him so much.
And it seems like their nuclear family has only grown stronger from this harrowing experience. She’s even joined the family business.
Yeah, and the reason why she didn’t tell Wayne about [her past] is because saying Roy’s name out loud makes him real again. She also doesn’t think she can win if she had to take him to court. He would win. He would fucking win, and that’s the sad truth that happens in the world still. So the secrets that she’s keeping are truly out of protecting a future, a future that is so important to her, from a past that she does not want anywhere near that future.
Me and David talked a lot about the relationship and how they met and how patient he would’ve been with her. Can you imagine what it would’ve been like for her to have a daughter, and what kind of a man would’ve helped her through that? So that’s true love. I don’t think he ever would say, “Why?” He would say, “What do you need me to do?”
I know forgiveness is a key theme of this season, but were you surprised by Dot’s willingness to bring baked goods to Gator (Joe Keery) in prison?
No, not at all, actually. I think she will take Scotty every Sunday. I really believe that.
What day on set best sums up your Fargo experience?
Oh my God, I don’t know how to answer that when each episode had a day that was integral. David and I had one day in the kitchen where Dot was talking about protecting the house, but doing it in a kind of DIY way. It was something close to 11 pages of dialogue, and we’d run it so many times. We’d thought a lot about how to play that scene because it wasn’t just manipulative. There was an element of that, but it was also desperation to protect her household. So we’d done it a bunch of times, and then we did it one time where the entire crew applauded us. So we were like, “That means we nailed it!” And we felt it. The crew on Fargo are next level. I wish I could kidnap them all and take them everywhere. They were unbelievable. You could tell when they were really in it or really enjoyed a moment, and that was precious.
Is Venom 3 next for you?
Yeah, it is. I’ve already started, actually. So it is the next thing, and then, who knows?
Fargo season five is now available via FX on Hulu.
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