I’ve almost figured out what we bring to the show this season
Dexter’s social relationships are, for the most part, constructs and so it’s always fun to watch him struggle with situations the construct doesn’t account for. Not having any real feelings for his “friends,” he’s not able to rely on them to judge who should/shouldn’t be invited to his wedding; what’s the difference between Batista and Doughnut Guy? Even more interesting: while Dexter flounders with this relatively superficial question, he gives unflinching consideration to the life and death requests made by his “friends.” Continue reading
I guess this works
Pylea is stupid. Not as world-breakingly hella-stupid as the Knights of Byzantium, but still too stupid to be a welcome expansion to Angel’s universe. I’m trying to keep an open mind but I still find myself unable to get into this story, seizing upon a lot of admittedly minor flaws as they come up because I know they’re going to get bigger. This series, and Buffy before it, have long established the existence of other dimensions, having plenty of baddies cross over into ours, so it’s not such a stretch that our heroes might make the journey into theirs. The problem is not the idea of Pylea, it’s that, in execution, this doesn’t feel like a place that’s lived in. Continue reading
What could be dumb about this?
The Knights of Byzantium are stupid. Like, deeply, world-breakingly hella-stupid. So stupid that it requires every bit of goodwill this series has built up over the years not to just stop here and see what’s on CBS. Why is that in a world of vampires, witches, and sex-bots I can’t accept the existence of knights in shining armour? Lots of reasons, but I’ll reserve them for the Final Thoughts as there’s no coherent way to integrate them into a discussion of what should’ve been a good story. For now, lets just consider them this episode’s threat, a well-meaning complication in the wider fight against Glory. By ignoring the specifics, “Spiral” can be considered a relatively good episode. Continue reading
The key thing to remember about Harry this season is that he’s not an actual character, just an aspect of Dexter’s own damaged mind. I point out this basic fact because it’s one that the show’s writers only seemed to have a handle on it in season three. Harry’s “character” would grow far more problematic the longer he was around but, for now at least, he’s still a positive element of the series as he consistently represents the part of Dexter that says “no, I can’t.” While the ostensible focus of “Si Se Puede” is Dexter’s growing friendship with Miguel, I find this inner dialogue to be the more fascinating piece. Much as Dexter tries to cast Harry’s voice as some limiting holdover from his past, the doubts about himself and others are also demonstrated in his actions. Continue reading
Too hideous to view
First, a disclaimer: I didn’t like the Pylea mini-arc on my first Angel watch-through. I didn’t like on my second watch-through. I think I’ve skipped it each successive watch-through. I’ll try to keep an open mind for the next four weeks, for my own sake as much as yours but, even as I made a conscious effort not to, I still found myself anticipating the lameness as I watched “Belonging.” It’s difficult to distinguish how much of this is genuine and how much mere confirmation bias. This episode isn’t without its strong points, but I still found myself unable to invest in them, knowing where they lead. Continue reading
I’ll only do this once, I swear
“Tough Love” begins the final, heavily serialized push to the finale. Season five has done an effective job balancing Buffy’s episodic and serial elements, but it’s still nice to have things brought into such sharp focus. These last four episode really work as a unit, so much so that it’s a bit difficult to review them individually. Great as this week’s high stakes excitement is, it’s somewhat overshadowed by the cliffhanger, which is unfortunate, considering how much substance there actually is here. Continue reading
Does this count as dimension?
Balancing the pressures of family with a healthy personal life is certainly a universal conundrum ripe for this show’s twisted-everyman take, but the execution of “Turning Biminese” is too clunky to buy into. Rita just happens to want to do some spontaneous house hunting on the day Dexter just happens to be planning a murder… okay. And then she just happens to have complications with the pregnancy while he’s in ringer-off kill-mode… riiiight. It all just feels like a contrived shortcut to get Dex to appreciate that family comes first. The episode’s somewhat redeemed by an excellent kill-scene and an exciting ending, but the story preceding it should’ve been better. Continue reading
Ever given yourself a stranger?
Of all the post “Epiphany” episodes, “Dead End” is the only one I’d call necessary for season two. Not that I think anyone needed closure for Lindsey’s character, but it’s nice see it acknowledged that Angel wasn’t the only one at odds with Wolfram & Hart this year and this episode makes for a solid denouement to the season-arc. What’s really great about this is that Lindsey’s story doesn’t end on the same note that Angel’s did. There’s no sudden recognition of the alternative to the Wolfram & Hart’s outlook. Lindsey departs the series with much the same attitude he’s always had, he’s simply decided to stop using it in service of the firm. Continue reading
This view should be a special feature on every episode
Part of what makes Buffy’s infrequent gut-punches so effective is our ability to have so much fun outside of them. After the heavy hearts of the last two weeks, the show seamlessly pivots back to comedy in “Intervention.” A big part of what makes this transition work is the fact that Joyce’s death isn’t ignored, it’s fallout is still a central element of the plot. Buffy goes on her vision quest, in part because she’s concerned about the emotional impact (or lack of impact) caused by her mother’s death. Misinterpreting that impact is how her friends rationalize her apparent affair with Spike, and concern regarding that impact is what keeps Spike from telling Glory about Dawn. Keeping Joyce’s death in the spotlight is how this episode keeps the laughs from feeling jarring. Keeping those laughs from feeling disrespectful… well, that’s all in the episode’s execution. Continue reading
Together forever, I promise
I’ll admit now that I may have been damning season 3 with faint praise when I compared it to Dexter’s recent years as I’ve really been enjoying myself thus far. This is more than just a refreshing trip back to when the show cared about the integrity of its characters, it’s the fact that it was still willing to leave us uncertain regarding what we should think about “everyone’s favourite serial killer.” “All in the Family” provides a stellar example as we watch Dexter struggle with how best to manipulate the people around him, and prove he’s still the master at it, before offering us a touching moment of sincerity. Maybe. Continue reading