Review: DEXTER S7E04, RUN (Or, The Season Stops The Tailspin But Still Needs To Pull Up)

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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Review: DEXTER S7E04, RUN (Or, The Season Stops The Tailspin But Still Needs To Pull Up)
While it may just be the radically lowered expectations brought on by the previous two horrible episodes speaking Episode Four of this latest series of Dexter actually seemed a step in the right direction. A tentative step, sure, and by 'right' I actually mean 'any direction other than the ridiculously awful direction things were going in', but hey ... you take what you can get. And at least now there's a fighting chance that I won't want to ram a screwdriver into my ears every time that Deb or Dexter speak.

In terms of plot points Run is arguably the most straightforward and simplistic episode of the season so far with only two stories touched upon. First there are the pseudo-Ukrainian uber-hitmen drug runners - and if there were a less ridiculous way of describing them I would be happy to use it but, well, there just isn't - who decide the way out of police attention is to give the police what they want. Namely, a killer for their dead cop. It won't be the real killer, of course, he's being eaten by fish and is too intricately involved with the real organization. So they'll just talk their bartender into writing a fake suicide note and shooting himself in the head instead. Simple. Also, the head pseudo-Ukrainian uber-hitman - you know, the one who speaks with a British accent instead of a Ukrainian one - is sad because the dead killer was his son. Aw. Poor guy. Also, they now know who Dexter is and where to find him.

Remember: As ridiculous as the above paragraph sounds, this episode is an improvement. That will become harder to believe when you read the next paragraph.

Storyline two revolves around Speltzer. You know, the 'roided out gravedigger who likes to dress up like a minotaur and chase women through homemade mazes. Yeah. That guy. [Remember: Improvement. Yeah.] He's been picked up by police and Deb works a confession out of him which is promptly thrown out because the arresting officer neglected to properly inform him of his rights. So they let him go again. So Dexter hunts him down and takes less than thirty seconds to find the earrings Speltzer keeps as mementos of his victims in the glovebox of his RV - you know, the RV that was impounded and searched by police who were looking for EXACTLY THESE EARRINGS as evidence against him but clearly failed to find them despite them being in the most obvious place ever - before Speltzer turns up, catches Dexter unaware, knocks him up and decides to play hide and seek with Dexter in a maze spanning multiple floors of a warehouse complex while wearing his bull mask and wielding an axe.

Wait a minute! How does a 'roided up ex-con who lives in an RV and digs graves for a living have the money to build and maintain a three floor maze? Is he paying rent on this place? And when did he have the time to set the thing up when he's just been out of jail for a day or two? Is this, like, his secret, default, just in case of emergency maze? It's such a ridiculous situation that even the show directly acknowledges that it's a ridiculous situation without ever putting in any effort whatsoever to make it less ridiculous. Remember kids: Don't look behind the curtain. Also remember: This episode is an improvement.

Anyway. Dexter gets away from Bull Man then catches him later that night and cremates him on graveyard grounds. Which means, yes, a variation from the normal ritual.

And this is why - despite how completely and utterly ridiculous the plotline of the story this week is - there was actual improvement this time around. Good lord, amidst all the silliness there was some actual character development. One, Dexter himself actually makes some adjustments and compensates for the fact that he has been found out by changing his normal routine and burning his box of blood slides along with Speltzer. More importantly, in the ongoing, weepy, "Why won't you just accept who I am?" conversation with Deb - which, yes, is every bit as weak as that sounds - Deb finally argues against Dexter using some good points. Namely that Dexter is directly responsible for Rita's death and that there's no chance in hell a sociopathic serial killer should be allowed to raise a child. The child himself is still treated as nothing more than a prop - all Harrison has ever been treated as throughout his entire life - but, hey, at least someone stated the glaringly obvious.

It's all somewhat for naught, of course, as Deb quickly backs away from one of the only reasonable positions she's ever taken and everything resets to the same bland blah by the end of things but, hey, you'll take what you can get.

[Having just re-read this article I feel I can safely and definitely say that, Good Lord, this season is just ridiculous.]
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Maxwell HaddadOctober 22, 2012 10:40 AM

I always like reading differing viewpoints, and I find it odd that the general consensus across the board is that this each episode this season thus far has been a drastic improvement over the entire last two weak seasons, yet here we have a writer that thought the last two episodes of this season were terrible. I radically disagree, of course. For the first time in a long time Dexter (the show) has had purpose, stakes, and a genuine shift of the status quo. Bringing in the addiction metaphor so strongly has been incredibly potent and the show has a new sense of urgency and a rekindled intelligence. The characters are finally moving and developing, and things are far more grounded (as grounded as a show about a serial killer can be) than the absurdity of last season's half baked nonsense. But to each their own, I suppose.

