Monday, November 10, 2008

Dexter, "Easy as Pie": The key lime code

Spoilers for last night's "Dexter" coming up just as soon as I find my plus one...

In case you hadn't noticed it by now, that Michael C. Hall is kind of a good actor, isn't he? Even though the outcome of the Dexter/Camilla story never really seemed in doubt, Hall and Margo Martindale played the hell out of it, as Camilla pleaded for a painless death and Dexter wrestled with whether The Code of Harry was elastic enough to give it to her. Very touching work by both, and I loved that Dexter confessed to Brian's murder because he couldn't let Camilla's final thoughts of him to be completely pure. (That, or he really wanted to unburden himself about Brian's death, and chose the one person who would both understand and be unable to tell anyone else about it.)

All that said, I wish Dexter had either decided against euthanizing Camilla because it clearly didn't fit the Code, or else that the writers had followed up on suggestions from the season two finale and the season three premiere that Dexter was preparing to move himself beyond the Code altogether. Dexter's world seemed shaken when he accidentally killed Oscar Prado, but rather than use that development to examine a Dexter operating without a rudder, it's mainly been an excuse to put him into the orbit of Miguel. That story arc has had its moments, and I like watching Jimmy Smits play such an unhinged character after a couple of decades of playing super-cool hero types, but watching this episode reminded me of the greater dramatic opportunity that was there for the taking at the start of this season.

And the Prado storyline did give Dexter yet another chance to examine the Code (even though he's still clearly trying to operate within its limits) as he pondered indulging Miguel's request to take out Ellen Wolf. Midway through the season, Miguel's already going off the rails, and I look forward to watching Smits play that.

As for the rest of "Easy as Pie"? Eh. Masuka's outrage over *%&$ing Albert Chung was very funny even before we got the punchline about their obvious resemblance, and Deb and Angel's stories are interesting, I suppose, if you care much about either character independently of their relationship with Dexter. I just don't. And I'm glad that the slicer doesn't seem to be Quinn -- multiple serial killers operating under the same precinct roof would stretch credulity even on this show.

What did everybody else think?


R.A. Porter said...

Question: how did Miguel Prado put himself through law school? If it turns out he trimmed trees, I'm going to shake my head in dismay. Because he's *really* unhinged and I could see him (in TV logic) suffering from MPD and being the slicer without knowing it.

And that would just be stupid.

I loved every minute of Dexter with Camilla; it was the strongest I think the show's been this season. And Deb + C.I. has been okay, I guess. But the vice cop, with her flaky emotions, it just confusing me as much as Angel.

Bobman said...

Loved the Dexter / Camilla interactions. I really liked the actress who played Camilla when she was on The Riches too; she's a really solid performer.

As for the rest : Personally I'm a little tired of Deb always hooking up with sketchy people. Seriously, considering her past relationships, she really thinks it's a good idea to start with an informant?

BTW, what does CI actually stand for? Is it confidential informant?

R.A. Porter said...

Normally it's confidential informant. In this case, I think it stands for "Casualty In-waiting."

(Sadly...the best I could come up with.)

Either the writers don't know how to write women with a clue, or they're trying to make a statement about how Deb turned out that way because of the way she was neglected during Dexter's training years.

Anonymous said...

This was one of the better episodes of the season. It is hard not to notice that Dexter is not even the best show on Showtime. Brotherhood is criminally underated. We all used to talk about The Wire gettin no love, and Brotherhood is not up their with The Wire but Brotherhood gets no respect. And it is as good as any show on right now.

Unknown said...

I think this episode set us up for the potential Dexter killing Miguel possibility, as he is starting to see Miguel get more and more unhinged.

The unfortunate part about this solid season is that we are going to get a slicer from one of the current characters. I don't think it's Miguel, to be honest. That's too obvious. I could see Miguel slipping up and killing someone, giving Dexter motivation to end him.

Actually, my guess on the slicer would be Anton. That said, there isn't much to support that.

Miguel or Anton seems like the likely choices, but neither one seems a great fit.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Actually, my guess on the slicer would be Anton.

Deb falling for serial killers in two out of three seasons would be a one-way ticket down the shark's throat, I think.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it seems like they're destined to go somewhere they've already gone before, if not one way, then another.

Dexter ends up having to kill the one person who knows his secret and thinks they understand him. The killer is Deb's love interest. The killer is somehow part of the police department.

The killer is going to have to end up being Rita, Sil, or one of the kids at this point in order not to retread any old ground.

Seriously, though, I have no idea who the killer is. That in itself is what makes this season different, at least as far as plot is concerned.

