Monday, October 29, 2007

Hello. My name is Dexter Morgan. You killed my mother. Prepare to die.

Spoilers for "Dexter" coming right up (and, yes, I know I did the "Princess Bride" homage with a "Lost" post last spring, but it was too apropos to not recycle)...

Two different perspectives on the same situation: Dexter and Lila both believe that she’s helping him, but Lila thinks she’s helping Dexter beat his “addiction,” while Dexter thinks Lila’s on the verge of becoming his sidekick and confidante in serial killing. I don’t know if Dexter’s right, but considering the premise of the show, I don’t think Lila is, even though both of them came to these conclusions after she talked Dexter out of committing the most justified murder of his life.

Great episode, even if the red lighting in the bar and use of “Gimme Shelter” wasn’t so much a Scorsese homage as a bit of cheap shorthand. This is the most off the rails we’ve ever seen Dexter; even when he was screwing things up with Little Chino, he was at least sticking to the parts of The Code of Harry about preparation, concealing his identity, etc. Here, he just lost it, and it’s a mark of how well this show makes me both empathize with Dexter and understand his methods that, as he was in the middle of beating on and preparing to kill the man who killed his mother, all I could think was, “Man, you’re leaving fingerprints everywhere!”

(Of course, being methodical winds up potentially screwing him over in the end, as he goes to clean his boat of blood unaware of the surveillance camera Lundy installed at the marina. How exactly is Dexter going to slip out of that noose?)

If there was going to be a Scorsese-endorsed Stones song on the soundtrack, maybe it should have been “Sympathy for the Devil,” given the sales pitch on justifiable homicide that Dexter seems to be beginning with Lila. The question is how willing she’s going to be to buy into it. On the one hand, so much of Lila seems in synch with Dexter: the addiction, the use of mannequin parts the way Rudy used human bodies, the fascination with dead bodies, and now the news that she killed a man who did her wrong (albeit accidentally). On the other hand, Dexter is a badly-damaged individual, warped by an experience far more horrific than I imagine Lila has ever witnessed. Where he sees a potential sidekick, I see (or want to see) a woman who’s going to be dismayed if/when she finds out what Dexter really is.

Meanwhile, I’m curious to find out whether Frank Lundy’s anything other than the man he’s presented himself as so far. I admire the writers’ willingness to depict the man hunting Dexter as such a decent guy, not just a good investigator but an attentive father figure to Deb, who’s trying to teach her how to be a better cop and person while getting over her Ice Truck Killer trauma. The parallels between Deb with Lundy and Dexter with Harry are so strong, though, that this episode’s revelations about Harry’s secret relationship with Dexter’s mom makes me wonder what skeletons Lundy has in his closet. Is his interest in Deb entirely paternal, or will there (God, I hope not) be a moment where he reveals himself to be just another creep in her life? Does he, like every other character on this show, have some hidden kink, or is his role entirely to show what a fully functional human being looks like when thrown into Dexter’s sick world?

What did everybody else think?

18 comments:

Undercover Asian Man said...

A very intense episode. Cutting out that whole Pascal thing really tightened everyone's focus on what really matters - the hunt for the Bay Harbor Butcher. Don't know where the comic book guy killer story is going if it is going anywhere else at all other than to introduce "The Dark Defender", but I hope that Maria and Doakes can get off of these B stories soon and join the main plot.

Lila. Sorry, but I'm now firmly in the Lila is way better for Dexter than the lie of Rita camp. I was actually hoping he WOULD take the mother's advice and leave that family. Since Lila came on the scene, it now feels like Rita is a big fat lie and damaging to Dexter and Rita both the more they live their facade. His honesty levels with Lila makes Rita seem more like an enemy than a friend in comparison, a person to evade much like a mini-Doakes.

Not to mention that Lila, in both personality and lifestyle, are a much better fit. And I must say THANK GOD FOR PAY TV, and the R Rated material that allows. Too hot. It's superficial, but hard to ignore favoring Lila on the hound-dog front as well.

