Posted tagged ‘showtime’

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

Dexter – Episode 4 “Horse of a Different Color” Recap and Review

October 24, 2011

Google image search is killer.


Season six of Dexter continued tonight with “Horse of a Different Color,” and while nothing particularly Earth shattering happened, nothing outrageously bad did either. While it certainly served its purpose as a linking episode more than anything, there was a tinge of a signal from the writers’ room early on stating that they know what potential this show has and are going to finally make Dexter as truly great as it deserves to be. Let’s saddle-up and ride.

Tonight’s episode was written by Lauren Gussis (a writer for the show since the beginning, usually at the helm of character building episodes like season one’s “Shrink Wrap” and season four’s “If I Had a Hammer”) and directed by John Dahl (this season’s premiere, last season’s “Hello Bandit”) both longtime players on team Dexter which makes for the show’s overall logic being as strong as ever. As seen in the above clip, there’s a moment when Dexter is about mention the Ice Truck Killer when Deb cuts him off and reminds us (for perhaps the first time in five seasons) that she knows the Ice Truck Killer was Dexter’s brother. Finally, the show’s stopped ignoring Deb’s awareness of Dex’s ITK connection, which bodes well for the show’s history finally taking itself seriously. Later, between Deb not falling on her face after LaGuerta’s suggestion for the press conference actually worked, Masuka’s intern being well aware of the show’s two previous main Miami Metro investigations and Deb hearing suggestions but keeping her new subordinate in order, I’m convinced that the show is finally really paying attention to its own history as a means to both enhance the experience for longtime viewers and keep us going in directions we didn’t expect.

While it was a slower episode, “Horse of a Different Color” seemed to build a bridge made of solid character growth. “That Ishy” Quinn (as my Mother calls him, Happy Birthday Mom!) smoking a joint with Batista allowed for a certain release between the show’s two most frustrated characters, and them having no consequences for getting high on the job was a nice touch. Brother Sam (now credited as Mos Def, Mos, yasiin bey) coming to the hospital to pray with Dex during Harrison’s appendectomy and revealing he had a similar death-related childhood trauma hammered home he’s one of the good(-ish) guys. Travis Marshall’s apocalyptic advisor Professor James Gellar was given an interesting background as a college professor who is an end-of-times nut and actually stole a weapon believed to be owned by John the Revealer who wrote the book of the Bible he’s obsessed with recreating. While there is sufficient evidence from the show that says he actually exists now (along with the backstory, the difference in Marshall’s crude bludgeons and his meticulous crime scenes), it wouldn’t surprise me if Gellar somehow was Marshall’s dark passenger. Speaking of surprises, as sad as it is to see Masuka’s intern go, I’m glad her red herring-ness only lasted two episodes. The auction was a satisfactory blowoff and gave us some Masuka with backbone.

Who ordered the wings?

Two little things I noticed tonight: 1) Masuka eating Deb’s Girl Scout Cookies while Quinn and Batista had the munchies and 2) was that Masuka’s intern in a commercial for a jar opener behind Dexter in the hospital? Those nuggets aside, tonight was largely about exposition but was handled much smoother than the season’s opener. The Green House kill was brutal and I’m guessing they’re slowly building a subplot about Deb needing to attend therapy for the trauma she’s been witnessing. Colin Hanks is doing a great job as Marshall, and while I found Dexter’s “bargaining with God” to be a tad cartoony for my tastes, the eventual showdown at the end of the season should be great.

We give “Horse of a Different Color”  a Three Out of Five

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

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

October 17, 2011

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!