TV

Is ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Playing A Cruel Trick On Its Viewers?

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Through the first six episodes of the fourth season of Fear the Walking Dead, I have genuinely come to like this show more than The Walking Dead, even at TWD‘s peak. It’s doing everything right. It’s telling compelling, self-contained stories within an intriguing season-long arc. It has maintained a consistent tone; the characters do not make dumb decisions; and it’s using different timelines to tease out great little mysteries. Most importantly, it’s building amazing characters with motives that do not change from week to week; characters who evolve; and characters who learn from their mistakes.

The best thing about this season, however, is Garret Dillahunt’s John Dorie, who has proven himself to be perhaps the only adult character in the entire The Walking Dead universe who does not have a dark side. There is no moral ambiguity where it concerns John. He’ll never be confused for a Rick, or a Carol, or even a Morgan. He’s good people. He looks out for others, and the only thing he feels tortured by is being treated like a hero for doing his job. I like a good villain, a great antihero, or a morally conflicted character as much as the next guy, but it’s good to have an honest-to-God Shane in the zombie apocalypse.

All of which is to say: So help me God, if Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg kill John Dorie off after only six episodes, I will never forgive them. No sir, it is not John Dorie’s time to go yet. Six episodes is not enough John Dorie. This is not a Joss Whedon series, damnit!

The good news is, I don’t think he’ll die, and I’ll tell you why. Killing a major character after only six episodes would be unprecedented, even for The Walking Dead. Moreover, this series is trying to regain viewers, not lose them, and killing off John Dorie this soon is the surest way to do that. It’s too cruel even for The Walking Dead universe to kill off a character just as he is reunited with his long-lost love. It doesn’t make any sense. Besides, when Nick was shot at the end of an episode, they stuck with it and saw his death to the end before the credits rolled. Not so with John, whose life is left hanging in the balance. Characters almost never die in these kinds of cliffhangers. It’s in the “Who shot J.R.?” playbook: They survive. They always survive.

There’s must be some hard candy under John Dorie’s jacket or something that prevented the bullet from killing him. More telling, however, is what Madison told Alycia when she said to pack a “Just in Case” truck, the very one that Noami can be seen driving to the stand-off at the end of the episode. “Grab some rations, a few medical supplies, and a couple of rifles,” Madison told Alycia.

Plus, look where the bullet went in. Below the heart, beneath the rib cage, to the outside of the large intestine.

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There’s no major organs there. There are medical supplies in that truck, and Naomi is a nurse. All she has to do is stop the bleeding and patch him up. He’s going to be fine.

Unless he’s not. Unless Garret Dillahunt could only sign on for six episodes. Unless Fear the Walking Dead is shaking up all the tropes. Unless Fear the Walking Dead does not appreciate just how valuable John Dorie is to the rebooted series.

But I think he’ll be fine. Why? Check out the spoiler below if you must know.

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That’s Dillahunt filming episode 12.

And Dillahunt took this photo of Colman Domingo directing episode 12.

He’s gonna be alright.


Additional Notes

— With the fate of John Dorie answered, we’re still left to wonder about the fate of Madison. From the looks of it, Naomi at some point took off with the Just In Case truck, presumably abandoning Alycia and her mother, which must be why Alycia is angry enough at Naomi to take a shot at her. She likely blames Naomi for her mother’s fate, which is still undetermined.

— Assuming that Fear wraps up the Vultures’ storyline within the first half of the season, there’s a lot left to answer in the next two episodes, namely how the stadium settlement fell apart so quickly after the Vultures left, and what happened after the Vultures left to allow Alycia and Nick to harbor enough resentment to want to kill them? Did Mel offer a clue to Madison before he departed? “Be careful, Madison,” he said. “In my experience, the really bad stuff? You never see it coming.”

— There’s still some unfinished business between Madison and Strand regarding her decision to save him after the dam explosion at the end of season three. I’m also beginning to believe that the series is never going to fully return to that and properly explain what happened. We’re going to learn about it in dribs and drabs, as we did in this episode when we found out that Madison pulled Strand out of the water and nursed him back to health in a cave. Also, that Madison went out and found Luci on her own.

— Even if John Dorie survives, it doesn’t exactly remove Alycia and Co. from the stand-off they are in with the Vultures. There are still a lot of guns pointed at each other right now.

— We finally learned Naomi’s backstory, too, and it’s a heartbreaker. She left to find antibiotics for a friend with pneumonia, but by the time she’d returned, her friend had died, turned, and killed everyone in a FEMA shelter, including Naomi’s daughter, Rose. Ouch.

— Finally, if John Dorie is following the Shane storyline this season — a mysterious gunslinger who tries to leave his past behind him, refusing even to carry a gun — it means that he’s the one that will eventually have to pick up his gun and kill Mel. If Fear is really really following the Shane storyline, John Dorie will then have to leave the show after killing Mel. I hope the series doesn’t go that far with it.

— FYI: There’s no episode next week for the Memorial Day holiday, so we won’t really find out John Dorie’s fate for two weeks. That’s the cruelest twist of all.

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