Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dexter Says Good Bye... For Now

Well this remains one of the shows best seasons ever, possibly THE best. I was slightly off with my predictions as to who would be dead by the end of the season, but we did have to say some goodbyes.

Naturally Lumen and Dexter killed Jordan Chase. This was inevitable. There was no way he would get away and no way they would let him live. He was the serial killer bad guy guest star, and as the season came to an end, so did he.

But what was amazing was the way in which it happened, and what came after. Lumen carried out the kill, but you could see on her face that she no longer got that same sense of peace that she got from killing Tilden and witnessing Cole’s murder. But what was shocking was that Deb showed up and as Lumen and Dexter stood in shock behind the tarp she told them off, but in the end the part of her that could relate to Lumen thanks to the Ice Truck Killer let them go. This was the closest she has ever come to discovering Dexter’s true identity, but he got away undetected. Something makes me think she may never learn his secret now.

Then there was the Quinn storyline. He seemed to be stuck, sure to go down for the murder of Liddy. He even had blood on his shoe, but he couldn’t rat out Dexter, he couldn’t do that to Deb. And so he didn’t, and after Deb let Lumen and Dexter go, unaware it was them, he botched the blood test so that Quinn could get away without being framed for Liddy’s murder. Now he and Deb are together and she is happy for once. I couldn’t have been happier to see him escape this situation. Granted the show is called Dexter and so if it came down to it, Quinn would take the fall for the Liddy murder, Dexter would see to that. But Quinn didn’t divulge that he had been spying on Dexter with the help of Liddy and he got away without it being explored too deeply.

But the one gripe I have with the season finale is that Lumen, whose dark passenger had left her after Chase’s murder, left Dexter. She knew that he would have to keep killing, but she no longer felt the urge. She was “cured.” It broke Dexter’s heart to see her leave, and it was equally hard as a viewer to watch her walk away. After Rita's murder he needed Lumen, and he was closer to Lumen that he had ever been to Rita. Now I fear that he will never get another love interest. All that he has is his kids, and they will spend the summer with him, hopefully filling the void that Rita and Lumen have left.

I have no idea what to expect in the next season as all loose ends were tied up here, but this has been the case with past season finales too, only Dexter had Rita in the past, now he has no one, romantically speaking. Looks like we’ll have to wait until next September to find out what’s next at Miami Metro.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dexter Nears the End

Dexter came closer than ever to getting caught in this second to last episode, “Hop a Freighter.” For a minute is seemed that Quinn was finally going to know the full truth, see Dexter in the act of killing, killing Liddy. But he didn’t get caught, not yet.

Lumen is now in the hands of Jordan Chase, an angry Chase who in the name of cleaning up “loose ends,” kills Emily Birch, his first victim. Dexter will do whatever he can to keep Lumen safe, but will he be able to get to her in time? Will he be able to get to her before Deb and all of Miami Metro descends upon Chase?

As there is only one episode left of the best Dexter season so far I’ve decided to look into how it could possibly end, and what the body count of those close to Dexter will finally be.

As I have said before, those who question Dexter usually end up taped to a table with a knife in their heart before reaching their final resting place in bags at the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately, as I have really grown to like him, this means Quinn. He got too close and Dexter thinks he was working with Liddy, which he was until recently. It can’t end well for Det. Joey Quinn, which will leave Deb, yet again, alone and abandoned by the men in her life. Poor Deb.

And what of Lumen, the woman who got even closer to Dexter than Rita ever could have? I hate to say it here too, but I don’t know how there can be a happy ending for her and Dexter either. It will kill Dexter to lose another woman, especially one with whom he shares such a special bond, but I think that’s where it is heading.

As a bad guy has never made it past one season, the end is coming for Chase. But will that be before Deb catches on? In the preview for the last episode it looks as if Deb may finally find Dexter out. In all honesty I would hate to see this, it’s not the time. The last thing I want is for a season of Dexter on trial. It can’t end that way for him. Which means he either can’t get caught or if he does get caught, Deb will turn a blind eye to his deeds thinking this was his first time killing.

Only one episode left so soon our questions will be answered and naturally we will probably be left with even more in some insane cliffhanger that will keep all the fans on edge until next October. Happy watching.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dexter and Lumen Take the Next Step

It’s official. The Lumen-Dexter affair has been weeks in the making and yet I was unsure it would come to fruition until seeing the latest episode. Part of me couldn’t stand the idea of Dexter being with anyone after Rita’s death (and honestly it is way, way, way too soon for him to move on) but he is able to share his true self with someone for the first time ever.

She knows absolutely everything about his secret life, and she not only accepts it but embraces it and joins in. Her experiences with Boyd and the gang have changed her forever. She could never return to her past life, made clear when she chose Dexter and killing in Miami over her ex-fiancé.

I couldn’t help but what in glee as Lumen and Dexter interacted in the past episode. It was like the stake out/reconnaissance mission was their first date. He bought her a pair of her very own black gloves, “just like yours” she says to Dexter. He watches her examine them with a goofy grin on his face. The two are becoming more awkward around each other, a tell tale sign that their feelings for one another are evolving.

When they actually go to carry out the kill of Alex Tilden, the fifth man in the photo from Chase’s camp days where the horror began, she dresses just like Dexter. Again that goofy grin as he says to her “you look perfect.” Their second date has begun. Instead of flowers, knives and kill tools. “They’re beautiful,” she claims as she runs her fingers over the equipment.

And there you have it. Lumen carries out the kill and she is able to find some peace and let Dexter in. Perhaps he is the only way she can ever find her peace and find some semblance of a life after her horrific experiences. Obviously, life with Dexter, knowing Dexter’s secrets, isn’t normal. But the two are comfortable and in their own way normal with one another. This is Dexter’s first real relationship, and he will be able to feel about Lumen a deep range of real emotions that he could never feel with Rita, may she rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dexter says, “I Love You”

The season is quickly coming to an end and as it is the ninth episode in a twelve episode arch some things have begun to reach a boiling point. First things first, it is blatantly obvious that the Santa Muerte murders are not the key serial killer arch as I though in the first few episodes, but rather it is the Barrel Girl killings. The audience knows it is Jordan Chase and his fraternity of killers carrying out these murders, but the fallout has yet to occur at Miami Metro.

Most importantly, this episode saw the introductions of many of the key characters. Astor shows up at her old home, where Lumen is staying, completely drunk and, unfortunately, looking like a prostitute. She does not take kindly to the fact that Dexter has a new “tenant” so soon after Rita’s death. Yet again Dexter has to play the role of daddy to someone old enough to observe what is going on, and be angry about it.

Deb also meets Dexter’s beautiful, young new tenant. It was exciting to see Lumen hold her own against Deb. When Deb says, with her typical attitude, that she didn’t know Dexter had a new tenant, Lumen responded, with attitude, by saying she didn’t know Dexter had a sister. Naturally no one believes it is exclusively a tenant/landlord relationship, which at this point it is.

But it was so refreshing and wonderful to see Dexter play the overprotective, devoted father again. He beats up the step dad of Astor’s friend when Lumen discovers she has bruises all over her body. This actually brings Astor closer to Dexter again, and she asks a really insightful question, does helping Lumen make Dexter feel better about what happened to Rita? She finally accepts that Dexter may not have been to blame, and he is hurting from the loss of Rita as well. And then it comes, the words that make this show so multifaceted and wonderful, “I love you.”

Dexter is capable of love, as we have known for some time now, but he is finally accepting what he is and redefining what he isn’t. In one of the most heartwarming father-son moments, Harry says he is proud of Dexter for protecting his daughter and he finally admits that he may have underestimated Dexter, that he is so much more than just a monster, and had he seen this years ago he may not have lead Dexter down this path. Again, this is why this show is successful. Dexter is not a monster, despite his questionable extracurricular activities. He is one of the most fleshed out characters currently on screen, and I think this show will go down in history as one of the all time bests.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dexter 5.8: Dexter Revealed

As Dexter attends a seminar hosted by the charismatic if not zany Jordan Chase, he speaks of following your primal instinct and not being afraid to “take it!” This is something Dexter can understand all too well, further solidifying the reality that Chase and his chief of security Cole are cold-blooded killers. Chase makes a comment that everyone will die, “some of us sooner than others,” right as Dexter thinks these words. There appear to be startling similarities between Chase and Dexter – although we know Dexter is never to kill an innocent and as far as the audience can tell the fraternity of killers pictured as teens in Cole’s house follow no such code.

Hilariously, as Dexter surveys those in the audience, he states in inner monologue, “I’ve never been around so many people that made me feel normal.”

One scene I found to be particularly telling of what may be to come in the end occurs in a dialogue between Deb and Dexter. She admits to Dexter that she doesn’t feel bad about killing Fuentes, in fact she doesn’t feel anything. Deb concludes that maybe some people do deserve to die. We know that she and Dexter are not related by any blood lines, but could she have Dexter’s sociopathic gene? What this makes me think for the first time is perhaps in the end she will find out Dexter’s secret and be able to come to terms with it. Before this moment I would have never thought this possible. Above all else she cares for Dexter and the law, and as much as she loves him I always thought finding out the truth would shatter her – make her choose law over loyalty and love. But now? Perhaps there can be a happy ending for these two after all. This is all assuming she will one day find him out, which I think is inevitable.

There was another important scene in this episode which occurred between Dexter and Lumen. He allowed her to be in on the Cole kill, but only if she wanted to be. It has become apparent that he needs her and no longer wishes for her to leave Miami. It also no longer has anything to do with him thinking she would rat him out, which is interesting because she now knows EVERYTHING about his life. She knows Boyd wasn’t his first kill, he’s done this all before. She even holds his latest blood slide, Cole’s blood. Now she has even helped prepare a kill room, something no one has ever been party to. “This is who I am,” Dexter says. And Lumen accepts him, gaping character flaws and all.

As the two dump Cole’s severed limbs into the deep blue, (and Lumen takes active part in this aspect of the ritual) Liddy captures it all on film. There they are, Dexter and Lumen, disposing of their latest kill.

All in all this episodes is one of the most crucial to the overarching Dexter storylines that I have ever seen. This season is destined for TV hall-of-fame greatness.

Dexter 5.7: Traffic Violations

While this season still continues to impress, this is probably the weakest of the episodes to date. However, it was still enjoyable and propelled various plot points forward.

Lumen has now been free for a month but can’t take her mind of the obsession of tracking down her captors. She barely eats and she can’t sleep. She explains to Dexter that they still need to find “watch guy” and “suit and tie guy.”

In a serendipitous twist of fate, for Dexter and Lumen, these two men find themselves right in the middle of the Miami Metro Police Station after a truck carrying the body-filled containers from the landfill winds up in the middle of an intersection. The viewer knows that it was indeed suit and tie guy who was driving the vehicle.

