Dexter – Episode 1 “Those Kinds of Things” Recap & Review

Greetings true believers! With Popular Opinions turning two-years-old this week, I decided it’s time to try something different. We’ve never done a running recap/review of a current television show, so after the warm response of my “You’re Getting Old” critique, I thought it’s time for me to jump in the medium and do a running recap/review of a show. And what better choice than a program I’m regularly recapping, reviewing and reverencing on the internet anyway – Dexter

Guess who's back in the blood-splatterin' house?

As someone who has been following Dexter since its first season DVD release became a cult sensation in 2007, I’ve always found it the little show that can and sometimes does. While I’m sure I’ve gotten as frustrated as a lot of you in regard to rushed endings, unresolved plotholes and the hiccups along the way*, the show’s best moments keep me watching. To be honest, the premiere tonight caught me off guard. Since the second season, the show’s season premieres have covered NYC with a thick coat of promotion. I’ve only seen a handful of subways ads advertising “D-Day,” and I don’t know if this reduced fanfare is because Showtime has a certain level of faith with the show or if they think its fanbase has gone as far as it’s going to go. I also wasn’t thrilled to hear rapper-turned-actor Mos Def Yasiin Mr. Most Definitely Mos Def would be joining this season. But as I tuned in, once the now picture-of-health Michael C. Hall light up my screen, I was ready to ride the “Dexter is good again!” wave once more.

After a condensed recap of all the major events that’s taken place these past five seasons, we begin “Those Kinds of Things.” This week’s episode was written by Six Feet Under‘s Scott Buck (who Dexter fans remember best for writing the 3rd season episode “The Damage a Man Can Do” where Miguel finally joined Dexter at one of his murder scenes) and directed by Rounders‘ John Dahl (who directed the 4th season Thanksgiving episode “Hungry Man” where Dex joined the Trinity Killer’s family for Thanksgiving dinner – debatably the best episode in the entire series.) Seeing such a team credited right off the bat indicated an effort on the show’s part to come out swinging. It’s been a few years since the show started out particularly strong, and the Buck-Dahl union did do their best to appease fans and still build intrigue. Although before any of that happened, we had to have a mountain of exposition detailing what Miami Metro did on their summer vacations.

Image courtesy of TVFanatic.com (used without permission)

We ended last season at Harrison’s birthday party and as Dexter’s seed blew out the candles, got a slow-panning feel-good sequence, showing the lovefest between Batista-LaGuerta and Quinn-Deb in full effect. Within the first 15 minutes back from break we’re told that LaGuerta has been promoted/divorced Batista, Quinn is ready to propose to Deb**, Harrison’s entering preschool and Dex’s life is pretty much back to normal as it was before he got married. It’s a lot to digest at once and maybe just one degree better than a Star Wars-style scrolling text telling us everything that happened, but if it means wasting our time with less B-stories that go nowhere I’m all for it***. The writers seem to really want to win back the audience that the show may have lost in the last two seasons by giving us everything we’ve been clamoring for: TWO “killroom” scenes, much more humor, no mention of Rita’s kids, sprinkled Masuka innuendo and a scene of Dexter gettin’ some.

As great as all of that was, the problems with the show at its sixth season are now more confusing than ever. Dexter’s dead dad**** Harry used to be his (for lack of a better term) conscience, a built in guardian angel to make sure he seemed “normal.” In the first few seasons it seemed like Harry was just Dex’s stern memory reinforcing the code, but now it’s legitimately puzzling how this mental projection is coaching him in football. Also, in regard to the aforementioned “fan service,” I am concerned what the episode means for the tone of the show. As fun as Dexter at his high school reunion was, the humor was almost too much at times, and the quickness with how the killroom scene tied the episode together does make me weary they’re bringing back the “killer of the week” formula. I did enjoy the slowburn reveal of Edward James Almost Olmos and Orange County‘s Colin Hanks as the members of a fanatical cult, especially the snakes-in-the-belly moment, so it should be fun to see where that goes. Overall, with the creative team behind the show bragging for years now that everything in seasons four and five were meant to set-up this season, I’m somewhat underwhelmed. This is supposed to be the show’s last go-round, and while it’s a much stronger start than years’ past, it wasn’t quite the homerun the show really needed.

We give it a Three Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*Except I should mention that our opinions probably differ when it comes to Julie Benz’s portrayal of Dexter’s wife “Rita.” In four seasons she got America to go from finding her yang to Dex’s yin endearing to begging for the death of a rape victim mother of three. It’s a thankless role and she killed it every time.

**This was supposed to be a reveal at the end of the episode, but if you’ve ever seen a program on television before, you know when a character tells their season-long girlfriend a variant of “can I talk to you tonight over dinner,” it’s ring time.

***Yes, I’m still salty the incredibly compelling angle of Dexter being the witness at Batista-LaGuerta’s wedding as his real life alibi for Rita’s murder, which would have put both of their jobs in jeopardy as they had sworn to Deputy Chief Matthews that they were not in any way romantically involved, was teased in the season opener and then NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN.

****How was THAT never the name of one of the books?

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