Warning: this story contains spoilers for Sunday’s “Sonny Boy” episode of Fear TWD. War has broken out on Season 7 of Fear the Walking Dead, and with war comes casualties and losses on both sides — sometimes in the same episode. As Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Morgan Jones (Lennie James) prepare to make their move against Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and take his Tower by force, Sunday’s “Sonny Boy” brings the first big deaths of the half-season. When Morgan and Grace’s (Karen David) daughter goes missing, it’s up to former lawman John Dorie Sr. (Keith Carradine) and Strand yes-man Howard (Omid Abtahi) to find Baby Mo — or else.
For Howard, finding the baby is an opportunity to earn Strand’s trust and build his legacy at the Tower, reuniting him with his missing family. For John, finding Baby Mo means getting in Strand’s ear and securing his legacy by transforming the Tower into the place he should have made for his late son John Jr. (Garret Dillahunt).
As each man tries to leave their legacy on the Tower, it’s revealed June Dorie (Jenna Elfman) took Baby Mo to sneak her out to Morgan and open the Tower to attack with the baby safely outside its walls. John, revealing he’s suffering from the same radiation exposure that will soon claim Charlie’s (Alexa Nisenson) young life, admits to framing Howard as a traitor to gain audience with Strand.
At Strand’s command, John throws Howard off the Tower roof to spare the same fate befalling June and Grace. Refusing to abandon Mo the way he abandoned his son, John’s last act is to sacrifice himself getting Mo through Strand’s walker moat.
Doomed to succumb to his radiation burns — and having been bitten by walkers when pushing through the zombie horde — John reunites Mo and Morgan before giving himself over to the walkers, buying Morgan and the baby time to escape.
“It’s so hard to watch this episode and say goodbye to Keith Carradine. He is this character,” co-showrunner Ian Goldberg said on AMC+’s Fear the Walking Dead: Episode Insider. “He’s got so much gravitas and strength. He just brings something that no one else could have brought to this role. We were such big fans of his from his very long and impressive body of work, bringing him into the show. And what we always like to say is that when characters die or when we say goodbye to characters, we want it to hurt. We want it to be impactful because that means that you cared.”
After casting the Deadwood and Madam Secretary actor as the absentee father of Garret Dillahunt’s John Dorie in Season 6, “Sonny Boy” is “just so painful to watch.”
“His final sacrifice, both painful and beautiful, just is a real testament to Keith’s incredible work as an actor and what he brought to this role,” Goldberg added. “We’re very, very grateful to have had the chance to work with him.”
Mr. Dorie is walking through the horde to get Baby Mo to Morgan!
This is just breaking my heart. Again, on Mother’s Day?! Good thing this wasn’t Father’s Day but still. It’s a Father’s turn. #FearTWD again y’all messed up for that.
I feel like John Sr was such as wasted character. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad we got a death,but I feel like he didn’t serve as much purpose as he realistically should’ve especially being John’s father. It almost feels like he was only introduced to give Teddy more depth #FearTWD
The apocalypse hates doctors
To Keith Carradine: Having another John Dorie on the show was such an honour. While I’m sad that John Sr. is gone, he will not be forgotten. Thank you so much for bringing such a terrific character to life. We will miss seeing you! #FearTWD #RIPJohnDorieSr pic.twitter.com/v3glxdZmUE
To Keith Carradine,
Thank you for showing us that it’s not too late. For fighting to make things right. For trying to make up for the wrongs of the world. For trying to build a legacy. For being a badass gunslinger.