The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Are You a Serial Killer?

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Dear Kathryn and Bryan,

I’m excited to be blogging this new season of Dexter with you! Granted, the show often has a great kick off and then falls apart as it flounders to tell its story – but I’ve got some hopes for this one! The opening scene with the getaway run left me wondering if this would end the episode or the season, and it was fun to see that trope used in a different way (even as I had to giggle to see Dexter purchase an airline ticket at the counter with cash…can you even still do that?!). More so, this show has better acting than it has writing, and so this season promises to draw on their strengths not their weaknesses. That we got straight to it, rather than Deb spending half the season trying to figure it all out was an added bonus. She might just be Dex’s worthiest adversary yet! So I have a few thoughts about what else is closing in on our anti-hero…but then I want to hear what you both thought of it all!

First, Lewis, wtf! In the long run, I actually like that they let that thread hang over to the new season. It seems that it’s going to tie in nicely with other ways that Dexter’s past is catching up with him (the “Doakes”/Bay Harbor Butcher’s slides are surely going to remind us what a badass Maria is and all the misgivings she had back in the day about Dex!). But I’m still left wondering why, Lewish, why! Why do you have it in for Dexter so bad?! This is no small thing, for Lewis to insinuate his way into Dexter’s life – his workplace, his domestic sphere – in the ways he has, stalk him and then start shutting down his bank accounts (nice how that screwed up Dex’s run for the airport, making us really think that he was in fleeing mode!), and more that I can’t even remember from last season. I get that Dexter’s a bit of a pompous ass who takes serious advantage of those in his employ, but something else must be going on here. But what? Any guesses yet?

So, the Ukrainian mafia, eh? How long do you think they’ll stick around? We often get these decoys in seasons created out of a sinister underground world that stands in as a backdrop for the sinister nature of Dexter’s own psyche (think of the Santeria voodoo murder stuff a couple of seasons ago). Will the Ukrainian mafia play a role like this, or were Viktor’s threats on the table – that he knew dangerous people – the first ones Dexter should heed, no matter how many times he’s heard it before?

And finally, it has to be said: Harry, worst dad ever! Seriously!! We’ve asked it time and again – would Dexter be so messed up if his dad had just gotten him a little psychological help back in the day? To tell your kid as he clings to the idea that his sister loves him, “She loves who she thinks you are” – talk about screwing your child up! It seems to me that for all the trauma of seeing his mother murdered, it’s the trauma of having Harry as a dad that most messed up Dex!

But it’s the language of “who you are” that struck me most in this scene – Dexter has been convinced from such an early age that this is who he is, and this played out powerfully as he floundered for control over his identity and his self in this episode. By this point, it is who he is – which of course leaves me wondering, which Morgan is going to make it out of this season alive?

Are you guys as glad as me that they dropped the incest stuff? That was just going to be stupid, right? I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of how Deb’s love and loyalty will be tested and stretched…but removing the ‘in’ from the ‘love’ strikes me as a good move away from the Showtime sensationalism that sometimes just gets a little out of hand!

Can’t wait to hear what you both thought!
And wondering what’s hidden in my walls…
Natalie

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Natalie and Kathryn,

Thank you for inviting me to join this season’s Dexter discussion. I feel as though I may have forced my way into this by tagging on to all of your posts from last season. I’m glad my efforts to find some company in the misery I was feeling during the sixth season. And let me be upfront with my expectations coming into this season: they are extremely low. All year, I have been prepared to write this show off entirely. I had planned to contribute only semi-witty, mostly-scathing, and fully-pessimistic remarks in this blog. This first episode has given me a glimmer of hope, though. I still watched this episode through pessimistic and cautious eyes, but I definitely enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I am saying that upfront because almost everything I am going to write is going to be somewhat negative. I think watching the major reveals of last season being played out so plainly and in the open has made me aware of the show’s major weaknesses in logic and its clunkiness in plot maneuvering. So bear in mind that I am giving this season a fair chance, but I do want to point out some things that really stuck out to me, negatively.

First, how has nobody asked the question that Debra asked Jamie about Dexter being gone all the time? I know he is single and has relatively no friends outside of work, but it seems a little weird that Jamie would not mention that Dexter is gone basically all the time. I think the show has written it off as Jamie having tons of work to do at home, so she must not care that her hours are spastic at best.

I actually prefer working 70 hours a week, so there’s no need for overtime.

This brings me to how ridiculous the idea that there is some unattended baggage closet with tons of murdering space available, sitting there for Dexter at all times. Also, the video producer side of me wants to point out how it doesn’t really look like 7pm (even in Miami) right before the baggage claim is closing up.

Luckily, it is evening on this side of the hallway.

It’s the middle of the day over here.

I know this is being picky, but I don’t it is being picky that Dexter should not have the confidence to murder somebody in a major international airport. Also, I feel like there would be security cameras in there. Maybe not, but this got to me. And, I know that I should be holding some suspension of disbelief, but my suspension lines are stretched pretty far for this show, so I’m getting douchey about it now.

One more thing, there is a lot of open space in here for whatever you would like to do to anybody you would like to do it to.

That is the majority of my venting. There are a handful of plot moving lines that feel forced, but overall this episode was way better than anything from last season, in that regard.

