Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched Fear the Walking Dead’s third episode of Season 7, so be warned!
It’s easy to believe that AMC will keep the Walking Dead franchise going for as long as humanly possible, with future plans already including one spinoff devoted to Norman Reedus’ Daryl and Melissa McBride’s Carol, and one anthologized spinoff with one-off episodes tapping into previously unexplored areas of the zombie apocalypse. It’s somewhat easy to understand why network execs are eager to keep those wheels spinning, since the three current horror dramas make up the core of AMC’s identity at this point outside of Breaking Bad’s perfecto spinoff Better Call Saul. So since there’s no end in sight, I’m making a plea for a Dead-adjacent spinoff that would excite me more than the two projects mentioned above: The John Sr. and June Show.
Okay, yeah, that’s a terrible working title, but my basic point is that Fear the Walking Dead’s episode “Cindy Hawkins” proved with ease that Jenna Elfman’s June Dorie and Keith Carradine’s John Dorie Sr. deserve to be at the center of their own show. (With the massive assumption that John doesn’t do something impulsive that leads to his immediate death in any future Season 7 episodes.) Showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg and their creative team have largely done a great job at expanding certain stories within character-specific episodes in recent seasons, and I feel like that’s best exemplified through installments focusing on the various Dorie family members, though Garret Dillahunt’s John Jr. was tragically killed off in Season 6.
Still, though, last season’s “The Key” put Dillahunt’s John Dorie Jr. in the middle of a methodical murder-mystery, and the episode was a standout across the entire series’ run. (And also sparked a “Give me a spinoff!” argument from yours truly.) While it wasn’t quite as gripping, “Cindy Hawkins” played out as a paranoid thriller that followed a frazzled and obsession-driven John Sr. attempting to bring justice to the one victim of John Glover’s Teddy that remained undiscovered by authorities. Only, it’s never exactly clear if John’s instincts are actually trustworthy or not, as he was forced into cold-turkey sobriety and was very obviously seeing hallucinations along the way. (A notion somewhat foreshadowed by the psychedelic grooves of The Mamas & the Papas in the earliest minutes.)
Even though the episode entirely wrapped up the whole Cindy Hawkins story, as her corpse was found hidden behind a wall of the bunker John and June were living in, it’s not as if that discovery closed the door on interesting narrative paths for the two characters to travel down in the future. The episode ended with the pair being “saved,” as it were, by Colman Domingo’s Victor Strand, who is destined for a potentially deadly faceoff with Lennie James’ Morgan by this season’s end. (Also, fuck Victor for his supercilious “Maybe later” response to John saying he’s “off the sauce.”) So after all that stuff happens, I’m sorta hoping John and June will get forced into a situation where they will need to splinter off from the rest of the protagonists in order to go on their own spinoff adventures.
Because while The Walking Dead’s Carol and Daryl have been fan-favorite characters for many years, that’s largely due to fans having followed them for eleven seasons now. We’ve seen Carol go through just about every kind of tragedy known to man, from the early-on deaths of Ed and Sophia to murdering Lizzie to Henry’s death to losing Connie, with a plethora of other moments sprinkled between. Meanwhile, fans have watched Daryl pull off countless badass moments (often with his illogical post-apocalyptic weapon-of-choice, the crossbow), as well as him getting captured numerous times by various lage villain groups, only to come out alive every time. Anyone who can go through an ugly cry like Daryl did over Merle and still come out ahead with audiences has definitely earned his or her place.
But my point there is that Daryl and Carol have gone through the physical and emotional wringers on The Walking Dead, which makes it hard to think of what kinds of story beats their spinoff can introduce that won’t just be retreading past moments. On the flip side, however, Jenna Elfman’s seasons on Fear the Walking Dead haven’t explored June as a character nearly as much, in part due to the series’ transition into character-specific episodes. And the same goes for Keith Carradine’s John Sr. on a much larger scale, considering “Cindy Hawkins” was only his fourth episode.
Sure, John Jr. is the link that ties June and John Sr. together, with the serial killer Teddy as the biggest lynchpin behind the elder John Dorie’s obsessions. But we still don’t know THAT many details about June’s past, since one of her character traits has long been “lie-based secrecy,” which was demonstrated in Episode 703 when she confessed to having made up stats about how long they should stay underground. So there’s lots to explore there. And the same goes for John, whose long life cannot be represented entirely by “the killer that got away.” Even though Fear the Walking Dead very rarely utilizes flashbacks to inform its narratives, dipping back into John and June’s pasts would be a great way to strike narrative balances between what they’d go through in the spinoff, and what they’d already been through before.
It’ll definitely take more than just me hollering about a John and June spinoff to make it happen, and I admitteldy have 1% confidence that it could ever happen, considering The Walking Dead universe also still has to bring Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes back with his spinoff features, with even more unconfirmed spinoff ideas being tossed around behind the scenes with franchise overseer Scott Gimple. But how awesome would it be to see Rick and John Dorie Sr. bullshitting together about the good ol’ days of pre-outbreak law enforcement? Oh, I guess that’s a different idea altogether.
Fans can keep up with Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 when it airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m., followed by new episodes of The Walking Dead: World Beyond. And check out our 2021 Fall TV schedule to see all the other new and returning shows yet to debut in the next two months.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn’t sound like that’s the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.