Monday, November 7, 2011

'Dexter' Season 6, Ep. 6

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Oh sure, Ill hold, I dont have much to do this episode anyway.
  • Showtime
  • "Oh sure, I'll hold, I don't have much to do this episode anyway."
A show of hands: who here thought Dexter was about to grow a conscience? Well I sure did, not because it made any sense for the character, but because I’m so accustomed to the showrunners screwing things up. The way the episode was progressing, I really thought Dexter would forgive the bad guy and start down some sort of live-and-let-live path until, I don’t know, Adama kidnapped Deb or Dex Jr. or Brother Sam’s dog. After all, the “fork in the road” decision that Voiceover Dexter kept referring to was less a quandary for Dexter the character (in the matter of “to kill or not to kill,” does Dexter really have a choice?) than it was for Dexter the creative team: “Is Dexter really a sociopathic monster, like we’ve been insisting for five and a half seasons now, or should we give him a sense of forgiveness to, I don’t know, keep things fresh?” It seems to me that Dexter episodes succeed only insofar as they stay true to the character, and it finally seems like the showrunners understand that too—they ramp up the suspense so well this season in part by tacitly acknowledging their own tendency to screw up the show.

But what a reversal they pull! There’s a lot about this installment, in fact, feels pretty classic. For those keeping score, this marks two quality episodes in a row, possibly their longest winning streak in at least a season and a half. Mazel tov!

Dexter really is in prime form this episode from beginning to end, starting from the very first scene: stalking Babyhanks through a street fair, knowing he’ll lead Dexter to the Commander. But when he’s interrupted by a phone call about the shooting at Brother Sam’s, he instantly swings into Professional Dexter mode and, without missing a beat, plots the precise movements of shooter and vic using a pool of blood as a guide (“He’s a rock star!” the intern whispers, and I have to agree). Then he sneaks away, scrapes some evidence from a bloody bat, hides that evidence from the rest of the department, and starts a clandestine investigation right under his coworkers’ noses to figure out who shot Mos Def. Classic!

That investigation, in turn, gets complicated by Doakes the Second’s surprisingly effective policework, which leads the detective to gun down Dexter’s suspect while Dexter is still in staking out the guy’s house. Though the shootout at Leo’s doesn’t get Dexter in trouble—no one notices him sitting in his car a block away, of course—it gives Dex and us a moment to consider that how plans didn’t always work out so well, which usually resulted in Dexter nearly being found out by a bad guy, a cop, a loved one, or a special guest star. Deb’s final scene of the night, where she can’t get ahold of Dexter on the phone, because he’s busy killing someone, recalls the where’s-Dexter time-crunch sequences that used to be a signature part of the show. Which always led to another signature sequence, Dexter lying to his loved ones and then struggling to keep track of the lies while also keeping track of his victims, his one clever adversary at Miami Homicide (when applicable), and his Code. Have they even mentioned the Code this season? Well, even without the Code: pretty classic.

Speaking of Miami Homicide, things there continue to get streamlined nicely: Deb gets another monologue to help deepen her constant hard-ass fuck-you act, Quinn and Batista have some good, conflict-generating partner-card conversations over the witness that Quinn slept with, and Deb’s house party gives all the characters (except Dex!) a chance to collide in some novel new ways. Quinn’s beligerant drunk entrance was pretty boss, and Batista’s apology speech was pretty heartwarming. I think it’s official: Quinn and Batista have grown on me. Tell me Dexter Nation: am I getting soft?

The Adama-Babyhanks stuff: I like that we get a few short scenes with them every week, even if nothing much happens in them until their last scene of the night. Even if the Babyhanks arc is entirely predictable, the quiet promise of Adama’s fury gives it a frightening weight. What’s Adama gonna do when he finds out? (My prediction: it will be revealed that Babyhanks is a cylon too, and Adama will be forced to box him, along with Tigh’s wife and the other troublemakers.)

And the kill of the week! A great one, for both its rising tension and its brutal payoff. Of course, it isn’t exactly a big surprise when Dexter offs him—Nick couldn’t be more remorseless and basically dares someone to off him—but it is a satisfying return to form, Dexter as a bumbling serial-killer who thinks he knows all the angles, only to be shown up by something he didn’t expect. And what a something: just as Nick’s underwater thrashing stops, and we the audience begin to think that Dexter might not have covered his tracks so well this time, a face from the past shows up: Dexter’s brother, the motherfucking Ice Cream Truck Killer. WHAT? HOW CLASSIC IS THAT?

But didn’t Dexter take care of ICTK in season one? Sure, with all the ICTK references this season, I figured Intern Blondie for a copycat, maybe But the ICTK himself? Did shit just get mind-blowing? I think maybe it did. Though I should be weary—this could easily be the first step into over-the-top nonsense—the writers this season have given me very little reason to doubt them.

I've said it before, but I really never thought I'd say it again: can’t wait til next week!

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