Do What You Do
Dear Kathryn and Bryan,
So, I didn’t love this episode all that much. I found it a little boring and much, much too heavy on the obvious stuff – Maria in bed, surrounded by case files, slowly pointing to Dexter’s name on a list (none of which made a whole lot of sense…but just to show us that he’s now in her sights); Quinn investing in Angel’s business to alleviate his guilt; and that painful inner-monologue listing of each woman’s significance (Lila was drawn to his darkness, Rita was blind to it, Lumen needed it, but Hannah accepts him whole). The show really does need to start trusting its viewers (as we’ve been insisting for seasons now). Or, at the very least, it needs to let the viewers who can’t clue in to the more obvious undertones just enjoy the ride and not need obsessively to get everything. I begin with this little rant because Price’s oral fixation has been commented on about 4000 times in the last two episodes in the most awkward of ways. Couldn’t they just have had him chewing away at things without saying anything? If EVERYONE notices that he does it, it kind of takes away from the genius killer vibe we’re supposed to be getting from Hannah. And it’s not entirely clear to me why delivering the poison on the tip of a pen keeps it undetectable in the blood toxicology. So there’s some maneuvering going on here to get us to the Deb/Hannah showdown – and I wouldn’t mind, but I suppose in the end I’m a little bummed that we finally got a hot guy on the show, and they killed him off almost right away.
So is this potential real love interest interesting? I just can’t tell. I guess I thought Dexter had loved before. He loves his sister, for one. But even in the romance department – there were ways in which he loved Rita. And to reduce his relationship to Lumen to that of need felt a bit cheap to me. So if I’m intrigued by anything, it’s not that Dexter is finally in love – it’s more that the show feels the need to equate love with some form of pure acceptance or naked self-transparency. Or that the show seems to only want to allow Dexter to have truly loved one person. I don’t want it to ask if Dexter is really in love – I want it to ask what love looks like in this particular form. What does Dexter start to do when the love he experiences is passionate AND accepting?
In a way they are playing with this – I’m struck by how honest Dexter is pressed to be with others. He’s pretty open with Isaac, and even was with Price. So is it Hannah’s who has opened these floodgates of honesty – or did Deb discovering him actually open him to Hannah?
The fact that we still have Isaac and Hannah kicking around, and the overly-pointed way Hannah had to tell Dex that they were looking out for each other (historic, really? A little self-important, no??) makes me feel like the showdown might come down between those two. Seeing as it seems really, really easy to poison someone – like, a little bit of that plant on one of those fries could have done the guy in – it could be the least dramatic showdown ever. Oh, and speaking of overly-pointed statements – I’m pretty ready to put money on the Isaac taking Hannah out with a fire extinguisher to the head…perhaps right after she’s poisoned him, before the heart attack kicks in? I don’t know – do you guys have any predictions?
Where Deb will figure in all this, I’m just not sure. But I’d be intrigued to see a season where she knows, she’s irrevocably hurt that Dexter chose another woman over her while she tried to protect him, and we just have to see them play out some terrible sibling fight all season long.
Finally – why is Jaime still around? She was the babysitter, but now she’s the housekeeper? Did it strike you guys as strange that Dexter was willing to have the loud fight with Price, revealing all kinds of secrets, with Jaime in the next room?! Is there a reason Jaime is sticking around beyond being able to corroborate Dexter’s story?
Sometimes my job really f’ing sucks,
I don’t have that much to add because, like you, this felt like a filler episode. Just enough minor details to keep the story moving along and to set us up for various showdowns to come. This episode did feel more expository than usual, but maybe, Bryan, you’ll just say that we’ve been naive all along, and this is always the Dexter way? There were two things that stood out to me as interesting, or at least as setting us up for some interesting possibilities: the Deb/Hannah showdown and Dex’s sex life.
