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Monday, October 25, 2010

"Dexter" Season 5, Episode 5

Could we just once meet at a diner that has utensils?
  • Showtime
  • "Could we just once meet at a diner that has utensils?"
Five episodes down, and only two Dexter victims. Anyone else feeling frustrated? I mean, besides Dexter?

Thankfully, the pace is building, at least in Dexter’s corner—Dexter’s back at work, looking for Boyd’s accomplices, and trying to outmaneuver his eager new friend, Lumen. For the most part, though, every other plotline is still coming on like knockout gas: the Santa Muerte investigation is a snoozer, no matter how many disfigured corpses or potential lesbian love interests they throw at Deb. Of course, the less said about Angel and Maria, the better. And Quinn—is anyone convinced for a second that Quinn is an actual cop, capable of investigating anything?

The episode opens with Dexter and son at a Mommy & Me meeting, where there’s some question over whether baby Harrison cut another baby. I suppose it’s to the writers’ credit that they want to make Harrison an active part of the show, and not abandon entirely the Dexter’s-family-values material built up over the past couple seasons. But “baby’s first blood”? Really?

Lumen, meanwhile, is getting ready to draw her own first blood, and looking for help. After almost outing Dexter at the diner he frequents (Lumen: “I saw you kill Boyd. You knew what you were doing.” Waitress: “The usual?”), Lumen storms out. It doesn’t take Dexter long to stumble on her path—she’s looking for Boyd’s buddies and, naturally, amassing her evidence on a conspiracy wall in her motel room. But before she can make her move (so what exactly is keeping her busy?), Dexter tracks her target to his bunk at Sex Offender Camp, doses him, and hauls him off to the visitor’s center. Dexter’s enormous disappointment, when he figures out that this guy can’t be Boyd’s accomplice, is perfect: it’s not just outrage at himself for almost killing an “innocent” man, but frustration that his murder ritual has been interrupted (again): “I was ready to kill him!”

All of Dexter’s distracted beats work well: the coffee he left on his car, his anxious back-and-forth with Ghost Dad; credit for Dexter’s ridiculous notion that he’s got a slasher baby could also go to terminal distraction (resolved after he sees Lumen off at the airport). And we can see where he’s fully invested, in trying to help Lumen—every one of their scenes together crackles. Julia Stiles has some heavy lifting to do and some tough reversals to pull off (“Okay! Okay! Okay! I’ll go! Okay!”), but she carries on like a champ.

I can’t be the only one who wishes it was the Dexter and Lumen show 100 percent of the time. But it’s actually possible the subplots are moving, however slowly, in a more relevant direction—the end of the episode finds Quinn’s story and Angel’s coming together to cause trouble for Dexter, with the introduction of an intense new player caught in Maria’s IA sting. He’s the first genuinely threatening character introduced so far this season, a dirty cop cornered by his colleagues and determined to fight back—and Quinn sets him loose on Dexter. Finally, a good idea from that guy!

It’s a slow season, to be sure, but there’s time yet for some good stuff. Next week, it looks like Lumen will get some real killing done. Plus: the wrapped-in-plastic 500 meter dash! Look alive!

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