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Dirty John - Red Flags and Parades - Review: Don't Let My Fear Ruin Us



"Red Flags and Parades" is a fitting title for an episode that exposed a multitude of the gleaming red flags adorning John Meehan. Episode 2 of Dirty John was written by Evan Wright and once again directed by Jeffrey Reiner.

Since one of the most important motifs this week is the enigmatic red flag (for Debra anyways, who can't seem to see them even when they're waved in her face, but more on why that is later), I thought I would list some of the biggest ones of the episode:

⚐ - The first one is a tiny one, but after John sheds a few crocodile tears in at church, he flubs in front of Debra's mother, mistakenly calling the pastor a "priest" and appearing the slightest bit shady for not recognizing the man despite claiming to have attended this very church before.

⚐ - Number two: THE HOME INVADER. This was a strange plot point as after the woman got into the house and John escorted her out, none-too-kindly, we never see her again. Did John hire her to scare Debra enough she'd be more likely to agree to a security system and cameras? Was she someone from John's past he pretended not to know? Was she truly just some random woman off the street who was attracted to the smell of pureed fruit? (I mean seriously, how many smoothies can one man make?) I'm hoping the show comes back to explain this one, if John really wasn't involved, then maybe it wasn't a red flag, but I have a hard time believing that.

⚐ - Flag number 3 is all about money, money, money! First John reveals he has some cash he wants to Debra to deposit for him, sketchy, but it turns out to be a ruse of sorts to find out where Debra keeps her own loose bills. He sees the magical bag containing upwards of $90k. You can practically see the dollar signs in his eyes.

Plus, he's rented a safety deposit box for "loose papers, birth certificates, things like that" sure John, sure that's what you're planning to keep in there.

⚐ - Toby, played by Kevin Zegers of Fear the Walking Dead and Gossip Girl fame, gives us flag four and more. First, John freaks out about someone by the initials 'TS' in her phone texting her, which of course, turn out to be Toby's initials. Toby is her nephew who was planning a visit.

At first, Toby and John appear thick as thieves. They bond over alcohol and John's supposed time in Afghanistan, but after Veronica gets to him, he begins to realize how fraudulent John is. It's apparent John has been messing with Toby throughout the episode too, he knows what to say to bond with him but also exactly what to say to get under his skin, like a bad "joke" about his mother (who was murdered by her husband) and a thinly veiled threat on Ronnie's life.

Poor guy gets the full brunt of John's harshness at the end of the episode when he informs him "you don't have an aunt anymore, I have a wife." Before then pounding the final nail in the coffin with another brutal dig at his mother.


⚐ - Red Flag 5: Ronnie and Toby discover John was not in Iraq when he claimed to be, according to a woman from his past who lives at one his former addresses - a trailer park. For the record, as a con man, John isn't great at hiding his tracks. I mean why would you keep an entire drawer full of your old court records in the house you share with the latest woman you're trying to scam?

Also, if we're getting into the lies John has told this episode, there's the little fact Debra's friend's husband, who works at the same hospital John claims to, has never heard of John before!

⚐ - Final Flag of the night goes to the prison mail. An envelope arrives and Debra gets to it before John does, resulting in him lashing out at her and storming off to give him time to formulate a good lie.

His outburst shakes Debra and that moment, combined with everything she's been hearing from her daughters brings her to investigate John's messy drawer in the house and discover his rap sheet of crimes before he met her.

Considering the fact it's only the second episode, I'm guessing he's going to squirm his way out of this somehow, but how long can Debra suspend her belief?

TERRA & RONNIE


Checking in on Debra's daughters this week, Ronnie is NOT messing around. She even sells one of her precious purses to pay for a private investigator (played by Judy Reyes who I loved seeing pop up in this), and she puts a tracker on her mom's car since John uses it frequently.

While Ronnie plays the offensive, Terra sticks to the defensive this week. We learn she too, has therapy sessions with her mother. Have to give the family credit for at least making attempts to work on their relationships.

It's sad to see Terra breaking down when confronted with the real reason she doesn't want John around her kids. Her mother doesn't have a track record for stability and she doesn't want her own kids to experience attachment and abandonment issues the same way she did growing up.

DEBRA


It's hard not to want to shake Debra by the shoulders and beg her to look closer, but the truth of the matter is Debra is a damaged woman who desperately just wants to love someone and be loved someone in equal measure. I don't think she is truly so naive as to believe everything John tells her, it's more that swallowing his lies is much easier than tasting a bitter truth. She needs John to be the man she wants him to be, or else he's just another dead-end marriage in a string of failed ones.

Debra wants to be happy, it's hard to not want that for her even when the truth appears so glaringly obvious. When you want something so much, it's easy to fool yourself into believing it's right.


I wonder if John wanting the security system installed is going to backfire on him or not. Did he anticipate Debra learning how to navigate the system or being able to use the cameras to watch the house herself? Did he know she would eventually get into his secret drawer? It's hard to say, but I'm glad she's at least beginning to get suspicious.

I loved the parallels between the opening scenes and ending scenes, how John desire to care for her first appeared sweet and loving, but now it seems more sinister and controlling in intent.

EXTRAS


Performer of the Week: Julia Garner is such a phenomenal talent. It was hard to see her breaking down to both her mother and grandmother as she tries to make Debra understand what she went through when she was younger, and to see the effect her actions have on their entire family.

Character of the Week: Ronnie. I love how determined she is to prove John is a con man. She hasn't believed him for a second and it's refreshing to see a woman on television not falling for any kind of charm John tries to exude.

Best Scene: The ending scene was downright chilling. The juxtaposition of Debra telling her mom how amazing and loving of a man John is crossed with John mocking Toby's dead mother is an excellent usage of dramatic irony.

Favorite Line: "Oh my God, I swear, I would not get married again if it cured cancer."

Terra's Zombie Love: The real Terra was obsessed with The Walking Dead, I was wondering if the show would tie that in somehow, they make a nod this week when Debra says, "I have a little cash here in the house that I just keep here in case, you know, there's an earthquake, God forbid, or, um the zombie apocalypse as Terra keeps talking about."

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