Is the hospice room where Camilla dies the same room that Rita was in when she had her health scare? At least the orientation and colors were similar. I found that distracting.

Overall, though, pretty compelling episode.

Anonymous said...

My guess for the slicer is Ciel Prado. She had a throwaway line in this episode to the effect of "I wish the bad influence was Dexter. That's a problem I could fix."

Hatfield said...

Seems like their have been some cranky Brotherhood fans popping up around here lately. Mayhap I'll check it out.

Anyway, in regards to Dexter, I too thought this was one of the better episodes, but I'm with Alan in feeling disinterest (or worse) towards some of the secondary story lines. The whole Deb/Quinn/IA thing is beyond boring. I mean, how can that Yuki bitch give Deb a hard time about telling Quinn when she wasn't even forthcoming about it and even stooped to trying to blackmail? Horrible writing. But I have to say I like Anton a lot, and I really hope he doesn't die/turn out to be bad, because that too would feel lazy. Quinn wouldn't be so bad if there weren't this weird pall over his character, and Angel and Masuka are great as always (how can you not root for Angel, even if that storyline doesn't feel very important?).

Having said all that, thank God for Jimmy Smits. Miguel is so unsettling that even Dexter can't figure him out, and their scenes together are the only thing I truly look forward to every week. Too bad he's a mortal lock to die...

This isn't really related, but as there's no Mad Men posts anymore I'll have to share this story here: I live in Southern California, and last Thursday I saw the band TV on the Radio at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. (If you don't know who they are, check 'em out; best album of 2008 in my unhumble opinion.) I was in the VIP(ish) section, and who should I find myself standing three feet away from but January Jones, aka Betty Draper! First off, she's even more gorgeous in contemporary garb than she is on the show, and secondly, it's hard to explain how weird it was to go from watching her pout and smoke and gossip every week in 60's clothes to seeing her rocking out (conservatively, but still) to one of the best and hippest bands around. I hang out in LA a lot so I'm pretty indifferent to seeing celebrities, but the only other time I've been this tempted to talk to one was when I ran into Steven Tyler. Rainn Wilson was there too, but that didn't surprise me for some reason.

Ok, I'm done, I just had to dork out with people who would get it; my friends don't watch Mad Men.

R.A. Porter said...

Maybe the slicer is someone we haven't seen yet. It could be $*%*ing Albert Chung, or even a very special guest star. Let's see, with Jimmy Smits doing great work all year, maybe one of his former co-stars could be the guy.

- Harry Hamlin. Pro: experience being a killer revealed at the end of a season. Con: difficult to explain where he got the adamantine sword he's been slicing with.

- Dennis Franz. Pro: I mean, doesn't he *look* like a serial killer? Con: on Showtime we'd be practically guaranteed full frontal.

- Nestor Carbonell. Pro: he was realistically pushed to insanity by working with Kathy Griffin. Con: he's goddamn Bat Man(uel)!

- Bradley Whitford. Pro: he's charming and deceptive enough to pull off being a successful serial killer. Con: he's going to be busy as the new Chief of Staff.

Anonymous said...


Agree with you about Deb. The writers (hopefully) won't be that lazy.

On a totally unrelated topic. Are we getting a Sopranos box set review and another interview with David Chase?

It would be interesting to hear what he thinks of that definitive explanation of the end essay you linked to a few months ago.

Anonymous said...

- Nestor Carbonell. Pro: he was realistically pushed to insanity by working with Kathy Griffin. Con: he's goddamn Bat Man(uel)!

And the Mayor of Gotham City! Although, if it were Nestor Carbonell and *he* had to go full frontal, I could deal....

I am loving Jimmy Smits' work on this show. I'm gonna hate to see him go, but his is obviously a one-season story arc, siiigh.

I'm still liking the B plots, too, even Deb falling for yet another poor choice (even though I like Anton, he's not a good partner for a cop). Still hating the IAB bitch, too. And I'm also as confused as Angel as to what's up with the vice cop.

@hatfield--Cool sighting at an even cooler show.

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot to add that Dexter and Camilla's interaction nearly made me cry. Kind of weird seeing Dexter show compassion, even if it was only compassion on the surface. What did Camilla say to him as she died? That it as good Dexter killed Brian? Seemed like a Nina moment there (R.I.P., The Riches).

BTW, Alan, saw a story today that Pushing Daisies is on the bubble, big time :(

Unknown said...

I loved that Dexter confessed to Brian's murder because he couldn't let Camilla's final thoughts of him to be completely pure. (That, or he really wanted to unburden himself about Brian's death, and chose the one person who would both understand and be unable to tell anyone else about it.)

