Monday, October 27, 2008

Dexter, "Turning Biminese": The death boat soon will be making another run

Spoilers for last night's "Dexter" coming up just as soon as I put on a suit and tie...

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. After several weeks where I felt like the show was dragging, the pace finally picks up -- and not just in the very funny and disturbing sequence where Dexter had to rush his way through the cruise ship kill so he could get off the boat in time. Michael C. Hall did a great job in that sequence of reminding us that part of Dexter's pathology is his commitment to the ritual. Having to rush through it was like bad sex for him -- it satisfied the need, but barely even that.

Meanwhile, the Prado thing starts to get interesting. Dexter and Miguel's confrontation at the episode's end was the highlight of the season to date, with Jimmy Smits continuing to bring this unsettling intensity and Hall playing Dexter in full retreat.

Now, do you suppose Miguel told Dexter about the wife-killer as a test? It seems a little too convenient and easy for him to have made that deductive leap if he didn't go into the situation suspecting the truth about Dexter, and that might also give us an alternate explanation for why Oscar Prado was at Freebo's place with a bayonet: maybe he was playing Miguel's avenging angel, and with Oscar dead, Miguel's trying to get Dexter to fill the role?

The supporting character subplots still bore me -- other than the detectives finally standing behind Masuka to get Ramon to go away -- because even though we have a bunch of good actors here (David Zayas in particular does a whole lot with almost nothing to work with as Angel), it's clear that the B and C-stories are always there just to fill time and keep Hall from exhausting himself, and little else. Maybe if the writers kept the ongoing story arcs confined to Dexter himself and used the B-plots for self-contained spotlights on the ensemble, the way that shows like "The Sopranos" and "Mad Men" have done, I might be more interested, but I just don't care about finding out whether Quinn's dirty or how Angel's going to seduce the vice cop.

What did everybody else think?


David Coleman said...

One of the creepier moments in the series was the shots through the binoculars as Deb is talking to Wendell. It was a nicely done POV shot and could be the serial killer, Quinn, or IED, but the unknown sure creeped me out pretty good.

Anonymous said...

I sort of feel like we were being beaten over the head that it was Quinn. Also, I don't think I've ever felt like more of a horrible person than this but... is it wrong I didn't really want Rita to be OK? I'm not into the forced marriage/fatherhood plot.

Antid Oto said...

So does this mean that Prado knows Dexter was really the Bay Harbor Butcher? He must, right? Because if he's figured out Dexter's M.O., he can't also be so dense he hasn't made the connection to last year's headline serial killer. Can he?

Anonymous said...

I wondered the same thing, Antid. I remember it being common knowledge that the BHB killed other killers. Seeing as how Doakes is presumed to have been the butcher, and Doakes and Dexter worked together, on top of all the other things he's learning about Dexter, you'd think he'd put the pieces together at some point.

Loved the tension in this episode, but I've been starting to worry about an emerging formula...Dexter meets someone who figures out his secret, same someone thinks they understand him, then gets dead. But I find the theory that Oscar might have been a Dexter-like avenger very interesting! Even covered it up with a supposed drug problem, just like Dex last season?

I enjoy the secondary scenes only because I enjoy the secondary characters--particularly Deb, Masuka, and Angel.

So...we must have met the guy who skins people by now, right? So I guess we're supposed to be wondering if it's Quinn or Ramon? (Both being sketchy and both messing with the investigation). But how many serial killers can end up working for the PD anyway!

Anonymous said...

I was a little iffy on this episode, but the ending sold it for me. Smits and Hall work very well together, with Smits particularly strong with Miguel's weirder personality traits.

I could have sworn Miguel set Dexter up to kill the wife-killer. I can see him being the orchestrator of past Avenging Angel killings because the guy's always been portrayed as a little off. I can also see him not being as repulsed as Dexter thinks he might be if he sees Dexter's true nature. Miguel's no Harry; I never got the sense that Harry was "dirty," whereas Miguel has already proven with the Chicky Hines case that he's not exactly squeaky clean.

Dexter sure can chop and wrap a human body quickly. He killed, dismembered and disposed of the wife-killer in under an hour? I'm impressed--and frightened!

I like most of the supporting characters, so I don't mind the B-plots as much, but I was really glad that the IA chick did not show up this ep!

Anonymous said...

This episode was kinda heavy on the cheese IMO. The scene where Deb gets that little boy on her side by mentioning softball and the one where Masuka is 'back' were laughable to me.

I enjoyed most of the rest, though. Like Alan said, the confrontation at the end between Dexter and Prado was the season's highlight so far.

Anonymous said...

Do cruise ships really let visitors onto the boat? That's news to me. And why would anyone take a cruise that was stopping 40 miles away from where they lived?

Anonymous said...

I thought Prado said flat out that he told Dexter about Ethan because he felt Dexter would do something about it. What I am wondering is what was the tip off to Miguel? I always thought that Dexter's story about how he found Freebo was too flimsy for an astute criminal prosecutor like Miguel. "I found some forensic evidence that led me here, but it was too slim a chance to bother telling any of the actual police officers hunting him about it."

Here is a question: Is what Dexter did for Miguel the same thing Oscar Prado was doing in Freebo's house? Remember, Freebo had walked on two murders, which is what put him on Dexter's radar in the first place.

