Monday, November 14, 2011

'Dexter' Season 6, Episode 7

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM

In one of this weeks many surprises, Dexter diagnoses his dead brothers inflamed prostate.
  • Showtime
  • In one of this week's many surprises, Dexter diagnoses his dead brother's inflamed prostate.
Last week’s conclusion left us with an enraged Dexter drowning Mos Def’s murderer in the Atlantic, and then looking up to find his dead brother, The Ice Cream Truck Killer, inexpicably watching him from the shore. This week, we find out that dead brother is still dead: what Dexter sees is the ghost of his brother, popping up in his darkest moment of the season like a cartoon shoulder-devil. But for us, the viewers at home, he’s also like a lapsed Dexter fan, someone who was fully on board the first season but, for whatever reason, never tuned back in until now. His constant surprise and disgust over what Dexter has become. Using the ICTK to provide commentary about the direction of the show is a genius move—at least to a critic like me—because it gives the writers a chance to acknowledge and respond to its fan’s gripes about the show’s domestication of Dexter. I only wish they had thought of this trick earlier, and that they drew it out over several episodes. Can you imagine an entire season of Dexter and Ghost Bro, crisscrossing the country, fussing over who to kill next? Now that’d be a season worth writing about.

But I’m grateful for what we did get: a slam-bang episode packed to the gills with old foes, grim surprises, and a sustained sense of grisly fun I thought would never, ever return to the show. Which is to say, at least until next week’s episode: Hooray! I love Dexter again!

Yes, we’ve pretty much seen this episode before, where Dexter turns his back on responsibility to indulge his Dark Passenger, the most recent example being last season’s opener, which saw Dexter fleeing his family in order to take up the life of a traveling serial killer. But repetition and redundancy are nothing new to this series (see: every episode’s voiceover), and it’s hardly been put to better use, calling back also to season four’s big bad, the Trinity Killer. It’s like a Murder Family reunion!

Once again, Dexter convinces himself that there is no “light” in him, only darkness, and the his dead brother is proof of that. Indeed, they share a Tyler Durden-style bond: when Dexter witnesses Ghost Bro grab a pitchfork and stab a Nebraska pot-grower through the chest, he finds himself in the aftermath holding onto the murder weapon. It’s a cool trick that illustrates, both simply and graphically, the overwhelming nature of Dexter’s bloodlust, the power of that murdering impulse to tear down any moral scaffolding Dexter has built to contain it—including Ghost Dad’s code, which Ghost Bro dismisses early and often.

And Dexter’s not the only one grappling with the darkness inside him: BabyHanks, staying with his cheerfully clueless sister (Deb as conservative school teacher), has decided to cut things off with his battleship commander, Professor Adama. Adama takes it in stride, telling Hanks he’s free to go, while of course caging the Hanks sister’s house for signs of whoredom and easy entry. BabyHanks misses this, of course, being somehow blind to every indication that Adama is a deadly threat to his family. I guess God chose BabyHanks for his gullibility? I mean, who in the world would trust a Biblically-inspired killer to shrug off rejection of his plan to end the world? He’s even dumber than the crew at Miami Metro.

And what a crew! I had kind of a hard time paying attention to their scenes this week, I guess because the Dexter plot was still blowing my mind, but I’m pretty sure the investigation is moving slowly in the direction of BabyHanks. Vince’s intern does something computery to narrow down the suspects, and Deb wants to know where Dexter is, and I don’t know, Batista maybe had something blustery to say about the intern dating his little sister. Oh, and the intern is working on a video game that lets you experience the life of a dopey Miami homicide cop who can’t detect his way out of a training mission. (I think it’s one of those frustrating-on-purpose concept video games that’s really a meta-commentary on the pointlessness of video games. And TV procedurals.)

But we do get a charming scene between Deb and Quinn, for maybe the first time in their relationship. A quiet after-hours moment in Deb’s office gives both Jennifer Carpenter and Desmond Harrington the chance to have a sincere, vulnerable conversation, and both actors knock it out of the park. I even found myself rooting for them to get back together. I know, what? It would be a pretty flawless scene if it didn’t highlight just how poor their material usually is.

And the kill of the week! When was the last time you had no idea what was coming next in a Dexter episode? I was amazed and delighted to find myself, halfway through the Trinity Killer Jr. story, without a clue as t o where it would end up. That’s something else I thought we were pretty much done with in Dexter. (Though I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the episode from last season when Lumen called Dexter to that warehouse to help her off a bad guy. It fun, unpredictable, and probably that year’s best episode.) Sure, the surprise ending, when Trinity Jr. reveals the true nature of his crime and Dexter realizes he’s more-or-less innocent, wouldn’t have been so effective if Dexter’s Standard Operating Procedure (Dexter suspects target is guilty, Dexter investigates and gets second thoughts, Dexter considers calling off the kill, Dexter confirms target’s guilt, Dexter kills target) wasn’t so well established through endless repetition, but it’s refreshing all the same. Dexter’s final admonition, for the kid to forgive himself, was also a nice twist on the typical kill-room conclusion.

It really is too bad we have to say goodbye to the Ghost of ICTK so soon; he brought a much-needed sense of perspective to the show, giving Dexter a nifty way to dialog directly with his dark side. Ghost Bro’s arguments were both chilling and sound, providing an alternate, and far darker, interpretation of Dexter’s ritual. I wish that model hadn’t been disproved quite so quickly—I couldn’t help but GOL (Groan Out Loud) when Dexter spotted Ghost Dad on the side of the road, looking for a ride (and not just because it makes zero sense that Dexter has to pull over to let a figment of his imagination into the car).

It may be too much to hope that Ghost ICTK will be back, perhaps for a showdown with Ghost Dad. So I’m going to work on appreciating the rare treat we got: an episode that blends the best of old and new Dexter, with a surprising dollop of fun and a generous sprinkle of self-awareness on top. Mmmm.

Too much talking for ICTK’s taste:
- “Ah, Deb. The one who got away.” Dead serial killer ex-girlfriend humor!
- What the hell is on Adama’s table? And what the hell is he pulling out of it?
- BabyHanks and Adama look so happy together in that graduation day photo! Why can’t those two work things out? Don’t they see they’re in love?
- 11:30ish minutes in: Nice dissolve.
- “It’s the Midwest, nobody locks their doors.” Sure, why not?
- “Yeah, a big fat lie of a life.” Said like a big brother.
- “I would kill myself but it would add to my murder toll this month.” Wouldn’t a suicide be an automatic case closed? God she’s a bad cop.
- Turns out LaGuerta is just as nervous as Deb. Also turns out that NOBODY CARES.
- “Death by Dexter. Fantastic idea.”
- “I wonder if darkness is defined by light.” Well I wonder if this closing voiceover could be any lamer.
- Oh, and we learned Adama is feeding victims his own blood! What a sick fucking badass. Keep up the good work, sickos!

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