Despite my tremendous enjoyment of “Dexter,” I only blogged about it occasionally during its first season, and episodes like this one are the reason why.
I actually have no complaints about “That Night, a Forest Grew” (a “Where the Wild Things Are” reference). It’s a very strong episode. Many interesting things happen plotwise, as Dexter gets a little too cute in trying to manipulate Lundy and achieves the right amount of cuteness in discrediting and banishing Doakes (though it’ll still come back to bite him, I’m sure). And many interesting things happen characterwise, as Dexter struggles to choose between the pretty angel on one shoulder (Rita) and the sexy devil on the other (Lila), and as Deb declares her intentions for more than a father/daughter-type relationship with Lundy. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.
But here’s why my “Dexter” posts last year were so few and far between, and why this post is going to be relatively short: between Dexter’s introspective narration and all the overtly psychological dialogue (between Dexter and Lila, Deb and Lundy, Rita and her mom, etc.), I’m not sure what’s left to say. The series often does such a good job of analyzing itself that it renders further criticism redundant, you know?
We can question some things along the way -- Did Dexter’s glance at the repaired light bulb at the end clue him in to the fact that Lila engages in destructive behavior to get what she wants? Was Dexter smart or stupid to show his hand so overtly to Doakes? Is Lundy really as straightforward as he seems, or has he been manipulating Deb to get her to this point? -- but for the most part, this episode (and this series as a whole) operates on a What You See Is What You Get level. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all, but as a critic/blogger, I’m rendered kind of speechless by it. And since the comments for this show generally tend to be vastly more insightful than my reviews of same, I’m going to keep this brief, hit a few bullet points, and then open it up to the crowd. So:
- Can someone please, for the love of all that is good and right, tell me the name of the jazz piece Lundy was playing in the first discussion of music scene? I know it’s a number that I have in my collection, and on my iPod, for that matter, and I know my father the jazz buff could name that tune in three or four notes if he were still around, but I haven’t been able to track it down, and I obviously can’t Google the lyrics. A little help, please?
- That said, I really love the notion of Lundy needing to find the right piece of music to use to figure out his target. As a writer who always needs to work to music and often can only write certain kinds of things to certain kinds of music (all of my final season “Sopranos” columns, for instance, had to be composed to The Hold Steady’s “Boys and Girls in America,” and if I tried anything else, I was blocked), I can get behind that concept. It makes sense as Lundy described it, and it’s an investigative quirk I don’t think I’ve come across before in the thousands of hours of TV crime drama produced each year.
- Another lovely case of familiar idea/unfamiliar execution: Lundy explaining the age discrepancy with “I know the lyrics to elevator music.” Never heard that variation before.
- Loved the Mark Twain/”Deep Space Nine”/”Next Generation” exchange between Angel, Masuka and the apparently very geeky female member of Lundy’s team.
- In the role of the wrongly-accused Mr. Wilson, hey, it’s that guy Dale Midkiff! There was a period in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s where Midkiff seemed on the verge of becoming something big, TV-wise, and while he’s worked steadily and had several regular series jobs, it never quite happened for him.