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.