I never thought we’d say this about any episode in The Walking Dead universe, but this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead was downright beautiful. Romantic relationships are not new to the TWD universe — Maggie and Glenn, Rick and Michonne, Nick and Luci — but this week’s Fear set out to do one thing with its episode: Tell a terrific, heartfelt and heartbreaking love story.
In that regard, it succeeded. Wildly.
With an episode told almost entirely in flashback, we meet John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt). Set two or three years ago (at least), Dorie lives on his own in a small Texas house near the river. In a lot of ways, he’s got it made. He lives comfortably. He fishes, cooks, cleans his guns, watches movies, eats popcorn, does the household chores, kills the occasional zombie that floats ashore in front of his home, goes to sleep and wakes up to do it all over again. Dorie’s only problem is that he has no one with whom to share his comfortable life. He’s lonely, although — as we learn later — Dorie’s exile is not only self-imposed but seems to precede the arrival of the zombies.
One morning, Naomi washes up on shore with a giant gash in her side. John rescues her and nurses her back to health. Naomi is initially skittish around John, skeptical, perhaps, that any man can be as good as he seems to be. He makes her dinner, teaches her to fish — and, importantly — he also gives her space, lets her make her own decision about staying, and also never stops Naomi from fending for herself.