Dirty John: Season 1/ Episode 5 “Lord High Executioner” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

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This episode focuses on John’s childhood, his sister and, you guessed it, Debra trying to conjure up the faith that John can & will change.

Director(s) Jeffrey Reiner
Writer(s) Christopher Goffard
Air Date 12/23/2018
Introduced This Episode
Denise Joelle Carter
John’s Dad Shea Whigham

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Meet Denise & Dad: Denise, John, Dad

There is the consistent need to question: How and why did they become like this? As if a bad childhood, an abusive parent, or maybe just one moment, excuses or explains everything. Thus giving a reason to pity or forgive someone like John. Well, taking note John and Denise’s father was a con man, who John ate glass and even broke a leg for, maybe it is worth feeling a little bad for him. However, don’t do so for too long or you’ll end up like Debra.


Maybe I’m callous but John’s childhood didn’t inspire any sympathy from me. It could be because these flashbacks really don’t do more than show us how he is a piece of trash. I mean, as much as you could note his childhood was horrible, let’s not forget how he treated Denise throughout it. He saw there could be a pecking order and took advantage of it. Like with not cleaning up, taking credit, and Denise saying something. For speaking up for herself, Denise got called a rat and lost ten dollars out of her allowance. Mind you, she did all the work yet John got paid the same amount and she lost $10.

But, it didn’t end there. Being that she knew their dad was trash, she repeatedly tried to at least have a good relationship with John. However, there always comes a point where you gotta learn when to let someone go. Especially when, no matter how much you try to help them, they attract and shelter toxic people.

But He’s Different Now: Debra, Terra, Veronica, Denise, John

Case in point, Veronica is basically done with Debra and Terra, as much as she wants to think like Debra, it’s hard. For there was all this evidence presented, on top of what Debra found, but now she wants to use her vows as an excuse to stay. So, rather than enable her, continue this back and forth they may have done for all of Debra’s past marriages, it seems her kids are realizing what Denise did – that all they have is their sibling(s).

But, truth of the matter is, Denise doesn’t have a good brother. After the Tonia debacle, John does two things to Denise which can be considered unforgivable. First and foremost, he kills their father. Why? Well, not just because he had a sour relationship with his dad but also John was taught the best way to hurt someone is by going after their family.

Now, why would he go after their dad? Well, we’re led to believe their dad maybe all Denise has. Granted, she had a successful real estate business, but as for a personal life? Well, we don’t see kids, a husband, or anyone who would be significant beyond their father. So, taking note, years ago, Denise kicked out John for he was claiming, trying to outright take her property, and she threatened to call the cops, this was retribution.


I want you to think about how hard it must be for Debra’s kids to cut her off. It isn’t because she is an addict, violent, or abusive. The problem is that she wants love and a relationship so badly she’ll neglect any and all warning signs. Something which, though never explicitly said, you know had to have an effect on her kids. Based off the little we’ve heard Terra and Veronica say, at a minimum, it led to them feeling like they lacked consistency when growing up. Maybe even felt neglected. However, there is always the possibility these men may have done something to Veronica or Terra.

Yet, what does Debra do? This man, who she seemingly is going to honor her vows towards, gets to stay in her life. She’d rather not see her kids, or grandkids, than give this man up. Hell, she’d even stay with him as he tries to detox because that is how strongly she loves this man.

Though, it could also be loneliness too. If not, being at the point of life she is at, trying to be more religious. That is, not divorcing because it is easy, being forgiving, and maybe even dealing with some guilt. For it isn’t 100% clear why Debra’s other marriages failed. All that has been said is that the guys made off like bandits with Debra’s money.

Switching things to Denise, I’m hoping I got the timeline right. I wanna say her kicking him out came before killing their father but it is kind of hard to confirm. This is mostly due to us not getting much information to know what year or time period it is. Well, besides Denise picking John up from prison in Ohio.

He’ll Never Change: Veronica, Debra, John

Veronica after learning John cost her, her job.

He got Debra to stay by his side through detox and is trying to not just isolate her from her kids, but make it so her kids will just stay away. How to do so? Well, by showing them he isn’t one to mess with. So, taking down the toughest one, he gets Veronica fired from her job. An act you know she won’t take lying down, but by hitting her where it hurts, her pocketbook, likely he hoped to take the rest out.

However, with Debra discovering he is still using, it seems that takedown won’t take Veronica down and may have lost him Debra. Well, unless she decides to forgive him again.


Did John think Debra brought everything for Veronica and she was just a leech? The way we see Veronica work, in sales at that, it means she works hard for her money and this man cutting her cash flow means war. Damn Debra and however she feels, two can play this scorched earth style. Making just the possibilities of what Veronica may do delicious.

But, the thing to question is whether Debra may get in the way of Veronica’s revenge. If not end up collateral damage. For with Debra no longer being invited to brunch, will Terra be willing to play middleman for reconciliation? If not just warn Debra that fire and fury is coming? That is assuming Veronica even trusts her little sister enough with her plans.


  1. How much John is being developed as a character, even though it is just showing how, generationally, the men in his family are trash – including him.
  2. You knowing Veronica is about to f*** John’s life up beyond whatever he may have done to a woman before.

On The Fence

  1. At this point, should we just give up on Debra? Clearly, unless John dies, she isn’t going to give up on him. She is even using her vows as an excuse.

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