July 25, 2013 by Susan Miller
Susan: In the end, it was Deb and Dexter in the car, at the hand of Deb. Was it enough of a twist? Did the previews spoil it for you?
Steven: I am feeling more and more spoiled by Dexter previews. I feel like they’re just holding back the last two minutes of the show for us. Don’t they know we don’t really need to be enticed to keep tuning in? It’s the exact opposite of the problem we’ve always joked about in Mad Men‘s previews. If Mad Men has been giving us broth, Dexter has started giving us chunks of beef. Is there no middle road anymore? No softened onion. No baby carrot? No bite of well-seasoned potato? (Can you tell I’ve been making roasts?) I do wish there was more of a possibility for something earth-shattering to happen next week. From the preview, it looks like it will just be more family therapy.
Are you glad we got our wish of more Masuka plot this episode? For such a big plot point, they certainly didn’t spend a great deal of time on it.
Susan: At this point, I think I prefer the Mad Men style of previews. Breaking Bad does a good job with it too, and they’re not quite as infuriating as the Mad Men ones. I don’t know why the Dexter people feel like they need to give away so much of the episode in theirs. Having said that, I wasn’t surprised that Deb sent the car into the water. I was mostly ticked about them ending the episode with Deb and Dexter coming out of the water. Why not end with the cliffhanger? They do all that work to build that intrigue and then they just deflate it immediately? I don’t get it.
The Masuka plot was very strange. It was nice to see Becky back on TV, but I’m not sure I care about Masuka as a father. I’m also a little bit worried about how they’re going to integrate this story into the endgame. Do we really need Masuka to have a happy ending? Does it matter?
I’m definitely worried about the rest of the season. There’s no driving force pushing us to each episode. Even Vogel has lost her creepy edge. What are they going to do to save this?
Steven: As a writer-ish person, the ending to that episode just made me cringe. They could’ve given us SOME suspense. But then again if they had, how could they have given away the entire next episode in the preview?? There’s a certain feeling to this season that I don’t particularly like. With Breaking Bad, we feel the episodes pulling together more and more as they build toward a climactic end. I don’t get that same sense of inevitability and purpose in this season of Dexter.
I think the issue with Vogel is the writer’s inclination to humanize, humanize, humanize! In a world where everybody’s a victim, it’s hard to get too scared of anyone. It’s hard to make Vogel a villain because she’s constantly being put in danger herself and offering explanations for all of her past behavior. In that sense, this is a very modern show. Nobody is to blame–other than nature or God or “the culture”–and therefore the best people can do is come up with their own moral code. Oh I do so worry about how this all will end! If it’s somewhere moral relativistic-y, I will be beyond disappointed in the writers of this show. I have always seen the central issue as this: “You cannot invent morality. Left to our own selves, we will decide that what is Right and works out best for us line up perfectly.” If they let Dexter off the hook, or if Harrison is shown somehow to be doomed to be a serial killer himself, they will have taken out free will and personal responsibility. In my mind, the show can only return to God. Anything short of that would be a dithering offering to contemporary, morally-relativistic viewers, and it will have taught us absolutely nothing.
It is my great fear that this show, which presents the problem so well, will not have the stones to talk about the real solution.
At this point do you want the Harry’s dream interpretation more or less? Also, are we supposed to care if Quinn makes Sergeant?
Susan: I know! They wouldn’t have been able to show anything from the next episode if they had ended on a cliffhanger. Do you think that’s why they did it? Surely not. Please, please not.
Vogel has become a very confusing character in this final season and I fear that’s because they’re not quite sure what to do with her yet. That seems odd, given that this is the final season of a long-running show. You’d think they’d know what they were doing by now. What are her motivations? Why does she really want to help Deb? Is she trying to get Deb to commit suicide or to just forgive herself so that Dexter can get back to being a killing machine? How is Dexter supposed to feel about her? Is she supposed to be icy or scared? It looks like Dexter and Deb will team up next week to save Vogel. Why would they do that? What’s in it for them? She’s starting to feel a little bit like the Initiative on Revenge.
I think at this point I would be super ticked if this was all taking place in Harry’s dream. That’s a lot of dreaming, and it would ultimately let Dexter off the hook. It would also let Vogel, Harry, and Deb off the hook. I think it might be time for our anti-hero loving society to see an anti-hero actually get caught and pay up for his misdeeds. (Sidenote: I haven’t finished The Shield yet, so if Vic gets it, don’t tell me). As for Quinn and his newfound career success – stupid. Stupid all around. The only good thing about this story line is that we finally found out mysterious black lady cop’s name. Welcome to the blog, Angie Miller! (Whoa. Just realized that is also the name of a recent American Idol contestant. There are a lot of Millers in the universe.)