It seemed to me that Dexter's prime motivation for that revelation stemmed from him not wanting Camila to die thinking that she had persuaded him to do something against his conscience.

So he offers mercy by both ending her suffering, and lifting the burden of guilt that she might otherwise have felt.

Rev/Views said...

I certainly hope Anton isn't the Skinner as we do not need Deb falling for another serial killer right now.

But I really cannot stand Anton at all, he's a real drag of a character in every aspect. Frankly I find the whole Deb/Anton thing preposterous and I'm hoping that Anton gets offed before this chemistry-less relationship/fling is pushed much further.

Same with almost the entire Quinn set of characters to be honest. Quinn might prove to be interesting, but everything else linked to him isn't.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is one of the better episodes of the season. One of the comments to an earlier post aptly referred to this season's theme as the "domestication of a serial killer." Most of the territory covered was pretty banal and cliched. ("What if Rita makes me give up my Roy Rogers wagon wheel coffee table?") I suppose the writers thought that this made could be made fresh again by having a serial killer go through the process adjustments instead of the countless ordinary guys we've seen in a steady stream of movies and TV shows. But it hasn't worked and has been a real weakness for this season.

I suppose what I liked about this episode was that there was almost no Rita, and the focus was back on Dexter and his Code. I realize that there will need to be some sort of payoff with the impending marriage and childbirth, but I'm not looking forward to it.

Re: Brotherhood, I watched season 1, but I found the first 3/4 to be too slow while the writers tried to jam too many events and reveals in the last few episodes without fully developing them. Alan blogged that season, and I believe he expressed the same concerns. I didn't go back to season 2 because there were too many other quality shows to watch, a problem that most certainly does not exist this year. Did Brotherhood get better from season 1? If so, I may have to catch back up.

Dan said...

Slicer? It's Skinner, surely. I'm a stickler. Okay, it can't be Quinn or Miguel (too obvious), or Anton (too much like S1). It will have to be someone we've met, but must be someone fairly minor. The tree-cutting thing has me stumped, as I can't imagine anyone we've met shimmying up a tree in their spare time (Ellen, Yuki, Miguel's wife, etc.)

Actually, the fact it's so obscure is the ONE thing keeping me interested in the Skinner plot. I hope it's not a stranger, or someone we meet in episode 10 before the episode 12 reveal.

But, assuming the writers know they can't ape previous seasons... I think it must be either Miguel (but he has a split personality), or it's actually TWO people (one obvious, one rather incidental.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

The tree-cutting thing has me stumped, as I can't imagine anyone we've met shimmying up a tree in their spare time

Well, we did see Deb and Quinn interview a couple of tree-trimmers earlier in the season.

Frankly, I'm hoping it's someone like that, or a total stranger. I don't think I'd be happy if the bad guy turned out to be anyone we'd already met; any reveal along those lines would pale in comparison to the Rudy/Brian thing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

So he offers mercy by both ending her suffering, and lifting the burden of guilt that she might otherwise have felt.

Ahhh... I like that explanation muchly.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the Skinner was one of the tree-trimmers we met earlier in the season. Wouldn't be the first time these Miami cops missed a clue.

Anonymous said...

Just not loving this season. For me, Jimmy Smits is the new Ted McGinley. Once he is added to a show .. it has jumped the shark.

tabernacle said...

I agree that a stranger (or that tree-trimmer we saw that one time) as The Skinner is a better option than anyone we know. Deb's CI as the Skinner would induce a groan, ditto Quinn, and neither Prado brother would be much better. I _suppose_ Miguel's wife would be OK? Dunno.

No surprises with the euthanasia, but A+ for execution (gag--"for the way it was filmed and acted"). I agree that one missed opportunity was linking the mercy-killing (or its absence) with either (1) Dexter straying from the Code or (2) Dexter deciding against it because it went against the Code.

As for MCH's acting--wow. Those faces he made when (1) Miguel Prado went nuts and (2) Wolf smugly sniffed at the jury's grasp of probabilities were priceless. It's easy to forget just how confident and scary Dexter can be.

I cringed when it became clear Deb and the CI were about to kiss. It kind of collapses all the possibilities to the most cliched one. If that was the direction, why not get there quick and then move further ASAP--to whatever "further" might mean, which, I guess, is the challenging part in terms of creativity in the writing.

Would have liked to see a non-green (white, I guess) key lime pie.

Dennis said...

