Dexter: Teenage Wasteland

Barry: "What are you? Some kind of psycho?"
Dexter: "Not today. Just a concerned parent."

I was a bit frustrated at first that we stepped sideways into an episode of Parenthood, but by the end, I thought this was an excellent episode. Like nearly everything in this series, there was so much going on under the surface.

I love seeing Dexter advance as a person. It's one of the big things that keeps me watching, and defining himself as a good father and not as a monster or a broken man was a big step forward for him. With (of course) the huge exception of unintentionally getting their mother killed, Dexter has indeed been a good father to Rita's kids. He proved that he put the children first when he didn't hesitate to call the police, even though it could have endangered his own life and freedom, as well as Lumen's.

He handled Astor appropriately and was proud of what she did, if not how she did it. Yes, Astor was acting out in a not so good way, but her mother was just murdered and her life turned upside down. I loved that Astor was doing what Dexter does: protecting the innocent. She was just trying to save her friend from being abused, like her father Paul abused her mother, like Jordan Chase abused Lumen.

And what Dexter did to Barry, Olivia's sorta stepfather, was wonderful, my favorite scene in the episode. It was a lot more than one man beating up another. The abuse of children and women is, understandably, the core of Dexter's rage – and yet, Dexter kept his temper and explained to Barry, while beating him, exactly what parts of Barry's body he was damaging, and exactly what Barry had to do to keep it from happening again. It was such a strong character moment. And I loved that the song "Mac the Knife" was playing in the background. Perfect.

Lumen did so well parenting in tandem with Dexter – again, like a marriage without the sex. (Harrison was even calling her "mama.") Deb and Astor met Lumen, and they both believed Dexter was involved with her. And he is, sort of. I'll say again that I don't want Lumen to die. This season is working because saving Lumen has taken Dexter in a whole new direction, one I certainly wasn't expecting him to take after losing Rita. Lumen dying would be a predictable way to reset the series, and I am hoping that they don't go there. I'm honestly not expecting Lumen and Dexter to get married and live happily ever after, but couldn't she just return to Minnesota with her abduction and abuse suitably avenged?

The Lumen plot has been so fascinating that it's eclipsed the situation with Quinn. He really does love Deb; I believe him. And since he has blown off Liddy, I wonder if Quinn might make it to the end of the season, after all. Not that I think he's good for Deb. And not that Deb is going to forgive him for persecuting her brother.

Like previous seasons, Deb seems to have a nose for the same murders that attract Dexter. She's such a born detective that they can't keep her in the file room; she might even look at those composite sketches, now that she knows they exist. I know I keep saying this, but truly – wouldn't it be fascinating if Deb found out about Dexter? Would she be revolted? Would she turn against him? If she knew it was Harry who set Dexter on his path, would she eventually understand and support him? It's like the biggest possible plot payoff in the series, and I want to see it happen.

How about that last minute, huh? Jordan Chase, surrounded by all of his security guys, knows that Dexter and Lumen are after him. Killing Jordan wouldn't have been easy before, but now it might be impossible. Miami Metro is going to start looking at Jordan again, too. Toss in Liddy, who has the bit between his teeth and will never leave Dexter and Lumen alone, and it's like every plot thread in the show is rushing toward the same focal point. This is why I'm more into good television than movies. You can't get a story this complex in a movie theater, can you?

"Harry" returned after a long absence to tell Dexter he was wrong to push him in the direction that he did, and that Dexter wasn't a monster, after all. That was an exceptional scene, because we all know "Harry" is just one side of Dexter himself. I don't want whatever is coming in the next three episodes to take this clarity away from Dexter. I really don't.

Bits and pieces:

-- How many are in the murder club? The DNA report that Deb found in the file room said five or six. Boyd, Cole, the nasty dentist, all dead. Jordan Chase, who must be the mastermind. So there must be at least one more of these guys at large, and possibly two. Anyone we know, or is that too big of a coincidence?

-- Maria wanted to blow Deb off and not pursue the DNA evidence, but changed her mind. That's good, because Maria was just acting way too evil. Or maybe it's that Angel is a good influence on Maria. He's not sleeping with her, either, until she behaves. How Lysistrata of him.

