It’s finally happened! John’s mask has slipped and even Debra can see the evil side of the man she married. Now she’s trying to beat him at his own game.
It’s what we’ve been waiting for. In the latest episode of Dirty John, Debra Newell finally – finally – decides to leave her husband John Meehan. But the woman who naively got into the marriage after falling head over heels in love, has learned from her deceitful spouse and plans to legally and physically leave John, from right under his nose without alerting him beforehand.
The final nail in the coffin of their relationship comes when Debra and John visit lawyer John Dzialo (played by Alan Ruck) to clear his name. (Remember, John has convinced Debra that all the restraining orders, lawsuits and claims that he stalked women are fraudulent.) As they go through each one, John has an excuse for everything, a reason why he’s innocent.
Admitting that the situation is “a mess,” Debra tells the lawyer that she hopes that clearing some of this up will “soothe things” with her family who thinks that John just wants her money. The lawyer has a perfect solution. Why not get a post-nup to divide their property and assets and determine who gets her business after she dies? The look that John flashes the attorney is one of pure evil and actually flusters the man. “John, I can tell you’re not loving this conversation…” the lawyer says. (This is the understatement of the series!)
John later returns to the lawyer’s office on his own, demanding that the $25K retainer (that Debra paid) be returned to him in full because (obviously) the attorney hasn’t be able to prove the lawsuits against him are fake. He wants the money back or he’s going to complain to the state bar. But the lawyer wants to make sure that Debra is fully onboard with John’s decision. So he writes a letter to her and hand delivers it to her business, because all his calls are going through to voicemail and he thinks John may be blocking his attempts to make contact.
Unbelievably, Debra hands the seemingly unopened letter to John when she gets home and asks him to read it. John admits that he fired the lawyer because the man’s a “scammer.” Debra looks unnerved but says nothing.
Meanwhile, John continues to turn on the charm and writes Debra a love letter expressing his devotion and telling her that he hopes he dies in her arms. Debra, however, is secretly trying to get out of the marriage. She calls her daughter Veronica from a new cell phone and asks to meet at a restaurant. At the restaurant Ronnie finds her mom sitting in a booth. Debra’s wearing a dark wig again to hide her identity.
Then, in a series of flashbacks, it’s revealed what Debra has been secretly doing. She discovered that John had been following her via a tracking device on her car. In another scene we see that Debra did open and read the letter the lawyer hand-delivered to her office, but she put it in a new envelope to make it look unopened when she handed it to John later that night. She also asked an employee if the “cloud” allows someone to access two electronic devices at the same time. When she realized that John could be looking at her emails, texts and keeping tabs on her location 24/7 via her smart phone she bought a flip phone, went into the restroom at work (so the security cameras didn’t film her) and called the lawyer to see if he could recommend a family and criminal attorney to get her out of her situation. On one occasion Debra even locked her smart phone in her car, which she parked on the dealership lot so she could secretly slip into another vehicle to meet with a new lawyer.
Veronica is stunned after hearing what her mom’s been up to. After Ronnie tells Debra that John has been sending her abusive texts, mother and daughter agree to secretly get an apartment together in a gated facility. And everything seems to be going to plan. But when Debra goes home, her plot is blown apart when John confronts her by saying, “Why’d you withdraw so much cash today? The 30 grand you took out. What’s it for?” When Debra tells John that it’s her money and he says what’s hers is his, she goes into her walk-in wardrobe. She’s had enough. Debra packs a bag and tells John she’s leaving him and she wants a divorce. He turns nasty and says, “Hit me and I’ll make sure you never get up again.”
Thankfully, Debra manages to escape. But, in a series of flashbacks from Dayton, Ohio a decade earlier, we find out just how dirty John really is. After his ex-wife Tonia begs a detective to investigate his painkiller addiction the law finally catches up with him and John is imprisoned. Sadly, he’s released well before his 21-month sentence is completed. After John leaves Ohio to move back to California, the detective assures Tonia that her ex-husband is no longer her problem. But, as we know, eventually becomes Debra’s.