Add me to the list of cranky Brotherhood fans. I watched S3 Ep2 tonight and it was stellar: both Caffee brothers playing the game to the hilt and both coming up shorter than they expected -- or even know in Micheal's case -- and Deco finally doing the right thing and catching a break in doing so.

As for this week's Dexter ep, I'm along the same lines of the guilt explanation because Camilla mentioned she was Catholic and couldn't kill Gene because so and Dexter mentioned that he wasn't Catholic. Then in the last scene he tells her he killed his brother and my take on that was him using the old confession escape to get one of the few things off his chest he might've actually felt remorse about.

I don't mind Smits acting in this role because he plays the character as damaged and he embraces his faults and knows and admits that they own him. Of course Dexter must kill him because people like Dexter Aren't Allowed to have confidants or people who understand them.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think that the phrase "jumped the shark" has itself... jumped the shark?

tabernacle said...

Re shark-jumping: Sure. And saying something is a cliche has itself become cliched, and after a certain point it becomes impossible to talk or even to think. What's the most we can do? Cycle through these things, for the illusion of innovation? I think there's one about nuking the fridge from Indiana Jones.

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying this season. I have a terrible feeling the Skinner is Quinn, but I hope I'm wrong, because that would be too much of a retread -- "killer is right under our noses." I don't see any other likely suspects, however, unless they go back to the tree trimmers we briefly met before.


Anonymous said...

Too much stupid for me to enjoy this episode. First the argument between Miguel and Ellen which is 100% stupid cliches ("Fascist pig!"/ "Bleeding-heart commie!") Then Yuki not revealing her actual reasons for suspecting Quinn until after she's alienated Debra with crude attempts at bribery and blackmail.

But The Miguel/Dexter scenes are wonderful, and Smits walking the line between overwrought but basically decent person and dangerously plausible psycho is amazing.

Fritz Novak said...

Either the writers don't know how to write women with a clue
The show has a great psychological understanding of men, between the idea of the "beast within," the struggle to live up to the father (no matter how flawed), the sturggle to maintain personal relationships when sex enters the equation, etc.
The female characters aren't nearly as well-defined. Deb only works because of Jennifer Carpenter's enthusiastic girlish performance. I know her tomboy-ish tendencies make sense because she was jealous of the attention Dexter got as a child, and was raised by a single cop father, but she's written as the proverbial man-with-tits, a la Kima Greggs in The Wire. Female characters with lesser performances, notably LaGuerta, are a drag on the show.

Anonymous said...

I hate to nitpick, but I'm going to.

Camilla says she can't kill herself because she's Catholic and hence it would be a "sure ticket to hell".

But then she essentially asks Dexter to kill her, which is not only suicide, but is also involving a second person in the crime. That's TWO tickets to hell.

And to make matters worse, when Dexter comes to kill her, he essentially asks her permission, which she tacitly gives - thus removing her last posible "out" (that is, ignorance of whether or not Dexter will do it).

She voluntarily consumes the poison, and is thus committing suicide as surely as if she put a gun to her head.

I'm not personally opposed to idea of suicide for the terminally ill, but the writers should at least try to make the character's behavior consistent. If Camilla was concerned enough about Catholic theology to refuse both her own suicide and the mercy killing of her husband, then surely she would realize that her religion would consider her actions a mortal sin.

erin said...

I'm quite enjoying the season, actually, and I think it's because it's redeemed by the Smiths/Hall interactions. Every finale I wonder how they'll make Dexter more interesting, and I find this to be interesting--what happens when someone not only knows what Dexter's about (a la Brian and the AA skank) but actually understands and appreciates his talents--without being homicidal? But of course, I think Prado will eventually just want to kill everyone who does he feels does harm to him, and that will be the end of that. But I also hope he doesn't, because I like that Dex has a friend to bond with. A real friend (although I was a little bummed that Angel wasn't considered Best Man). As for Dex abandoning the code--I thought he did that at the end of last season a little bit, ignoring Harry's lessons and having the affair. He was kind of unhinged. I thought that he learned he likes his rules (even when he happened to break them, like with Oscar Prado).

I think the Deb character is great, and I love the way Carpenter plays her. I think her character makes sense--she loves her Dad and Dexter, but never got enough attention or affection from either of them, and she's trying to make it using her limited, bad judgment. She's flawed, but I get it. I'm enjoying the Anton storyline, because I think they have great chemistry, and I don't think he's a psycho serial killer. I think the IA story is weak, but I like the Quinn character, because I can't quite figure him out.

And I find Julie Benz a perfect foil for MCH. She's absolutely charming, and even though her story isn't much, I still like how she plays it. This season is keeping me interested!