[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 13, “J.D.”]
Dealing with the in-laws can be tough at the best of times. But June (Jenna Elfman) has the misfortune of meeting hers—or one of them, at least—at what might be the worst of times, for her or anyone. And it certainly doesn’t help that John’s (Garret Dillahunt) dad is a storm cloud to his son’s sunshine.
Meanwhile, Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista)’s relationship troubles continue…but she finally tells him what is at the core of her inability to find inner peace. Here’s how it happens.
Meet John Dorie Sr.
After having an argument with Morgan (Lennie James) about how she “couldn’t do the one thing John asked of her” (which was going with him to the cabin), June takes off to continue her search for answers about The End Is the Beginning. Dwight follows her, and Sherry follows Dwight, and they’re in the middle of a little reunion on the road when someone starts firing on them. June takes off to find the assailant, which ends with her inside an RV staring down the barrel of a gun.
Yep, that’s John’s dad (Keith Carradine). He attacked the group because he thought they were part of the cult, and he is a man determined to kill Teddy (John Glover). As many fans predicted, John Dorie Sr.’s grudge against the cult leader goes way, way back. He was the man J.D. Sr. put away using less-than-clean methods, and the toll that dishonesty took was huge. The rest, as we know, is history: Consumed by self-hatred, John’s dad left their family.
Closest Thing to Family
June and J.D. quickly realize who they are to each other as he takes note of the gun she nearly uses on him, with “J.D.” inscribed on the handle, and officially introduces himself as John Dorie. A tenuous peace is formed as they travel to an orchard in search of answers, and then to the department store, where June can see to a wound J.D. received. It almost seems they’ll be friends. J.D. stops calling June “sweetheart,” which she hated. He tells her stories of his son’s early years, about John’s taste in movies, his love for all things butterscotch, and so on. But then J.D. locks June in the back room under the guise of keeping her safe, because she’s now the closest thing he has to family.
From there, he heads to his son’s cabin. He finds a man living there who stole John’s other gun, and they fight. J.D. gets the upper hand—but then he sees his son’s grave and freezes. The man shoots him and he topples, placing his hand on the cross with John’s name.
But there’s been enough death in the past few episodes, so the TWD grim reaper spares J.D. Dwight and Sherry manage to find June (somehow?!) and free her, and they all wind up at John’s cabin in just enough time to save J.D.’s life. Later, they hold a makeshift memorial for the kindhearted gunslinger at which June finally reads his letter she’d been keeping in her jacket pocket. And wouldn’t you know, John Dorie makes explicit not only how deeply he loved June, but that he understood why his father left and that he forgave him for it. It’s tempting to find this all a little too convenient, but Jenna Elfman’s acting is simply stellar; it’s hard not to get misty-eyed when she reads aloud that John will love June “forever.”
The B-story this episode revolves around Dwight and Sherry as they search for June, but really, Sherry just wants to leave and go kill Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)—what a combo she and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) would make! The question the episode wants us to grapple with is whether or not she’ll leave Dwight to get her revenge. Except, unfortunately, we already kind of know she won’t; Fear is several years behind the main show and Sherry never showed up again, so she was either going to die en route to Alexandria or stay put. After John’s funeral she chooses the latter, and she and her husband decide to “start over” together.
As the episode ends, June and crew, plus J.D., head back to Morgan’s settlement. Morgan is, of course, interested in anything and everything J.D. can tell him about Teddy and his followers, and he asks June to help Grace (Karen David), who isn’t doing well after the events of last episode. All part ways, and with J.D. on their side, it seems possible that the end of “The End Is The Beginning”…is beginning.
- I wanted to love this episode, but I wish Keith Carradine had played someone other than John’s father. It feels too convenient that June would run into John Dorie Sr. right after his son’s death.
- That said, performances in this episode were great again—Jenna Elfman especially. John’s death was heartbreaking, but June reading his note was just as emotional. Every ounce of the character’s grief and pain was apparent, and it was difficult to make it through that scene without shedding a tear.
- Part of me was hoping Sherry, or Sherry and Dwight, was returning to the main show to team up with Maggie in Season 11. I know the timeline doesn’t work out, but I would’ve been willing to forgive that.
- Congrats to everyone who predicted Teddy was the guy John’s dad put away. I’m interested to see where that whole storyline goes. Does J.D. kill Teddy? Does Teddy kill J.D.? It’d be cruel to introduce John’s dad and then take him out right away, but I wouldn’t put it past this show.
- Rating: 3.5/5. A solid episode bogged down by some semi-implausible developments (how did Dwight and Sherry find June so quickly?!). That said, it seems like FTWD is setting up big things to happen in these last three installments.
Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC