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Dirty John - Chivalry - Review: You Have Forsaken All the Love You've Taken



In the penultimate episode of Dirty John, ironically titled "Chivalry" is all about learning the scam. We see a majority of the season retold in flashes, but now we're seeing the story told from John Meehan's perspective.

While it's skin-crawling to watch John manipulate, control, and effectively destroy countless women's lives, it's integral to understanding how the con artist operates and how he has been able to do so for so long.

SCENE-BY-SCENE RECAP


6 months ago John shows up at impound lot to pick up his car. He doesn't exactly make nice with the officer on the clock who isn't in any rush to get his vehicle back to him.

Cut to John hanging out by his RV. He's talking to two simultaneously, one online and one on the phone. A third woman calls and he hangs up on her. To the girl on the phone, Jillian, he tells her a tall tale about visiting his siblings after his father's death to wrap things up in San Jose, California. He promises to see her on Friday right after he IMs the online girl to promise he'll meet with her soon.

We then get a montage of sorts, John is shown talking to tons of different women, going on dates with them, and then coming home and doing drugs. Between all his scamming, he takes the time to threaten the husbands of the women he's dating, sending scandalous pictures to prove what they've been up to. Finally he gets to the call we've been waiting for, Debra. We see an eerie replay of the first time Veronica opened the door to him in the first episode, but now through his point-of-view. This was the moment he entered Debra Newell's life.

Pictured: Eric Bana as John Meehan -- Photo Credit to Bravo
Remember their first date? Well now we're seeing it from John's side of things. If you recall the moment he stormed out of the apartment when it became clear Debra didn't want him in her bedroom, turns out he went back to his RV to call Carrie, one of the many women he was talking to at the time. Except Carrie has some digging of her own and discovered John isn't how he claims to be. He hangs up with a frustrated groan.

If you remember the first date with John and Debra, then I'm sure you also remember that speech John gave which enchanted her enough to give him a second chance. We find out John was rehearsing it during his community service tale. Nothing about this guy is genuine.

After they spent the night together, he also told her about a scar on his stomach from a "rocket grenade launch". Another lie. Back in jail, John got a shiv from his cellmate and cut himself so he could go to the med-bay, likely because of the painkillers they gave him judging by his ecstatic reaction. Also worth nothing, John asked his cellmate to look around for someone to take a hit on his ex-wife in Ohio, a tricky place to get work done due to the death penalty but an option John wanted explored all the same.

Another flashback to the time John was late to the party Debra wanted him to go to. Why? He was flirting with a waitress at a taco shop and yet again, rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing. His whole life is scripted, he truly is just an actor playing a myriad of roles.

We see more of Debra and John's early days through his eyes. The way he controlled her life without her even suspecting it, reading all her emails, her messages, leaving no trace behind. Then we see John in a group therapy session and find out he actually slept with the one of the men there in order to get a signed court order and drug-free urine samples by using blackmail photos of their night spent together.

A while back, Debra was stalked by a woman in her own home, she assumed it was someone who wandered in off the street but in reality, John hired a girl to scare her. The entire thing was orchestrated.

When Debra brought John home for the holidays, he buttered up Arlane to get information about the man he saw her with at church earlier on. This is how he found out about Toby's father killing his mother.

Dwight is the name of the man John uses for quick cash. He's John's crooked sobriety doctor and he sells the drugs John gets from the women he dates and scams in other medical facilities. Transmucosal immediate-release fentanyl lollipops, which are narcotics, and paliperidone, an anti-psychotic, are just a few of the drugs John supplies. But even a scumbag like Dwight can see John isn't doing so well on his own addiction of painkillers. He advises him to lay off and not long after John collapses and winds up in the hospital. We know the story from here, Debra helps him get better and lets him back into her home.

As soon as their relationship resumes, John gets hooked on testosterone. I guess he's not feeling as manly as he used to/needs a new fix? I'm presuming this may be the drug Debra found in the bathroom at home. He jumps right back into stalking her. Listening to all of her phone calls, tracking her car through GPS, everything he can to keep tabs on her every movement.

