Dexter continues to plod towards its series finale. While ‘Dress Code’ is better than last week’s reboot, it’s still thuddingly obvious and unsatisfying.
Let’s bitch it out…Having watched nearly every season of Dexter, I find it mystifying how frequently each season starts off well and then dives off a cliff around mid-season. The last few years have managed to right the cart come finale time, but the middle stretch of episodes is often quite rough.
Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that that formula will be altered in this final season. I had hoped that the reappearance of Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) would help, but the blonde vixen seems to have aggravated the situation, prompting Dexter (Michael C. Hall) to fall back into familiar patterns. Last season revealed Hannah to be the latest in a string of femme fatales whose narrative function seemed to be to turn Dexter into an idiot. Her return in ‘Dress Code’ lives up to that reputation, yielding a similar result (in less than 48 hours no less!).
Perhaps I’m just a cynical viewer, and the writers have something new tucked up their sleeves. I hope that I’m wrong, but from what this episode shows us, this character and her role on the series remains exactly the same as it was last season. I spent all of ‘Dress Code’ calling Hannah a big liar. Do the writers want us to think she’s manipulating Dexter? It’s unclear. What is clear is that Dexter doesn’t seem to be putting the pieces together and he’s falling for her schitck all over again.
Let’s examine the play by play: it’s revealed early on that Hannah is married and that her husband is a power mad psycho. Since her M.O. is to kill her husband/boyfriend, it’s no surprise when she tells Dexter she returned to Miami to seek his help to kill Miles (Julian Sands). When Dex challenges her, Hannah’s “I changed my mind” excuse rings false. Eventually she (not so shockingly) kills Miles and Dexter helps her bury the body at sea.
The problem is that this feels like just another iteration of “femme fatale plays Dexter”. After all, doesn’t Hannah end up getting exactly what she confessed she wanted in the greenhouse? Their reunion has everything except a kiss, which likely would have occurred had Zach (Sam Underwood) not killed Cassie (Bethany Joy Lenz).
The fact that the young psycho can’t control his impulses is another completely expected development. Dexter may have been able to resist his urge to kill for nine years, but as Vogel (a now-wasted Charlotte Rampling) reminds him, Zach is already an established killer. This restless mommy’s boy who gets everything he wants was never going to be able to rein his impulses in. So each time we see Dex duck the boy in favour of tracking down Hannah, it’s just counting down to the inevitable. The problem is that this isn’t interesting to watch – having the plot unfold exactly as we expect it to is dull.
Now suddenly we’re back to recycled storylines: Dex will protect Hannah from his sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) who will begin unraveling and getting paranoid, and Dex will also have to decide whether to trust Zach or kill him (aka the plot of every season). If this is all the final season has left to offer us, then for heaven’s sake, prepare the kill room and put Dexter out of its misery.
- Poor Cassie. You knew that she was dead meat as soon as she mentioned to Deb that she was still interested in Dex. Because that’s what happens to women in Dexter’s life: you’re a psycho or you get murdered (or you’re Deborah)
- Also high on the obvious meter: Elway’s (Sean Patrick Flannery) Hulk-y rage issues when Deb tells him to back off. There’s a pretty clear connection between Elway’s reaction and Miles’ behaviour towards Hannah. You know, just in case you hadn’t figured out that Elway is cray-cray
- The two psychopaths together theme is intriguing because it’s sort of understated throughout the episode…at least until Dexter literally spells it out in his final voice-over. Before that, however, I like how Dex’s conversation with Vogel about two psychopaths segues into a scene aboard Miles’ yacht where every item (lamps, clocks) is doubled
- Dexter doesn’t really do a great deal in terms of extravagant mise-en-scene, but I’ll admit that I chuckled at the “boob cam” perspective when Masuka (C.S. Lee) visits daughter Nikki (Dora Madison Burge) at Lucky Pete’s. Although, are we really meant to believe that a perv like Masuka wouldn’t know about a topless breastaurant? Come on
- Quinn (Desmond Harrington) retaliates against Angel (David Zayas) by declaring his intention to move in with Jamie (Aimee Batista) after Angel bitches him out for illegally trailing Zach. Sick burn, bro. But seriously, guys, this shit is soooo high school
- Do you wonder if Charlotte Rampling regrets signing on for the season? Sample dialogue with her agent: “These a*sholes suckered me in with scripts for the first five episodes and now all I get to do is spout psycho-babble-bullshit!”
- Good to see Ghost Dad Harry (James Remar) back after a few episodes. As always Harry speaks the truth and, as always, Dex chooses to ignore him. Maybe the last episode will have Harry slap Dex and scream “I’m the freaking voice of reason! Why don’t you ever listen to me?!” Clearly I spend a lot of time imagining hypothetical Dexter conversations
- Finally, let’s all take a moment to applaud Yvonne Strahovski’s amazing body. Dayum that lady can rock a white dress!
- Dex (when Deb points out Hannah didn’t tattle on them in jail): “Because she was in love with me. Drugging me and leaving me on the side of the road might suggest that’s changed” Dexter Morgan: Captain Understatement
- Dex (advising Zach to get a job): “You’re a weird guy who lives with his mom. You might as well wear a sign”
- Dex (pondering to himself in voice-over): “What kind of name is Miles anyways?”
- Deb (when Harrison inquires about Hannah): “Both of you? Really? Jesus”
Well that turned out bitchier than expected. What’s your take: did Hannah’s simply turn the clocks back to last season? Were you surprised that Zach killed Cassie? Remember when Quinn seemed like he had a storyline? Did seeing the boobs of a Friday Night Lights alum give you the pedo-shivers? And how soon before Deb has to put a bullet in Elway? Share your thoughts below
Dexter airs Sundays at 9pm EST on Showtime