“The Door” proves to be an excellent returning episode with several bold storytelling choices.
This recap of Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 8, “The Door”, contains spoilers.
The quality trajectory of Fear the Walking Dead has been bonkers. It started out fine, if a little pointless, then got really good just in time to become indescribably terrible. Then, when it was on its last legs, it inexplicably morphed into a Western and got good again. Most of Season 6A was just fine, and a lot of it was excellent. The last time we saw the show was late last year, and it was still going strong. I’m happy to report that “The Door” is a continuation of that fine form, and makes several surprisingly bold storytelling choices that confirm Season 6B isn’t going to be pulling any punches.
Focusing immediately on fan-favorite John Dorie, Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 8 opens with him moping in the cabin he has spent his summers in since he was a boy, spelling out a final parting message to June out of Scrabble pieces and trying to pluck up the courage to kill himself. He keeps being distracted, though, by the fact he can’t close his door, so in desperate need of privacy he sets out to look for a suitable one and stumbles across Dakota and a badly injured Morgan, who he hasn’t seen since Humbug’s Gulch.
Morgan isn’t in a good way physically, but his endless lecturing hasn’t slowed down at all. He’s determined to recruit John to fight Virginia with him so he and his new community can fade away into secluded obscurity with nothing to worry about, but John is really determined to top himself. He just can’t commit to a new fight and more killing when he still has the ghosts of Cameron and God-knows-who-else clanking around in his cabin closet. He will help them cross a nearby bridge, though, which is overloaded with walkers pushing against a makeshift barricade. After that, he reckons his part will be done.
Virtually all of “The Door” is a bluff. It plays exactly like any previous storyline of a traumatized character having to find himself again; Morgan himself even comments, rightly, that he was in the same funk himself not too long ago. That perhaps explains why he’s so convinced he can talk John around, and even Dakota commits herself to the task of buttering him up with compliments. When they all discover a truck near the cabin that has been there since John was a child and requires just a few missing parts for Morgan to get it to run, you can see the inevitable moment of triumph and newfound solidarity just on the horizon.
This illusion is kept up for a long time. There’s a great, nasty sequence on the bridge as the trio clears out the dead with the help of that rejuvenated Chevy pickup and several of John’s ill-fitting doors, and it’s full of close calls and steely-eyed character moments. After, Morgan, still trying to convince John to join him, rats out the location of his cabin to Virginia to force his hand. He isn’t going to stand around and let his best friend try to kill himself.
The problem, it turns out, is Dakota. While she and John are searching around the bridge for an important clip that is keeping the truck running, they get into a bit of a scrape, and Dakota is forced to defend herself with the knife that John swiftly recognizes as Cameron’s murder weapon. The truth comes tumbling out pretty hastily from there, and John has a hard time hearing it, especially when Dakota points his own gun at him. Here’s a young woman he had come to be quite protective of, suddenly sticking him up. And while I can’t claim to speak for anyone else, I can say that I, for one, was incredibly shocked when Dakota then shot him and pushed him off the bridge.
Still, Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 8 keeps up appearances. John sinks to the bottom of the river, but down there he finds the picture of him and his father that Morgan had earlier found in the truck, and he rises to the surface. Declaring, “Not today,” he clings to a piece of debris and is pulled down the river as Morgan catches Dakota still aiming the gun at his receding body. He puts the pieces together rather quickly and the axe to her neck even quicker than that, but she reveals that she was the one who fixed him up at Humbug’s Gulch and left him the note. She says there’s a reason he’s still here, and that’s to kill Ginny, who at that moment is arriving at John’s cabin, fuming to find it empty.
Out of ideas, John radios Ginny and asks her to help John as he floats downriver, then they’ll talk. We cut then to Dwight and Charlie and Alicia at Morgan’s new settlement, which is coming along nicely, as Morgan tells them to arm up since they might be bringing the fight to their doorstep. Something for everyone to look forward to.
“The Door” ends on a truly dour note, though, as June spots John washed up outside the cabin and rushes outside to meet him… only to discover he’s a walker. He must have turned on the way downriver. This is a bold choice, to kill off a major fan-favorite character in a midseason premiere after spending the entire episode pretending not to. June is forced to tearfully finish John off with a knife to the head as the episode ends, having made quite an impression.