-- While we were watching this episode, Dan noticed that when Dexter was in his nice lab geek persona, his voice was higher and lighter; when he started showing his true face to Barry, his voice dropped. How did I miss that? I'd never noticed it before, but it always happens, doesn't it?

-- Fried chicken and tequila. Very Liddy. I'm enjoying what Peter Weller is doing with this character. He's a marvelous actor.

-- The blood in Jordan Chase's pendant belongs to a woman named Emily Birch, who lives in Coral Gables. I bet there's a very interesting story there, and I bet we're going to hear it next week.

-- Quinn told Deb he loved her. Dexter told Astor he loved her. "Harry" told Dexter, "I'm proud of you." Dexter said the same thing to Astor.

-- This week's Most Obvious Symbolism was probably in the opener, when Dexter and Jordan Chase were running in place. They also did a lot of talking about the fractured self, and Jordan kept pulling Dexter's thoughts out of the air. Really interesting.

-- Michael C. Hall did a couple of scenes without a shirt, and looked great. (He's in "killer shape.") But it didn't get close enough for me to tell if they remembered to include the big scar on his chest.

Quotes:

Jordan: "Now you know my secret. Are you ready to tell me yours?"
Dexter: (to himself) "Over your dead body."

Dexter: "How do I deal with Astor?"
Lumen: "Try talking to her."
Dexter: "Last time I did that, she said she hated me and moved to Orlando."

Lumen: "Share something with her. What you did when you were her age."
Dexter: "I killed the neighbor's dog."
Lumen: "Well, don't tell her that."

Masuka: "If I ask them to reopen it, I may as well put my balls in a vise. And not in the hot way, either."

Barry: "Teenagers. They can make you homicidal."
Dexter: "I know what you mean."

Deb: "I didn't know you had a tenant."
Lumen: "I didn't know he had a sister."
Fun. Uncomfortable. Too much smirking.

Lumen: "I think we have a problem."
Dexter: (to himself) "Yeah, I'm in a battle of wills with my drunk, shoplifting teenage stepdaughter. And she's going to win."

Harry: "I'm proud of you."
Dexter: "You are?"

Dexter: "I'm proud of you."
Astor: "You are?"

Another outstanding episode, and I think I'm going to have to go with four out of four trips to and from Orlando,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

8 comments:

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

I like Parenthood. =P

Kelly said...

I completely agree with you, Billie, regarding Lumen. I think the dynamic between her and Dexter is fabulous, and I am really really hoping she doesn't die. She's been through enough.

It's so nice for Dexter to have someone he can be totally honest with. Like the line you quoted, where she asks what he did at Astor's age, and he sincerely says, "I killed the neighbor's dog." Lumen's matter of fact response just shows how fun this relationship has become to watch.

Felipe said...

Dex telling Astor he loved her had me in tears. Such a lovely scene. Has he ever told them he loved them, I don't remember. Think he always just says, "me too".

Harry Earle said...

I'm not sure if Dexter has ever said "I Love You" to anyone ever before? Yeah Felipe, "me too" used to be Dexter's thing. But no more. I burst into tears and couldn't stop for quite a while. What a great episode.

Add to that Dex's journey, all the heartfelt emotions, the secrets revealed, the way the storylines are all coming together, paying off every episode, if they can keep this up and make the finale just as good, I might start to think of this as better than Season 1, which I never thought would happen.

Great review Billie :) I never noticed the pitch of Dex's voice changing either but I'll look out for it from now on.

marc klita said...

I don't think Harrison actually called lumen mama i think you'll find it turns out to be the little toy he continually throws onto the ground. Apart from that i agree with most everything you wrote.

Anonymous said...

I like to call it his "Evil Voice".

Mark Greig said...

I am really enjoying this season. I'd say it's the best after season four. Gold star for whoever thought of casting Peter Weller and Johnny Lee Miller. They both make for great villains.

firefly said...

@ Mark Greig - i know that i am very late to the party but... the choice of Peter Weller mas made by executive producer Manny Coto. Coto had cast Weller prior to Dexter on both Odyssey 5 and Star Trek: Enterprise.