Pictured (l-r): Jeff Perry as Michael O'Neil and Connie Britton as Debra Newell -- Photo Credit to Bravo
We watch everything from John's perspective up until the point Debra asks him for a divorce. At which point we cut to Debra at the lawyer's office. She tells her attorney about all the threats John has made against Veronica and he draws up a declaration to request a domestic violence restraining order. Meanwhile, John packs up at the penthouse, taking plenty of her jewelry with him. As the attorney points out, John will make this about money.

Pictured: Erica Bana as John Meehan
Photo Credit to Bravo/Jordin Althaus
A meeting with the judge is arranged to try and obtain a restraining order and John shows up late, hobbling around on a cane and claiming he can't afford representation because he doesn't have enough money to afford one. This, of course, is yet another stall tactic on his part. The judge doesn't believe the jury will respond to a client who doesn't have counsel so the meeting is moved.

In the interim, Debra is back in her wig and John has sent a picture of her to all he clients with text about "getting to know the real her". It's not said what the image is but I'm assuming it's explicit in nature. He has also been stalking the comments of her company website, claiming they do subpar work and that Debra lies and cuts corners.

John and Debra meet up at a restaurant. John is still using the cane, he claims his MS is acting up. I guess he's trying to make Debra feel guilty. She asks him what it's going to take to get rid of him, half her money? John doesn't give her a straight answer. "I don't know, but it's something." He has Debra cornered right now, she's terrified and he doesn't want to lose the control he has taken so long to foster so easily.

Attorney O'Neil is pissed that Debra went to meet with John. It played right into his hands. They just went to court and swore he had threatened, harassed, and stalked her, but now she's calling him up and meeting with him? They'll have to change their defense now.

In a retaliatory move, John torches her car, their once shared car. The interrogation room doesn't go the way the detectives planned because John is a master manipulator. He's smart, calculated, and he doesn't get ruffled by the pressure they put on him. He is able to spin the story as to why he is innocent of burning the car with relative ease and even though it's clear they doubt him, they have nothing to pin him to the crime.

In the final moments of the episode, we see John preparing for something. He's got an assortment of weapons, duck tape, and a passport. While doing this, Debra's lawyer tells her perhaps the most chilling thing at all, John isn't some dumb scam artist who gets tripped up when the heats on. The reason he didn't lay hands on Debra is because he has a plan.


MY THOUGHTS & OBSERVATIONS


- This episode was hard to watch sometimes just because of how absolutely vile John is, but it's a credit to Eric Bana's acting as Meehan that it's also so compelling to watch. Getting John's side of the story was a necessary addition to the ending. We don't need to understand his character but it is interesting to watch how he operates. It's helpful to begin to piece together exactly how he's gotten away with this for so long (though I still don't get how that was possible).

- I didn't put this moment in the recap because I'm not entirely sure I read the moment right, but we saw John swallow a little blue pill before going home with Debra on night one. After she kicks him out of her bedroom he immediately calls Carrie to meet up, late at night. Can we assume it was Viagra? Then can we infer John doesn't have any real sexual attraction to these women (or men)? It's not groundbreaking information but if anyone was thinking John's feelings for Debra may have even been a tiny bit real, this pretty much puts the nail in that coffin.

- I'm still not entirely sure what John's motive was with Ruth (the woman he used as a plant to scare Debra by breaking into the house when she they weren't home) but I can surmise he wanted to prove himself invaluable to her, to make her see him as a protector. BUT I KNEW THAT WAS GOING TO COME BACK. I'm so glad the show addressed it and I love the way they did because it puts a whole new perspective on that scene.

- I think Debra was more scared in the scene with her attorney than anything else. Seeing the words "domestic violence restraining order" in plain text put everything in real perspective for her. This isn't a game, this is real and John is extremely dangerous.

- When Debra is talking about John's love for the "car" I think it is a euphemism for their relationship. I think deep down, some part of her still believed John had genuine feelings for her, at least a little, at least at some point.

The season finale of Dirty John airs Sunday, January 13th on Bravo.

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