I do NOT want Lila to ever find out what Dexter really is, and, if she eventually does, hope that she would not accept him like Dexter is hoping she might. He probably has no perspective on how truly terrifying his reality would be to her. He talks about her seeing behind the mask and accepting the "real" him, but I don't think it is really true. I trust the writers enough to not expect Lila to become some Serial Robin to Dexter's Batman, at least not knowingly - that would just be too stupid for this show. I like things the way they are currently - she can help he find himself and explore, but not cross over into Dexter's real world.

The scene at the bar was very intense. I think it was the first time we saw Dexter with his 'code', and how truly vicious and monstrous he potentially can be if he loses control. I'm glad they aren't forgetting that the core of Dexter is very dark and evil, and haven't made him too lovable.

I do have some worries about where Lundy is heading. I liked it better when he was presented as the unstoppable lawman, a very big threat to Dexter. His recent 'softness' is a bit confusing, and I too worry about what he's doing with Deb. I hope they just keep his character straight, instead of making him do some rash act with her. I'm fine with him just being the relentless pursuer of Dexter, and don't care for 'humanizing' him more than that.

Finally, Harry Morgan stock is dropping fast. Even in Season One, I found it strange how not only accepting, but almost completely driving Harry was towards making Dexter a killer. And last episode, when Harry called kid Dexter a monster, it was the first hint that Harry was not as noble as before. I'm so glad the writers are not being black-and-white when it comes to Harry and the Code.

I'm going to watch this episode again, right now. Best thing on TV.

curious george said...

I could have done without the Dark Avenger and Hall in costume. That was a bit much, especially considering that the episode's true power was of the confrontation in Naples. Otherwise, great episode.

Susan said...

I'm not sure I like the reveal that Harry knew Dexter's mother - in fact, that Harry was part of the reason she was killed. It feels a little contrived. On the other hand, it continues the shading of Harry, making him much less likable and noble. (The fact that he left Brian behind is even worse when we realize that he knew the mother and had met these kids previously. We may not see him with Brian, but he knew Brian existed.)

The scene in the bar was definitely intense and so well-done. I liked that they didn't play games about the man's identity - he clearly was the man who participated in Dexter's mother's death. But Alan, I had the same reaction - that Dexter couldn't kill this man not because it wasn't right, but because he would leave too much evidence that it was him behind.

The one thing in this episode that didn't ring true to me was Dexter cleaning his boat. He may not know about the cameras, but he's certainly smart enough to know that the cops were checking out the marinas. Even if he had just cleaned his boat, that would have been one thing. But doing it with the blood-search light? I give Dexter more credit than that.

I also loved Rita standing up to her mother. But I'm not sure I want to spend a whole season with the mother hanging around now.

Still on the fence about Lila. I don't think she'd be a willing participant if she knew what Dexter was doing. But she certainly understands him more than anyone else has.

Anonymous said...

I'd think it would be pretty obvious now why Harry took Dexter and not Brian. Think about it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'd think it would be pretty obvious now why Harry took Dexter and not Brian. Think about it.

If you're suggesting that Harry was really Dexter's father, there's a big problem with that theory: last season, Dexter took a DNA test to confirm that the guy who left him that house was his bio-dad.

Undercover Asain Man said...

A.S.: "If you're suggesting that Harry was really Dexter's father, there's a big problem with that theory: last season, Dexter took a DNA test to confirm that the guy who left him that house was his bio-dad."

The vibe I'm getting is more that Harry was frustrated about how the law handcuffed him when it came to doling out 'justice', and saw an opportunity to train his own vigilante by proxy. Where once I saw some nobility in Harry as the ultimate accepting and caring father, the more we learn about his mixed past, the more those flashbacks seem like brainwashing sessions designed to mold Dexter into Harry's vision of justice. I wonder, since they are not biologically related AND Dexter has emotional detachment as the norm, if his relationship with Deb will deteriorate the more he learns about Harry and the more Deb becomes instrumental in the hunt for the BHB.

