Sunday, October 07, 2007

Dexter: Six feet, seven inches under

Spoilers for "Dexter" episode two coming up just as soon as I repeat "I will not kill my sister, I will not kill my sister, I will not kill my sister"...

It took them one season plus one episode, but the "Dexter" writers finally put Michael C. Hall in a funeral home. Apparently, they think nobody's going to mistake Dexter Morgan for David Fisher anymore.

Episode two, "Waiting to Exhale," has Dexter dealing with blowback from his actions on multiple fronts. At work, ace FBI profiler Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine, continuing a late career renaissance on cable) is in town to track down "The Bay Harbor Butcher," the lurid nickname the media's hung on Dexter. At home, Dexter has to deal with the guilt -- if, in fact, he's capable of feeling that -- for setting in motion a chain of events that led to the death of Rita's ex-husband Paul. On his "night job" (or whatever you want to call it), Little Chino is still roaming free, and now has his gang buddies helping guard his giant body. And inside Dexter's own twisted psyche, the ghost of Rudy/Brian/The Ice Truck Killer sets up camp. (It's another "Six Feet Under" device, but again, this show and this character are so different that it's not distracting.)

Lundy's arrival gets more play in the coming weeks, and Dexter making peace with killing his brother was just this side of obligatory. (The writers needed to address it, but beyond that, I'm not interested in Rudy's effect on Dexter, though he's still haunting Deb, who's so far gone she's pulling guns on little kids.) Dexter finally taking out Little Chino after several clumsy failures was welcome -- if for no other reason than Hall's delivery of "I'm not so much doing it to you as I'm doing it for me." -- but what I really want to focus on this week is Paul's death and Rita's reaction to it.

Never mind that Paul was an abusive, manipulative SOB who so thoroughly battered Rita over the years that she had no sex drive when Dexter met her. He was her kids' father, and as we saw at the funeral, they loved the SOB -- and now he's gone, in part because of Dexter.

It's been really interesting to watch Dexter and Rita draw out aspects of their partners believed to be dormant or just plain gone. Rita's a sexual creature again, and someone capable of asserting herself. Dexter may pretend like Rita is just his beard, part of the easy cover identity that will keep people from suspecting him of hinky behavior, but he obviously has real affection for her and her kids. You can see him at that funeral recognizing what he did to this family (though in the long run, they're probably all better off without Paul), even if he refuses to cop to any remorse. Rita, meanwhile, confronts Dexter with far more strength and savvy than she would have been able to show when we first met her, and I like that she automatically makes the leap to Dexter being a heroin addict. After all, why on earth would she suspect something as outlandish as her boyfriend being the Bay Harbor Butcher, and why wouldn't she guess that he had a similar problem to the other love of her life?

Dexter admitting to an addiction (albeit not the one Rita thinks he has) is going to lead to a lot of fun in the coming weeks, so I'll turn it over to you. What did everybody else think?

8 comments:

drake leLane said...

I loved the funeral arrangement advice that Dexter gives, or rather, that the advice would make his SFU's David shudder.

Anonymous said...

Did Dexter's weapon get taken when the gang members jumped him? I couldn't tell and wondered if that would become an issue.

Chris Littmann said...

Is it wrong that I yelled a Johnny Drama-esque "VICTORY!" when he finally killed Little Chino?

Susan said...

It's interesting how Rita has become one of the series' most interesting characters. In the beginning, I found her annoying and frustrating - a fragile, sad, wet rag who could barely take care of herself, much less her family. And as you point out, look at her now. I also find the contrast between her and Deb so interesting. Deb started out so strong - a cop, one of the guys, funny and smart. Now Deb is the fragile one while Rita has found her strength.

Dark Tyler said...

I have trouble buying Dexter confessing to Rita.

Other than that, awesome as usual.

dez said...

^It didn't bother me that he confessed to hitting Paul, but I was curious that he confessed to the drugs. OTOH, Rudy/Brian was much better at covering up his true nature than Dexter is (which may make Dexter not a full sociopath like a lot of viewers choose to believe?). Dexter's always been a bit awkward socially--that we've seen, at least.

Chris W said...

I thought that was a pretty masterful episode minus the office politics of LaGuerta and whatever the name of the captain is.

I also didn't buy Dexter confessing to the drugs. He could have easily said that it was Paul's stash he found in Paul's apartment. Also, Dexter could have said working in a police department and dealing with blood allows him the knowledge of how to cook heroin and what sort of dosage goes into Paul.
I think if the show follows that angle of addiction, that will only throw more light on Dexter in the public eye which would be bad considering the FBI and Miami Metro PD are plunging the depths for Dexter's victims.

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