Monday, December 10, 2007

Dexter: The Doakes stays in, the Doakes goes out...

Spoilers for the penultimate "Dexter" of the season coming up just as soon as I have the Showtime promo department killed...

First things first: given that the Showtime promo department, like their counterparts at every other channel at the moment, seem determined to give away all the fun surprises of their episodes, I want to remind people to not talk about anything in the promos for the finale. There was a kerfuffle last week when someone started talking about Lila going to the cabin, and other people complained that they had deliberately turned off the show before the promo aired to avoid stuff like that. Admittedly, this episode spent a good chunk of time preparing us for Lila's trip, what with her stealing the GPS unit, but even so... geez.

I was actually so annoyed to have the episode's climactic moment ruined that I wound up breaking my pledge to watch the final episodes at the same rate as the regular audience, and watched the finale as well. (Hey, I'm using all my willpower to watch "The Wire" as slowly as possible.) I won't say anything about the finale here -- not even whether I liked it -- but that means I'll have to be more delicate, and probably briefer, about "Left Turn Ahead" than I otherwise might. (I promise to go on at greater length about the finale to compensate.)

Sorry for that opening digression. Let's get to the core of the episode, which was the back-and-forth between Doakes and Dexter. We already saw last week that Doakes' approach to Dexter had changed from how he treated him before the Butcher discovery. How much of that was simply him playing his captor and how much was Doakes treating Dexter better because he finally understood him is unclear, but the bonding only deepened this week. It was beautiful -- albeit kind of sad, since you knew Doakes would go back in the cage -- to see them finally team up to take out the two drug soldiers. Even before Doakes talked Dexter into giving himself up, you could see him pushing Dexter closer and closer to that decision. Doakes has been a one-note character at times over the years, but Erik King has done some very nice work these last couple of weeks as Doakes has tried to talk his way out of this deathtrap.

(Also a nice touch to have Dexter thank Doakes for giving him someone to talk to about his work. Harry's been gone a long time, and Rudy died not long after Dexter discovered who he really was. Gotta be hard being a monster with no one to discuss it with.)

And at the same time, did anyone really think Dexter's decision was going to stick? Even without the knowledge that he's the star of the show and therefore has to remain free to kill, we've seen how in flux Dexter's been this season -- "flying without a code" and all that -- and it was only a matter of time before he'd find some excuse to justify his continued freedom. The only real question was whether it would be Rita (my guess) or Deb (the correct answer) who would inadvertently talk him into betraying Doakes.

Unfortunately, I continue to to be unhappy with the Lila storyline. She was a lot more interesting before she became unambiguously crazy and eeevil. The idea of Dexter trying to turn a slightly eccentric woman into his sidekick had a lot of potential; this, on the other hand, is just frustrating. (I was amused, though, after all of Deb's mockery of Lila's skinniness -- really a pot-kettle situation, come to think of it -- that Lila was able to take advantage of that to steal the GPS unit.)

Since I know where this is all going, I'll cut things short here and open it up to you. What do you think? And remember, no talk of the promos, or of the obnoxious finale spoilers floating around the Interwebs; just this episode.

30 comments:

Bobman said...

Man, you REALLY have to be quick on the pause button to miss those spoiler promos. Luckily I don't watch anything else on Showtime so I'm pretty safe from them the rest of the week.

One thing I've liked about this season is how much they've made Dexter confront the fact that he isn't an emotionless monster like he makes himself out to be, but rather a monster WITH real human emotions. So much of season one was spent with him voicing over that "so and so would be poignant if I actually felt anything." It's nice to see him be a human (with an obvious fatal flaw).

They definitely went way too far with Lila. I thought when she came on the scene that she would be his confidant, kind of a partner in crime; turning her into this almost cartoonishly evil woman has been just a little too ridiculous.

I gotta say, I'm REALLY curious as to how they wrap this whole thing up. I can't see any way Doakes or now Lila can live without Dexter being implicated, but I also can't see Dexter pulling the trigger. It'll be kind of a shame to lose Doakes (assuming that's what happens, I have no idea) since he's been a good nemesis for Dexter.

Bah, and in typing that I think I just realized what will happen. I won't spoil it in case I'm right.

BH said...

I think HBO is the only station that actually knows how to do promos...I don't watch them on any other channel.

I really enjoyed this episode...It kind of reminded me of a Sopranos episode when not a lot of action took place, but you could see everything falling into place for the finale.

Quipu said...

Definitely a very well-constructed episode. It even had me for a few seconds wondering whether Dexter would actually turn himself in. I began thinking about a possible Season 3 which is based around Dexter trying to survive in jail, the media frenzy that surrounds him, marking him as a target for other inmates (possible victims) whilst all those closest to him try to deal with the revelation in their various ways.

But it's clear that Dexter's not ready to go into the cage yet.

Loved the "Confession Montage" giving us Deb's possible reactions, which gave some of this Season's biggest laughs so far.