Are we supposed to think that shoe fetish guy is the brain surgeon? Because he’s clearly not. His calling card is breaking girl’s toes. Is the brain surgeon someone we know? The Dexter black-out theory is still in play…
Steven: Oh! I totally forgot about the Dexter black-out theory, which was my favorite in the world for an entire episode. I would be happy with that, and with Dexter turning himself in because of it/getting caught because of it. I also agree that we need an anti-hero who has to pay the consequences. I don’t feel like we even got that with Tony. Sure, he was probably shot in the side of the head while his daughter Meadow entered the diner. But we never actually got it. We didn’t see his family unravel completely following his death. It was too clean, too consequence free.
How different of a show it would’ve been if Tony had been in a maximum security prison, eating mushy vegetables and writing letters to his family who never wrote back. I agree: Today’s TV is all Crime and no Punishment.
As for the foot guy, I have no idea where he’s supposed to fit in. I still like your theory from last week about Vogel cleaning up after herself, but that doesn’t help me make sense of the brain surgeon or why she suddenly feels compelled to start cleaning up–especially since now she’s keeping notes on Dexter… I guess we’ll just have to wait until the penultimate episode, when they’ll explain everything in the preview for the series finale. I wonder what would happen if we skipped a week. Would we even notice?
Susan: You think Tony died? I don’t think Tony died. Let the debate rage on.
I’m hoping that this is the week when all of the disparate elements come together to form an anti-Dexter task force. Maybe this week will contain the communal light bulb and Quinn, Batista, Jamie, Masuka, and Captain Matthews will all look at the crazy Morgans, tilt their head to one side and say, Ohhhhhh. Duh. They need to get to figuring so that Dexter can go back to running and this show can get interesting again. As for Vogel? I guess she’ll be more interesting with broken toes? I’m not sure that I care anymore. If she doesn’t turn out to be a threat to Dexter, then she really has no place in this final season.
How quickly we sour on this show! Is something wrong with us? Have we turned bitter? Or has Breaking Bad just spoiled us?
Steven: I agree that it’s high time for everybody else to come out of their fog. Last season LaGuerta was suspicious of the Morgans and then died suspiciously. This season no one had decided to follow up on that?? I don’t think BB has spoiled us for Dexter…I think Dexter has done that for itself.
But this is the issue with writing a show. You have a central conflict and so many seasons (as opposed to acts or minutes or chapters) in which to slowly twist and turn the conflict toward resolution. What we love about the show–the peculiarity of a serial killer killing serial killers all under the nose of the precinct he works for–makes it highly improbable that the show could keep going indefinitely. The show either has to get less risky, and lose its audience, or make the opposing force (the police) dumber and dumber, and annoy its audience. The only cops to have figured this secret out, thus far, are Doakes and LaGuerta. The writers had to kill them off. Maybe if Batista wises up, people will actually listen to him. Also, whatever happened to Matthews? Wasn’t he nearly sold on Dexter as the Bay Harbor Butcher? Is he just happy now that his pension came in?
Susan: I understand that with a TV show that goes on too long, there’s a lot of filler in the middle where everyone is just happy to get paid and live in this nice, familiar world they’ve created. But now? In the final season? Where they know exactly how many hours they have left to wrap up this epic tale? You have 13 precious hours to do your best and final work and you spend it on stupid side stories about Quinn and Batista and Jamie and Masuka’s daughter? It just doesn’t make sense. Why are they making these choices? Why did they bring in Vogel? Why did they have so much to say last season and nothing to say now? It’s infuriatingly lazy, and again, I find myself feeling ungrateful. I should have more faith in a show that I’ve spent this much time with. I should have faith that all this pipe they’re laying is for a very fruitful reason. But right now, when I’ve been busily re-watching Breaking Bad… it just doesn’t hold up. Because the Captain should be WAY MORE SUSPICIOUS. He and LaGuerta cooked up the Dexter theory together and then he just doesn’t care when she winds up dead in a storage container next to the man who killed Dexter’s father? Arghhhaghagahgadhgj!
Steven: Right–a storage container. Hello!! The biggest problem Dexter has is its inability to give non-Morgans stakes or a P.O.V. or a motivation that conflicts with Dexter getting to kill this one person in a cool, cathartic way–and in a way that reflects his own battle with his addiction. I think that is the one thing his addiction story has been missing in a real way these past few seasons: consequences. You will say that LaGuerta’s death and Deb’s descent have been consequences, but I feel like we haven’t really seen Dexter squirming and miserable. Not like with Doakes on his tail in season 2. Nor like he was in season 5 after the death of Rita.
Maybe character realism is not what we can demand of this show. However, I am still going to request it for the rest of this final season.
Susan: You know how Hank figured out Heisenberg while sitting on the toilet at the end of last season? I’d love to see a group bathroom scene where all of Miami Metro figured out Dexter simultaneously. Maybe they could receive some sort of mass text?
Steven: Or maybe they could all gather in the bathroom and find a copy of Leaves of Grass. Inscription reads:
I’m sorry I made you kill M.L. And for killing all those other people.
Love (but not that way),
Susan: I think we might be destined for disappointment.
Next week: Dexter looks more murdery than usual, the Morgans participate in group therapy, and Vogel’s toes are in SERIOUS DANGER. Tune in?