Dexter decides that if he and Lumen are going to be the ones to deliver justice to these men he must lead the police off their scent. He places Boyd’s wallet in the truck and now Miami’s finest are searching for a man they will never find. One other interesting fact: apparently all the killers knew each other as teenagers…this is one story I can’t wait to hear more about.

Quinn decides he doesn’t want to be part of the Dexter investigation anymore as his investigator seems to be spinning out of his control, but leaving their arrangement proves to be impossible for him. He’s stuck just where he is.

In a tragic twist, the stake out at the club goes terribly wrong when one of the Fuentes brothers discovers a gun strapped to her thigh. Batista and Deb promise nothing will happen to Yasmine but she is shot in the back and killed instantly when LaGuerta makes what Deb and Batista consider a bad call. Deb ends up shooting and killing Carlos Fuentes when he had a gun held to a hostage’s head.

I never thought it would happen but I am begging to question LaGuerta’s sanity. She seems to be slowly losing her grip. I’m wondering how much longer she can actually hold on to her job.

One more important thing to point out is how quickly Lumen is becoming the only person in Dexter’s life, other than Harry, who knows all aspects of his life. He introduces Harrison to her, and admits in inner monologue how much he needs her. But will she ever truly know everything about Dexter’s private life? My guess – absolutely. Dexter is about to finally let someone fully in on his secret life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dexter 5.6: "Autoerotic Mummification"

The episodes this season are growing increasingly stressful as Lumen continues to complicate Dexter’s already complicated life. She calls Dex in the middle of a kill and requires his assistance to clean up her mess – she tried to kill one of her rapists and botched the job, claiming she had no idea how hard it would be to kill someone. Dexter at this point is a natural.

This is not a distraction that Dexter can afford. As it is he is already stretched so thin trying to do his job at the station and take care of Harrison, as well as allow time for his extracurricular activities. In a somewhat comical moment, Harrison said his first words “die die” and Dexter can’t help but be worried yet again that Harrison will turn out like he has.

As he and Lumen search through the warehouses to find Lumen’s injured attacker the two bicker back and forth. All Dexter wanted was for Lumen to leave Miami but she stayed and tracked down her attackers instead. Now he’s in trouble, something she doesn’t seem to understand, because everything Lumen does is traceable back to Dexter. She said she had to catch the men herself because Dexter wouldn’t help her, yet she still calls on him to help her when she fails.

In what was arguably the most stressful scene in the entire series thus far, Dexter sprints after his wrapped-up would-be next kill as Masuka and Deb are wandering through the warehouses looking for a possible homicide (Lumen’s attacker). They come within inches of catching him, but yet again Dex thinks quickly on his feet and poses the two dead men in what looks like the throws of a strange sex act, to which Masuka determines it was “autoerotic mummification.”

Meanwhile Debra decides she likes Quinn more than she had anticipated and looks on with jealousy while Quinn flirts with young women in the club while undercover to find the Santa Muerte killers. The two decide that they will become a couple – all the while Quinn continues his investigation of Dexter. Can’t imagine Deb will be too pleased when she finds out – and I have no doubt that she will. I can’t imagine where this season is going but there is no denying that Dexter is becoming all too sloppy and that is not a trait that he can afford.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dexter 5.5: Quinn won't Quit

Dexter Morgan was born in blood. He witnessed the beyond brutal butchering of his mother at a young age and the man he is today is directly related to that event. Now his biggest fear is that Harrison will turn out the way he has; Dexter fears that he too was born in blood through the killing of Rita.

We see Dexter at a mommy-and-me type event with Harrison. There is a scratching incident and the other moms suspect Harrison to be the culprit. But Dexter does not want to believe that his son is capable of hurting others. The truth is Harrison is still just a baby and a shrink assuages Dexter’s fear and guilt by saying he is a normal baby boy and shows no signs of aggression or violence. Dexter couldn’t be happier.

At the end of the episode we see a protective and defensive Dexter walk by the other moms and say there is nothing wrong with his son and imply that he wouldn’t scratch another child. In what was a perfect ending to this story the camera begins to pan away as Dexter is putting Harrison in his car seat and we hear a loud “ow.” Harrison was the scratcher all along, but this is hardly a sign of deviant behavior and is pretty typical of a 10-month old.

Also important to point out is the fact that Quinn, even after being placed on unpaid leave by LaGuerta, won’t quit in his investigation of Dexter. This is becoming even more reminiscent of Sgt. Doakes. What is so interesting is that Dexter works all day long with cops and only Doakes and Quinn have suspected him of being off. This ended in the death of Doakes and it can only be assumed that Quinn will meet the same fate. Granted Doakes and Quinn are right, but we don’t want to see people checking up on Dexter, we want to see him left alone.

As for now we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out, but this season is shaping up to be even better than the last (a feat I never thought could be accomplished). Where Dexter will end up is still unknown, but the adventure of getting there couldn’t be more exhilarating.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dexter 5.4: Dexter’s Fairy Tale Life

The episode opens with Dexter cleaning off the wounds of the woman who witnessed him kill Boyd (we later find out her name is Lumen) while Harry admonishes Dexter for his lack of focus lately, bringing up the incident in the public bathroom, botching Boyd’s kill and landing Lumen as a witness. This is a new Dexter who seemingly has new priorities, stating the first rule as never kill an innocent, not never get caught. Harry makes one other important observation: Lumen isn’t his responsibility, Harrison is. Now that Lumen has witnessed him killing Boyd she could go to the cops and then baby Harrison would grow up without a father.

