Bravo’s Dirty John
Season 1, Episode 8: “This Young Woman Fought Like Hell”
Directed by Jeffrey Reiner
Written by Alexandra Cunningham
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Chivalry” – click here
* Season 2 to come next year!
Debra Newell (Connie Britton) meets with her lawyer, Mr. O’Neill. She’s going to “move on with her life” instead of waiting for John Meehan (Eric Bana) to do the next insane thing. He’s recently burned up her car, as if making some sort of statement. O’Neill sees the guy’s becoming angrier, like a “snake eating its own tail” whose perpetual flow of rage will, sooner or later, consume everything in its path. Meanwhile, in the desert, John’s out digging something up. And who knows what the hell he’s up to, given he’s the kind of guy who’s had guns, illegal drugs, and many other questionable items in his possession. What exactly is the next step of his madness?
At home, Debra reconnects again with Veronica (Juno Temple) and Terra (Julia Garner), lamenting her life with John, who’s already back online prowling for new women to exploit and ruin. John is also keeping a close eye on the Newell family. He’s spied by Veronica when she’s being dropped off by an Uber driver, taking off quick to avoid confrontation. She makes her driver follow him, but they lose him. This makes her worry about what he’ll do now. If she ruined his plans will he find another outlet for his rage? Does he have a backup plan? Veronica goes to her sister’s place to make sure everything’s okay. Things seem fine. Yet she can’t shake the feeling something bad will happen.
The next morning, Veronica tells Terra about what went on the night before. She warns her sister to”keep your eyes open.” She knows John’s violent and dangerous, and she’s sure he’ll try to take revenge on the family, one way or another, eventually. However, she got the colour of the car wrong, so her description of Mr. Meehan’s vehicle doesn’t help her sister one bit. Uh oh. On top of it all, the Newell women feel disregarded by police, leading Veronica to feel calling them about seeing her mother’s insane, estranged husband won’t do anything.
Terra’s grabbed in the parking lot by Joh, who’s carrying a knife with him. She bites him as he grabs her, so he takes out the knife. Meehan begins stabbing at her, connecting a couple times, mostly hitting her bookbag. She fights for her life against him while her dog bites John’s ankle. When John drops the knife, he’s surprised by Terra, who grabs it and stabs him in every place she can manage. She stabs and stabs, finally putting one right through his eye socket. Terra can only back away, running from the scene in disbelief and still terrified of the man who attacked her. She calls her mother, crying and telling her: “I think I killed your husband.” In the aftermath, Terra explains to police how she knows John, as well as what occurred when he came after her. In reality, Terra did have a dream, as she recounts to the detective, about being attacked, almost like she was having a premonition.
“Kill, or be killed.”
Simultaneously, Debra must go down to the trauma unit where Meehan is in a hospital bed suffering from “brain death,” barely clinging to life after getting a knife shoved into his skull— part of Terra’s zombie apocalypse training skills. Deb refuses to take responsibility for John in his vegetative state, and so the sister Denise has to come give the final order for him to be taken off life support. This gives Deb and Denise a moment to bond over their shared horrific experiences with that awful man. Denise also doesn’t blame Terra for what she did, knowing that something was going to have to stop her brother eventually, whether it was a person or a drug overdose. Terra still feels bad because she’s a good, deeply moral person. And Deb feels shitty for bringing that man into the lives of those around her. Ultimately it’s nobody’s fault except for Dirty John, whose legacy of pain infiltrated the lives of anybody he’s ever known.
Soon, Christopher Goffard is calling Deb to ask if she’ll talk to him. The next day, Ms. Newell is taken to the RV where John was living. The detectives hope she may see something that could lead them to any possible explanations about Meehan. She mostly sees junk. Although their wedding photograph’s there amongst the garbage, and it brings back the strange, good memories she shared with John before all the horror.
After the legal necessities, Terra’s cleared of any charges. She wants to see autopsy photos of John. Not out of morbid curiosity, but out of a need to KNOW what she did to him. Mom and the lawyer suggest she doesn’t look at them. Terra insists, even if they scar her forever. Debra has her own scars, like the ones she’ll always carry having to hear people accuse her of letting John “get away with it” and people judging her because she rushed into marriage so quickly with a man she didn’t know, when so many people are out there online dating, hooking up anonymously with people off an app or a website. Those who mean the most to Deb forgive her. Still, in today’s age with everybody knowing everything, spreading their opinions across the internet, it isn’t easy to live life out in the open, and Ms. Newell continues to experience these feelings of judgement to this day. More power to Deb, who made the story available to the world so that she may help other women in the future.
Season 1 was excellent. Got better as the episodes wore on, and this finale was a searing bit of juicy entertainment. Good writing. Looking forward to how they take Season 2 forward, given the story has essentially ended. We’ll see!