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'Dirty John' Recap: How Are There Six Episodes Still Remaining?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | December 3, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | December 3, 2018 |


This week’s second episode of Dirty John consists largely of a series of red flags, any of which by themselves should have registered in Debra Newell’s mind that something is amiss. Taken together, however, Debra’s inability to register concern is baffling. At what point does the fog lift?

It doesn’t lift when John asks Debra to put $10,000 of his cash in her bank account. When someone says to you, “It’s not like it’s money laundering or something,” it’s definitely money laundering, in which case you should definitely not show that guy the bag where the household petty cash is being held, especially when that petty cash amounts to $80,000 or $90,000 (how is this woman so wealthy?). To compound that, John also suggests he get them a safe deposit box to put her cash in. Also, he insists they install a security system for reasons that I still don’t quite understand (does he want to spy on her?)

There’s also the strange woman — who looks like a cast member of The Real Housewives of ‘The Ring’ — that materializes in Debra’s home, who John immediately pins down and hands over to the police. That scene, however, is missing some context, like what the woman tells the police when they ask her why she broke in, or why Debra decides not to press charges.

There have been so many red flags by the time John sits down for lunch with Debra’s nephew, Toby, that Debra should have long ago sniffed out that something is not right. However, the red line — the point at which even those completely dumbstruck by love should realize something is amiss — is when John “jokes” that he could take Debra’s daughter Veronica out with a “kill shot to the head” in front of Toby, whose father MURDERED HIS MOTHER WITH A KILL SHOT TO THE HEAD. What the hell?

Everyone else, at least, has figured it out. Toby and Veronica do some light investigating and discover that John used to live in a trailer; his nursing medical license had been suspended; and that he never went to Iraq. Confronted with this information, John tells Toby that he is glad his father shot his mother in the head. Veronica, meanwhile, skips Christmas dinner at bewigged Jean Smart’s house and installs a tracker on John’s car.

Still, Debra only seems to catch on when John screams at her for looking at his mail after she notices a letter addressed to him from prison. “Don’t you know that looking through someone else’s mail is a felony?” John yells, before apologizing and coming up with a quick excuse about corresponding with a former patient of his in prison. Debra’s alarm bells go off, however, and she uses the security system that John installed to break into her own home and investigate John’s secret drawer, which contains — among other things — restraining orders, a notice that his medical license has been revoked, and records showing that he’s been charged with stalking and harassment.

How does he explain this away? Why does John even leave that lying around unless he wants her to find the documents? How does that play into the grift? Or am I thinking too much like a television writer and not enough like the real-life stalker upon which Dirty John is based?

After two episodes, things are bad for Debra Newell. She already knows that John Meehan is a dangerous stalker and a fraud. The fact that there are still six episodes remaining suggests that things are going to get much worse for her. What I don’t know is if this is bloodshed-and-violence worse? Or empty-out-her-bank account, destroy her career, and ruin all of her future relationships worse? Or both. I should hope, at least, that she and her daughters can at least get on the same page going forward. Veronica and Terra are terrible, but at least their best interests and their mother’s are aligned now.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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