Former wild west show worker John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) pulled off a near-impossible trick shot — the San Antonio Split — when saving a trapped Dwight (Austin Amelio) in Sunday’s Fear the Walking Dead, firing at an axe to split a bullet and take out a pair of advancing walkers simultaneously.
The moment arrived to mixed reception on social media — some praised the gunslinger’s show of badassery, others criticizing its camp — but showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg explain the moment ultimately services John’s character.
“We really wanted to see some of the origins of Dorie’s skills as a marksman,” Chambliss told EW.
“And we were looking at old wild west tricks — you know, Buffalo Bill’s show and the kind of things that they would do there. We even sent some writers to the Autry Museum of the Wild West out here in Los Angeles and we found the bullet split, and it seemed like just such a fun kind of a trick that just comes up to the edge of what’s possible. And it’s something that they actually used to do at wild west shows.”
The showrunners not only wanted to incorporate such a flashy trick in their western-inspired episode, but tie the moment to John’s connection to “wild west” town Humbug’s Gulch.
“We really want to have a trick like that, not just because it’s fun and a cool way to kill walkers with one bullet, but ultimately for the emotional reason — it’s John Dorie embracing the person he was before the apocalypse,” Chambliss said.
“It’s a sign that he is letting go of a lot of guilt he’s feeling. And for June, she’s seeing at the same time this side of John that she’s been trying to get out of him for the whole episode. So it kind of brings them together in a new fun way.”
It was John and June (Jenna Elfman) who were first to encounter Dwight in his jump from The Walking Dead to Fear, used to play out the parallels between a down-on-his-luck Dwight as he searches for missing wife Sherry (Christine Evangelista) when compared to John, who feels guilt over the luck he’s experienced — including finding his way back to his own love.
The episode “was an opportunity to explore Dorie and June on a different level,” Goldberg said.
“Obviously, Dorie is someone who we’ve seen this season is struggling with having a lot of good luck while other people don’t have it, and finding the Gulch at the beginning of this episode was another example of that. And it’s seeing Dorie wrestling with that survivor’s guilt.”
What’s more, it’s “June learning more about Dorie in this place where he had a life at Humbug’s Gulch. It’s her helping him through the survivor’s guilt,” Goldberg continued.
“And, of course, the thing that really illuminated it all and made it super exciting was bringing Dwight into the episode and into the show as someone who in many ways is wrestling with some of the same things that we’ve seen Dorie wrestling with. He’s someone who is looking for someone he loved, which Dorie was doing last season as well, and it just presented a really cool tableau and environment for Dorie to help someone who was in a position that Dorie himself could have easily fallen into it had he not had the good luck.”
“That’s a San Antonio split”badass! pic.twitter.com/NPMrKLvcCU— Daniel Finn (@DpFinn9) June 17, 2019
"San Antonio Split" is the 2019 term for "Jumping The Shark"June 17, 2019
The San Antonio split was a little to campy for me in an otherwise frickin fantastic episode. I enjoyed it a great deal.— Sidiankain (@Sidiankain) June 17, 2019
The writers of @FearTWD need to be fired. They took a decent new story direction that started last season and turned it to trash. San antonio split? Intestines holding walkers captive? Really? What a waste of amazing characters like John Dorie and Morgan. #FearTWD— Danny Panzella (@DannyPanzella) June 17, 2019
The bullet split was fucking dumb, but fine #FearTWD— Noah (@NoahhIsSafe) June 17, 2019
Just started watching #FTWD - started with this season because I didn’t want to pay to see S1-4. But is it always this corny? San Antonio split? Really?— Julie (@JulieAnn0720) June 17, 2019
Oh, please, really??? Split bullet? What's next, jump the (walker) shark? #FearTWD— Mario Gil (@mariogilre) June 17, 2019
@FearTWD "That's the San Antonio Split... only the second time I pulled that off"June 17, 2019
Best walker kill ever! San Antonio split! #FearTWD— Cherié Summers (@cheriesummers18) June 17, 2019
“That’s the San Antonio Split.” None of that was even kind of believable, but I love it. Long live John Dorie. #FearTWD— Brittney M-M (@BrittTalks) June 17, 2019