Fear the Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 13 was another well-written episode that exceeded the expectations I had before the show premiered. It reminded me again of how much I miss John Dorie, but offered an intriguing, layered storyline that connected characters’ backgrounds in a way that was quite unexpected.
This article has MAJOR spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 13, “JD.” This review is based on the early AMC+ release.
John Dorie’s Dad Was a Welcome Addition, But Now I Miss John Dorie Even More
Keith Carradine as John Dorie Sr. was a welcome addition to this episode. I knew his half-brother, David Carradine, well from the Kung Fu series. As for Keith, he’s a powerhouse actor known for series like Deadwood, Complete Savages, Dexter, Dollhouse, Damages, Missing, Fargo, The Big Bang Theory, Madam Secretary, and more. He has just the right cowboy swagger to pull off the role of John Dorie’s father, and I imagine he’ll make a formidable opponent when he faces off against Teddy (John Glover.)
John Dorie Sr. really doesn’t have any of his son’s mannerisms, but he brings a similar character as a talented gunslinger with a penchant for justice. He abandoned his son years ago, thinking that he would ultimately be a bad influence (but which, in reality, was just the easy way out of dealing with a difficult situation.) In this episode, he and June have to pair up to solve a mystery, and the father-in-law/daughter-in-law dynamic is played incredibly well. The two actors have a great on-screen chemistry, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them together in future episodes. I’m glad John Dorie Sr. isn’t just a one-off character.
However, every minute he was on the screen made me feel sad again about John Dorie. Dorie was my favorite character in the series since Nick died, and killing him off left a wound that just really isn’t going to heal. I kept wondering how the scenes would play out if John Dorie Jr. was still there, interacting with his dad alongside June.
Dorie Sr. (aka JD) has only one goal in mind: ending Teddy and his “End is the Beginning” cult. We learned that Teddy is the SAME man that he planted evidence on all those years ago so he could put him behind bars forever. This quote from John Dorie Jr. sums it up, in case you need a refresher. (Thanks to the Walking Dead Wiki for this quote.)
Everybody knew this guy was guilty. They couldn’t pin any of the murders directly to him, at least not with anything that would stick in court. Then my dad found somethin’–a purse belonging to one of the missing women, squirreled away in the back of that guy’s closet. That was enough to put that sumbitch away for the rest of his life. […] He planted that purse. […] Yes, sir. He broke the rules to set things right, so that people could feel like they were living in a world where they knew which way was up. The people that knew what my dad had done, his friends on the force, you know, they were happy to get a dangerous guy off the street, save the women he might’ve hurt–that he would’ve hurt… but they never looked at him the same way again. It was like they weren’t certain they could trust anything he did now. Marriage to my momma fell apart, he moved up north, he started drinkin’… God–he did the right thing, and it cost him. It cost him somethin’ hard. […] … When my dad disappeared, that was hard on my momma, that was hard on me. But he had to do what he did–it’s who he was.
So back in the day, Teddy was a serial killer that no one could catch until JD planted evidence on him. According to JD, Teddy was always crazy and always had the same cult ideas even back then. Only now, thanks to the apocalypse, he’s been able to gather people to his cause and create a following so he can ultimately pull off a mass murder on a huge scale.
Most of the time in this universe, we have stories of characters who changed drastically after the apocalypse. This is refreshing, in a way, because Teddy is exactly the same as he was before the apocalypse. He was a killer and a psychopath then and he still is now, only with power that he gained in the vacuum of the end-of-the-world.
Morgan & Sherry Had Some Self-Centered Moments in This Episode
It’s good to have characters with flaws, but sometimes it’s really hard to watch.
Morgan has repeatedly been making me angry this season. From his decision to betray his friends to protect Virginia to his decision to let Virginia and Dakota leave together, I’ve been doubting the rationality behind his choices. Then in this episode, he can’t forgive June for killing Virginia and kicks her out, despite Grace obviously needing medical help. At the end of the episode he finally changed his mind, but it took him a long time to get there.
Because I’ve liked Morgan in the past, I’m going to chalk this one up to grief. On The Walking Dead, he literally went crazy when his son died and needed personal mentoring to get pulled back into sanity. The show can’t really go there again with him, since they just had an episode where Daniel went crazy. But I’d imagine that his best friend’s death really messed with his dead, and that was further compounded by the death of Grace’s child, whom he probably had planned on raising like his own. He’s spinning out and seeking other people to blame. But June’s decision to kill Virginia was the right one. She had already spared Virginia once, and look what happened. Virginia isn’t someone they could ever trust.
Meanwhile, Sherry won the “character who annoyed me the most” award. She ignored Dwight’s warnings and literally ran her horse to death for a reason that didn’t even make sense. All of a sudden, she decided she needed to leave town as fast as possible and try to find Negan to kill him. Her reason for staying away from Dwight — Virginia — was taken away from her, so subconsciously she had to find another reason. I’m not surprised she’s suffering serious PTSD still from what happened with Negan, but I’m so upset about that horse. 🙁 In the end, she did come to her senses and it looks like she’s going to stick around.
June’s Scene at the Funeral Was Heartbreaking
Jenna Elfman as June had me in tears during John Dorie’s belated funeral scene at the end of the episode. As she read his letter, she broke down crying. Her cries were authentic and brought tears to my eyes as I watched. The look on JD’s face when he learned that his son had forgiven him was another touching moment in that scene.
Fear the Walking Dead has really been pulling on the heartstrings lately, and I truly feel that no character is safe anymore in this apocalyptic world. The show has reached a depth of storytelling that it avoided in the past. (I still think of that scene where Dorie split a bullet with an ax or when Dwight was sitting in a car and zombies were pawing at a broken window but somehow didn’t crawl inside.) There were a lot of times when this show took the easy way out or erred on the side of being too campy. But this season is different. John Dorie’s death was heartbreaking. Last week’s Mother’s Day episode was gut-wrenching. And now this latest episode is another contender in the “breaking viewers’ hearts” category. The writing really has a depth to it that I haven’t seen in some time.
The main gist of this episode was dealing with the pain of your past. June had to face the pain of Dorie’s death by finally reading his letter. JD has been running form his past for his entire life and almost did it again by abandoning June, but held firm at the end. Morgan was running from his own mistakes by kicking out June, but corrected his error in the end. Sherry couldn’t let go of her past and almost lost Dwight in the process.
To me, though, the most heartbreaking story is John Dorie’s. He was abandoned by his father without a face-to-face goodbye. Then June did the same to him at the cabin. He never gave up and searched for her anyway. But when they were finally reunited, Virginia ripped them apart. John Dorie still fought for them, but June didn’t want to abandon her chance at building a hospital to be with him. In the end, John was going to die one way or another. Either from despair at his own hand or at Dakota’s hand when he stepped forward to help his friends. Dorie’s story is a heartbreaking tragedy, but I hope that June and JD can bring something good out of it.