Fear the Walking Dead season 6’s midseason premiere features an ending that imagines a much more tragic version of Rick’s Walking Dead exit.
Fear the Walking Dead season 6’s midseason premiere imagines a much darker version of Rick Grimes’ The Walking Dead exit. The episode marked the end John Dorie’s story in Fear the Walking Dead. The crackshot cowboy and best friend of Morgan Jones (Lennie James) has been a main character since the beginning of season 4, which was when the show brought over Morgan from The Walking Dead and started rebuilding its cast.
Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 8, titled “The Door”, picked up with John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) having returned to isolation at his cabin. John, who was seriously contemplating suicide, ended up teaming up with Morgan and Dakota (Zoe Colletti), who were on the run from Virginia (Colby Minifie) and the Pioneers. After an intense battle with zombies on the bridge, John came to the shocking realization that Dakota was Cameron’s killer. As a result, he was fatally shot and pushed into the river. After sinking to the bottom, John found hope and decided to keep fighting. Unfortunately, by the time he was found by June (Jenna Elfman), he had already turned.
The method Fear the Walking Dead chose for Garret Dillahunt’s exit from the series is reminiscent in certain ways to how The Walking Dead parted ways with Andrew Lincoln in season 9, episode 5. The big difference, of course, is that one lived and the other died. It was how they were framed, though, that made them feel so parallel to each other. Both stories were about characters who had to make a heroic stand on a bridge so that their friends could survive. There wasn’t an explosion in John’s case, but he too risked his life against a horde of zombies to keep others safe, and ended up in a precarious situation where audiences didn’t know if he was going to live or die. For a while, it looked like death was the most likely outcome.
John washing up ashore as a zombie felt like an alternate ending to Rick’s story in The Walking Dead season 9, which saw him get saved by Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and handed over to the CRM organization. If there wasn’t a plan to put him in trilogy of movies, this very well could have happened. Sometime after the explosion, Michonne (Danai Gurira) or Daryl (Norman Reedus) could have come across a zombified Rick on the shore. Not unlike what Fear the Walking Dead just delivered with John Dorie, it certainly would have been a heartbreaking moment for the AMC series. Plus, it may even have been a more realistic conclusion than the one that was offered.
The comparisons between Rick’s exit and John’s death were clearly not lost on Fear the Walking Dead, as even the title card of John firing a gun was a flipped version of Rick’s pose with his pistol on the bridge from the season 9 episode. Adding to all that is everything that John and Rick have in common as characters. Both are former cops with strong moral compasses who were greatly tested by living in a world filled with zombies. There were times in Rick’s life, especially during the All-Out War, where he had to do things that he wasn’t proud of later. John, on the other hand, remained committed to his principles, which was the main reason why he was struggling so much in season 6. Even in his final episode, he refrained from killing until it became absolutely necessary. This aspect of his personality is one of the things that fans loved about him, which is a big part of why it’s so sad that his character couldn’t have received the hopeful ending that Rick Grimes did.