Susan: "The one thing in this episode that didn't ring true to me was Dexter cleaning his boat. He may not know about the cameras, but he's certainly smart enough to know that the cops were checking out the marinas. Even if he had just cleaned his boat, that would have been one thing. But doing it with the blood-search light? I give Dexter more credit than that."

You are right about this. At the very least, Dexter would have driven his boat out to deep waters to do the cleaning, just as he does to dispose of bodies knowing no live witnesses are possible. Especially after Deb warned him that the cops were onto the track of his particular harbor. But it does speed up the confrontation between Dexter and Lundy, so in a way I'm willing to go with it.

C.G. "I could have done without the Dark Avenger and Hall in costume."

I didn't mind this since a) Dexter joked about the notion in real life ("nah, Miami is too hot for all that leather..."), and b) since it was a dream sequence that made complete sense within the story and led to Dexter trusting Lila and her convincing him to go to Naples in the first place. In fact, I thought the "Dark Defender" notion was very well handled, especially in the concluding voice-over where Dexter talks about whether Lila is a heroic sidekick or partner in crime - the internally debate about Dexter's true standing as hero or villain rages on.

In my post above, "I think it was the first time we saw Dexter with his 'code'" should of course be "WITHOUT his 'code'".

Anonymous said...

I think the writers are too good to have Lundy creep out and hit on Deb-- however, I can see a scenario in which Deb makes the first move. Not saying I'd like it, but on the plus side it would provide a way for Dexter to interact with Lundy away from the job.

btw, Alan, "Tell Me You Love Me" was surprisingly good last night. I actually watched every story line, instead of just Katie and David's. It might be worth a brief blog post if you still remember Episode 8 (wherein Palek goes to therapy alone to deal with being a father, Katie's daughter Isabella starts to have new urges, and Nick sort of moves in with Jaime).

Anonymous said...

I watch the show, but I can't, for some reason, remember what became of Brian/Rudy after Dexter drained him. Did the cops find his body?

Christy said...

Dexter set Rudy's death up as a suicide done in the manner of Rudy's other killings. The cops got the body, so no, it won't be turning up in one of the body bags of the BHB.

Jesse said...

If you're suggesting that Harry was really Dexter's father, there's a big problem with that theory: last season, Dexter took a DNA test to confirm that the guy who left him that house was his bio-dad.

As long as the writers remember that, it's all good. I've been burned by the poor writing/continuity in other shows (*cough* The Office *cough*) so far this season.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I've been burned by the poor writing/continuity in other shows (*cough* The Office *cough*) so far this season.

What has "The Office" screwed up this year? They've generally been one of the most continuity-minded shows on TV.

Anonymous said...

Now that we're kinda seeing the darker side of Harry, do you reckon he had any part to play in Linda's (?) (Dexter's mother) death? It almost seems too simple that she would have been caught by the cocaine handlers so easily, so maybe Harry was trying to keep his affair permanently under wraps?

Anonymous said...

Anyone knows what's the name of the song played in the background in the bar scene?

Dave Sandell said...

anonymous...

I'd have to go back and watch it, but I imagine you're talking about "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones. It's off "Let It Bleed".

Anonymous said...

The best thing that happened is LILA coming into Dexter's life.
I hope that she will be his 'Robin' to his Batman'.

Anonymous said...

The best thing happening is Lila coming into Dexter's life.
I hope they sizzle as Batman n Robin!

Anonymous said...

The best thing happening is Lila coming into Dexter's life.
I hope they sizzle as Batman n Robin!
Lila will be superb to assist Dexter in everyway! Love their love scene! it humanizes Dex.

Anonymous said...

Bad news about Lila. although i thought she was going to be great for Dexter, she turns out to be a crazy controlling bitch.