Excellent work, Lois. Your analysis — spotlighting the major plotline points in bold — drives home a key takeaway: No matter what we consider to be significant events in the plot, occurrences which twist the narrative in a new direction, every scene needs to MOVE the story forward.
So the scenes you highlight (not in bold) which provide “insight into characters and their relationships”, each of them impacts the story through personal interactions, revelations, exposition, and so forth.
It’s interesting you interpret the ending that Mildred and Dixon have let go of their rage and that “they don’t” decide to kill the rapist. My reading of the last moments in the script / movie is that it’s up in the air. In fact, the last line of dialogue is Mildred saying, “I guess we can decide along the way.”
Even with Mildred ‘hearing’ the central theme of the story (as far I’m concerned) via her ex-husband’s youthful girlfriend Penelope — “Anger begets greater anger” — does it really take root in Mildred’s consciousness? In a more traditional movie, that would be the wisdom which turns around the Protagonist. Mildred would see the folly of her way and give up wanting to seek justice for her tragic loss.
I’m not so sure that by the end, she hasn’t given up her rage, but rather it has transformed into something much more specific: Revenge. Instead of flailing around wildly, inflicting pain on a variety of subjects in the town, which is one way of describing her chain of actions throughout the story, by the end, she has a distinct, specific focus: Killing the other rapist. She may not be there quite yet in terms of going through with it, but at least it provides her a particular object upon which she can focus her anger.
Dixon has his own spin in this psychological arena, more grounded in the evolution of his anger exhibited largely through bigotry, but I’ll get into that in our discussion of characters.
Thanks, Lois, for that breakdown of the major plotline points in Three Billboards. Most helpful in getting a grasp of the story’s structure.