I agree that it is rather disappointing that Lila has simply become another stock "Bunny Boiler" character, although, when the stakes are this high then such a character can have a huge effect on the proceedings.

Also, can I just say that even though he seems like a deadweight plotwise and there's rather basic characterisation, I have always had a soft spot for Detective Batista. And this episode just confirmed my belief that he is the nicest guy in the whole world.

Homertojeebus said...

I really love this show, so I'll forgive a lot with regard to plot mechanics. Still, the choices they've made about Lila are pretty jarring.
I, too, have been wondering how they can keep Doakes alive. I, too, will keep my speculation to myself, on the proviso that you believe me next week when I tell you I was right.
I really liked the chemistry between Doakes and Dexter. the emergence of the Doakes character has been a treat.

Chris Littmann said...

I second that the confessions montage was quite possibly the most light hearted moment in Dexter history.

Dave said...

I'm just trying to figure out how entering your destinations into a GPS device is in keeping with 'the code' (especially ones where you're killing the guy who killed your mother, and subsequently where you're keeping the guy you're trying to frame).

Susan said...

"And at the same time, did anyone really think Dexter's decision was going to stick?"

I kind of did, actually. I envisioned (and I didn't watch the promo for next week, so I have no idea what might happen) that Doakes would get killed - either by Lila or the drug dealers - and the Feds would consider the Bay Harbor Butcher case solved, just before Dexter was about to turn himself in.

Like Quipu, I also envisioned what might happen after he turned himself in - I thought perhaps there would be a trial (hopefully between seasons so we didn't have to see it) and Dexter would get off, since the only evidence would be his confession.(He's done a good job at making the other evidence - tools, blood slides - point to Doakes, or at least NOT to Dexter.) So he would get off and people like Deb and Rita would have their trust in him shaken, but wouldn't know what side to fall on.

I'm also sick of Lila, and I hate the garden-variety "crazy stalker" route they went with her. Although I loved that Deb thought she took care of the insane woman with a stern talking-to.

I'm also enjoying the complexity of the Lundy-Deb relationship, with the addition of Lundy's superiors in the mix. Deb refuses to see Lundy as a man who can make mistakes and will only see him as "a god" who shouldn't be subordinate to anyone. That doesn't bode well for a real relationship.

I really liked Dexter's moment with Angel - "If there was someone I could choose to be like, it would be you."

Bobman said...

I'm just trying to figure out how entering your destinations into a GPS device is in keeping with 'the code' (especially ones where you're killing the guy who killed your mother, and subsequently where you're keeping the guy you're trying to frame).

Blech, yeah, I forgot about that too, what a sloppy thing to have done. Not to mention - why would he have done it? He found the cabin by following the guy who killed his mother. I suppose he may have needed the GPS to find his way back, but Dexter's a smart guy, you'd think he'd just try to memorize it instead.

dez said...

I also thought Dexter might really turn himself in, and my main thought was how he was going to quell the voice of his Dark Passenger, especially if he wound up in solitary.

Having known crazy-ass people (not just women) like Lila, I don't have a problem believing she'd do so many outrageous things. Dexter met her in addiction counseling, so I never thought she'd be totally "normal." But there are so many more things they could have done with her...siiigh.

BTW, the ER embeds made my firewall twitchy and it took forevah to get your blog to load, Alan. I had no problem loading it at home, though. Maybe you can go back to just giving links? Pretty please? :-)

dez said...

I also thought Dexter might really turn himself in, and my main thought was how he was going to quell the voice of his Dark Passenger, especially if he wound up in solitary.

Having known crazy-ass people (not just women) like Lila, I don't have a problem believing she'd do so many outrageous things. Dexter met her in addiction counseling, so I never thought she'd be totally "normal." But there are so many more things they could have done with her...siiigh.

BTW, the ER embeds made my firewall twitchy and it took forevah to get your blog to load, Alan. I had no problem loading it at home, though. Maybe you can go back to just giving links? Pretty please? :-)

dez said...

Oops, sorry about that doublepost! See? Embeds make it wonky!! (Okay, either the embeds, or the word verification never working the first one or two times I try it) :-)

Anonymous said...

The worst part of the Showtime promos isn't that they show them right after the episode ends (I'm ready for that one), but that they show them RIGHT BEFORE THE OPENING CREDITS. God forbid you tune into Dexter a minute or two early.

And would a remote cabin in the middle of the Everglades even show up anywhere on a GPS?

Homertojeebus said...

I also loved seeing Lundy's boss played by a character actor who did a memorable guest role on Hill St Blues, a crazy sniper controlled by a voice in his head named T.J. Belker last week, now this, pretty cool. Alan, do you know the guy's name?

Larry said...

Lundy's boss was played by the great Jonathan Banks of Beverly Hills Cop semi-fame. He was fantastic as Ken Wahl's handler on Wiseguy.

