Monday, November 1, 2010

Dexter -- Episode 5.06 -- "Everything is Illumenated"

Add "Likes women to dress as his dead wife" to your
"Reasons Dexter is so creepy" list.

I missed last week's recap/review out of sheer laziness. Sorry.

Nonetheless, this week's installment of Dexter yielded the best episode yet of season 5. Full of taut action/suspense, combined with some sharp character development, this episode made up for the wasted hour that was episode five. Certainly elements of this episode were rather preposterous, but in a mirthful and fun way that made the show feel like it had some signs of life. Season five, for the most part, has been very drag-ass, with several storylines that feel meaningless. "Illumenated" brought a few threads together and set into motion a couple more subplots for the last half of the season.

In this episode, Dexter tries to get back to killing and finds a homosexual predator. What he doesn't expect upon setting up his trap for the guy is that Lumen never left Miami. She has managed to find one of her tormentors, track him down, and shoot him. Because of her inexperience, though, she botches the kill and he manages to escape while she waits for Dex to show up and rescue her.

The scenes between Dexter and Lumen as they search for her victim are sharply written. Dexter spends as much time trying to determine whether the guy really raped Lumen as he does criticizing her for her stupidity. It's also during these moments that Lumen begins to see Dexter's analytical, police-procedural side as he breaks out the tools of his trade to follow the guy's blood trail. When they finally find him, there's a great sequence where Dexter truly believes Lumen has lost her marbles and once again attacked the wrong man; it's a beautiful moment where Dexter's code and his need to survive are brought into sharp contrast with this mysterious woman caught in the middle. Fortunately, the victim reveals his involvement in the rape plot, so it makes it easier for Dexter to finish what Lumen started. I guess there is something to be said for woman's intuition.

It was, of course, really outrageous that Dexter would throw his first victim in the back of his car only to have the guy escape during the middle of Lumen's problem. Even more ludicrous was how ridiculously close Dexter was to being caught in the act by his sister and Masuka. Yet, somehow, despite all of this, the balls that it took to write such a scene made it work for me. The writers had to know this was the sort of moment that could make-or-break the season, and they still went for it full-bore, regardless of the consequences. The result was a sequence that was suspenseful and electric.

Meanwhile, even the usually rushed subplots felt significant as many of the different threads came together. Deb and Quinn's relationship is taking a step towards something more permanent, making it that much more creepy since Deb doesn't know how obsessed her new boyfriend is with her brother. I'm assuming Quinn will keep stalking Dex and uncover the unsavory details of his extra-curricular activities by season's end, and might even reveal something to Deb. At first I wasn't on board with the Deb/Quinn relationship story, but it seems like its headed towards a big character payoff for Deb. It also makes Quinn look more wicked, and even more challenging of a problem than Lt. Doakes was during season two.

LaGuerta and Batista's storyline was still cause for eye-rolling, but at least it was as nausea-inducing as last week's episode when we discovered that LaGuerta wasn't giving blowjobs to I.A. officers behind closed motel doors, but instead setting a trap for a dirty cop -- all to get Angel's bar shenanigans off the books. This week, Angel's dilemma with Maria was more designed to act as a foil for Deb's impending declaration of committment to Quinn -- and for that I was grateful. And even though it was a stupid plot twist to make it look like Angel was picking up a hot chick at the club to make Maria jealous, when in reality the girl was a possible informant, it at least advanced the Santa Muerte cult subplot, making Angel useful again.

The episode's two best scenes, though, came with Dexter as their center. We get to experience baby Harrison's first words: "Bye, bye," or "Die, die" as Dex hears them. This moment really seemed to capture the guilt that has been consuming Dex this season, adding to Dex's pathological idea that his lifestyle will ruin his son. Michael C. Hall's performance with baby Harrison has been one of season five's best qualities.

The most amazing scene came at the end, as Dexter returns to his suburban home to find Lumen taking a bath in the tub where Rita was killed. As Lumen relates to Dexter what she has learned about him, and as Dexter sinks to the floor, haunted by memories of his dead wife, it becomes crystal clear why he has been helping this girl -- she reminds him of Rita. Helping Lumen -- the helpless woman -- will make amends for his part in Rita's death. I'd already suspected this, but seeing the two characters relate and work this out was great drama.

Now, let's hope the next episode doesn't suck. After all, episode four was pretty nifty and five was pathetic. I'm hoping this isn't a developing trend.

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