What's this? For this first time this season Dexter
has strung two solid episodes together back to back and it appears that after dropping into a tailspin for episodes two through four the show has well and truly found its stride. Some hiccups and cheap conveniences aside the show seems to have finally found the right balance for this season and the seeds are now not only planted but already starting to sprout as far as pushing the character into some interesting - and difficult - new directions.
Let's start with the secondary storyline first and work from there. For the first time in the show's lengthy run the major villain of the piece does not occupy the prime spot in the show's radar - it is perhaps this shift which caused the wonky dynamics of the three episode slide - with Isaak Sirko and his story given only secondary screen time. That said, Sirko has somehow managed to overcome his character's ridiculous back story - Ray Stevenson playing a Ukrainian uber-hitman drug smuggler is just a silly, silly thing - to actually become a credible threat. That's in no small part thanks to a fine performance by Stevenson himself - though I have to snicker every time his bald, silent, Bluetoothed henchman appears - and the fact that the writers are using the Sirko storyline to push Joey Quinn into some complex moral territory.
Here's the skinny on Sirko this week. The cops want to nail him up. He wants to get out of jail and take his revenge on Dexter. And so they lean on Joey. Money doesn't do the job, Quinn perhaps having grown up enough to overcome that particular vice, and so the gang leans on Quinn's other
weakness. Women. Nadia is in their power, after all, and Joey can either get rid of the blood evidence that is key to holding Sirko and have Nadia set free forever or he can leave Sirko in prison and let Nadia be killed or worse. It is, quite frankly, the best storyline Dexter
has ever given Quinn or any of the other cop characters.
And speaking of the other cops, that's where this week's wobblier bits come in. Angel and his sister - nanny to Dexter's frequently punted aside son - have a conversation in which they essentially acknowledge their mutual and ongoing uselessness to the show while a gratuitous woman-in-thong walks past in the foreground. "Yeah, we know," the writers seem to be saying. "This all a waste of time so look at this ass instead." And LaGuerta has seemingly developed this incredibly accurate for radar for everything Dexter has ever done - despite having missed all of it while he was actually doing it - in a move increasingly looking designed to refresh Deb on another season's batch of victims in every episode. Yes, we remember when that happened, too, and Deb already knows enough about what's what that we really don't need the play by play through every season past.
But the good stuff. And that all revolves around Hannah McKay. Dexter is convinced she's killed more than the one body they have so far identified and determined to prove it to satisfy Harry's code so that he can go ahead and kill her. He's right, of course, and proves it partially through his own digging and partially through the very convenient arrival of a true crime writer developing a book on Hannah.
The writer - Sal Price - is the sort of wildly over convenient arrival that should be annoying except for one big thing. He inadvertently lets Deb know that Dexter is lying about evidence to feed his urge to kill, which means a future erosion of trust. And that erosion is going to become positively cataclysmic when the further developments of Dexter's relationship with Hannah come to light.
You see, Dexter gets Hannah on the table. But then, instead of being afraid, she simply looks him in the eye and tells him to do what he has to do. She understands it. She accepts it. And suddenly Dexter is face to face with what he had hoped Lumen would turn out to be but was not. And so he cuts Hannah free and fucks her instead. And what do we have now? A scenario where Dexter is in the middle of not one, but two, women who know exactly what he is and accept it with one - Debra - hiding amorous feelings for him while trying to stifle, or at least channel, his murderous impulses, while the other - Hannah - may just be playing him for her own advantage but will surely encourage him towards more violence. What happens when Hannah and Deb become fully aware of each other? And which side will Dexter end up on?
The fundamental problem with Dexter
as it has continued on season after season is that there's not a lot of internal conflict for the character and has been progressively less ever since Rita died. But this cuts to the core of what he is. No more of this 'can he stop' crap? We know he won't and have known that from day one. That's all just pointless spinning of wheels. No, this gives us a more urgent - and more dangerous - question. When it comes down to it will Dexter choose Harry's code or an unbridled embrace of his killing impulses? And what happens if Deb is caught in the middle? It's not entirely unfamiliar territory - the Ice Truck killer went down this path - but Deb's awareness of Dexter's true nature makes everything much more acute. And if this is what's going to drive the character through to the planned end of the show next season then what we're looking at is a nice mirror image to the beginning of the show. It's a smart move and should be fascinating to see it play out.
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