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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


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.


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!

Heidi Barton Stink “The Familiar Pattern EP” – Album Review

February 18, 2010

If MC/rapper Heidi Barton Stink has you take one thing away about her from her EP The Familiar Pattern, it’s that she’s a good-to-great rapper. The most glowing attribute about her, it’s only after her skills are recognized that it’s necessary to note that she self-identifies as a transgendered female. While it’s as important and shown in her work as marijuana is to Devin the Dude and 9/11 conspiracies are to Immortal Technique, the understanding and attention shown to the craft of MCing makes her a “rapper who is transgendered” rather than “a transgendered person who raps.” It’s not a “Homo-Hop” record, it’s a rap record, and a good one at that.


Formerly one-half of Twin Cities rap duo Many Missions, Stink foregoes the schizophrenic subject matter of 2008’s The Cooperative Collection in favor of a much more focus, introspective endeavor. The EP opens with “Love Who” where, over a welcome Nico sample, the minimalist production compliments Stink’s honest reflection of living as a transgender in a famously “Liberal” city. The song works because of Stink’s honest and bare essentialist presentation. She doesn’t pose for her plight or cue an audience reaction sign, she lets the events speak for themselves, showing what she’s gone through without telling you how to feel about it. Her frustration continues with vices (“Pick Your Poison”) and the dehumanizing neglect of urban suffering (“Direct Action”). While the majority of her “conscious rap” contemporaries would just identify that topics like alcoholism and discrimination exist and then take a “bold” stance by referring to them as “not good,” Stink opts instead to point out a problem, explain why it’s a problem and then either offer steps toward fixing it or emphasizing the importance of banding together to find that solution. She does this while refreshingly using “multis” that aren’t forced in the slightest and big words in her lyrics correctly so that if read out-of-context it would still, you know, make sense.

The greatest strength of the EP is the vocal performance. Stink’s always had an enjoyable distinctive voice, but now her flow is perfected to accentuate the positives even further. This is most apparent on the EP’s centerpiece “Getting Up.” Over a sturdy thumping production, Stink dissects the guilt, death and codependence of “the elephant in the room that’s collapsing on stilts,” one’s own responsibility. The beat drives a sense of urgency that maintains the message’s importance, but genuinely knocks enough to keep the song fun without coming off preachy. It’s the type of production that Stink should be performing over. With the EP covering such grave subject matter, it’s the shot of fun the party needs.

By comparison, songs like “Photographic Blurs” and “Light of the Mind” seem a little too experimental for their own good. While there is something to be said for rappers to be trying new things and putting out a free release with all original production, neither beat holds up under the weight of Stink’s voice and with how on-point the vocal inflections and breath control are, it just doesn’t do her justice. Fortunately the EP concludes on a promising highnote, the lighter “Never Got it Right” that paints Stink as a person who really doesn’t know their future or their present for that matter, but has knowledge of self enough to know he’s going to be alright. There’s also a hidden track, an alternate mix of “Photographic Blurs” with a far more appropriate beat.

The Familiar Pattern is worth your time, not because it features a rapper trying to be different, but because it features a rapper who is. The genre thrives on originality, and the perspective Stink is coming from is worthwhile because of, more than anything, her skills behind a microphone. While there are a few moments that don’t work, the better parts more than make up for them and “Getting Up” warrants the EP’s download alone. It’ll be interesting to hear what the next project will sound like, but if this is any indication, Stink is sure to finally get it right.

We give The Familiar Pattern EP a Three out of Five

Download the EP HERE!

Until next time Let’s Agree to Agree!