Dexter – Episode 3 “Smokey and the Bandit” Recap and Review

How many "No, not that show" coversations have we had with friends for 6 years now?

When preparing tonight’s post, I had to double-check the episode number. Are we really only on episode three? I’m so used to the last few seasons of Dexter taking a while to find their footing, but already I’m flat out enthralled. Tonight’s episode not only gave a great amount of what I like from the show, but we got things we’ve never seen before and have (hopefully) been set on a course to go to places where the show really hasn’t ventured.

Tonight’s episode “Smokey and the Bandit” was written by Manny Coto (Season 5′s “Practically Perfect” episode which had the Dexter-Boyd Fowler showdown, as well as inexplicably director of both Dr. Giggles and Star Kid)  and directed by Stefan Schwartz (first time Dexter director who’s most known for helming several episodes of the Camelot and Crash TV series), a combination that really excelled in the world of Miami Metro.  Tonight, we discover that Dexter’s boyhood hero “The Tooth Fairy Killer” may be starting a senior’s tour right in Dexter’s backyard. When the department finds a dead hooker with one of her teeth almost removed, Dexter recognizes the damage as an attempt atthe trademark of a serial killer he kept a scrapbook of as a youth. He pulls the book out at his apartment (complete with a scene where Harry, when reminded of finding Dexter’s serial killer trapper keeper, said he wishes it would have been a stack of Playboys instead) and we find out The TFK wrecked havoc over the pacific northwest for years in the 80s and was never apprehended.

Pic unrelated.

While I’m on principle not the biggest fan of this season regressing into a “killer of the week” show, Dexter’s pursuit of the geriatric madman was a refreshing new avenue. Later, in the killroom when he taunts Dexter and angers him to the point where Dex’s cruelest cut becomes denying the man his legacy, we’re given a scene of subtle growth that quietly restored a bit of his coming-and-going humanity that seems to fade despite the “revelations” each season. I like the idea of Dexter leaving the body looking like a heart-attack death and not letting TFK’s monstrous double life affect his innocent family, as well as the beautiful shot of Dexter dumping another man’s “trophies” into the sea, erasing not just a person this time, but a legend. Innovation aside, Ronny Cox’s portrayal of the TFK as an absolute curmudgeon and murderous mastermind was among the show’s best, and the way Manny Coto managed to channel not only our collective fears of aging with the personal sting of being disappointed in our heros really gave a strong jolt of the empathy that makes vicariously living through Dexter so much fun.

Take a drink every time you hear the f-bomb during the "Previously on Dexter."

Outside of Dexter’s clean-up circuit this week, we got Lieutenant Deb’s first day on the job. I absolutely adore how the show has abandoned everything redeeming about LaGuerta and Quinn (or, as my Mom calls him, “That Ishy Quinn”) to make them full on self-serving conniving scumbags trying to take the actually growing Deborah down. Deborah’s frustration with the job and growing poise of standing up to LaGuerta and her potential new detective hire has really breathed new life in the character. The writers are playing to each of the actors’ strengths and really letting the show tell itself. Off the top of my head I don’t recall ever being this invested in one of the show’s B or C stories before, but there’s potential here for it to finally become just as entertaining as Dex is.

Applebee's tonight?

I also really like how the show is letting Hanks and Olmos’ religious fanatics be a slow-burn reveal. While I could have done without the super-artsy slow motion of the horses’ gasp-worthy gallops, it really seems like we’re not getting a mystery-for-the-sake-of-mystery but rather will be putting the pieces together alongside Miami Metro. Mos Def‘s portrayal of Brother Sam is the best acting he’s ever done, and I’ve never been so happy to be as wrong as I was about him joining the cast. While I’m not sure where Masuka’s love interest assistant is going (possibly a red herring) she has to recognize Deb as the Ice Truck Killer’s girlfriend. Will her obsession play a part this season? I’m hoping the subtle juxtaposition of both her and Dexter’s obsession with serial killers isn’t early foreshadowing that  later gives us Deb’s death at her hands as the show’s seasonal big twist. Still, after the past two episodes, my enthusiasm and faith in the show are as high as they’ve ever been and I look forward to tuning in next week.

We give “Smokey and the Bandit” a Four Out of Five

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

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