You wanna start this blog with some Dexter?
Of course you do, dear reader. Of course you do.
So I haven’t seen Dexter all season, having thrown my hands up into the air and shouted “NOPE” before leaving the room last year after Julia Stiles simply decided to stop being a serial killer and leave for no reason at the end of a season full of bland, unfulfilling nothingness. So there’s that. But, what with all this new hubbub about-
IF YOU ACTUALLY CARE WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF SEASON 6 AND SOMEHOW DON’T ALREADY KNOW WHAT THE TWIST IS DON’T READ AFTER THIS.
OR READ IT ANYWAY.
I’M NOT THE BOSS OF YOU.
Anyway, what with all the hubbub about Deb finally catching her brother in the act (after last season’s “She sees him with a victim but he’s behind a sheet so that could totally be anybody’s silhouette” fiasco, what else could this show pull? Have Dexter murder someone while Deb’s back is turned? While her eyes are closed mid-sneeze?) I finally figured I’d tune in to at least watch the last one.
And I’ll never make that mistake again.
Okay, maybe that’s being overdramatic. “This Is The Way The World Ends” had its share of decent moments. The standoff on the rooftop wasn’t awful. There were little dollops of tension sprinkled here and there whenever Colin Hanks was around. But for the most part Dexter just seems like a show about a serial killer who isn’t really a serial killer anymore and who spends his days with a cast of characters who consistently say and do things that make no sense at all.
Now, I saw the ‘previously on Dexter’ recap, so apparently this season’s been chock full o’ blood and guts (exciting!), and also I have the basics of what’s going on here- Dexter and the gang are chasing two religious murderers prophesizing the end of the world, only one of them is actually dead and a figment of the other’s imagination, and Deb’s in love with Dexter now for some reason.
So with that out of the way, let’s dive in. The first (and arguably, the biggest) flaw in this episode is that it doesn’t feel like a season finale. Travis’s Doomsday plot is supposed to come to fruition at the eclipse, so that’s the big, dramatic countdown, but for the most part Dexter doesn’t really know what to do or where to go, and neither do the cops, and neither does Travis, really, until he gets the idea to head on down to Dexter’s and kick-start a kidnapping.
So for roughly the first half of the hour we have characters wandering around without any real idea of what to do, and any actions they actually take are (for the most part) stupid and nonsensical. Dexter murders the two-timing boat coyote with the clunker- “He’s robbing us… I have nothing to give. Maybe I can give him death” and everyone instantly accepts his ‘falling off of his own boat and swimming to shore’ excuse without the slightest bit of curiosity or suspicion. And remember when Dexter would go to great, ingenious lengths to cover up crime scene clues that would incriminate him? Now he smashes Travis’s painting with a hammer before any other cops can walk onto the scene (it was probably for the best, though- if that Devil-Dexter painting was supposed to be weird-looking and hilarious and not scary at all, then kudos to whoever painted it).
And Travis. Travis never really clicked with me as a villain. Disgruntled camp counselor with a sword, sure, but not religious fanatic serial killer. And maybe I’m missing something I would have picked up had I watched episodes one through eleven, but what exactly happens at the eclipse? What’s Travis’s plan? He kills Harrison, and then… what exactly? Will the world actually end? Even once the stakes get a little higher towards the end of the episode, when nothing that anyone does makes any sense it’s almost impossible to get invested in what’s happening on screen. There are so many gaps in logic here- why is Dexter still awake after injecting himself with tranquilizer? Why is Debra at the church in the end? Why would veteran police officers assume that because the killer drew a mountain once, his next crime will be on top of a high place- and then send every available to unit to guard all the skyscrapers in Miami?.
I’m nitpicking a lot- It’s hard not to when the first season of Dexter is one of my all-time favorite TV seasons. And really, this episode wasn’t all bad- the scenes with Dexter and Harrison, while cementing Dexter as a dad-who-sometimes-kills-people rather than a scary, emotionless killer (booooo) had some great emotional weight. Michael C. Hall’s always been a fantastic actor, and when it’s just him playing off Harrison it shows just how talented he is. Maybe not so much with the (curiously SAG Award-nominated) supporting cast.
And sadly, Hall can’t carry the whole show solely on his terrific acting chops, and it’s sad to see a once-great show become so… mediocre. So, before I get any more upset, I’ll close by hitting a few quick points I didn’t quite cover in the bulk of this review:
- When Deb gushes to her psychiatrist about her newfound Dexter-love, I couldn’t help but notice from the framing, music, etc that it felt like we should sympathize with Deb. All I could really think was ‘blech.’
- Who is this intern working with Masuka and why was that important at all.
- So… Ice Truck Killer mannequin hand? What?
- I’m sure a whole bunch of people are at least slightly more excited now that something new has happened for next season, and count me in with them, but don’t count me excited enough to actually start tuning in again. Bah, humbug.
- Unrelated point #5: I miss you Doakes. Please come back to me.
So there you have it. I look forward to discussing plenty of shows I don’t like or have never seen with all you wonderful internet-folk in the future. See you then!