Dexter’s interactions with Lumen show a soft side to him. Even though they meet under the darkest of circumstances, there is something touching and sweet to the way he cares for her wounds. Naturally he can’t let her go free, at least not just yet, but the tenderness he shows to her demonstrates the affection and emotions he can feel for another.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me about this show is the fantastic writing. Every episode has these amazing tie-ins from the beginning of the episode to the end. This episode centers around the theme of fairy tales and the balance between truth and lies, and is appropriately called “Beauty and the Beast.” Dexter at one point equates a drugged out Lumen to sleeping beauty. Harry later says to Dexter that this isn’t a fairy tale; Dexter is not a handsome prince who gets to rescue the damsel in distress.

After Dexter is out all night killing Boyd, taking care of the witness and helping out at a crime scene where the machete man has struck again, he returns home to an irritated nanny, and rightfully so. She shares an interesting piece of advice that her mother told her years ago, “never lie to someone who trusts you, never trust someone who lies to you.” This is a sage piece of advice. However, Dexter’s whole life deals with lies and bending the truth to cover up his dark secrets. But by the end of the episode we see Dexter really trying, he’s telling the truth, just leaving out certain pieces of the puzzle, to gain both the trust of the nanny and Lumen. Each of these characters needs to take a leap of faith to trust the others.

One thing I found to be important to the overall question of the show, “who is Dexter Morgan?”, is when Lumen says that she thought he was a monster. She says this as she is cleaning off a wound of Dexter’s, one she inflicted, but it shows again how this show always comes full circle. Dexter really isn’t a monster at all, which is why this show is so wonderful. It is so thought provoking. How can we actually find ourselves rooting for a serial killer? Is it just that Dexter has become the world’s most loveable vigilante serial killer? And while we all want Dexter to win in the end, how can he not get caught? He’s killed an exorbitant amount of people. Regardless of the fact that they were other serial killers, Dexter took the law into his own hands, he has to be punished.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dexter 5.3: Dexter and Harry

When looking at the complex character that is Dexter Morgan one must take the time to examine his interactions with all those around him. This includes none other than his deceased father Harry. In this episode the audience witnesses yet another one of Dexter’s inner monologues in which Harry surfaces to discuss with Dexter the importance of his next kill. Harry represents for Dexter a side of his unconscious, not necessarily his conscience, but the side of him that keeps him focused and alert.

From the moment Dexter began stalking his next kill, Harry was there reminding him of the rules and the necessity for Dexter to follow those rules to the letter. Dexter refers to these rules as “the code of Harry.” The most important thing that Dexter must always consider when killing is to never get caught. Everything else is superfluous next to this rule.

Yet in this kill Harry senses that Dexter is not giving it the focus and attention that it requires. While he wants Dexter to claim his next victim so that he can begin healing from Rita’s death he warns him that he can’t rush things.

Cut to the end of the episode: Dexter’s attempt to sedate Boyd fails and he has to rush the kill, surprising him at his home and setting up an impromptu kill room. There is no plastic wrap, there are no tarps. Only newspaper taped to the walls and a body held down by duct tape. The body is not secured in its typical plastic cocoon.

But the most notable difference between this kill and the more planned out ones is that Dexter has an observer. Chained up in the next room is the terrified would-be next victim of Boyd, played by Julia Stiles, and she sees everything. Dexter’s most soppy kill by far, he must now deal with the fact that an innocent woman has witnessed him in the act. And one of Harry’s other rules is never kill an innocent.

Dexter admits that he needed this kill, even though he knew it would not bring back Rita. However, afterwards he says that he needed this kill to bring him back. Unfortunately for Dexter, this kill doesn’t help him the way he needed it to. Yet again I argue that despite his constant denial that he feels emotions like love for others, he clearly does, because he can’t seem to find his way without Rita, his whole world has been turned upside-down. It goes beyond just missing her, she was a part of his life and he cared for her very deeply. Even after this kill he has not been brought back to his old self. It’s possible he never will be that Dexter again.

One final thing to analyze is why was Dexter so sloppy in this kill? He was pressed for time, yes, but if only he had taken care to prepare a more legitimate kill room. This begs the question, does Dexter want to get caught?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dexter 5.2: “Hello Bandit”

Funny and heartfelt: not two words that always come to mind with this show, but this is the best way to describe episode two of this season of Dexter. This show is so successful because its ability to blend intense drama with dark humor, and this was beautifully executed in this episode. With such a serious and important episode for a season opener, the fans needed a little bit of humor and joviality to lighten the mood.

Dexter opens the episode with an inner monologue in which he explains how he has begun going through the seven stages of grief. Stage one: anger…that’s how he explains the un-Dexter style kill of a nameless man in a bathroom stall at the end of the last episode. He and the kids have now inserted themselves into Deb’s tiny apartment and as much as she wants to help Dex in any way she can, she’s definitely feeling the pressure.

This leads to her spending the night at Quinn’s apartment, but only in a platonic way, which she makes perfectly clear when he tries to kiss her at his door. She sleeps on the couch. Deb, who is ruled by her emotions, but oftentimes can’t control them, cannot openly admit that she and Quinn have slept together until the end of the episode. But there will definitely be more where that came from. She and Quinn shared an interesting and fun-to-watch dynamic throughout this episode. I only hope Quinn will just stop pursuing Dexter, because it never turns out well for those who do (lest we forget Sgt. Doakes), but this unfortunately won’t be the case.

In this episode we see Dexter fall back into his old routine, always hunting his next prey. But the manner in which he begins this next project is priceless. He goes to rent a moving van and sees a spot of blood in the van. Later that night he brings baby Harrison with him to investigate the blood spatter, not the best environment for a baby, especially if you want them to grow up into a healthy, fully functioning adult. I don’t know if all bets are off for Harrison yet, but Dexter’s life is certainly not the most baby-friendly. He sits in the darkened truck and marvels at how pretty the glow of dried blood is on the inside of the door. He then goes on to equate it to a fairy tale, “once upon a time there was a prince,” the blood is all that remains of him now. You couldn’t help but laugh in shock at this scene.

Dexter’s suspect for this bloody crime is a man named Boyd, an animal control guy. He definitely seems an odd ball, as made evident when Dexter is snooping through Boyd’s house when he gets home on a lunch break from work. It is not until the end of the episode that we see he is a killer. We’ll be seeing more of him next week.

Angel and Maria continue to struggle with adjusting to married life, especially after he discovers she has a large savings account that she failed to mention to him. These adjustments will be a continuing theme for these two throughout this season.

Also, a decapitated head is found in a Spanish neighborhood, seemingly set up in a ritualistic manner. Could this be a lead-in to this season’s arch-nemesis serial killer?

Now even though this episode was light at points, this is not to say that there were not some important developments in Dexter’s home life. Astor decides she can’t live with what has happened to her mother and leaves for Orlando, taking a reluctant Cody, to live with her grandparents. This might not be the best idea for her emotionally, being that baby Harrison still lives with Dexter in Miami and her whole life has been in Miami, but perhaps her grandparents will be able to provide more stability than Dexter would. I’m hoping to see these two come back soon, because while Dexter will miss them, having two less kids to worry about would make his life easier, and as we know nothing is ever easy for Dexter Morgan.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dexter 5.1: New Season, New Beginnings

From the moment that familiar music sounded until the end credits rolled this episode packed a powerful punch which leads me to be extremely optimistic about the fifth season of Dexter.

Dexter is forced to face the reality of Rita's murder. While his is a reaction typical of shock after the loss of a loved one, those around him begin to question his apparent detachment from her death. None more so than Quinn who is doing some digging into Dexter and Rita's life, and is intrigued when he discovers the brief fling she had with their neighbor Elliot. I was slightly annoyed with the questioning of Dexter's reaction because he was clearly in shock, and we know Dexter is a sociopath and is detached from those around him, but he did love Rita and will feel lost without her. His seeing his wife dead in a bathtub filled with blood caused a state of shock and there is nothing wrong with that.

Things become very emotional when he has to break the news to Astor and Cody. Astor accuses Dexter of not taking care of Rita, which was his job, and says life would have been better for all of them if they had never met him. Dexter can't help but agree with this assessment.

The flashbacks to Dexter and Rita's first date were a wonderful touch. They show the dynamic of those two characters and it's nice to see them before they really became comfortable around each other. While Rita is rambling on about whether she will play it safe and order the ceasar salad or branch out and order the mushroom ravioli, Dexter is already stalking his next kill. He even ends the date abruptly claiming a stomach bug so he can go off and kill someone. This is classic Dexter.

As for Deb, she really stepped up to the plate and showed how strong she can be for those around her, especially Dexter. It was great to finally see her and Quinn get together, because that tension has been building for seasons now. It will be exciting to see where that relationship goes this season, especially since all the previews show Quinn investigating Dexter's past and Deb never stands for anyone questioning her brother. She defends him in any situation. We'll see if that lasts.

Overall this was a very strong episode, and the funeral scene was a very emotional one. It's hard to say goodbye to Rita as she has been such a strong character and such a grounding force for Dexter. I'm excited to see how everything will play out.

Dexter: Season 4 in Review

Showtime's hit TV series Dexter returns tonight at 9:00. It's been 9 months since fans saw Dexter's lovely wife Rita lying dead in a bathtub full of blood and everyone is eager to see what comes next for him and the kids.

But before we fully embrace season five, here is a quick recap of the fourth season for those of you who may have missed it.

We see Dexter fully immersed in his new life as husband and father to Rita's two children, Astor and Cody (from a previous marriage) and baby Harrison, Dexter and Rita's son. He has difficulty learning how to juggle his new role with his family and keep his "dark passenger" satisfied. And this season Dexter has a serial killer nemesis again who far surpasses The Ice Truck Killer in cunning and in kill count. This is none other than the Trinity Killer (aka Arthur Mitchell, played by the genius John Lithgow) who has been killing in three victim cycles all over the country for 30 years. His victims are a young woman who is killed in a bathtub, a mother who jumps to her death and a father who is bludgeoned. These victims represent the deaths of his sister, mother and father. It is later revealed that there are four victims per cycle, not three, the first of which is a young boy who represents Trinity.

Arthur Mitchell has a family and lives a seemingly normal life, something that fascinates Dexter who can't find the right balance with his extracurricular activity of choice. He poses as Kyle Butler and begins spending all his time with the Mitchell family, trying to learn from him before he finds the right opportunity to kill him. Things take a turn for the worse when Arthur discovers Butler's true identity and he gets to Dexter's family. Dexter kills Trinity but not before, unbeknownst to him, he has killed Rita and left Harrison on the floor in her blood mirroring Dexter's own "born in blood" experience.

