If you’re following reviews at the UK pace, with episodes screening on AMC on BT TV, hit this link and go back to episode S04E03.
Airing Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the US
Director: Michael E Satrazemis
Writers: Anna Fishko
Essential Plot Points:
- John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) lives a quiet life in his remote cabin. When a woman (Jenna Elfman) washes up on his riverbank, it breaks the solitude of his existence.
- Naming her Laura, as she doesn’t share her real name, the pair get to know each other as she recovers enough from her injuries to leave.
It’s so easy to see the bad in people in a world that’s gone to hell, the way it has in Fear The Walking Dead. We’ve been loving the character of John Dorie but openly worrying about what kind of a man he is. Is he searching out a one-sided love, tracking a woman he kept prisoner in his cabin? Did those sweets he offers newcomers point to an even more sinister perversion?
It’s therefore amazing – and deeply satisfying – to get an episode that lifts the lid on his character and finds only goodness. This change of pace, away from the grim realities of scavenging with the Clarks and co in the Diamond, is also extremely welcome.
This blast from the past for John starts like a silent movie. When he first met Morgan (Lennie James) he couldn’t stop talking, claiming he’d barely spoken in a year except to himself, and here we see that solitary lifestyle played out. Some brilliant character building comes in these moments: we see that he can take care of his guns as well as he can take care of himself and mine natural food resources, as he spends the day pondering a Scrabble hand and the word he might eventually make.
Into that life comes Laura. Or as we’ve known her so far this season, Naomi. When she washes up he treats a wound in her side and lets her sleep in his bed, taking the couch like a gentlemen. When she awakens her first instinct, as we’ve seen a couple of times already from her days at the Diamond, is to take what she needs and run. But she accepts John’s offer of a place to rest until she’s better, and the pair start to bond.
That this story of love, loss and despair somehow still manages to finish on a positive note, with John and Morgan walking into the sunset together, is a miracle. But it’s the perfect way to end a sweet, thoughtful story.
- Nice shot of John’s ornate gun sitting on the balcony as he crosses his moat and takes out a walker with an axe.
- John’s daily chores include clearing walkers that have washed up, and he does it with the resignation of someone crossing a job off a list, making it seem matter-of-fact in this new world. Which, of course, it is.
- The Billy Bass alarm clock is a masterstroke of set design, and feels so real in John’s world.
- The zombie horde washing up ready for action, when the river mud had previously been a real issue for the unsteady dead, was a bit of a fudge.
Laura shares the first personal information with John:
“I lost my job.”
We think there might be something in our eye when John professes his love for Laura:
“I need you alive. If you’re alive, this whole world feels alive.”
Review by Matt Chapman