Natalie, to your point about Harry. He absolutely is the worst. His lecture to Dexter about the dog was top douche-dad of the year material.

You think they give this hat to anybody who has 10 bucks at Spencers? Well, they do, but still…you’re a monster and you must never be yourself. If you are, you’re entire family will abandon and hate you.

I did really enjoy that they just got to the point with Deb finding out the whole story. I don’t think I could have dealt with half a season of, “what will happen if Deb finds out the real, real truth?” There is real shit to be resolved here, and there is a potential Wire season 2 style Eastern European prostitution ring to be dealt with here in Miami. So, things could be fun. I think we will see a the Ukrainian folks for a while because Jason Gedrick (Jerry from Luck!) seems like a big enough name to be established for at least of few episodes (see: Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) from Season 6).

My gig as degenerate gambler fell through, so I took this opening at a strip joint.

Alright, I feel good. I got my cynical whining out of the way, and I didn’t hate the episode. This seems like it could be fun.

I know what I’m doing,

Bryan Reklis

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Dear Natalie and Bryan,

You both summed up my feelings about the new season: mostly pessimistic after last season, but with glimmers of hope after the premier. You also both touched on the two highlights of the episode, at least in terms of plotting: 1) cutting straight to Deb learning the full truth about Dexter instead of dragging out her confusion and despair; 2) playing with the run-away motif.

Despite the complete implausibility of Dexter attempting and getting away with murder in a major international airport (I agree Bryan, there would be security cameras for sure, right? And why would unclaimed baggage ever “close” – couldn’t someone walk in at anytime to help a poor customer find a lost bag?), I loved that my sense of the scene morphed from thinking it was a fantasy that rushes through Dex’s mind when Deb first catches him, to realizing it was real (when Lewis deletes his accounts and Dex grabs his go-bag), to realizing that it wasn’t really a flight scene at all.  For all the other problems with the plotting around the airport, this was a nice reminder that the show can sometimes do unexpected things with its plots and tropes.

Dexter’s kill of Viktor also re-emphasized the idea that killing for Dexter is about control [digression: since I am just now watching Dollhouse it was super fun to see Enver Gjokaj as Viktor, though I do have to wonder if he gets tired of only playing characters named Victor/Viktor]. I know that this idea of killing as control has been present throughout all the seasons, but I don’t feel like it has been predominant. Last season the emphasis was on “the dark passenger” – the idea that the darkness in Dexter cannot be eradicated. Since Dexter has given himself over to the dark passenger, it is not incoherent to also say that expressing that darkness gives him a sense of order in his universe. But it does feel different to talk about his murdering impulses as a way of controlling and ordering his world. I hope they will be consistent about this, because I’d love to explore that side of Dex’s screwed up psyche.

It also seems like it would fit nicely with the main plot of Deb learning about the real Dex. Just as she is likely to want to help heal Dex, to eradicate the darkness in him, he is focusing on the positive aspects of his dark passenger, the order and stability it brings him. I’m a little worried that we’ll head down the same path as season 2, with Dexter faking addiction therapy to appease Deb, though it is also interesting to think about what a 12-step program for serial killers might look like!

There also seems to be a lot of potential for Dex and Deb together to finally admit how awful Harry was, though I’m willing to bet that won’t happen. Instead, the danger of this season, like many seasons before it, is that the show will focus on too many stories running out of control: Lewis’ manipulation of Dexter (I am not sure exactly what is up with Lewis, but the fact that he mailed Dexter the Ice Truck Killer hand makes me think he knows the truth somehow, and that is why he is preying on him), Maria on the prowl again (another digression: while Maria does have badass qualities and it is important that she get back in on the Dexter hunt given her history with Doakes, is it really likely that she, of all people at a crime scene, would notice the glass slide?), the Ukrainian crime ring, Deb and Dex, and the lingering questions about the Travis Marshall case. The mind boggles at the possibilities for incoherence and melodrama! But I will hold out hope that some of Dexter’s own desire for order and control will exert itself on the season as a whole… at least until a more realistic apocalypse comes along.

Final thought: do you think we’ll even see Harrison this season, or has he become a plot casualty too?

Compassion does not fit me,
Kathryn

One Response

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  1. Dexter’s dad said some terrible things, but I just not ready to condemn him for it. Dexter has been established as a sociopath. Sociopaths don’t benefit from therapy. It’s almost a physical problem. Whatever mechanism we have in our brains to fell empathy for others is missing in theirs. If Dexter’s sociopathy is misportrayed in the show, it’s that he seems to have genuine love for his sister. I’m not sure a genuine sociopath would feel that. I feel his father was just taking a realistic approach to helping teach Dexter how to survive. Keeping a puppy in the home would be a constant temptation for him. I wonder, though, would Dexter have allowed the puppy to live, because he loved Debra enough?

    Brian put his finger on a number of things which bothered my in the episode. That’s for that. But I find myself feeling so grateful that Debra has not spend the entire season sloowly drawing her conclusions that I’m willing to overlook them.

    As for Lewis, I wonder if he’s on his way to becoming a serial killer, if he’s not already one. He clearly has an interest. He bought and sold on eBay. He designed a computer game that emulated serial killers. His sudden pique with Dexter almost seems like sibling rivalry. Rivalry with fellow/sibling killer.

    Edd

    October 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm


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