Debra, Dexter's beloved sister, ends her relationship with Anton and rekindles the flame with Agent Lundy who has returned to track down Trinity. Things don't end well for Lundy when he and Deb are gunned down by none other than Trinity's oldest daughter who is the reporter dating Detective Quinn, Christine Hill. No one knows that she is Trinity's daughter until late in the season. She confesses to shooting Lundy to prevent her father's capture and she then kills herself.

Sparks fly between Angel Batista and Lieutenant Maria LaGuerta and they engage in a romantic relationship of which no one in the office is aware, apart from Dexter. When they go public with their relationship their careers come under fire and one of them will be reassigned from homicide. So they break up, only to realize they love each other too much to be apart. For these reasons the two become husband and wife.

This season shows each of the characters in a whole new light as they are all tested in new ways and have to discover new aspects of themselves. The show returned stronger and more chilling than ever after a weak third season. It will be hard to follow up such an amazing season but I have high hopes for what is to come in the fifth as we see Dexter go through yet another set of transformations, as he must deal with life as a widower.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You Have the Right to Remain Silent...But Only if You Tell Me You Wish To Do So

If you’ve ever seen Law and Order, or any other cop show on TV for that matter, or have yourself been read your rights as a U.S. citizen, then you know you have the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, etc. These rights are commonly known as our Miranda warnings. Well how would you feel if you suddenly felt your rights ripped away from you? Probably not too great.

This is a distinct possibility. The Supreme Court has examined these warnings and made several key revisions to them. According to the ruling, there will now be changes to the way that lawyers, suspects and police officers interact. In essence it is a regression of the rights that we Americans have become so used to experiencing.

These warnings arose out of a 1966 case in which a man, Ernesto Miranda, had been accused of rape and kidnapping. The ruling required officers to explain the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer; if you could not afford a lawyer then one would be appointed to you.

The court has been becoming more conservative over the decades since the Miranda ruling, according to an AP article. Also explained in this article is the idea that the court is “doing everything it can to ease the admissibility of confessions that police wriggle out of suspects."

There is an issue in the wording in Florida that made it unclear that a lawyer was actually allowed to be present during police questioning. However, Justice Gisnberg did not object to the wording, saying all the essential information was there. Perhaps officers don’t want their suspects to know a lawyer can be present during questioning so as to make their jobs easier and get more information out of their suspects. The lack of clarity in the wording of the information sounds like an intimidation factor to me. I think the authorities prefer a populace that is comfortably unaware of the rights they are entitled to so there will be no revolt or questioning of authority.

Additionally, it is now a fact that if a suspect wishes to remain silent then they must express this wish verbally. Justice Sotomayor explains, “suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so."

James Pasco, who is a member of the National Fraternal Order of Police has said he thinks what these alterations to the Miranda warnings will do is to allow police to get confessions out of suspects more easily.

That idea really worries me. I think what we need to do as Americans is to fight for our rights. We have become too complacent with our government over time. Our country was founded by people who stood up to unfair and harsh rule, and I think our generation would do well to follow in our forefathers’ footsteps. If we don’t stand up for our rights now, then before we know it we won’t have any rights left to fight for.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Harsher Restrictions for Drilling

Several days ago the House approved a bill that will force safer regulations on offshore drilling. In addition, this bill will also enforce new fees on oil and gas production and remove a federal cap on economic liability for oil spills. This bill is in response to the disastrous Gulf oil spill that happened back in April.

Naturally there was disagreement over this bill between Republicans and Democrats. What this Bill will do is ban companies with serious environmental or workplace violations in the past seven years from being granted new permits for offshore drilling. The issue found by many Republicans and even some Democrats with high interest in oil fear that these regulations will hurt the U.S. economy. They believe it will take away countless U.S. jobs and raise energy prices.

This issue has not yet reached the Senate. According to a New York Times article the bill would:

- remove the $75 million cap on economic damages to be paid after big oil spills,

- increase the financial responsibility demonstrated by offshore operators to 300 million dollars,

- and finally create “conservation” fees on oil and natural gas that has been extracted from federally owned land or water

This was particularly disturbing to Rep. Doc Hastings, the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee. He believes that the removal of the liability cap could be extremely detrimental to small and medium-sized drillers.

With this said I actually think this bill is a great step in the right direction. With the number of oil spills occurring offshore lately there had to be steps taken to try and ensure that such spills cease to happen. The environment is so destroyed each time there is a spill, not to mention we lose more and more of our oil. Big companies should be held responsible for their actions in these spills. And while I don’t want to see smaller drilling companies hit, we really need to have the safety of our environment and the preservation of our resources as a number one concern.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Louisiana Just Can’t Catch A Break

Just when you thought things were starting to look up in terms of the oil spill in the South another disaster strikes. That may sound a little dramatic as we don’t yet know the reach of this spill, but it’s really not too far off the mark. It is highly unlikely that this spill will ever reach the catastrophic proportions that the April 20th Deepwater Horizon spill reached, and a Jefferson Parish Councilman has already said he believes that the spill can be stopped today. However, the fact that there is another spill so soon after that one and so close to the origin of that spill is disturbing.

It was reported by the AP that a tugboat ran into a wellhead in a bay by Mud Lake. Oil is now being emitted into the water and is visible above the surface. This occurred to the north of a bay where officials have been working steadily to contain the spilling oil from the BP tragedy.

This area has been described as “ecologically sensitive” and although no one is sure yet how much oil is being ejected into the water, there are reports of a visible sheen in the lake.

Oil is such a crucial resource to the United States and we have lost so much of this resource within our own borders. We already didn’t like being so dependent on foreign oil, and it seems like these constant spills keep pushing us back to the oil in the Middle East.