Todd BrownOctober 22, 2012 10:44 AM

See, I think they promised some real stakes and development in episode one and then immediately retreated from that and back to the status quo. That happened within this episode as well, with Deb issuing the first really credible challenge to Dexter's system of ethics early in the episode only to completely retreat from that at the end.

I'm curious to see what this week's ratings are, too. Because while you might say that there's a general consensus of quality this season the fact is that the ratings took a dramatic dive over the first three weeks. Meaning a LOT of people are abandoning ship.

tom jonesOctober 22, 2012 10:59 AM

You have to be mad to have not enjoyed season 7 so far.

Todd BrownOctober 22, 2012 11:06 AM

Only if by 'mad' you mean ' have critical faculties intact'. Or, alternately, 'have different taste than you'.

ZlatkoOctober 22, 2012 12:05 PM

Couple points. It’s hard to fathom that you’ve been watching Dexter all of these years and are viewing this season with such contempt. This show was so good in season one and two that I watched every season thereafter convincing myself that it was still a competent show. Season six might have been the worst season of anything that I’ve ever watched in its entirety. Not that I disagree with some of your reasoning. I just think that we have to let the season play out before we can jump to conclusions regarding where they go or don’t go with Deb and Dex. I think Deb’s waffling is only natural for someone who just discovered her brother is a serial killer. She makes grandiose statements then backs off. Gets fired up, gets emotional, then backs off. They can’t solve the Dexter has sucked for years crisis with 4 episodes… being that if it happens too on point and too quickly it might be just as terribly calculated.
Second, I think the lack of viewership is almost all due to last season’s ineptitude. I can’t prove this of course but I can point to multiple folks in my circle that stopped watching midway through that travesty. Those that started this season are holding on to glimmers of hope. I mean, we’re definitely at least hinting at a positive direction, no?

Todd BrownOctober 22, 2012 1:17 PM

Given that this season started with the highest ratings in the show's run, no. The drop off has everything to do with this season and nothing to do with last. If the problem was last season it would have started low out of the gate.

RobHunterOctober 22, 2012 5:59 PM

Did they actually state that Viktor was Isaac's son? I got the impression they were lovers.

And I'm actually enjoying seeing Dex be called out on his secret life, even in small increments, and expect it's leading to bigger things. They can't have Deb come to all the proper conclusions immediately though... it's an episodic process dictated by episodic TV.

Tee MackOctober 22, 2012 6:55 PM

Sorry. But I thought when the season veered into Serial Killers Anonymous and Deb creating a 12-point program to help Dex overcome his addiction to killing, it plummeted into silliness. Serial killers stop because of 1 of 2 things--prison or their death.

Although I yawned through much of the episode, I did like the ending, specifically with Deb & Dex sitting in the car watching smoke. While Dex might not change much, could Deb? Hasn't she already changed somewhat by not arresting Dex and exposing him? Do you think something twisted might happen between Deb & Dex?

The Russians plot is stupid, I agree.

Kenzie JenningsOctober 23, 2012 8:45 AM

I got the impression Viktor and Issac were lovers, too, but nothing has been firmly stated yet. That's fine for now. Still, it would be an interesting little twist, and Ray Stevenson playing gay Ukranian mobster (with English accent due to schooling in Britain -- glad that was explained) would be a switch for him. I love that guy.

Speaking of Deb, too...I realize the series isn't aligned much with the novels, except for much of season one. However, it's fun to see her character, upon discovery, SLOWLY come to terms with the darkness in her brother. It's a strange relationship, post-discovery, in the novels now.

langongOctober 24, 2012 2:38 PM

he mostly wears pink & white, that's a dead-give-away , no?

jedi4life2003October 25, 2012 7:29 PM

Todd has made some excellent points, the first episode seemed to say "We're not going to pull any punches," but then the second and third sort of just backed off even though, in my opinion, it set things up nicely for a Dex on the run, Deb leading a manhunt for her own brother scenario, which would've been more fun than what actually happened. However, I remember reading a comment where someone wrote that since this was not going to be the last season they had to pull it back, and I do agree with that point. They turned the expectations up way too high, now they're cooling things off to save some gas for the last stretch. If that's the case, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, as long as they step it up a notch and soon.