[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Fear The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 8, “The Door.”]

In The Walking Dead, there was generally a pattern of main character deaths: one in the mid-season finale, one in the season finale. However, the fear bucked the trend. In season 4, two main characters – Nick (Frank Dillane) and Madison (Kim Dickens) – were killed in less brutal episodes, and the main characters were left unharmed for two full seasons. That was unknown on a Walking Dead show … but “The Door,” which was supposed to be Fear’s sixth midseason finale and now airing after COVID delays to kick off the second half of the season, follows this sad, familiar pattern.

John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) has returned to his cabin and has lost the will to live, but cannot pull the trigger when he points a pistol to his head. When he meets Morgan (Lennie James) and Dakota (Zoe Colletti), he involuntarily gets drawn into their fight against Virginia (Colby Minifie) … and things only get worse for him from then on.

Stay out of the fight

When we first see him, John spends his days killing hikers who wash up on the banks of his river hut and look particularly miserable. He goes to the general store and stumbles upon Dakota and an injured Morgan running away from Ginny’s rangers and a herd of hikers. John is happy to see his friend – he didn’t even know Morgan was alive! Morgan tries to convince John to come back and join the fight against Virginia, but John refuses; He’s sick of fighting and killing, no matter who it is for.

John brings Dakota and Morgan back to his cabin, where Ginny is broadcasting him. She’s got his friends and girlfriend Grace (Karen David) and she says if something happens to her sister she’ll kill “the whole damn basket” which means pretty much every member of Morgan’s family except Strand (Colman Domingo), the is on Ginny’s side. Even that radio call isn’t enough to convince John that he needs to come back, but he offers Morgan and Dakota to clean up the last remnants of the Horde they escaped from and which they had trapped on a bridge.

Virginia wants to know your location

After a harrowing incident involving a ranger that John has to kill (the guy wanted to kill Morgan!), They equip a truck with a walker barricade and drive to the bridge with Dakota driving and Morgan and John in bed. Dakota is scheduled to drive through the barricade while Morgan and John take out the walkers, but of course that doesn’t work. One of the tires gets stuck on a walker, resulting in a gory, bloody sequence of bowels flying and wheels spinning, and they eventually discover that something is wrong with the alternator too. John has to climb out of the truck bed to fix the problem and he lies down on the hood of the truck while Dakota drives, killing the hikers left and right (it’s a pretty cool moment). In the end, the dead are dispatched and Morgan and Dakota can leave.

Unless … Morgan was thinking of a way to get his buddy back into the fight. He radiates Virginia and tells her he’ll talk when they meet in John’s cabin, and he tells her where to find it. John is disgusted with his friend; He can’t go back to his peaceful cabin life if Virginia knows where he is. “Hate me if you want,” says Morgan, “but I’ll be damned if I stand by and see my best friend try to kill himself.”

Morgan sets off to get a signal for the radio, leaving Dakota and John alone on the bridge. They look for clips to fix the car and John has Dakota hold onto his gun – BIG mistake. They chat for a bit and John says he will return to his cabin and kill Virginia if she shows up. Dakota says they’ll expect it, but John is okay if he doesn’t make it. “At least my death will mean something,” he says. At that moment, Dakota is attacked by a hiker and she uses her knife to kill it. Then John makes a terrifying discovery – based on the piece that is missing from her knife, Dakota is the one who killed Cameron in episode 3.

Dakota = Lizzie Samuels 2.0 ?!

She doesn’t deny it. Cameron, she said, told Virginia how she snuck out of Lawton, and she felt he deserved to die for robbing her of a way to avoid her sister. Dakota points the gun at John, her hand shaking. John tries to calm her down. He says he thinks he has a purpose in moving on now: He wants to bring Dakota back to light. “We can get over it,” he says. “I can help you.”

And then she shoots him in the heart, tells him that death “doesn’t always have to mean something” and throws him into the river.

While John clings to a piece of wood and swims downstream, Morgan returns to find Dakota with a gun and no John. She points the gun at him and it’s pretty obvious what happened. As she lowers it, Morgan points his gun at her, but she says he won’t kill her. Why? Because she is the person who saved his life at the ravine, who wrote that “You still have something to do”. And, according to Dakota, Morgan’s “things to do” end Ginny’s life.

The saddest goodbye possible

In the meantime, Ginny arrived in the cabin and brought June with her. June (Jenna Elfman) is desperate to help John, who she learns is hurt – but not how bad. She sees her husband washing up on the riverside like she did the day they met. She runs to him with medical supplies in hand and …

He’s gone, already a wanderer. His dead hand reaches for hers and she lets his wanderer hold it – her left hand with her wedding ring for maximum tragic impact. Then she puts him down. (And we cry.)

Other observations

  • WHY JOHN DORIE ?! While many of the new characters had lukewarm receptions at best after the Morgan crossover, most agreed that John was the best addition. His death allows development for June, Morgan, and Alicia (who likely regret not having turned Dakota over to Ginny when she got the chance), but his absence will be a big hole in the show. I’m going to miss his Werthers Originals loving, gunslinger self.
  • I also really wanted John and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) to meet at some point. I don’t think that’s happening now.
  • What about kids murdering fan favorite characters on this show? First Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) and Nick, now Dakota and John. Something tells me Dakota isn’t brought into the family here …
  • I am also not convinced that Grace and Morgan will last. If June and John couldn’t make it, if Glenn and Maggie couldn’t make it, can any post-apocalyptic couple?
  • Rating: 5/5. A fantastic, heartbreaking episode dating back to the days when characters died accidentally and shockingly, a la Travis (Cliff Curtis) in season 3, and which makes for an exciting half of the season. RIP, John. You will be sorely missed.

Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9 / 8c, AMC