Archive for the ‘Dexter’ category

Dexter – Episode 12 “This is the Way the World Ends” Recap and Review

December 19, 2011

Be brave, it's almost over.

While we’ve had five seasons that built up to a satisfying climax of murdering an end boss to satiate our dark passengers, the end of season six is a mercy killing. Coming off back-to-back absolute worst episodes of the series, we get a finale that felt much more like a recap show for an entire half-season of television we didn’t watch. It is out of a sense of responsibility and duty I bring you “This is the Way the World Ends.”

Tonight’s episode was written by longtime series writers Scott Buck (this season’s premiere) and Wendy West (by far the best writing talent on the show who did “Hungry Man” in season four and “Everything is Illuminated” last year which was the turning point at which season five stopped sucking) and directed by John Dahl (this season’s “Just Let Go” and “A Horse of a Different Color”). I’ve sang the praises of Wendy West before on this site and I’m sure the staff must know how important she is to the franchise. She’s brought in when the show’s been at its most convoluted worst and somehow made sense of it into entertainment. She had her work cut out for her tonight and the fact that we got a slightly below average episode is a testament to how screwed up this season got.

All-in-all, “This is the Way the World Ends” felt like an episode of Supermarket Sweep with plot points. For a show whose pacing has been mind-numbingly bad for the past four episodes, the unsatisfying rush with which everything fell together today was just awful. Sure, I can buy that Dex was rescued by a boat of illegal immigrants, but Travis stealing Harrison from a room full of people and then later being surprised Dex is alive is among the biggest reaches the show has ever made. Dexter is no longer where you have to momentarily suspend your disbelief, rather just accept convient idiocy and the promise of ever present deus-ex-machinas. Bless Wendy’s heart for trying, but I was so checked out of any interest in Travis by this point that even the threat of killing a toddler couldn’t drum up any tension.

Elsewhere we had Quinn “getting help” to get out of being transferred as possibly the laziest blowoff in a season of lazy blowoffs, no word on Matthews (which may indicate he’s gone for good), the hint that Masuka’s uninteresting assistant will be around for some of next season (in the show’s most uninteresting Masuka scene), and the single most non-sensical moment in the show’s entire season. On the roof we had LaGuerta, a character who we’ve spent six seasons as the embodiment of the bad at her job but ruthlessly politicking bureaucrat bitch, give a serious heart-to-heart with the one character who has actually developed this season, telling her she’s done a good job. Every word we’ve gotten from LaGuerta for the past six years has been an outright lie, so why should we trust her to validate that Deb is good at her job? I blame that one on Buck. I have no evidence that it was specifically him, but I just don’t feel like Wendy would do me like that. Oh, I’m sorry, was that last sentence completely sloppy and not with the tone of the rest of this post? GOOD! So is this show!

BIG MOMENT! Oh wait, I don't care.

The big moment we have at the end is Deb walking in on her brother as he kills Travis. Of all the concluding kill scenes we’ve had on the show, this one has to be the worst. Instead of Dex’s final thoughts wrapping the season up in at least an adequate way, we got a religious discussion of the college freshmen stoner buddies caliber concluding with Deb catching Dex in the act, followed by an almost too glib “Oh God.” For all the flak the end of season five took with Deb finding the silhouettes of Dexter and Lumen, at least we had Steve Shill’s masterful directing giving us a certain open-ended suspense. Here, Dahl drew out all the wrong parts of the scene. All the focusing on Dexter’s “I knew real men of God talk” did was remind us how far this season had fallen in such a short time. Realistically speaking, we do have the show playing the “caught” card now (which they may have meant to play last season as the show was originally supposed to end with season six) as well as Deb proving she’s an apt-enough detective to catch her brother, but while I really didn’t mind the “incest” angle last week (it was the only thing different on a show obsessed with maintaining the status quo) this conclusion makes it feel like an unnecessary saddlebag to the scene. It’s Trinity’s estranged daughter levels of cheap. While tonight did fall far short of a satisfying ending, Dexter has never really had a strong season finale. The best thing I can say about “This is the Way the World Ends” is that it’s only the fourth or fifth worst thing we’ve see this season.

