One thing I’ve always loved about Fear the Walking Dead, is that they spend time on individual characters and small groups while still doing the work. Whether it is plot or character development, something is being built each episode. When we last left off, John Dorie had snapped. Despite John’s love for June, John’s desire to be done with killing was a stronger pull. So John took the fork in the road, and he left everyone behind.
Poor John Dorie is so done with killing that he can’t seem to get around to killing himself. Every time the gun barrel meets John’s chin, a walker stumbles into view outside his missing front door. It is legitimately the worst sharpshooter game ever. But John is ready to be done. The fight has gone out of him. As John later confesses to Morgan, “I’m not meant to live in this world.” And that is the problem, right?
In an undead apocalypse, are you a survivor or do you give up right away? What do you do if you are physically equipped to survive in that world, but mentally you do not have a place? And this is where John Dorie falls. John still believes in doing right. He believes in justice. But this is a world that has very little of either. Dorie knows that, and it is all the more tragic that his instinct to do right was his undoing.
On a trip in to town for a new movie, John runs into Dakota and his old friend, Morgan. After a narrow escape from one of Virginia’s rangers, the group returns to John’s cabin. John offers to help Morgan and Dakota get across the blocked bridge out of town, but he refuses to join them after that. It does not take more than a minute and a glance at the Scrabble tiles on the table for Morgan to size up the situation. Morgan and John’s friendship has come full circle. At the start, Morgan was lost, and John gave Morgan a purpose and a reason to go on. Now it is John that has lost his purpose. Morgan pushes John, but John is too far gone. John just wants to find a door to his cabin and call it a day.
After a particularly brutal battle with a horde on the bridge, Morgan makes one more attempt to reach his friend. Morgan cautions John not to emulate his father’s mistakes, but John says he understands his father better now. “I’ll be damned if I’m gonna stand by and let my best friend kill himself!”a frustrated Morgan says. Morgan forces John’s hand, and he radios John’s location to Virginia.
While Morgan is off in the woods, John and Dakota work on the truck. John and Dakota search the mass of walker bodies to find a clip that has fallen from the engine wires, and one gets a hold of Dakota. Panicked, Dakota pulls a knife out of her boot, and she dispatches the walker. But it is too late. Dakota’s secret has been exposed and she knows it. John knows it too. Dakota is holding the knife that was used to murder Cameron. While Dakota points one of John’s guns at him, he asks Dakota why she killed Cameron. Dakota says that he told Virginia about her escape route out of the complex.
If that seems like a rather harsh response to a snitch, you’d be right. Dakota argues that in this world, people kill people. “It’s what they do,” Dakota says. There is no person in this world more philosophically opposed to John Dorie than Dakota. Eager to do right, John pleads with Dakota to let him help her. John reasons aloud that his purpose in life might be to help Dakota learn to see the world differently. As John’s pitch really starts to get going, Dakota responds with the gun, and a bloody John goes into the river below.
Dakota Defers A Tough Decision
I don’t think Dakota thought much beyond that moment, because when Morgan returns, a bloody Dakota tells Morgan that his gunshot bestie is floating down the river. Much like her sister, Dakota settles on the best argument to force Morgan to help her. Dakota also shares that she was the one that saved Morgan at the Gulch. With a combo of “you owe me” and “only you can kill my sister,” Dakota makes her case. Dakota still has a lot of problems with her sister, but I would wager that killing people isn’t really one of those issues. I think John might argue that too.
I think I first started to truly love this show with the introduction of John Dorie. Not only because the character is so full of hope and kindness, but also because Garret Dillahunt is a true all-star. In the hands of another actor, John Dorie would have been loved because the character was lovable. But in the hands of Dillahunt, the audience could truly care about John Dorie. Dillahunt has a knack for breathing real life into the characters he plays, and John Dorie was one of his best. This is a heartbreaker of an episode, but I think we always knew we wouldn’t get to have John in our lives forever.
If you ever enjoyed John Dorie or Garret Dillahunt, you should definitely watch this episode. The topic of suicide is never an easy one to cover, and in the a world filled with the undead, it isn’t an idea that you can ignore. John’s struggle to believe that he is still meant for this world is very real. In the hands of another actor, I may not have bought his abandonment of June. But when John said goodbye to June before he returned to his cabin, I did. In the end, John’s desire to be better was his last instinct. “There’s still time,” John says with a smile. To the last, John Dorie had hope. And we love him all the more for it.
ODDS & EGGS
- The movie John watches in his cabin was “Meet John Doe” – the first movie he watched with June
- According to the movie rental review clipboard, John finds “Labyrinth” unsettling, but “Watership Down” was not long enough.
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