“Fear the Walking Dead” season 6 returned on Sunday night with a death that will send shockwaves throughout everybody else remaining on the show…
SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVE NOT SEASON “FEAR THE WALKING DEAD” EPISODE TITLED ‘THE DOOR”
Deaths are a common occurrence on “The Walking Dead” and by extension its spinoff series “Fear the Walking Dead” but some characters feel almost too important to kill.
Perhaps that’s why certain deaths are orchestrated to keep the audience guessing because the message from the very beginning of both series was that nobody is truly safe.
Case in point was the gut-wrenching death written into the “Fear the Walking Dead” mid-season premiere on Sunday night as John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) met his final demise before transforming into a walker, who then had to be killed by his wife June after washing up on the shore of the cabin they once shared together.
It was a tragic moment — one that’s sure to send shockwaves throughout the rest of the cast of “Fear the Walking Dead” as well as the characters, who all had ties to John Dorie in one way or another since he first appeared during season 4.
So why exactly did showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg decide now was the time for John to die?
“We talked about what the cost would be of what Virginia was doing to everyone, and how they were going to fight back,” Chambliss told EW. “And it is looking at all the characters in John Dorie’s orbit, and thinking about how they’ll move forward, and what it will do to them. And ultimately it comes down to the fact that we have to remind ourselves we can’t be precious about any of these characters, and we have to do what is going to continue to evolve the show, and continue to push the show in new directions, push all the remaining characters in new directions.
“John Dorie is one of our favorite characters, he’s so much fun to write because he was kind of a beacon of hope in the apocalypse, and he was so specific in his characterization, and Garret just did such an incredible job bringing him to life that it was one of those realizations you have where you’re just like, “No, why does this have to all fall into place this way?” I think as writers, we go through a mourning in the same way the characters do, and the same ways as hopefully the audience will.”
Most major deaths on “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead” have caused reverberations that have long lasting effects on those who remain and John’s demise will be no different.
If anything it sounds like John’s death will bring the battle between Virginia and Morgan to a rather dramatic conclusion considering the long battle that’s been drawn out already.
“Well, this has been, from the beginning of the season, about Morgan trying to put the family back together that was ripped apart,” Goldberg added. “And where this family really began was with Morgan and John Dorie in season 4. And at that time, Morgan was in a place where he didn’t want to be with people, he was running away on his own, he didn’t want to connect with people, and the person who brought him back from all that was John Dorie.
“John Dorie has always been this incredible point of light, this optimistic, hopeful beacon in the apocalypse, and really, we looked at John Dorie and Morgan as the beginnings of this family. And we knew that there had to be a cost to the war with Virginia, and, to this family, who is on the precipice of coming back together, losing someone that’s so much the glue and the heart of this family, putting everyone else in a position where, how are they going to move forward now, without someone so critical to who they are. They’re still fighting Virginia, but now they’ve got this giant hole of missing John Dorie, and it’s going to have huge ripple effects on everyone going forward. So it’s a long way of saying we love him, and the characters love him, and people had to feel it.”
The hardest moment in the episode definitely came in the closing seconds after Morgan asked Virginia to help John after he had been shot and dropped into the river by her sister Dakota. As June raced out to the shoreline, she found John had already died and been reanimated as one of the walking dead and she was then forced to put down her own husband.
After John saved June when she washed up on those same shores back in season 4, the showrunners felt this was the necessary impact needed in a cruel twist as he returned to the cabin they once shared.
“We wanted to break people’s hearts, and we wanted to make it feel as though he might just be able to come out of this, so that when he doesn’t, and June is faced with the unthinkable of seeing the person she loves as a walker on the shores of the cabin, it was just, I mean, honestly it felt like the most heartbreaking ending imaginable for both of those characters,” Goldberg said.
“Also, the other aspect is how it’s going to affect June going forward. The way that John died, having to put him down the way that she did, and then how that impacts her in subsequent episodes, those were all the ingredients for why we ended that the way we did.”
As devastating as it was to watch John Dorie die, it turns out that the decision for the character to leave the show was not only a product of the natural storytelling but also an agreement struck between Dillahunt and the producers.
“Well, I don’t think it’s a secret or anything. It’s a little bit of both of those things,” Dillahunt confirmed about asking to leave the show as much as the story necessitated his character’s death. “I loved my time on this show and will always cherish it. I get a little antsy after a while, and I’m not a kid anymore, and I have some things I wanted to do. And I’m just fortunate it worked out.
“I can’t imagine what goes into logistically planning these series. There are so many moving parts, there are so many people involved. It’s a feat of almost engineering for these showrunners, and [Walking Dead chief content officer Scott M. Gimple], and the writers to navigate all the obstacles in general, putting a TV show on, let alone the needs of their actors. I just feel very fortunate that they were willing to hear it, and consider it, and then come up with a great idea that made everybody happy.”
Of course now Dakota might be the most hated person on “Fear the Walking Dead” after she killed John Dorie but the showrunners are quick to point out that she’s a product of her sister Virginia and that’s the real root of the cause of everyone’s misery right now.
Judging by the teaser for what’s coming next week, Virginia will be confronted by Morgan for all that she’s done sooner rather than later.
“We have been building toward a confrontation with Morgan and Virginia since episode 601, and this episode we’re finally going to deliver on it,” Goldberg promised.
“Fear the Walking Dead” airs on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on AMC.