The way I see it one of two things needs to happen here. Either we need to have more competent rig workers and boat captains and there needs to be a higher emphasis placed on personal responsibility, or we can’t keep drilling deep-sea oil wells. If we aren’t capable of drilling out in the water without causing environmentally detrimental spills then we can’t keep drilling there.

We really need more stringent regulations on our oilrigs and more constant monitoring that these safety regulations are enforced. People keep saying that it was under President Bush that regulations were slackened. But the way I see it is that he has been out of office for a year and a half and perhaps Obama should have paid closer attention to these issues. After all it has been under Obama that the worst spill in history occurred. But now is the time for increased monitoring to make sure another spill doesn’t occur. It’s too late to go back and prevent the ones that have been, now it’s time to look to the future and the preservation of our environment.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Racism and the Shirley Sherrod Debacle

For some reason in the United States things always have to go back to race, I’m not entirely sure why. I know that we don’t all live in peace and harmony the way we’re supposed to but it seems like regardless of race, religion or gender there is someone who is trying to keep you down and repress your voice. You would think that after electing the first African American President things could simmer down. But, this is not the case.

I see it as amazing that the 2008 Democratic Primaries came down to a woman and an African American man, and even more amazing that Barack Obama was elected into the country’s highest office. But there is a time that I think we need to move past the color of his skin and instead just focus on what he is doing as President, which is astronomically more important.

The issue of Shirley Sherrod brought this matter to light for me. The fact that Ms. Sherrod was forced to resign from office is appalling. Granted the first part of the video shown appeared to convey a racist streak, but the latter part of the video, which was not shown initially for one reason or another, shows an understanding that judging someone based on skin tone would be both unprofessional and morally repugnant.

The fact of the matter is that people are so quick to jump to conclusions of racism before all the facts have even been examined. It is so engrained in our culture and it is nearly impossible to ignore. While I would like to think we are an enlightened nation I can’t help but look to what other countries have done and feel we are not up to speed. (So many countries besides our own have had female heads of state, something this country might benefit from.)

While the underlying issue is the Sherrod escapade is race, the issue I find so disconcerting is the negligence on the part of the American journalists. As someone who has a BA in Communications with a concentration in Journalism I was taught all the basics on what to do and what not to do to get a story. If a video such as the Sherrod video surfaced, why would a journalist not do as much research as possible at find out all the details behind the video, like if there was a second half to it?

Herein lies the issue with bloggers as “citizen journalists.” No comparison can be made to a citizen journalist and a formally trained one backed by a paper or news channel. Journalists have a far greater bank of resources at their disposable, most notably money to research their stories. For this reason I can’t begin to express my disappointment at the news media who got the story so wrong that it cost a woman her job, only for the truth to come out and Sherrod to be offered her job back the following day. This shows a complete lack of responsibility on the part of journalists, specifically those “hacks” at FOX.

Havana Here We Come?

Before I get into the issue of travel to Cuba I think it’s necessary to provide a short history lesson. Cuba has a long history of Imperial rule enforced by one nation or another. First Cuba was a Spanish colony. Then, after the Spanish-American War, Cubans were under the rule of the United States through various Laws and Acts, most notably the Platt Amendment. This Amendment gave the United States the authority to intervene in any foreign or domestic situations that they saw fit. It also gave them access to certain military bases and territories, such as the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

After Fidel Castro took control of the island nation in the 1959 Revolution, the United States almost instantly feared the new leadership. The US has a longstanding history of interfering in foreign affairs of Latin American nations, where they often have no business being. The United States was actually behind the instigation of Fulgencio Batista, Fidel’s predecessor, as President of Cuba.

For all these reasons, the United States’ long–standing control over the Island, Fidel decided he wanted nothing to do with the US. One of the main reasons behind the embargo between the two countries was that Castro wanted the US refineries in Cuba to process Soviet oil. As this was the height of the Cold War this did not go over well with US authorities.

Now to get to the issue with US travel to Cuba. At the same time that the trade embargo passed there was a hold placed on travel as well. Since its inception certain groups of people have been fighting to change this. Havana could benefit from US tourism. There was a strong US presence in Havana before the Revolution and many wish for the right to return.

Currently there is a movement by various interest groups and some Cuban-Americans alike to get this travel ban lifted. They have done so by backing a congressional bill that would also work towards more relaxed regulations on agriculture sales between our island neighbor and ourselves.

In the US there is still a strong anti-Castro sentiment, especially among most Cuban-Americans so there is naturally going to be a great deal of opposition to any such bill and many will go to great lengths so see that it is never passed. However the cleverness of this bill is that it combined travel and agriculture into one, which allowed for many farm-state lawmakers to be won over. Selling to Cuba could be very lucrative for farmers and thus in this regard many welcome such a bill and it passed the House Agriculture Committee back in June.

It would be monumental for such a bill to pass. If we could restore travel to the island and agriculture sales then perhaps we could work towards a new relationship with the island and her leaders. After all the Cold War has been over for quite some time and it is time to look towards the future, instead of constantly looking to the past.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dead Penguins v. Gulf Spill: What Can We Do?

Today I was reading through online news sites and I came across a story about dead penguins washing up on the shore of Brazil. This got my mind turning towards the death and destruction of wildlife in the Gulf region of the United States. Now I consider myself a friend to the animals (I don’t wear fur or condone animal testing – but I do eat meat) and I always seem to find myself drawn to stories about nature and animals in need. The main idea of the article is that scientists believe it is most likely overfishing that is leading to the death of the penguins. The fish and squid they feed on are becoming scarce.

