Monday, October 4, 2010

Dexter -- Episode 5.02 -- "Hello, Bandit"

"Yes, kids, I know Angel and LaGuerta are taking away your
screen time. I'll see what I can do about it."

Increasingly, I'm beginning to feel that Dexter is becoming two different television shows with characters that cross-over into each other's stories every once in a while. We've got the show called Dexter, about a serial killer trying to figure out how to be human; and we've got a show that should be called Miami Metro, a dramedy about a group of conflicted cops.

I love the former, and have become increasingly apathetic to the latter.

I began to feel this way during season 4, as the Angel/LaGuerta storyline began to unfold and began to distract from the signifcantly better story with Trinity/Lundy/Dexter. Angel and LaGuerta's office romance wasn't sweet, nor was it particularly sexy, and it never had an impact on events going on in Dexter, or Deb's, world. It was, as many other reviewers on-line have said, boring.

Nothing has changed here at the start of season 5. As Dexter pulls his life together in the aftermath of Trinity's murder of Rita, Angel's biggest conflict is discovering that his new wife has a bank account with an excess of $200,000 in it. The organization of Angel's scenes was similar to a season 1 episode when he's trying to buy a present for his ex-wife (with hopes to win her back), and goes to everyone on the force for advice, only to discover he's messed up something with the present. In season 1 this was effective in humanizing him, and led to a heartbreaking moment when we realized he had irreparably destroyed his marriage because of adultery. Now, he's back to old tricks, going from detective to detective to get advice for comic effect. Unfortunately, all it does is make him look like an ass, which is not what his story needs at this point. If the writers want to continue shoving Angel and LaGuerta's office politic/romance story down our throat, they better make the two of them much more likable, and soon.

Now, outside of this mis-step, "Hello, Bandit," was a decent episode of Dexter. Here's a quick recap:

Dexter visits with the FBI, finally, and has an airtight alibi, which gives him time to focus on more important things. Like the kids. They are living in Deb's place right now, but Astor wants to go back home, leading to some awkward moments with the kids. Dexter doesn't know what to do exactly, except find a new place to live for he and the kids.

This leads him to a moving truck company, where he rents a 14-foot truck that just so happens to have once been a murder site. He investigates and it leads him -- literally -- to the doorstep of Boyd, an animal control guy specializing in picking up roadkill. After thinking Boyd mght just be the most boring person ever, Dexter discovers some key details -- a locked door, a numbered lock of hair on the floor -- that clue him into believing there's more to Boyd than listening to aggessive self-help tapes and stocking up on chicken soup and white bread. The episode ends with Dexter discovering that Boyd is, indeed, a serial killer.

Meanwhile, Deb is in denial about having had sex with Quinn, but that doesn't stop her from taking him up on his offer to stay at his place while hers in packed to the gills with kids and in-laws. After a well-timed conversation with Dexter, though, Deb realizes she needs to face the reality of the situation and finally admits to herself -- and Quinn -- that, yes, they did have sex. It was an awkward moment, but it worked for me.

In the Miami Metro half of the show, a new murder has popped up. A decapitated head is found in a park, eyes and tongue cut out, surrounded by religious artifacts. A local beat cop believes it to be related to Santa Muerte, a local religious cult. The dead woman's boyfriend/husband is later found dead with a gunshot wound to the head.

Quinn is also doing some police work, as the FBI tell him about Kyle Butler, and LaGuerta gives him a copy of the police sketches. At the end of the episode, he puts the images together to create a picture that looks suspiciously like Dexter Morgan.

The episode concludes with Dexter taking a huge emotional beating as Astor decides she wants to leave him and move in with her grandparents in Orlando. She and Cody ditch school to go home and see the murder scene, hoping for closure, but it seems to provide no such thing. All it does it tell Astor that she'll never be able to accept this, and never be able to accept Dexter as her parent. Cody doesn't seem to feel the same, but Dexter can't allow him to be separated from his sister, seeing the parallel between Astor/Cody and he/Deb. In an emotionally raw and beautiful moment, Dexter has to say goodbye to the children, leaving him alone with Harrison and a new target.

The episode was slow moving, bogged down in the Angel/LaGuerta subplot, and relied a little too heavily on coincidences. Typically Dexter's kill targets came naturally from his work; now he finds his next victim while renting a moving truck? In addition, the situation wasn't helped by the annoying musical and visual cues everytime they showed the bloodstain on the truck bed.

Coincidences aside, the scenes between Dexter and Boyd are interesting, and the fun line of the night involved Dexter wondering, "Is he CSI-ing me?" as Boyd checks out a dead raccoon in the middle of the highway Dexter placed there to bring out the dead animal collector.

While this is indeed a weaker Dexter entry, there were still several intriguing and exciting moments and details:

1) The Santa Muerte murder. Where is this headed? How will it effect Dexter when he returns to work?

2) I loved the scenes with Masuka trying to do Dexter's job. Funny as hell, especially when he slipped in the blood puddles in Dex's blood splatter testing room.

3) Deb's new nickname for Quinn is perfect: "fuck puddle."

4) I love how the Trinity killer is still having an impact on the events of the current story. Kyle Butler lives!

5) The way in which the new killer, Boyd, kills his women is waaaayyy creepy. I also liked that he kept the numbered locks of hair in a scrapbook.

6) I liked the beat cop who tips Deb off about Santa Muerte. It was a nice callback to Deb's work as a vice cop in season 1, with Deb ironically dismissing the policework of the new kid on the block. She comes around, though, after she realizes the beat cop's work was right.

Next week, without Astor and Cody to worry about, the action should be shaping up. Here's looking forward to it.

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