Oh, what a sneaky, sneaky trick you played on us, Dirty John. I was so angry at Debra, who is more passive than a dead jellyfish stuck to the bottom of a boat, when she gave John a letter from her attorney, unopened. The couple enlisted the help of a lawyer because, they say, they want him to sue all of these people for fraud to clean up John’s arrest record. While in his office, he suggests that they get a post-nuptial agreement so that Debra can get some support for the marriage from her family.
Knowing that John was a creep, the lawyer was going to turn him down as a client, but he took John’s case because he could tell Debra really needed help. He even mentioned, in their initial consultation, that Debra’s business would need to be put in order in the event of her death, almost suggesting to her that John would someday murder her. When he says this, John gives him an eyeball so hairy not all the Nair in the known universe could take care of it.
Anyway, John fires the dude because he knows this man of the law is onto him, but the lawyer doesn’t relent and sends a letter to Debra at her office. Later that night, we see her feigning her usual innocence as she hands it to John unopened, and says, “Oh, the lawyer brought this by.” I wanted to throw “Molly, you in danger, girl” GIFs at her until one of them smacked her in the forehead and she came to her senses. We saw her find his drugs at the end of the last episode and now she’s not doing anything to protect herself when she finds out that John fired the lawyer she paid for behind his back?
Oh, but it was all a dirty trick. Awful daughter Veronica gets a call from her mom who says to meet her at a restaurant in an hour. When she shows up, Debra has on that awful cheap wig again and you can almost hear Connie Britton’s absolutely perfect coiffure underneath screaming for release. (What about the scene in which the lawyer’s secretary says that Debra “has beautiful hair?” Um, duh! It’s Connie Britton’s hair!) She tells Ronnie the whole story, about how she’s getting ready to leave John, but she’s preparing her escape plan. Ronnie has the only possible response: “We need tequila, like, now!”
Yes, not looking at the letter was all an act. Debra pretended like she didn’t read it and that she was fine with firing the lawyer to get John off her back. What she really did was call the lawyer and get him to recommend someone so that she could divorce John and possibly go after him for some criminal charges. We also see her leaving the GPS tracker on the bottom of her Maserati.
She even went so far as to have the youngest person in the office explain how the internet works to her. Now, honestly, this probably would have happened regardless of whether she had married a dangerous grifter after only having known him for two months. Middle-aged Americans are always asking the young people in their offices how to “FacesTime” or “snap a chat” or post an album on Instagram instead of posting ten pictures in a row from the same day at the apple orchard (are you listening, dad?). But in this particular instance, she was doing it so that John couldn’t track her.
All of Debra’s work comes to a head when she comes home from work one day and John is sitting in the gloom waiting to ask her why she took $30,000 out of the bank. “Does there have to be a reason?” she asks. Damn, just when I started to have some faith in Debra for being a badass and going behind John’s back, she took a whole heap of cash out of the bank and didn’t think up at least a plausible excuse for why she would have done it in the first place?
She decides this is the instant that she’s going to tell him that she’s leaving him and getting a divorce, after packing exactly one cashmere sweater and two bras. He corners her in the closet and, in that super scary way he always does, threatens her while remaining totally calm. He tells her to hit him. He wants her to hit him so that he can fight back and be justified. “I’ll make sure you never get up again,” she says. Instead Debra just stands there and says, “Move.” She has to tell him to move a few more times before she can finally get clear and run out of the house, grabbing her keys on the way.
What’s really threatening about John, however, is what he said to her both in a letter he mailed her and when he found out she took that money out of the bank. In the letter he says that if he can’t live this life without her, “I don’t know what I would do.” It’s those vague threats that he knows drive people crazy, that make them look over their shoulders all the time, that he uses to control people. Things like spitting on Ronnie’s birth certificate, that’s just petty bullshit for those he can’t get under his thumb, but the threats are what he really uses to get his way.
When he finds out about the money, he tells Debra, “What’s yours is mine, now.” We know that this separation is going to be horrible. We know John is going to try to do everything in his power to get as much money as he can and ruin her life. He’ll even break the law to make sure that happens. Good thing Debra’s lawyer seems up to the task. We can’t call him a shark because he likens John to a shark. She got something even better: a shark killer. Now that Debra’s gone we all have to brace ourselves for things getting worse, because you know that’s where this is going to go.
This episode also contained another story about John’s ex-wife Tanya going to the police with a bunch of the stolen drugs she found in their house after John moved out. One of the cops investigates John and finds out he’s a real son-of-a-gun. This guy does everything he can to get John arrested. Ultimately he finds John overdosed in his hovel of an apartment and then has to chase him down with other cops to get him in the slammer. When John gets released from prison early, he even calls the Newport Beach police to warn them that a real crazy is coming to their jurisdiction. I think the idea of this episode was to show all of the men who put their lives and careers on the line to help women. That’s great and all, but I’m much more interested in watching Debra and her daughters figure out how to help themselves.