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'Dirty John' Recap: 'Dirty John' Is Actually 'Filthy John'

By Dustin Rowles | TV | December 10, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | December 10, 2018 |


John Meehan is a nasty piece of work, folks. And while the last couple of episodes have amply illustrated that, this week’s third entry takes us back into the past and shows us what Debra Newell can expect in her future. It’s harrowing.

Through a series of flashbacks, we find out that Debra is not his first victim. Or second. And that — if Debra gets out now — she might be able to spare herself from the fate that befell John’s ex-wife, Tonia (Sprague Grayden). Tonia has been through the goddamn wringer. She married John, and they had two daughters together, and she had to find out that John was a bad guy from a pediatric neurosurgeon she met at a nursing conference; who, she learns has been dating her husband for ten months.

And how does John respond when confronted about his nearly year-long affair? He tells Tonia that the pediatric neurosurgeon — who makes more money — is an “upgrade.” From there, things completely fall apart. We find out that the woman we saw in the pilot episode complaining about feeling no effects from anesthesia was actually a patient of John’s in the past, and that John had been stealing her fentanyl, as well as the fentanyl from a number of other patients, and using his daughters’ Easy-Bake Oven to hide his drugs (that’s not what Easy-Bake Ovens are for, John!) When another hospital worker rats him out, John loses his nursing license and blames Tonia, beginning his campaign of terror. Tonia, meanwhile, starts to dig into John’s past and learns that his own groomsmen/law school classmates didn’t like him, either, and that John had dropped out of law school before they’d even met him. He got the nickname Filthy John for the way he treated women, and because he was a con-artist who engaged in a lot of credit-card scams. Tonia’s arc ends, in this episode, anyway, with a phone call from John, informing her that someone will kill her one day, and that, as she’s dying, she will know that he was behind her murder.

I’m now even more interested in Tonia’s story than I am in the story of Debra, although things began to slide downhill for her this week, too. After finding records of restraining orders and arrests in John’s drawer, she takes it to her lawyer and asks her to investigate. “Maybe it’s a different John Meehan,” she wonders (why would John have someone else’s arrest records in his drawer?)

Eventually, Debra’s lawyer confirms that John’s a seriously bad dude, who was basically homeless when they met. Debra verifies this when she checks their security deposit box and sees that all of her cash ($90,000) is missing. “I gave it to a friend to invest,” John tells her, leaving the part out about it being an investment in drugs that he can ingest. John then asks her why she was looking in their safe deposit box. She lies and quickly explains that it was to retrieve their wedding rings because her family knows now that they are married.

The lie buys her some time, and she gets lucky when John — who we now know also has a serious addiction problem — collapses and is hospitalized due to an intestinal blockage owed to his fentanyl use. Debra, who had spent the last few days playing along and pretending everything was OK (the character within the character that probably fetched Connie Britton that Golden Globe nom) used the opportunity to pack up all her shit and move out before John is released from the hospital.

Somehow, there are still five episodes left of the eight-episode season, which means things are going to get much worse. I’m assuming that moving out and requesting a quick annulment of the marriage is not in the cards for Debra, and after this episode, I am more anxious than ever to spoil myself and see how the events of the real-life story unfold. I did sneak a peek at the episode description for the fifth episode, two weeks from now: “John gets clean for Debra. Terra learns John’s back.”

WHAT? Debra takes him back? WTF? That is insane.

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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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