“What ifs” are a waste of time

Ok… now we’re talking.  I was ready to write “Just Let Go” off as yet another empty, contrived “lesson” that wouldn’t really change anything and then, bam! we get an ending that defies the lazy, predictable series this has become and offers shades of the show it once was.  I actually used “shades” unthinkingly but, now that it’s on the page, Brian!  Sweet, beautiful, evil, creepy-without-the-gore Brian!  While Dexter murdering Nick surprised me, the return of the Ice Truck Killer is what sold me on the episode and has me somehow, miraculously excited about the rest of the season.

Is a great ending sufficient to call the whole episode great?  Objectively, no but this is the first episode this year that I’ve been able to look back on and feel good about.  Much of it suffered from the same phoned in quality that’s plagued the writing up until this point; Nick’s guilt was obvious last week and I didn’t need repeated shots of him and the dog to clue me in, couple this with Brother Sam’s “wake up just long enough to impart some wisdom” bullshit and my eyes were rolling.  Why, exactly, are we supposed to care about this?  I’ll give the writers some credit for breaking out the Harry-exposition to tell us why Sam is so important to Dexter.  The argument that Sam sees a genuine, real light in Dex is a good one, but this is really something that should’ve been shown rather than told.

Anyway, the idea that Dexter cares is necessary as the motivation for the kill-of-the-week and, for a few minutes, the lesson in forgiveness, but I can forgive contrivance when it takes us somewhere worth going.  It’s been a long time since this series has portrayed Dexter’s failures as failures, but there’s no way to interpret this murder as anything else.  I could’ve done without Nick asking for it quite so much (“no one can catch me, muahahaha”), but that’s a small quibble considering how real his downing felt.  Michael C. Hall hasn’t really had a chance to strut his stuff so far this season, but his expression here is that of a man completely unhinged.  And if that weren’t enough to convince you he’d made the wrong choice, Brian.  Brian!

My gushing is only partly rooted in nostalgia for the days when Dexter had compelling villains.  The appearance of ghost-ITK is a clear manifestation of the Dark Passenger and gives me hope that the rest of the season will explore the darkness that defines Dexter.  Since season five the character has done little more than flirt with his better angels; changing, but not so much that he, ya know, changes.  If the creators are unwilling to truly explore a redemption arc for Dexter then perhaps they’ll be willing to show us a fall.  Not that I think Dex is going to become the man Brian wants him to be, but ITK’s appearance is a much needed reminder that our boy’s not alright and that there’s more at stake than whether or not he can raise Harrison with good Christian values.

And just in case anyone still thinks Dexter’s one of the good guys, Travis was able to let his victim go.

Final Thoughts

I buy the fact that Quinn would self-destruct after his break up with Deb, I just don’t care.

Does everyone else feel like Miami Metro is wasting it’s time with interviewing professor what’s-her-name?  Not that she doesn’t know more than she’s saying, but we all know their investigation isn’t actually going to lead anywhere.  If Dex is the only one who ever gets his man, then any progress made by the rest of the cast feels superfluous.

Will Deb “realize” what her brother is via therapy?  Meh, she should’ve found out in the s5 finale.  Any exploration of that story at this point will feel anti-climactic.

I really, really hope Ghost-Brother is better used that Ghost-Dad.  Harry’s become nothing more than another way for Dex to talk to himself, it’d be nice if he actually had someone to play off of.

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2 responses to ““What ifs” are a waste of time

  1. I enjoyed the Quin melt-down, and felt a little sorry for him. The woman he loved never loved him.

    Deb in therapy has some great potential for story-telling! But I think you might be missing the point – that while she does view Dexter as a pillar of her emotional stability and thus has a blind spot to his odd behaviours – that she herself is part of the problem. She lacks her own self-supports. While I would love to see a “Deb finds out” story, I think we will be teased out until the last episode of the last season. More likely Deb in therapy will lead to Deb just not letting Dexter get away with being an abstinent Dad / Brother / Worker forcing Dexter to make a hard choice: stay with his life or stay with his dark passenger and get called out on why he keeps disappearing.

    The Nick killing was great. I thought it was some of the best Dexter out there.

    Travis – I like how you pointed out the difference, Dex killed the man he wanted to let go, while Travis freed the woman he wanted to kill. I do admit, I was thinking the writers would be lazy enough to have the freed woman see Dexter kill Nick as they were both on secluded beaches at the same time…

    With Brian back it does make me wonder what they were doing with the artificial arm? A hint? Or a real plot point? And was it the new intern who bought it?

  2. The “Deb finds out” storyline is the one thing I can’t muster any enthusiasm for. We were teased with that for two seasons in a row and they blew the perfect moment already. I just can’t invest in the exact same story again.

    I hold slim hopes for the artificial arm cropping up again in a way that’s worthwhile. The only thing that makes me think it might go somewhere is the “Buyer’s been masked and now all record of the sale has been removed.” They’re going to some pretty long length to say that there’s zero evidence.

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