My concerns here are two-fold. If it is indeed overfishing that is killing these flightless birds, then what is going to happen to the remaining wildlife in the Gulf, those animals that have not been killed by the spill? This region was already heavily relied upon as a source of great quantities of seafood for the United States and the rest of the world. What is to happen now when there isn’t enough seafood to go around, when people can no longer make their living in the trade they knew and worked so hard to build? If certain areas are deemed safe for fishing but others are not, then wont there be a situation of not enough food here for the wildlife? What is going to happen now if fish are affected by the spill and are deemed unsafe for human consumption? Further, what is going to happen to the other animals whose main source of nourishment are these fish that have been affected?

I was doing some reading on the estimated death tolls for wildlife in the Gulf region since the spill and found the numbers to be nauseating. The Fish and Wildlife Service webpage has created a list of all the dead wildlife found in the five Gulf States (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) as well as those collected on the water since the spill. The website has listed 62 dead mammals, which includes dolphins, 478 dead sea turtles and 2,333 collected dead birds since the spill occurred three months ago.

These numbers disturbed me beyond belief. I had known that the devastation was widespread but these numbers truly appear staggering when listed together. This leads into my second concern about the news story on the dead penguins washing ashore. If it is over fishing that is causing the death of these penguins than is there something that can be done to fish in different areas and leave more fish for the animals to consume? Or, since the oceans belong to everybody in the world, is this now not even a possibility due to the serious blow that the Gulf of Mexico has suffered?

Something else that concerns me is the lack of focus that people seem to be able to devote to one serious issue at a time. While I am thoroughly upset by the dead penguins I still think that the focus right now should be the oil crisis. I understand that the United States is not the center of the world and that’s why Americans get a bad rep from the rest of the world, but this is being called the worst spill in history and this disaster will affect people everywhere. This deserves widespread attention.

Not only are there endless stories about what is happening to the fishing industry, but I often read articles about the oil that has washed up on the beaches in the Gulf States and how this effecting the morale of those who live there. Yet we can’t “otherise” this spill. It is effecting everyone and I do think that focus needs to be spent figuring out how to appropriately clean the area. Serious attention also needs to be placed on ensuring that a spill like this never occurs again because humans have caused this terrible disaster to the environment and we need to learn that we have limited resources here, we can’t allow for such quick destruction of what little we have to work with.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's Over!

After months of a constant eruption from below the waters of the Gulf the steady stream of oil that has been a fixture down South has ceased. While it is amazing and wonderful that the leak was finally plugged up, a full-fledged celebration would seem in poor taste.

This spill, a spill that released hundreds of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, so say some estimates, has threatened the way of life for many living in the Gulf region. The effects of this spill are catastrophic and there is no way of knowing how long it will take for the area to recover from such devastation.

Yet officials still need to keep a close eye on the well and make sure that there are no ruptures in any other parts of the well. That could bring about a whole new explosion and more oil leakage.

The cap that has been placed over the well was hotly debated at first. Many were not sure if the cap was a good idea or if it would lead to excessive pressure causing for further explosions. But ultimately the cap is in place and the leak has ceased – for now. The next few days and weeks will show whether or not the leak is done for good.

Seafood from the Gulf

Summer is usually the time for sunshine filled trips to the beach and out-door cookouts, but this year there is a dark cloud hovering over the summer holiday. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two and half months you should at least be familiar with the BP oil spill that began back in late April. Even now in mid-July oil continues to gush into the waters off the Gulf Coast making this spill one of the most devastating in history.

And while almost everyone has heard of the spill, not everyone fully comprehends the gargantuan effect that this disaster is having on the ecosystem in the South. It is not just the wildlife that is suffering from this catastrophe. All those whose livelihood is dependent in some way or another on the seafood industry are in jeopardy of losing their source of revenue.

The latest news as reported by The New York Times is that the waterways connected to the Gulf, specifically Lake Pontchartrain, are now in danger of becoming engulfed in oil. This would be particularly devastating to the seafood industry as it is such a rich supplier for the country. Naturally, people don’t want to eat anything that could be contaminated or dangerous. While regulations have been placed to halt fishing in areas known to be contaminated, and testing of fish is more extensive than ever before, people still have reservations about gulf seafood. And why shouldn’t they when the news is dominated by how dangerous and extensive the spill is?

There has already been one major casualty of the oil spill in the seafood industry of the South. P&J Oyster Company, the nations oldest oyster shucking company, which has been a Louisiana staple for over 130 years, has closed its doors. Oysters take a long time to mature to market size and since they are being so affected by the spill, and efforts to clean it, this company will remain closed for quite some time to come.

This may not be the forefront issue being discussed regarding the oil spill but it certainly is an important one, and one worth addressing. What would happen if the water becomes so polluted that all the wildlife die out and the ecosystem becomes so decayed that the damage cannot be reversed? What if even more seafood businesses in the South must be shut down, resulting in reverberations felt throughout the rest of the country? This has been a concern of many living along the eastern seaboard.

In an already downturned economy, can we afford for there to be another major industry virtually wiped out? This could be what is to come of fisherman and seafood restaurants in the South if this oil spill is not contained, and even if it is, is the damage that has been done reversible? How can confidence be restored in Gulf seafood when effects of the spill are still not completely known? I fear this is just further evidence of how ill prepared we are as a country to deal with the disasters that occur around us.