BigTed said...

I agree with the folks who thought Lila finding the programmed (and portable) GPS unit was too convenient -- and who leaves their window cracked open like that in car-theft-ridden Miami?

And while I also thought the confession sequence was fun, I'm getting tired of the trick of showing a plot-altering scene, and then having it turn out to be a fantasy or dream sequence. It's overdone both on this show and others.

In general, I thought this episode didn't have the depth of others this season, although it certainly pulled the plot along. (And the acting was first-rate as usual.) There aren't too many shows that make you really want to know what happens next the way this one does. It'll be interesting to see not only how Dexter gets out of his fix, but whether he can do it with whatever's left of his code (and the peculiar moral sense that goes with it) left intact.

curious george said...

I thought Dexter was going to blame it all on Landry.

floretbroccoli said...

The FBI boss was played by "Hey, it's that guy" Jonathan Banks. I first remember him from Wiseguy.

christy said...

Wow, yeah, that GPS bit was really sloppy! Why would a serial killer (as meticulous as Dexter) even HAVE a GPS? Hello. Plus, didn't he get to the cabin by boat at least once? If he can find it by boat, I imagine he can find it by car. It sucks because that would be a cool detail if it had been anyone but Dexter who supposedly left his previous destinations in there like that.

The fantasy confession montage did make me laugh out loud, but I agree it felt out of place on this show. Dexter never reminds me of David, but that seemed like such a Six Feet Under thing to do.

Otherwise I loved this episode. It was so creepy, all his suicidal-like gestures as he was tying up loose ends. I was a little surprised no one caught on (except Doakes), especially Rita.

I usually love "scenes from the next", or, SCEEEEENES!!! as they're usually shortened to on my couch. I didn't even have too much of a problem with last week's spoilerific scenes. But this week's were so spoilery that I can't even speculate as to what happens in the finale, because I feel that the scenes made it too obvious. If they go with something different from what the scenes imply, I'll be happy just to be surprised.

Oh, and for a second I thought they were going to have Doakes get eaten by a gator. I'm glad they didn't go that route.

Susan said...

Not only was the Lila-finds-the-GPS-unit bit a piece of sloppy plotting, but it could have so easily been avoided. Lila was the one who informed Jimenez about where Dexter would be so he could come attack Dexter in the bowling alley parking lot. She knew his place of work. With that much information, it probably wouldn't have taken much digging to find out where he lived from there.

Zach said...

My question - one of the doctors said Lila had 72 hours to press charges. Why couldn't Dexter just promise to be with her and then when the 72 hours were up leave her so she couldn't press charges against Angel?

John F said...

The really sad thing with the Lila storyline is they could have followed the same exact outline and it could have worked. All they would have had to do was make her actions ambiguous to the viewer. Instead of showing here light her place on fire, simply omit that scene. Don't show her buying the drugs, just have Angel find her on the floor. Have her act needy, ignoring the breakup, and slightly less stalkerish. It all could have worked.

We know Dexter's a killer but it could have been fun to debate whether Lila was truly disturbed or simply someone who doesn't get it when someone tells them to leave them alone. The same basic scenes presented a little differently could have made for a far better reveal.

DonBoy said...

I don't know much about GPS devices, but: it seemed that Lila really had to dig to find it. Coupled with the fact that this is Dexter's new(ish) car, maybe the idea is that he didn't know he had such a device, and it keeps track of where he's been without him knowing it?

dez said...

Oh, and for a second I thought they were going to have Doakes get eaten by a gator.

Same here! Except I thought it would have been cool (well, and cruel--"Hey, you've escaped a crazy serial killer, but you can't escape the Everglades!").

I thought Dex got the GPS from either Jimenez or the car dealer guy he killed? I don't think most GPS car systems are detachable, though, are they?

Mo Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dez said...

Are those spoilers, Mo?!?!?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Are those spoilers, Mo?!?!?

Just got back into town, and, yeah, Mo did obliquely discuss some things from the finale, so I deleted the comment.

SJ said...

The promo on the website showed Dex and Doakes talking inside the cabin. So I already knew that Doakes was going to be caught again. What a disappointment!

Mo Ryan said...

Geez, so sorry. I didn't mean to spoil anything -- apologies!

Candy said...

Wow, I love reading everyone's comments. I think the level of intelligence displayed here is a testament to just how damn good this show really is.

Two things:

1. I thought it was unbelievable the FIRST time that Doakes ended up in the cage (come on...Doakes had a gun, and Dexter was handcuffed...), and I thought it was equally unbelievable this time. It was like, all of a sudden, there he was, back in the cage, duped again. With his background, he should be smarter than that.

2. When Deb referred to Lundy as a "god," I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

MJ said...

As much as watching Lila sucked, watching Deb was a revelation - from her reaction to faux confessions to her in-your-face with Lila - I wouldn't mind her narration from time to time.