I don't mind the peripheral characters as much when their storylines revolve around what is happening with Dexter. Laguerta lost me last year when she was sleeping with the other lieutenant's fiancee to dirve her nutty, but the rest of them have their moments. Masuka provides damn good comic relief (I was even laughing at him NOT making disgusting jokes and comments) and Deb can be useful with regard to Dexter (don't care about her vague chemistry with the CI). I kind of wish Angel was a character on another cop show. Like Alan says, Zayas does more with less when portraying Batista, and he is so damn likable that I wish he was the new captain on Life or was investigating murders on True Blood where he wouldn't have to be so overshadowed by Dexter AND Michael C. Hall.

Maybe I don't understand how Criminal Informants work, or The Wire got it wrong with Bubbles (I doubt that very much), but why is it that every element of Deb's casework has to go through Quinn's CI? I know he made a connection for her early on, but he is now the only lead she has? And what does he get out of it? He owed Quinn a favor or two, but Bubbles got 50 bucks every time he gave them a lead. What is this CI getting out of it? And I don't think time with Deb is enough incentive for all he is doing.

One dissapointment with this season: in the first episode Dexter killed someone, and, for the first time, it wasn't someone who fit Harry's code. I thought a big part of this season would be him veering away from it, realizing that he doesn't have to stick to what Harry wanted. But so far, despite his assertions in that first episode, he has not been able to leave the code behind in any way (the pedophile excepted, but that was still him killing a bad guy). I think that would have been an awesome storyline to go through this season. He has always asserted that he kills killers not because of any kind of moral code, but because it is a more acceptable form of murder. What if he started veering from that path and never had to suffer any consequences?

Anonymous said...

About the CI. I think its pretty clear Deb likes the dude and thats half the reason she asks him questions. And he obv knows the drug game so hes good background. Miami isn't Baltimore and this isn' The Game. I wouldn't compare the worlds and he's not Bubs.

Anonymous said...

@Chris Littmann:

No, you aren't a horrible person. I was really hoping she would lose the child, and then tell Dexter she needed time alone or something and call off the marriage.

I know the writers have something in mind, but it just feels like it is cramping him too much. How is he going to sneak out at night when he lives with her?

I guess that is part of the suspense of it all, but it just is getting on my nerves. Less needy Rita and more Dexter being Dexter.

Ed Howard said...

"Needy Rita"? Really? She seems to have pretty normal expectations and desires, and if anything she requires less of Dexter than most reasonable women would of their lover/fiance. Part of what I like about the whole Dexter/Rita thing is that Rita is such a likeable character, and the suspense rises from this woman's normal desire for a family and stability as it plays off of Dexter's more, uh, eccentric needs.

Alex said...

I'm trying to be okay with this marriage plot by reminding myself that this totally happens in real life. How many stories have you heard about sociopaths being married to women who totally didn't even know, or were in denial or something? It is realistic.

But I still don't really enjoy watching Dexter act normal. Act more creepy, dude!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about this Chicky(?) Hines case that Miguel has to deal with, I don't know how, but I'm pretty sure that will play a part in later episodes.

Anonymous said...

^ I'm not sure if Miguel's reluctance to re-open the Hines case is due to Miguel not wanting to give up a win, or something more nefarious. I'm sure, like you, that it will play a part later in the story, though.

Anonymous said...

Two early predictions about Prado.

First, he will end up dead before this season is over. He knows too much already.

But second, I suspect he will come into conflict with Dexter over methods.

Prado seems more ruthless than Dexter, more willing to ignore the facts. Dexter is always meticulous when it comes to making sure that his victims are guilty. My bet is that Prado asks Dexter to kill someone who Dexter discovers isn't guilty of murder. Prado won't care about guilt, arguing that the guy is a scumbag anyway. Dexter, needing to stick to Harry's code, will refuse to finish the guy. How Prado reacts to that rejection will most likely shape the rest of the season.

Anonymous said...

After loving the first two seasons, I don't care for what I've seen so far in this third season.

First, I don't like the attempted domestication of Dexter. Dexter as husband and father? A domesticated serial killer just doesn't work.

Second, while I've never been a fan of torture scenes (in fact, the few graphic shots in the early Dexter episodes were almost too much for me), I don't like the way they seem to be making Dexter's murders "cleaner". It's changing the nature of the character.

It was clear from the early episodes that Dexter tortures his victims to death, most likely slowly dismembering them while they're alive. For a show about a "monster", those torture murders are what help convince viewers that this otherwise likeable guy is indeed a real monster.

But recently, the writers have abruptly changed his killing style. Now, Dexter just abruptly stabs the victim in the heart or neck, killing him (or her) more or less instantly, with little emphasis on the sick, sadistic personal pleasure that Dexter gets from his slow slayings.

I suspect this was done to make his crimes more palatable to new viewers, and that's the problem. They shouldn't be palatable. They should be abhorant. This is the monsterous side of Dexter, and it is supposed to repulse us, in keeping with his dual personality.

Making the killings quick & clean allow the viewers to consider his acts almost justifiable, rather than primarily a means of satisfying his blood lust.

And third, I don't like Prado and his odd relationship with Dexter.

One key trait of Dexter's dual personality is that his dark side is a complete loner. He is isolated. His social life is restricted to his "normal" self. Letting Prado know about his dark side mixes the two halves of Dexter in a way that threatens to undermine the very nature of the character - especially when added to the (earlier mentioned) domestication and the cleaned-up killings.

The writers are on a slippery slope. If they're not careful, they're going to kill the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs.