Bravo’s Dirty John
Season 1, Episode 6: “One Shoe”
Directed by Jeffrey Reiner
Written by Alexandra Cunningham & Kevin J. Hynes
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Lord High Executioner” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Chivalry” – click here
John Meehan (Eric Bana) turns up at an office to meet John Dzialo (Alan Ruck), arriving before his wife Debra Newell (Connie Britton). The couple are trying to clear up Mr. Meehan’s past, y’know, because the poor guy’s been done wrong by everyone who’s crossed his path! Well, people at the office are already very aware of who John is, and many of them don’t even want to be in the building while he’s there. Dzialo goes through things with them using a light touch. Deb wants to “smooth things over” with her family. It’s quite clear John doesn’t dig what’s happening, just the look on his face is indicative of how angry he is under the surface. For those who’ve listened to the original podcast, you’ll recognise this scene. Father Gore found it one of the more chilling parts when the real Dzialo recounted his meeting with Meehan.
Jump back a while. At the sheriff’s station, narcotics inspector Dennis Luken got a visit from Tonia Sells (Sprague Grayden). She brought a ton of prescription bottles. These are things she found amongst her ex-husband’s things. The inspector wanted to vet her, wondering if their divorce turned ugly. She knew John’s a bad man and she only wanted to protect the public from him.
We see Dzialo has genuine concern for Debra, believing she needs to be protected from her husband. He receives a visit at his office from a pissed off John acting confrontational about their prior meeting. The lawyer says there’s no “makings of a case for fraud” in his favour. Meehan calls him a crook, firing him, and acts like a dominant ape asking for their retainer back. Dzialo wants to be sure Debra is making the decision and it isn’t only John. Could make for trouble.
When Luken went digging into Meehan’s background he found plenty to be suspicious of, letting Tonia know every step of the process. Turns out there was already a lengthy history to John and his deviousness. People reported many things, from a gun in Dirty John’s briefcase at work to his serious drug habit, yet the bureaucratic system dropped the ball.
Dzialo sends a letter to Debra’s workplace, and she takes it right home. There, John reads the letter aloud to his wife, and he tears it up. He denies everything, of course. Unsurprising. He thinks the lawyer’s sending her “love notes,” but Debra doesn’t understand why he’s being so strange.
Soon, Luken got a visit from a woman who was dating John. She found his stash, hidden in the ceiling of his home. She knew it was more than he could take himself, no matter how addicted. Plus, the detectives found a gun when they went looking, and John walked in on them in the middle of their search only to get arrested. This still didn’t get things done. The court was only going to give him a stint in rehab. But John didn’t show up. Luken eventually got called to a scene at a motel, where John was all but overdosed on drugs and booze. They took the guy in an ambulance, except Meehan jumped out in the road and led the cops on a foot chase through the nearby mall, failing to get away.
In present day, John’s losing his mind over the phone at Dzialo, looking for the entire $25,000 back for their retainer and making vague threats, scaring the lawyer. He’s also making things worse with Veronica (Juno Temple). She comes to get her birth certificate from the front desk at mom’s building, after which she receives a video text from John showing him hawking a disgusting spit all over the certificate. He did all his nasty work in the evening. In the morning, he made breakfast and smoothies for his wife. He even wrote her a letter professing his love.
“What‘s in the past is gone,” he writes. How convenient.
Veronica gets a sudden call from an unknown number. It’s her mother on a new phone. She wants to meet her daughter. They get together at a local restaurant, where Debra’s wearing a brunette wig. She’s hiding, preparing to leave her husband for good after discovering his bloody foot injection site recently. And she’s been preparing for a little while, as we revisit recent events, understanding she’s been playing John quietly in an effort to make it away from his grip safely. This lady might’ve been fooled by him a lot in a short time, but SHE IS TOUGH! She and Veronica are finally on the same page, as well. From here, things can only get better for Debra. Just so long as John’s kept in the dark.
Luken advised Tonia of the situation with John. Things weren’t perfect. He wanted to make sure she was at ease, as much as she could be, anyway. He called ahead to Newport Beach, where John would be relocating, to make the police department there aware of the man who’d be moving into their district. It’s the least he could do to try and protect the public from an absolute menace.
At home, John’s curious about Debra recently withdrawing $30K. He’s pissy and angry with her. Here, his true face begins to emerge for her. He only cares about her money. So she goes straight to the closet and starts packing clothes while he leers at her. She tells him she wants a divorce. Then he asks her to hit him, threatening to beat her if she does. She’s calm, asking him to move out of her way. This episode’s title comes from the real Debra telling Christopher Goffard all she was able to get out of the house that night was a couple of things and “one shoe“— not even a full pair. Tells you something about the desperation she felt. She gets out, and John’s left fuming.
“Anything that was mine before you is still mine.”
Intense episode. Even knowing the podcast, it almost feels like violence is about to erupt in that final scene. Terrifyingly exciting. “Chivalry” is next time.