We give This is the Way the World Ends a Two Out of Five.

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

Dexter – Episode 11 “Talk to the Hand” Recap and Review

December 12, 2011

"HURRY! WE NEED TO GET YOU OUT OF THIS SEASON!"

I really don’t want to seem like another internet critic who hates everything and still inexplicably keeps watching the things he hates, but what an absolutely awful episode of Dexter. If you’ve not read my blog before, or only recent posts, I’m not one of the show’s constant detractors. In fact, up until the conclusion on “Nebraska,” I was ready to call this season my second or third favorite. One month later, I’m legitimately just about done with this show and am only still watching because I made the promise to myself to blog along with it. So, here we go, “Talk to the Hand.”

Tonight’s episode was written by Manny Coto and Tim Schlattmann (this season’s “Once Upon a Time” and “Smokey and the Bandit”) and directed by Ernest Dickerson (this season’s “Sin of Omission” and the movie Juice). Tonight we saw Travis’ plan to poison Miami Metro thwarted, Quinn saving Batista and Deb chewing them both out, Matthews being asked to retire as LaGuerta manipulated him into losing his job to get his position, Masuka’s assistant mailing the Ice Truck Killer’s severed hooker hand to Dexter, Deb starting to have lustful thoughts for her brother and Travis attempted to kill Dexter by burning him to death in a small boat surrounded by fire. All of this happened, none of it entertaining. Even though I like Dickerson as a director, he sometimes takes risks that just don’t fit the show and they were all over the episode. From the cheap suspense of cutting between Dexter and stopping the woman from releasing wormwood at the last second, to the easy resolve of the sexual tension moment between Dexter and Deb by oddly cutting to close-ups and later proving it to only be a dream, by visuals alone it felt like a different show.

That’s not even including the incest card they almost played which, while I’m not particularly a fan of incest, it would have been at least an interesting or (at the very least) DIFFERENT road to go down instead of continuously maintaining the status quo. As I’ve mentioned, what made the first half of this season so great was that they were going down so many very different roads, and the characters were evolving. Everything’s just about reverted back EXCEPT FOR Deb, the only consisting compelling thing about the show, and Matthews’ exodus, a titanic mistake as in the six seasons of the show he’s the only character to never have a bad appearance. He’s a strong catalyst for entertaining changes in the show and to remove him just for more ammo to hate the dull as a sack of boring LaGuerta is absurd. If she doesn’t die in the next episode, I’m checked out of Miami Metro.

A horrible painting for a horrible episode.

Otherwise the Travis story is just bafflingly uninteresting now. Dexter not going to the ER and getting dizzy at just that moment was something that would hit the cutting room floor of a bad Batman cartoon. I know I’ve used this word already, but tonight’s entire episode felt cheap and forced. After stretching this plot out far longer than they needed to, it seems they just throwing whatever sticks in hoping next week’s shocker finale grips us into the next season. I feel Dexter’s become what people who never liked the show always thought it was. As a loyal fan who even loved the latter half of last year’s brutally criticized season, I’m never had my interest in the show at such an absolute low.

We give “Talk to the Hand” a One Out of Five

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

Dexter – Episode 10 “Ricochet Rabbit” Recap and Review

December 5, 2011

Apparently, this is the only image from this season of 'Dexter' on the entire internet.

Three weeks ago I was sitting on the edge of my seat eagerly anticipating Dexter as it, after 5 1/2 seasons, was finally hitting a bold new incredible stride. Tonight, I struggle to put into words how the show entirely killed my interest in three episodes. Yes, that’s overly harsh hyperbole, but when the show just doesn’t care anymore, it’s hard for me to put effort into recapping it as well. Two weeks ago suffered from the show returning to the status quo, last week suffered from a series of underwhelming revelations packed into an hour like processed tuna into a can, and tonight suffers from having absolutely nothing of remote interest. Let’s now tackle the unfortunate task of recapping “Ricochet Rabbit.”

My immediate reaction.

Tonight’s episode is only the second non-finale in the show’s history to credit three writers in a single serving. Jace Richdale (this season’s “Just Let Go”), Lauren Gussis (the show’s co-producer) and Scott Reynolds (the story supervisor), who have all turned in great episodes in the past, couldn’t save this dire story from being an entirely unappealing monstrosity. It was directed by Michael Lehmann (first time Dexter director who did two great films in Heathers and Airheads as well as several episodes of True Blood, Bored to Death and Californication) and while I enjoy a lot of his previous work, really didn’t fit the feel of the show at all. But I’m not trying to single any one person out as to why “Ricochet Rabbit” was such a disaster, rather it seems to have taken a team effort to make tonight’s offering suck this much.

In “Ricochet Rabbit” we get a lot of Dexter arguing with Harry, something that while irritating earlier in the season has become absolutely unbearable. Michael C. Hall is such a talented actor that he’s made the voiceover inner-monologue an absolute art, as well as one of the show’s most endearing hallmarks. Instead of that, we get Harry continuing to be the irritating uncool chaperone at the party spelling out every bit of story development ensuring there would be no tension whatsoever. Travis completely throws the “he didn’t know Gellar doesn’t exist” line of thought right out the window during the worst dialogue in the show’s history between him and Gellar, making his quest as the witness to the apocalypse the worst motivation in the history of Dexter arch-nemeses. It’s painful to watch this scene because Hall, Hanks and Olmos are all ridiculously talented and they’re trying their hardest to pull out all the stops and make something worth watching only to be saddled with dialogue that is an absolute mess.

Later, Travis recruits two painfully uninteresting followers (although I do like seeing It’s Always Sunny‘s Lil Kev on my television, the writers gave his Doomsday Adam character the depth of a Putty Patroller) to kill the woman he let go a few episodes ago. Dexter also breaks the heart of Masuka’s assistant when he expresses how offensive the video game he was developing is, causing the computer whiz to immediately cancel his date with Batista’s sister and become another one-note boring character. Even Quinn’s downward spiral was just cartoonish, substituting the delightful scumbag elements for being a lazy irresponsible worker. This gets Batista, one of only two characters on an interesting upswing this season, captured by Travis. As for the other still enjoyable element of the show, Lieutenant Deb, she didn’t really do a whole lot. We got the split-second panic of her discovering Matthews’ involvement with the dead girl, and her finally being self-sustained enough to not rely on talking to Dexter about everything. Again, we get growth from Deb but this feels like territory that has either already been covered in a previous episode or should have been. It’s unfortunate now that, if any characters look like they aren’t going to make it to next season, it’s these two.

PLEASE STOP SUCKING!

We have two episodes left and my interest in the show is at an all time absolute low. I know the internet is a great place to complain about things, but in my quarter-century of watching television I don’t ever recall going from being at the absolute pinnacle of enthusiastic for a show to complete and utter indifference in a matter of weeks. I’d like to think the only place to go from here is up, but as last week proved, sometimes the bottom drops out.

We give Ricochet Rabbit a One Out of Five

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

Dexter – Episode 9 “Get Gellar” Recap and Review

November 28, 2011

Image unrelated to, but infinitely more interesting, than tonight's episode.

When we last left Dexter, he was in a bad episode. This week finds him in another bad episode helping his disappointing passenger find a worthless twist buried beneath the church. Dexter is working hard on becoming full-fledged television for idiots, so let’s take a look at another contender for worst episode in the entire series run “Get Gellar.” Oh, and I’m not crediting a writer or director this week because I’m convinced neither verb actually was involved in its making.

So, all along Professor Gellar was in Travis’ head. If you didn’t see this coming or at least entertain the possibility, don’t be so bitter about those of us who saw did. I’m noticing a lot of smug “I called it” and “STFU, U DID NAWT!” over social media right now and as much as I don’t typically enjoy the “CALLED IT” crowd, this is one time when they’re completely in the right. This isn’t like the end of Fight Club or the end of The Sixth Sense where the twist is meticulously assembled to be utterly jaw-dropping, or even the end of Scream where the shocking revelation gives us the reveal of a fun “whodunit?” mystery. No, those of us who got the confirmation tonight with a slouched over frozen sexy Edward James Olmos in a freezer greeted the news with a certain eye-rolling mourning. If you’ve been following my episode recaps, you would know while I’d seen the evidence rolling in week-after-week about Gellar being Travis’ dark passenger, I’d been hoping against hope the “obvious signs” were deliberate red herrings from the writers that we had grown accustomed to in order to keep us guessing. The moment Gellar started bleeding from his head in an earlier episode, the cat was let out of the bag marked “there’s a cat in this bag that’s going to be let out.” It’s a flaccid crescendo made worse by being lead up to with episodes containing some of the best writing the show’s had in years.

It seems every Thanksgiving weekend Dexter gives us a awful twist nobody likes, and this year we get the missing Ice Truck Hooker’s hand in the apartment of Masuka’s intern. Just when the super-google pioneer becomes an alright addition to the show we get this. Harry is also back in Dexter’s life, officially adding absolutely nothing, now more than ever. His presence on the show is akin to the parent who keeps walking in on his kid’s parties and trying to hang or hold the kids’ attention. The biggest disappointment for me personally, however, is the reveal that Deputy Chief Tom Matthews was behind the death of the overdosing hooker. It’s bad enough this storyline has to put more LaGuerta on my television, but now we’ve made one of the few consistently entertaining pillars of the show fall from grace for absolutely no reason. Matthews has always been a catalyst for interesting non-Dexter related storylines on the show, and making him a drug-addicted murderer is just desperate hack territory and goes against everything the character meant to the show’s universe in the most banal way possible. The only upside about the reveal being Matthews (and I apparently am the only person surprised that he was behind it) was that it wasn’t LaGuerta-Batista part #4082. With how much the show’s obsessed over their uninteresting boring dead end relationship and Batista’s penchant for drinking with whores, not to mention he was the only person LaGuerta asked about at the crime scene, that seemed pretty open-and-shut to me. Sadly, making it Matthews was the only worse option.

The only things I actually enjoyed this week were Quinn’s continuously entertaining downward spiral and Deb’s talks with her therapist and finally standing up to LaGuerta. From those two we got both logic and character growth while still remaining entertaining. I do have to ask though, with so much of Deb’s dialogue consisting of whether her brother was a table of a chair, was this episode was co-written by Tyler, the Creator’s Twitter? Otherwise, while I would never openly begrudge someone for their personal tastes and interests, I struggle to comprehend what fans who enjoyed tonight’s episode really want out of the show. Even with the pointless and predictable twists, the elevator sequence, bloodbath and big reveal were constructed so poorly that the episode had the intensity of a massage from a three-toed sloth.

We give “Get Gellar” a Two Out of Five

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

Dexter – Episode 8 “Sins of Omission” Recap and Review

November 21, 2011

Have we ruled out the killer being Chet Haze?

Well Dexter fans, what a difference a week makes. While last Sunday I found myself sitting down at the edge of my seat as the show ventured down Dexter’s dark path in a way we haven’t seen before, the conclusion of “Nebraska” left us mid-season with more answers than questions as hitch-hiking Harry returned the show to its status quo. Not one to give up, I apprehensively sat down with the foreboding feeling the show had gone off the rails this season for good. Thus we begin “Sins of Omission.”

Tonight’s episode was written by Arika Lisanne Mittman (first time Dexter writer who did two episodes of Medium) and directed by Ernest Dickerson (season four’s “Road Kill,” last season’s “Teenage Wasteland” many episodes of The Wire and most importantly the 1992 film Juice). It’s really a shame that Dickerson’s tremendous talents were wasted on an episode so jarringly out of place with the season. His use of color and tremendous pacing could have made for just the momentum building over-the-hump episode this season needed to approach an endgame, but instead we face the same problem that caused the first half of season five to suck – a new writer who doesn’t grasp the intangibles of what makes the show fun. While we fortunately didn’t see Harry at all this week, Mittman’s dialogue kept the show going through the motions at a time when it really needed incentive to finish the season.

Professor Gellar continues to stalk Travis, now threatening him with his sister’s life. The day after Travis sees his sister speaking to Deb, Gellar knocks him out and later Miami Metro discover her dead and dressed in the tableau as “The Whore of Babylon.” Either Mittman is going out of her way to make us think that Gellar is really Travis’ dark passenger as a swerve, or she’s dropping balls in the most obvious way possible. Elsewhere Dexter attends Brother Sam’s funeral and receives Sam’s blood soaked copy of the Bible as a gift. He then (via a search engine reportedly more powerful than Google) uses a clue from the tableau to track down a retired senile priest in a nursing home, allowing him to discover Gellar’s whereabouts in an abandoned church. Dexter arrives and finds Travis chained to the ground, chasing after Gellar who apparently sneaks out the back way. Dex frees Travis and they agree to work together to bring Gellar down.

"That's no whore...that's my sister!"

The only interesting thing going on in the show right now is Deb’s relationship with Dexter. When she finds Dex’s pen fron the rest stop he stayed at in Nebraska, she instantly puts it together (Lieutenant!) that Dexter went to Nebraska to talk to Trinity’s son. When Dex gives her the excuse he needed to talk to someone who lost a loved one to Trinity, Deb chews him out as she lost Lundy to Trinity and he could have talked to her. So, she goes to her therapist who advises her to actually attempt to talk to Dex about what’s going on in his life. I’ve had a theory, stemming from the finale of season 5, that Deb actually knows about Dexter’s dark passenger and how he’s been killing “bad people.” I believe she’s either in denial, secretly cheering him on and wanting him to hide it better, or is trying to get him to admit it himself. I’m calling it that by the end of this season she’ll either die and/or reveal to Dex that “she knows.” But back on tonight, it’s nice to see her actually showing her detective chops and not being afraid to bust Dexter’s ass in front of him.

"What are you doing here?" "I'm wasting time with a subplot nobody cares about."

As for all the other stories, we’ve devolved into the go-to romance with a dash of “who cares?” Batista’s sister is dating Masuka’s intern, which I didn’t have a problem with because I like them as actors and their characters bring a different dynamic to this season, but now Batista is trying to scare him off. WHY?! Not just asking why is he doing this, but after the boring mess that was Batista’s relationship with LaGuerta, why would this be deemed worthwhile to put on my television set? Speaking of LaGuerta, and again I do like Lauren Velez as an actress, but why is this character on my screen rehashing the exact same storyline since season three? She’s a corrupt boss who is bullying her underlings and manipulation her position in order to advance her career. It’s tired and reeks of the mundanity that the first half of this season worked so hard to get away from. Oh, and Quinn got kicked out a bar, far and away the least shocking thing he’s done and not worthy of the eighth episode of a descent at all.

Anyone else beginning to get the feeling that LaGuerta has ulterior self-serving motives?

As somewhat of a Dexter apologist who was ready to call this season my second or third favorite two weeks ago, I cannot believe how they’ve managed to undo everything that was making this season so good. Killing Travis’ sister, using the “super Google,” reintroducing the same dead end LaGuerta storyline are the type of cheap developments the show seemed to be getting away from. If Gellar is imaginary, this season is a toxic waste. If he’s real, we might get out first non-anti-climactic showdown in four years. I’m really hoping this is just a minor hiccup in an otherwise great season. The only bright spots this week were Deb and Dex’s disagreements and Dickerson’s great direction.

We give Sins of Omission a Two out of Five.

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


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