Fear the Walking Dead co-showrunner Ian Goldberg explains the "emotionally devastating" death that kicks off Season 6B. Spoilers for Sunday's midseason premiere, "The Door." Morgan Jones (Lennie James) tries to pull his best friend John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) out of his darkest moment yet when the gunslinger retreats to his cabin after leaving behind his wife, June (Jenna Elfman), at a fork in the road earlier in the season. John couldn't live under Virginia (Colby Minifie), who framed and then inhumanely executed their friend Janis (Holly Curran) for a murder she did not commit inside the "rotten" Lawton settlement where John once again became a lawman.
As John searches for a door to his cabin to keep "the passed" from getting at him when takes his own life, he runs across Morgan and Dakota (Zoe Colletti), Virginia's little sister. The pair need John's help crossing a bridge barricaded with walkers, one blocking the only route to the safe place Morgan is building where their family can be free from Virginia and her Pioneers.
When Dakota uses a folding knife with a six-inch blade and a hand-carved bone handle to kill a walker, John recognizes the knife as the missing murder weapon someone used to kill Ranger Cameron (Noah Khyle) back at Lawton in Episode 604, "The Key." Dakota killed Cameron for figuring out how she was sneaking in and out of Lawton, taking away her only escape from her sister, and Virginia covered it up.
Because Dakota can't have him exposing her as a killer and ruining her future with Morgan's new community, she shoots John in the chest with his own pearl-handled pistol.
"This episode is called 'The Door.' The title has a couple of different meanings, as we see as the episode goes on," Goldberg says in commentary for the episode. "We see that the door itself is something that's missing from John's cabin, and it's the thing that he's trying to find to cut himself off from the world and from people, but also because he's planning to end his own life. The other meaning of 'The Door' is that sort of ironically, he finds renewed purpose and connection and opens himself to people with the person who perhaps he's closest to in the world, who's Morgan Jones."
When "The Door" opens on a guilt-wracked and suicidal John, "This is the darkest place we've ever seen John Dorie, and John is really in a place where he's punishing himself, where he feels unworthy to be alive. What we see in this scene is that every time he gets up the courage to pull the trigger, walkers keep interrupting him. John doesn't want walkers to tear him apart. And so he goes looking for a door so that he can essentially kill himself and have that be the end of it."
John confesses to Morgan that he's "not meant to live in this world," blaming his dogged investigation into Cameron's murder for Janis' violent death.
"Because John Dorie has this humanity in him, he sees that as a weakness because he feels like even when he's trying to help people, they get hurt, which is the same thing that he felt about what happened with Janis," Goldberg explained. "John starts in a place where he doesn't see a reason to live, and Morgan tells him, 'You're gonna find that reason.' And he does end up finding it in the last place and the last person he expected, and it's with Dakota."
Goldberg continued: "Of course, it's a huge shock and a gut punch for him when he realizes, 'Oh, my God. You're the one who killed Cameron.' But on the other hand, he sees this as a real opportunity. Here's someone who needs help, who he believes he can help. We've seen him forge a connection with her over the course of the episode, and he's finally found that reason to live, that reason to open the door [and] that just as he's opened that door, Dakota is not ready to walk through it with him. Because of who she is and because of what the circumstances are, John pays for it with his life."
The decision to kill off John Dorie was "emotionally devastating for us at every stage of the process," said Goldberg, who serves as showrunner with Andrew Chambliss. "We love that character so much. We love how Garret brought him to life, you know, just also thematically and emotionally. Someone who really laid himself out there and could have helped Dakota, and it just didn't work out."
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead Season 6 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.