Dirty John: Season 1/ Episode 4 “Shrapnel” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

We go through the final days of Cindi, Toby’s mom, as Debra decides to confront John about what she knows.

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We go through the final days of Cindi, Toby’s mom, as Debra decides to confront John about what she knows.

Director(s) Jeffrey Reiner
Writer(s) Alexandra Cunningham, Sinead Daly
Air Date 12/16/2018
Introduced This Episode
Cindi Katrina Bowden
Bobby Joe Tippett

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Hiding Out: Veronica, Debra

Following PI Verga’s advice, Debra hides out at a hotel and tries to figure out her next move. Something Veronica tries to help her with, including going to the cops. However, with no crime committed, just crimes now discovered, there isn’t much they can do. So, all that happens is Debra starting her annulment, changing her will, and getting her ducks in a row.


Veronica giving a verbal lashing to a cop.
Veronica: So that means you can do nothing, right?

It truly is wonderful that Debra has seemingly woken up, isn’t trying to make excuse, but simply trying to learn from this mistake. Much less, if not more, Veronica isn’t rubbing being right in Debra’s face. Instead, as you would expect from her oldest daughter, she is supporting her mom, letting her know she is here for her, even fighting for her when the cops aren’t helping.

Which does bring the need to question, where is her son in all this? Is Debra one of those mothers who don’t want to bother their son so they let their daughter(s) bear the weight of their bad decisions? Could it be, because he has a family, he doesn’t really check in all that much? It just seems like Toby shouldn’t be the only guy in Debra’s life actively asking, “What’s going on?”

The Final Days of Cindi and Trial of Bobby: Arlane, Cindi, Bobby

Toby’s parents, Cindi and Bobby, were childhood sweethearts. Which is perhaps the reason why, when their marriage went to hell, he acquired a gun and originally was just going to shoot himself. At least, after the events, that is what he told Arlane. In truth, the murder looks very premeditated and with the episode ending with him pointing the gun at Cindi, it could be he lied.

Which is important to note for it helps you understand Arlane. Because of her faith, she believes in forgiveness and trying to see the best in people. Hence why, even though she lost one daughter because of thinking that way, she tried her best to support Debra when it came to John. Yet, with learning the truth, you see a wave of guilt for advising her living daughter in a similar fashion as to how she advised Cindi and Bobby.


With us getting John and Tonia’s backstory in the last episode, Arlane’s in this one, it makes you wonder, if the pattern continues, who will get focused on in episode 5? It would be great to see Veronica and Terra growing up, how they experienced their mother’s relationships. For one of the things you have to appreciate about this Arlane episode is it helps you understand what she said and her actions. The reason she wanted Terra to come back to the Christmas stuff is because she doesn’t want to lose any family members. That is, be it absence through death or choice.

Then, when it came to John, being that Arlane tries to see the best in everyone, forgive them, and be a true loving Christian, you also get why Debra is making excuses. It can partly just be that love makes a fool of her but also her upbringing. This could also explain the actions she chooses next.

Hearing John Out: Debra, John

Despite all the information Debra has, there is this nagging need to clarify things with John. Leading to him coming up with excuses. Be it Tonia filing all that to deal with a new boyfriend who was jealous, him being unable to clear his name so someone else’s mistake has him with a long rap sheet, and more. All of which draws Debra back in because you can tell she wants to believe him. Making you wonder if she takes into account what happened with her sister at all?


John explaining everything Debra has found.

Here is my thing: Your sister was killed by her childhood sweetheart who seemed like a nice man. That’s first and foremost. Following that, you’re dealing with someone who is a known compulsive liar with a ridiculously long rap sheet. Your daughter hired a PI, and Veronica does her homework, to check on the information presented. On top of that, he was rude to your daughters and nephew. I can understand, to a point, being a Christian, a person of faith in general, calls for forgiveness of sin, believing people can change, and what have you.

However, none of that means that person needs to be in your life, home, and have access to your finances. You can forgive from afar. You can also love, with distance as well. But, with her back in his life, so comes the question if she will be smart enough to still annul the marriage. The will got notarized, so that’s a done deal, but I’m not sure if an annulment, whether you have money or not, is as quick of a process.


  1. Veronica, despite how she acts sometimes, reminding you it is all out of love and to protect her family.
  2. With us learning Arlane’s part in Cindi’s demise, and seeing her forgive Bobby during the trial, it helps you understand her and Debra so much more. Not to the point of not being aggravated with Debra, when it comes to her interactions with John, but at least you can piece together why she still wanted to see and hear him out.

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