After a not-so-great installment of Fear the Walking Dead last week, the spin-off has totally redeemed itself with what could be my favorite episode of the season so far, and possibly one of the best of the series. The episode was entirely focused on ...and more »
Paul Tassi , Contributor News and opinion about video games, technology and the internet Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Fear the Walking Dead
After a not-so-great installment of Fear the Walking Dead last week, the spin-off has totally redeemed itself with what could be my favorite episode of the season so far, and possibly one of the best of the series.
The episode was entirely focused on new season 4 character John Dorie, played by Garret Dillahunt, and his relationship with Laura, played by Jenna Elfman, and know to other members of the group as Naomi.
We’ve known that John was in pursuit of a woman named Laura since the day we met him, someone he loved, who has the other half of a pair of matching pistols with his initials. Last week, we learned that the entire time Laura has been Naomi, who the Clark group saved in episode two, after she had first met John. The bad news? Alicia tells John that she was killed when the baseball diamond fell, though something tells me that may not actually be true.
The entire episode was about how John, living a solitary life in a cabin, stumbles upon Laura/Naomi, badly cut and bleeding in the river outside his house. It’s an episode very reminiscent of Morgan’s time spent with Eastman, another bottle episode, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he just so happens to be John’s new traveling companion.
Fear the Walking Dead
Laura is understandably wary of John, as you have to be of anyone in the world, especially a strange man when you’re a woman who washes up in front of his house. But John is the John we’ve known ever since day one of season 4 of Fear the Walking Dead. He’s kind, goofy and good-hearted, and Laura has nothing to fear from him as he dresses her wounds, creates a “modesty sheet” so she is more comfortable sleeping in his bed while he’s on the couch, and he hesitates to use guns at all, even on the dead.
I love John Dorie as a character. It’s only been five episodes, but he’s already one of my favorite characters in the entire Walking Dead universe. Why? Because he’s a good man. A truly good man.
Sure, The Walking Dead and Fear both have “heroes,” but no one is good all the way through. All the “good guys” have done something crappy and horrible at some point or another in order to survive, compromising their morality for the sake of living or winning a war or what have you. “Wholesome” heroes like Glenn still stab Saviors while they sleep. Daryl is everyone’s favorite grizzled grump but he’s two shades away from a full-on bandit at any given time. And Rick? Don’t even get me started on Rick, who certainly gets the job done, but is practically a Negan in his own right, if not worse in some ways.
The Walking Dead has tried to create characters like John Dorie, but has usually failed. Every so often you get a character like Jesus or Morgan trying to get people to not kill the living, but it’s not the same thing. John Dorie isn’t preachy. He isn’t lecturing others about the sanctity of life and painting the world in shades of black and white. He simply is what he is. A really nice guy who does not seem like he should have survived this long in this kind of climate, but has carried the day all the same.
Fear the Walking Dead
In last night’s episode Dorie explains that he doesn’t like firing his guns (he was both a cop and a wild west show trick shooter) because he once stopped a robbery by trying to wing a perp in the leg, but accidentally his him square on, causing the man to bleed out. He didn’t leave town because he was chased out. He left because everyone started calling him a hero after killing the man.
I love that story like I love all his stories. Like I love how he plays Scrabble by himself. I love how he gets really excited about his ability to make toffee. I love how he explains how to spell his name “Like the fish, but ‘i-e’.” I have a character crush on John Dorie. He’s incredibly well-written, well-acted by the always-excellent Dillahunt (who usually plays villains, so this is a nice change), and he’s the breakout start of Fear the Walking Dead this season. Dorie is a breath of fresh air in a series where everyone apparently has to be some kind of tortured, morally compromised antihero. But not John Dorie. Not yet, anyway, and I hope he stays that way.
As ever, I highly recommend you watch Fear the Walking Dead. I was worried about season 5 changes with the time jump, new cast members and Scott Gimple’s involvement, but for the most part it’s been great, and John Dorie is a big part of the reason why, as last night’s excellent episode demonstrates.
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