"Dexter" is a hard show for me to blog regularly. Obviously, as detailed in Friday's column, I love it, but Showtime PR also sends out the episodes in chunks (I've seen seen the first four of this season). Given that there are so many twists and turns to the main story arc -- even moreso than at this time last season, where the Ice Truck Killer case didn't really get bendy until Rudy started dating Deb -- I'm reluctant to write too much for fear of it being colored by what I know is to come.
But I'll try. Season two opens with Dexter -- the man who always insists he has no emotions -- suffering from ennui and performance anxiety. Doakes is now actively tailing him at night, making stalking and killing difficult activities to pull off. So instead, he tries being as agressively, boringly normal as possible -- which, of course, means he joins the precinct bowling team. (And because Dexter is always so good at faking the normal stuff, it means he's a heck of a bowler.) But even when he manages to elude Doakes long enough to get ahold of his first target, a blind voodoo priest who's either cursing or poisoning people to death, Dexter can't bring himself to close the deal and let's the scared man go.
And from there, it's all downhill. He can't get it up with Rita (a joke that was maybe too obvious, but saved -- as so much of the show's over the edge material is -- by Michael C. Hall's deadpan narration), and completely botches the hit on the ginormous gang assassin Little Chino. His oh-so-clever plan to send Rita's ex-husband Paul back to prison goes awry when Paul gets fatally shanked -- and after Paul had convinced Rita of Dexter's role in framing him.
Worst of all -- or maybe best, since Dexter seems to thrive most when his life is in danger (fear is the one emotion even he might admit that he still has) -- his nifty dumping site for the bodies of his many victims turns out to be not so nifty, as a pair of treasure hunters stumble across all those garbage bags while looking for a deep-sea wreck. This one kicks off the big arc of the season, and there's a lot of good stuff coming.
I like this glimpse of Dexter out of sorts. If he were the perfect killing machine all the time, that would get dull. And since we know he's capable of feelings, even if he denies it, he needed to be affected in some way by killing his brother to save Deb. Hall has a lot of fun playing a flawed Dexter, and he's going to have even more soon.
A few other brief thoughts:
- As was the case last year, I could not care less about the office politics of the Miami PD, and I can never decide whether the Laguerta stuff is there to relieve what I'm sure is a huge workload on Hall or whether it's there because someone in production feels the audience needs some more relatable material to counterbalance the mass-murdering title character. I think there's value in showing the ordinary human beings surrounding the inhuman Dexter, but only the ones who directly affect him: Deb, Rita, Doakes and even Angel (who's sort of Dexter's best friend). Laguerta and the captain and the new lieutenant essentially exist in a parallel narrative, and there's no need for all their constant maneuvering.
- In keeping with my above criteria, the scenes where Deb struggles to get over being engaged to a serial killer were good. I really fear for her sanity that this season will climax with her identifying Dexter as their new target.
- I remain enthralled by the opening titles, which are among my favorite credits sequences of all time. They look amazing (especially in high-def), and the idea of making regular morning activities all resemble acts of horrible violence is brilliant.
- Why was Max Gail there as the tour boat operator Deb interviewed? Usually, when you cast a recognizable TV face, he's going to turn out to be far more important to the plot, but Gail had only the one scene.
- The more we see of the flashbacks to Harry teaching his code to young Dexter, the more I realize how lacking the actor playing teen Dexter is.