You Gave It a Name?!
Dear Kathryn and Bryan –
This week explicitly raised questions with which we’ve all been struggling, particularly those around what other path Harry might have forged for his son. I laughed out loud as Deb voiced so many of our own musings with the series, including her incredulity at the incredibly corny naming of The Dark Passenger. At the same time, I found the way the two struggled to figure out what life looked like with this new family member – so to speak – quite endearing. Far fetched, perhaps – although, given that you guys are the siblings in our little community here, perhaps you can speak best to what you would do if you found out your beloved relative was killing people in their spare time (not that I’m drawing any parallels between you and the Morgans, of course). Dexter has always been most about how a serial killer might find a way to live a normal (?) life – and when the show is dealing with those themes is when it’s most interesting to me. Dexter and Deb gathered around the table tryingto figure out the best way to move forward brought that insanity into the domestic sphere in a way Dex’s relationship with Rita never managed. I loved watching Debra try to ask him “but how does it make you feel?” 400 different ways, and marveled at hearing Dexter actually describe how it does feel in somewhat matter of fact detail for the first time to my recollection in the show’s history. Then as Harry tried to defend his own actions in the background, I found myself asking how any family learns to be family again after a family secret surfaces? After they experience family catastrophe? In many ways, Deb and Dex’s situation is obviously utterly foreign to us all, but it also seemed quite familiar. And in that, I thought it was quite lovely.
But of course, I am left wondering if Harrison is now being raised entirely by Jaime?! She doesn’t even seem to have noticed that Dexter has moved out…although I’m not sure I would either if I were her. It’s not like he’s ever there anyway. That girl really needs to consider asking for a raise! We don’t have any more information on Lewis, really – although it was certainly fun watching that story develop some. I was fairly convinced that he was faking his fear during the attack scene in his apartment, and I’m glad to know that he’s not just tracking Dexter because of a stupid insecurity about his video game…but good grief I still want more! I continue to forgive the blatant errors in the show because I remain intrigued by the story – but come on, a tech expert keeps a “rants” folder on his desktop full of incriminating videos…once again, Jaime gets the award here being least able to spot a psycho despite being surrounded by the most obvious clues!
I’ll leave the framing device of Wayne Randall (which I thought worked nicely) to you guys, as well as Maria’s unfolding investigation.
Still wondering if strippers really do wear long sleeved sweaters while they work,
Natalie and Kathryn, After what was a surprisingly good premiere, I think I am learning how to adjust my expectations for an episode of Dexter. I am now trying to expect an exciting plot that pulls you through (which has always existed besides last season) with some good moments of real and complex storytelling mixed with obvious flaws that are worn on the sleeve of the show. As long as I realize this show will have those flaws, I think I will really enjoy this season. Take for instance the opening scene. As you pointed out Natalie, it was really well done. It made the unrelatable feeling of discovering that your brother is a serial killer seem somehow relatable. I credit the staging and the subtle acting of both Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter. Dexter’s unease kneeling next to Debra and being unsure how to comfort her when he is the reason she is in distress. Dexter maintained the logic to try to direct Debra back into the apartment because “This isn’t the place to talk about this.”
When they moved back inside, the staging of them in the room was fantastic: Dexter leaning against the door and Debra crouched on the ground with the empty chair in the foreground was great. I think we have all had conversations that were too heavy or weird for us to use the normal conventions around us. How could Deb sit in something as normal as a chair when she feels so outside normal?
Then, the show manages to take this really great opening sequences and cheapen it with the arrival of Harry. In the midst of such a great scene with actual showing of emotions as opposed to simply explaining them, we get the show’s clumsiest plot device showing up to remind us about Louis.
Luckily, Harry doesn’t ruin the wonderful scene at the dinner table. This was probably the best written scene on Dexter since season 4 (even with the overt and somewhat corny “tomato sauce looks like blood, get it?” moments). Hopefully, there is more of this too come.
This season also seems to be giving better storylines for the side characters. Obviously, the european stripper mafia will collide with Dexter’s world soon, but it is nice giving Quinn and Batista something worthwhile to do.
Also, I like that the potential “bad guy” of the season doesn’t seem so trite at this point. Besides his overtly Eastern European qualities.
As for the Wayne Randall moments. I actually thought it was quite forced. I don’t really like that Dexter feels the need to literally explain word for word the comparison of Deb’s rules being like prison. I wish the show gave its viewers a little credit sometimes.
Kathryn, maybe you can give us your take on Maria and what she is up to. Is she trying to go behind Deb’s back so that she can show her up? Does she actually suspect anybody? They knew the butcher was someone in the department, so Dexter has to be on the list somewhere high, right? Also, if I ever have kids, I’m moving to Miami because apparently you don’t actually have to take care of them at all, but nobody will ever mention it.
I hope you’ve got a big shower,
I think your new rule about what counts as a good Dexter episode, Bryan, is at least as good as Deb’s first two rules in her self-made 12 step program for serial killers. Just like Dexter is striving toward total honesty and “call Deb when you see red” but can’t stop being his same awkward, less than normal self, the show is striving to maintain suspenseful plots and at least some really strong moments of dialogue and character, while still falling into melodrama and cliches and too much exposition. Still, I am with both of you: given these rules, this was a pretty great episode.
I also loved the way that Deb and Dex start working toward a new family normal given the intensity of what they are facing, and I agree Natalie, there was something very real about their struggle (Deb’s worn, weary, and even nauseous look when Dex describes his blood visions was amazing…). I am still baffled why no one is talking about trauma or therapy with Dex – why the language of addiction wins out over a deep trauma. I know that some traumas can reset the personality so profoundly it is impossible to talk about extricating them, but isn’t part of what we’ve been learning in the past few seasons that Dexter isn’t actually as screwed up as Harry told him he was? There was the crushing and poignant end to season 5 where Dexter faced the possibility that like Lumen he might too have been able/be able to heal from his mother’s trauma, and then consciously turned away from it to embrace the self he had become. Using only the language of addiction to talk about Dex’s struggle seems like a cheap and easy way out – though it is also maybe also a better plot device because if you talk about addiction you can at least try to talk about self-control. Also, why does Dexter assume that Wayne hasn’t really surrendered to his fate just because he kills himself? It seems plausible to me that someone could make peace with his past and even feel a sense of shame and guilt about what he has done to the point of just wanting to end it – and this is not the same as fighting against one’s circumstances and seeing no other way out. But I grant that I am being too psychological/philosophical for Dexter and will just file this away in my RANTS folder (it will be located in a clearly labeled way on my desktop if either of you want to see more).
I do want to talk about Maria’s case. I definitely understand her motivation to clear Doakes’ name, and I suppose we are supposed to think that she is proceeding off the books for one of two reasons: 1) this is such a personal issue and she took Doakes’ guilt so seriously she can’t bring herself to raise her hopes in a public way if she turns out to be wrong; 2) she actually has another suspect in mind (probably Dex) and knows she needs to move carefully. Or maybe both reasons at the same time. Otherwise, one would imagine the presence of a blood slide with Travis’ blood would be very pertinent info and would very likely lead to conversations about the Bay Harbor Butcher again if not to an immediate exoneration of Doakes.
Sometimes Dex has had to fight too many battles on too many fronts. As it stands now, the Eastern European mafia and Maria’s investigation seem like the perfect pair added to his new relationship with Deb. Though something tells me Deb and Dex are going to have to move to a more accepting phase of their program for the other plot lines to remain compelling; he can only drug her food so many times.
I will close by saying that I am not sure that Lewis wasn’t telling the truth about hating Dex because he shot down his video game idea. All the clues we’ve had about Lewis add up to him being a narcissistic bastard who tries to destroy everyone who gets in his way. It is likely his narcissism that makes it impossible for him to take Dex as a real threat and to believe he can still play the stronger hand (pun intended). But whether adding Lewis to the mix will create too many plots for one season remains to be seen…
Do you have any A-1?