As predicted, Dex is going to be caught in a bind where he has to choose to kill Hannah according to the code or let her live for love. But the stakes of this decision are now tied to his relationship with Deb. Deb is offering him an olive branch – I’ll accept who you are if you kill Hannah McKay for me. Which means Dex is going to have to choose between this budding possibility of romantic love and the love we know he feels for Deb. There are so many ways that this could go wrong – especially if they play up Deb’s erotic feelings for Dex, making her Hannah’s rival in a conventional way. I remember feeling really frustrated last season that Deb realized she was in love with Dexter right before she caught him in the act because it felt like the writers were trying to prepare her to be more sympathetic to him this way. As though romantic love is obviously a stronger bound than sibling love. They’ve backed off this story line, by and large, and have mostly been emphasizing the sibling/familial bonds between Deb and Dex, with some strange marital imagery thrown in. I have no idea how they are going to play with these conflicting desires, but I really want to keep the sibling love in the game. Reducing this to a twisted lover’s triangle feels reductive, when it is clear that Dex and Deb already have a relationship that exceeds what Dex is supposed to be capable of emotionally.
I worry the show will take the more reductive route and that is why they are trying to paint Hannah as Dex’s one true love – the real and final rival to his sibling affections for Deb. Like you, Natalie, this seemed really cheap, since it does seem clear that Dex has loved other women. If I was absolutely sure the show was super smart, I’d suggest that this is the point: that Dex will eventually realize that he is far more capable of love than he has assumed and that it is his own twisted Harry-logic that keeps him from realizing this. Maybe the thing that is actually “off” about Dex emotionally is that he never makes progress. He has to keep repeating the same “am I capable of love” lesson again and again, even though he proves himself capable of love, and many different kinds of love, on different occasions. Case in point: Dex’s bedroom style. Do either of you find it kind of strange how intensely Dexter has sex? I remember some fantastic conversations in the first season where Dex was worried about having sex with Rita because he was never able to perform the necessary emotional connection his partners seemed to want. But from Lila on (and even with Rita later) those worries have disappeared. Dex doesn’t even talk about them in his own head, and that can’t just be an oversight since he talks about everything else he’s ever thought. But no, he is the stare-into-your-eyes, wrap you in his arms and sleep all night kind of lover. Is this just because awkward sex is so painful to watch and not very sexy and Showtime needs to get its booty-quotient in? Or could this be another clue that Dexter is more emotionally engaged than he allows himself to think he is?
I imagine, Bryan, you will say I am reaching and giving more credit to the writers than credit is due. One can hope, right?
I am not allergic to complements.
That’s what I do.
So, you think I’m bad?
Slap bass begins playing. Saxophone begins playing as DEXTER and HANNAH begin to embrace each other.
Kathryn, I hope this example of this episode’s writing (with my own music cues added to point towards the adult film nature of this scene) clearly explains my feeling about the writers.
Natalie, you are exactly right about the directness of the episode and how annoying it is to be treated like someone who has no ability to piece together any information. And you bring up the point of the history lessons that I mention before. Dexter’s narration literally walked through all of his previous lovers to explain who Hannah is different. You both have pointed out very well, that “Can Dexter really love somebody?” is not a new question! We ask and answer that question every season! While I think this season is far better than last season, I feel like it is heading the direction of season 5. I don’t have much to add, so I’ll address a couples I thought of in response to your posts and then I’m going to list off notes I took during the episode (you know, for fun).
Natalie, while still trite and predictable, I think Quinn loaned $10,000 to Batista to ease his conscience and also to keep Batista off his back. Batista will be even more convinced that Quinn wouldn’t steal the evidence since he has 1o grand to remind him what a swell partner he is.
Kathryn, you are completely right about Dexter’s sexual intensity. I am pretty sure that it is Showtime being Showtime mostly, but it is pretty ridiculous and hard to believe. In season 1, we are told that Dexter pretty much has avoided sexual encounters for most of his life. Then somehow, he is having really intense and not awkward sex with Lila in season 2. The show hasn’t looked back since.
Here are my other thoughts:
What kind of music do you like? – Sal Price
The kind my boyfriend who was attacked by a serial killer made. – Deb (If I had been writing the episode)
Seriously, Deb should just avoid ever thinking about getting into a romantic involvement with anybody. They will be killed or attacked by a serial killer, or they will just turn out to be a serial killer (Dexter included).
It was an interesting night. – Hannah
That’s one way to put it. – Dexter
Isn’t that exactly what all the conversation you just had was to explain?
Does Hannah only own that one see-through shirt?
The best Dexter narration in a while: “Traces of blood: good for me, bad for his gums.” I love the quirky humor the narration can provide.
I betting that Sal Price has backups. If not, he should look into Carbonite.
Dexter’s boredom at Isaak’s posturing was pretty fun.
I have a story idea of my own,