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Dirty John - Remember It Was Me - Review



Dirty John's third outing is also its best so far. Directed by Jeffrey Reiner and written by Diana Son, "Remember It Was Me" is an excellent hour of television.

When we left Debra last week, she had gotten into John's secret drawer and learned the truth of his abusive, stalker, scamming tendencies. Seeing it in print, all laid out like that, isn't enough to fully convince her of who her husband really is though. Denial is a beast to defeat.

Debra is desperate to cling to any slight shred of hope John may not using her for her money, and thus we have the plot of this episode as Debra journeys into her husband's past, her story paralleled by his first wife, Tonia Sells (Sprague Grayson from Sons of Anarchy).

Photo Courtesy of BRAVO

SIDE A: TONIA SELLS


As people who know the real story of John Meehan are well aware, Debra Newell was not the first woman to be scammed and hung out to dry by John Meehan. Tonia Sells was one of the first actually. Though, (and I didn't listen to the podcast), I have a feeling she wasn't the first woman by a long-shot, especially given John had earned the titular nickname "Filthy John" or "Dirty John" long before having met her. But she was the first to marry him.

It's a sad story of a woman being swindled after her dream man turns out to be the thing of nightmares. A fairytale picture with a fancy wedding surrounded by loved ones shatters swiftly and suddenly at a neurosurgery conference when Tonia meets a brilliant pediatric surgeon with a boyfriend eerily similar-sounding to her own.

Turns out, John was two-timing Tonia for a huge portion of their marriage. It's even worse because they had two children together during their sham of a relationship. John shows zero empathy for his family as he schmoozes Bridget too, a woman he coldly admits to being with during the confrontation with his wife.

His main comment about her? She "looks expensive."

"Are you trying to upgrade?" Tonia responds.

He smirks. "She's... something." Is the most he's willing to give.

It doesn't end there either. Not long after, Lynn, another nurse at the Daytona hospital they all work at, discovers John stealing patient's pain medication and reports him to the nursing board.

And, as if Tonia needed anymore confirmation of her husband's true self, she finally plucks up the nerve to call his mother - a woman he had expressly forbidden from ever being involved with their family. Debra Meehan is happy, yet distraught, that Tonia has had to call her. She never wanted to have this conversation but it's also a vital one to be had.

Their marriage does not crumble so much as explodes, with John calling Tonia in the middle of the night to traumatize and horrify her with vicious threats. He will loom in the darkness of her mind for the rest of her life, you can't help but feel for this woman who will be haunted by the shadows of John Meehan until he meets his end.

Photo Courtesy of BRAVO

SIDE B: DEBRA NEWELL


Connie Britton is always excellent, but she's particularly strong this week as she has to balance a woman who is unraveling with a woman still trying to see the best in this man she loves, all while not alarming him something may be wrong. Debra pays a visit to a lawyer to get confirmation on the papers she found. Perhaps her ex-wife merely made all of it up in anger. John has painted Tonia as a vindictive ex to Debra in order to poison the well.

Ronnie meets with her too, to inform her about the meeting John had with Toby. Debra is overwhelmed by the amount of evidence mounting against her husband. It isn't until the lawyer calls her back, and decides not to take on the case in spite of confirming every awful thing to be true, she doesn't want to risk losing since John has a record for suing attorneys. He's a master manipulator after all.

By the time Debra comes around, Ronnie brings her to the private investigator she's been seeing who all but tells Debra to run and fast. Her advice? Get out as best you can, and quick.

It's interesting too, to compare and contrast the relationships John had with Tonia as compared to that of his relationship with Debra. It demonstrates his chameleon-like abilities to be what either woman needs in the moment. With Tonia, John wove himself into the embroidery of her life. He was well-liked by her family, his friends were at their wedding. A group of friends that, for all intents and purposes, enabled his vile treatment of women and people alike.

On the other hand, with Debra's daughters, John has never made a real effort to become part of the family with them. It was easier for him to focus on Debra herself and turning her against them than to try and create a close-knit family unit. He understands exactly what each of his targets needs from him, and then he becomes that very thing.

EXTRAS


Performer(s) of the Week: Connie does great work as Debra this week. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance on this show and this episode alone would be reason enough for it. Her portrayal of this poor, sad, lovelorn woman is a heartbreaking one and seeing her have to slowly realize the man she's married is a monster was a difficult one to watch. Especially knowing she has to pretend nothing is wrong. Sprague Grayson also deserves credit this week too for her portrayal of Tonia Sells. Both women work as tragic parallels of one another, I only wish they could have shared a scene.

Best Scene: Veronica hugs Debra. Given everything we know about Ronnie, I would expect her to have a more selfish reaction to Debra finally coming around to what she's been telling her all this time. I expected an "I told you so", but in a surprising moment of grace, Ronnie simply becomes the shoulder her mother needs to lean on. She offers only condolences and zero snark (well maybe a little snark to the PI) and the obvious bottom line: Veronica will be there for Debra and help her figure out a way out of this.

Home Invader Check-Up: I guess the home invader last week really was just a home invader? Still not sure, found that a weird scene or plot development to add in if it doesn't pan out to anything more.

Most Chilling Line: Debra Meehan intuiting "It's all gone wrong hasn't it?"

A NEW EPISODE OF DIRTY JOHN, TITLED "SHRAPNEL", WILL PREMIERE DECEMBER 16TH @ 10/9c ON BRAVO.


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