In the zombie apocalypse, love and affection are a luxury. You really can’t catch feelings when your dying breath could be sneaking up behind you. Still, some have been able to make it work, like Rick and Michonne, or Glenn and Maggie (until Negan came along). And in Fear the Walking Dead, the latest romantic pair was revealed between John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) and Naomi/Laura (Jenna Elfman), who washed up on John’s property and stuck around long enough to leave him a heartbreaking message in Scrabble tiles.
It’ll be quite something, then, when John Dorie (you know, like the fish, but with an “i-e”) and Naomi inevitably reunite.
In “Laura,” a very tender episode of Fear the Walking Dead, a long flashback takes viewers back to John Dorie’s quiet, isolated life to before he started journeying with Morgan. John’s modest existence is soon interrupted when a stranger (Jenna Elfman) washes ashore on a boat. While we know her name is Naomi, Naomi’s hesitance to reveal anything about herself to John leads the ex-cop to name her “Laura,” which she doesn’t protest. As John tends to Laura/Naomi’s wounds and teaches her to fish, the two eventually catch feelings until Naomi leaves without warning.
One of John’s nifty revolvers, the same one Naomi pulled out last week and the same one John dug up from her bag, serves as a visual metaphor for their connection and eventual reunion. It’s also a literal Chekov’s gun, as it comes mighty handy later when Naomi is trapped in the moat with a squad of walkers ganging up on her. You really can’t miss it; the episode actually begins with close-up shots of John cleaning it before showing it predominantly in the frame, an old school Alfred Hitchcock technique turned NRA pornography.
In short, “Laura” is one for the shippers. With so much violence in the worlds of both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, a low-stakes, tender episode feels like a weekend getaway from the usual dreary nightmare that any Dead show so often feels like. John’s house is cozy and consistently shot in warm tones, an obvious effort to soothe audiences to invest into John, Naomi/Laura, what they had, and what they still might have. The teaser for next week’s episode confirms that Naomi/Laura is, indeed, alive. But will she live long enough to see John again? Maybe. She knows how to catch fish.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMC.