Posted tagged ‘season six’

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!

Dexter – Episode 7 “Nebraska” Recap and Review

November 14, 2011

Now where have I seen this before?

Some weeks your just find yourself absolutely amped for Dexter. Even during the weaker moments of seasons 4 and 5, all it takes is a tense ending in order make a viewer turn into a fiend overnight. With the current season taking such a slower character building less-is-more approach for so many episodes, the closing moments of last week’s “Just Let Go” saw a dip into Dexter’s dark side with the return of his brother Brian, making the anticipation for tonight’s episode all the more satisfying. But did this uncharted territory bring us somewhere we didn’t know we wanted to go?

Why yes, it was a big weekend for 'American Gothic' references on television.

Tonight’s episode, “Nebraska,” was written by my absolute favorite Dexter writer Wendy West. I’ve raved about her before, she wrote both the “Hungry Man” episode where Dexter joined Arthur Mitchell’s family for Thanksgiving*, as well as season four’s finale “The Getaway” and the episode that turned an up-until-then lackluster season five around “Everything is Illuminated.” It was also directed by Romeo Tirone who has been a cinematographer with the show since season one (he’s responsible for the shutter effect on infant Dexter covered in blood) and directed last season’s “Take It” (where Dexter and Lumen killed Jordan Chase’s head of security Cole Harmon) as well as has been the director of photography for a good chunk of HBO’s True Blood. With two longtime greats for the show tackling both the return of Dexter’s brother as well as digging up the Trinity Killer murders, tonight seems not only like baiting longtime fans with the promise of everything they’ve ever liked crammed into a single episode, but the promise of it being among the show’s all time greats. The results are close, but for such a stellar season, a touch underwhelming.

We begin with Dexter and his brother Brian reunited on Dex’s boat “The Slice of Life,” disposing of the murderer we saw killed off at the end of “Just Let Go.” It’s so refreshing to see Brian (the delightfully sinister Christian Camargo) discuss Dexter’s favorite hobby without the whining of Harry or the immediate end of one of his victims. Not only have we gotten rid of Harry’s neediness dragging down the episodes, but now we have a much cooler devil on Dex’s shoulder giving a sadistic play-by-play not heard since the days of Tom Servo. I have to think Brian speaks for the fans in this episode, from cheerleading Dexter’s efforts to even telling him to make a killroom, I found myself a few times hearing my own thoughts on screen. Plus his referring to Deb as “the one that got away” and wearing a “Nebraska is for Lovers” t-shirt was just too gleefully demented not to love. Brian unlocks Dexter’s hedonistic side as they road trip to America’s heartland to kill Arthur Mitchell’s son who appears to be the “new” Trinity Killer, getting Dex some tail along the way and being forced to kill a weed-growing rest stop attendant who attempt to extort Dex for $10,000 in order to get his knives back. Tirone’s direction here is stellar as the sequence of Dexter disposing of the body into the mill is one of the most haunting images the show has produced.

Meanwhile, in other stories we have Travis seemingly breaking-up with Professor Gellar as he returns all of his belongings CW Teen Drama style. We also have Deb and “The Ishy” Quinn having a private heart-to-heart until Quinn attempts to kiss her and Deb respectfully ends things for good. The fact that Deb managed both that and subtly putting the now always-irritating LaGuerta in her place WITHOUT CRYING shows how much she’s grown this season and the show’s all the better for it. Plus, Masuka’s intern made a video game of Miami Metro, impressing Batista’s sister. With the exception of how I’ve come to dread every moment of airtime LaGuerta’s been getting (nothing against Lauren Velez who is great, but the one dimensional character hasn’t had a single worthwhile payoff to a storyline in 4 years), none of the b-stories got in the way and actually kept the show’s momentum going.

I really love this show sometimes.

As for tonight’s conclusion, I do feel a little let down. Having Mitchell’s kid be “justified” by having a conscience, regretting killing his mother seemed like a weak reason for Dex to let him off the hook, especially considering he’s killed a guy with an anchor for dissing his wife (Season 5) and an innocent photographer for NO REASON (Season 4). There was so much great suspense the entire episode leading up to not only a blowoff, but seemingly writing Dexter’s brother out of the show and ending with Dexter picking up Harry, effectively returning us to the status quo this season has worked so far to get us away from. They better be going somewhere special with this because, as it stands, there hasn’t before been such a gap between episode quality and the closing five minutes that wasn’t a season finale.

We give Nebraska a Four out of Five

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

*Possibly my favorite episode of the series.

Dexter – Episode 6 “Just Let Go” Recap and Review

November 7, 2011

Scene from 'Dexter' by Maffer from Deviant Art (used without permission)

Well Dexter fans, we’ve hit the halfway point and of all the unexpected turns I didn’t expect this season, the one at the end of tonight’s episode is among the least-expected-est! It almost feels like we’ve been shown a mid-season finale and next week is going to kick the homestretch into high gear. But before I turn on my predict-o-matic, let’s look back on what’s either going to be this season’s springboard into greatness or ramp over the shark!

My thoughts exactly, but in a good way!

Tonight’s episode “Just Let Go” was written by Jace Richdale (first time Dexter writer, most known for doing The Simpsons‘ season 5 episode “Burn’s Heir” and the Chris Elliot cult classic show Get a Life‘s beloved “Spewey and Me” episode) and directed by John Dahl (this season’s premiere and “Horse of a Different Color”). While tonight started off somewhat slow, the twists in the last 20 minutes were among the most satisfying the show has made. I don’t know if the fresh feeling by the end of it is a result of Richdale’s great set-up of the developments, but Dahl’s typically great framing elevated the writing and the performances to the next level.

We begin with Dex hearing about Brother Sam being shot and vowing revenge on the perpetrator. All signs point to it being a revenge attempt at Brother Sam for the disappearance from their leader. While Dexter is staking out the gang’s second in command who he believes is behind the attack, Miami Metro becomes hot on his trail too, leading to a shootout that guns him down, but doesn’t sit right with Dexter. Once they find the security tape and Dexter recognizes that Sam’s attack dogs doesn’t so much as bark at the shooter, he realizes the killer must be Sam’s assistant who we saw him baptize earlier this season. Dexter visits Sam in the hospital and tells him vows revenge, only for Sam to instruct Dexter, as his dying wish, to tell the boy he forgives him and not to harm him, “just let it go.” Sam dies just as the shooter is approaching the hospital and Dexter takes him to the beach where he was baptized. Dexter tells the killer he knows and that he isn’t going to arrest him, he just wants to know “why?” After the killer explains that he did it to get back in the good graces of his gang because Sam didn’t deliver on the “better life” he promised and then laughs in Dexter’s face for being able to get away clean, Dex snaps and drowns him in the water, only to re-emerge and be greeted by…HIS BROTHER!

Yes, Dexter’s brother Brian (the Ice Truck Killer) appears to be Dexter’s brain’s newest inmate. It’s interesting, we get the first worthwhile moment between Harry and Dexter in about two seasons with Harry telling Dexter that Sam may have seen Dexter’s potential for light that he himself had never saw, only to now perhaps see him gone. While the Rita’s funeral escapade in last season’s premiere teased Dexter going full-on evil, we’ve never had him look as completely dark as he did at the end of tonight’s episode. It’s a credit to Michael C. Hall’s performance that his internal un-narrated conflict as he watched the killer laugh in his face was one of the most tense moments in the shows history. As a viewer, I wanted to see Dexter kill this kids for the moment of vengeance, but also see him just walk away in hopes he could one day get better. Hall was able to create one of the tightest bonds of voyeuristic empathy with this scene, earning every penny Showtime’s giving him as the network’s franchise player.

Kids painting what they want to be when they grow up like...a train?

Elsewhere, we had two more unexpected swerves that were just as satisfying. Doomsday accomplice Travis let Professor Gellar’s latest capture go, driving her to the beach still blindfolded and restrained but presumably on her way to freedom. We got more signs of Travis’ reluctance to Gellar tonight, but even then I did not see letting the girl go coming. We also got Travis taking some time to surprise his sister at the preschool she teaches at. If it turns out Gellar’s a dark passenger it’s going to be a tremendous letdown. That being said, with the way we’re seeing Travis’ relationship with his sister, I don’t see her getting through this season alive.

We also had “That Ishy” Quinn upping his levels of scumbag, getting Batista to not tell Deborah he slept with the investigation’s main person of interest because of “the partner card,” only for it to come out in the interrogation room, followed by a tremendously shot scene where Deborah tells Quinn she doesn’t care who he copulated with*, she just doesn’t want him to ruin this investigation. Later, at her housewarming party, Quinn shows up drunk with a girl he just met and after attempting to hit on Batista’s sister, Batista punches him in the face and they call him a cab. Quinn has never been this enjoyable of a character and Desmond Harrington’s performance has made for a delightfully entertaining self-destruction.

My sentiments exactly.

Over all, I am ready to shift into overdrive. All of those slower episodes we’ve had recently has been building up to next week and I’ve never been at such a loss for where the show could be going. Deb’s never been under more turmoil and didn’t cry all episode so she (and her new therapist friend) could be in a position to finally catch Dexter. Dex has never been so emotionally unraveled, closer to reforming than he’s ever been only to be completely inverted. Quinn is a human wrecking ball and who knows what Gellar’s punishment for Travis is going to be. Plus, with Rudy’s return, who else could be show up? Buckle-up kids, things are about to get awesome.

We give Just Let Go a Three Out of Five

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

*She wasn’t quite as eloquent, I cleaned it a bit for the site.

Dexter – Episode 5 “The Angel of Death” Recap and Review

October 31, 2011

Welcome once again party people to Popular  Opinion’s ongoing recap of Season 6 of Dexter. Usually this is about the time in previous seasons where we’ve thrown our hands up and asked ourselves “why am I still watching this show?” and so with very little to complain about thus far it’s surprising that we’re already at episode 5 “The Angel of Death.” I really hope I’m not jinxing anything when I say this season has seemingly become everything to everyone of its viewers*. It’s developed its characters, dropped the subplots nobody cares about, given us plenty of kills and brought back both a true sense of darkness while keeping Dex’s dry wit as sharp as ever. Tonight’s episode was primarily another exposition one, but along with the numerous scenes of slowburn storytelling we got the big revelation that Dexter takes places in the same universe as The Office. Don’t believe me? Take a look:

 

The Scranton Strangler Should Count His Lucky Stars.

Yes true believers, that is a Sabre printer in Dexter’s office. I had to rewind and check again, but I’m pretty sure Dwight just got a little less psychopathic. Crossover potential aside, we had a good episode and while it took its sweet time, really seems to be building to something special. “The Angel of Death” was directed by S.J. Clarkson (this season’s “Once Upon a Time”) and written by Scott Reynolds (who came up with the story of Rita’s death at the end of Season 4 and wrote last season’s excellent “In the Beginning” where Lumen and Dexter shared their first killroom). This is already our second repeat of a director this season, and it’s really kept a strong pace and sense of style for the show.

So, let’s recap what happened in order of least screentime to most:

- Masuka’s new assistant, while unable to retrieve/intercept the hand from the Ice Truck Killer case, did wipe all trace of the evidence auction from the internet.

- Deborah had her therapy, returned Quinn’s ring and got a new apartment.

- While sent on assignment to interview one of the Doomsday Killer’s former teaching assistants, “That Ishy” Quinn sleeps with her and we got a not-so-subtle full-screen shot of her back tattoo. (my only gripe with tonight’s direction)

- While having drinks in front of his apartment, Dexter reveals to Brother Sam that he got into bloodwork because he saw his mother killed in front of him. Brother Sam is later shot in the last scene of the show with no context given, other than earlier mentioning that his repair shop had been shot at after hours.

- Dexter tracks down Travis and in an unflinchingly dark fashion not seen since season one gets him to confess while choking him from the backseat of his car that he’s not a killer but does follow Professor Gellar who is doing all the killing. Dex then lets him go in hope Travis will lead him to Gellar.

So, lots of stuff. Right off the bat, the show continues to play directly to the actors’ strengths (especially scumbag Quinn) making for a much more entertaining show. Since we’re just about at the halfway point with no signs of LaGuerta, Harry or Cody & Aster for quite some time, the show isn’t dragging us into any rehashed subplots that they’ve done to death. We’ve even gone two weeks in a row without hearing the words “dark passenger!” What’s interesting is, because of the religious subject matter, half the fanbase is pleased that Dexter is seemingly going full camp while the other half is pleased the show is finally taking the writing seriously, and in a sense they’re both right. More than anything, this season we’ve gotten more of what we want and far less of what we don’t.

Ice Truck Friendster?

So what significance does tonight have? The tension in Dexter’s scene with Travis, while shorter than I’d have liked it, was all shades of darkly deconstructing Dexter not seen since the first season. Starting the season a year after the events of last year’s finale (as opposed to the last few seasons that have begun immediately after the previous season ended) really gave the show a believable breathing room for us to get something really fresh. I do like that Quinn set on self-destruct is somehow a better detective, and from the great camera angle where Deb put the ring back on his desk that it looks like they’re through. Making the new detective married will hopefully kill any chance of another “Deb dates the new guy on the show” storyline as well. Finally, I’m just about 100% certain that Gellar exists and is guiding Travis through all of this, so as much as they’re teasing he’s another dark passenger, I think that they’re building up to something much more shocking and fulfilling. Next week’s episode should be the big mid-season game changer we’ve come to expect, and with everything being this good so far I’m looking forward to where they take us from here.

We give “The Angel of Death” a Three Out of Five

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

*Word to Art Alexakis


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