Category Archives: Season 2

Final Thoughts: Lilah

I’ve talked a lot about season two’s enabler throughout these write-ups, making this post feel more like summary than insight.  Overall, I think that Lilah’s unfairly maligned by most fans and critics.  The real problem is not with her character itself, but with the failure to integrate her into the (far more interesting) hunt for the Bay Harbour Butcher.  While Brian appealed to the Dark Passenger by advocating murder unrestrained by the Code, Lilah called for its integration Dexter’s everyday life, claiming that the cold, selfish, manipulative sociopath is the “real” Dexter.  It’s an effective evolution of the temptation narrative but, good as the themes are, they have little to do with the slowly tightening noose of Lundy’s task force. Continue reading

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I’m gonna be like this forever

The fundamental problem with “The British Invasion” is that the season climaxes within the first few minutes, making the bulk of the episode feel like a denouement.  It’s entertaining denouement, to be sure, but with Dexter making an emotional breakthrough in the last episode, the only outstanding question was, “will he get caught?”  The answer is a rather unsatisfying “no,” unsatisfying not in the sense that we wanted to see him get caught, but in that we wanted to know how this seemingly impossible situation would be resolved.  I have no doubt that Doakes needed to die, as his trial hardly seems the sort of story this show should explore, but Lilah killing him just feels like a cop out.  Dexter had worked himself into a fascinating moral quagmire this season and seeing him so completely absolved of responsibility for Doakes’ fate is pretty anti-climactic. Continue reading

Take responsibility for who you are

“Left Turn Ahead” sees Dexter reach much the same conclusions he did at the beginning of the previous episode, albeit for different reasons.  While the end result, framing Doakes, is the same, Dexter’s thought process is far more acceptable.  While the fact that he has a lot to live for and that things may still work out for him are still fundamentally selfish reasons, Dexter makes no effort to paint them otherwise.  It’s too much to call such honesty redemptive, but I think it’s fair to say that it offers the promise of redemption.  Dexter’s watched the evil of his life infect the world around him, but he shouldn’t accept that the only alternative is the electric chair.  If there’s a way for him to live and not destroy those he cares about then he shouldn’t stop trying to find it. Continue reading

I follow my father’s law!

“There’s Something About Harry” is one of those rare, delightful, and necessary episodes that remind us of the fact that there’s something deeply wrong with Dexter.  I commented in the last write-up about how thoroughly engrossed in this world and how readily we see things from Dexter’s perspective rather than Doake’s, that moral complacency is put to the test here.  The dialogue between these two sees one man offering straightforward, common-sense moral imperatives while the other does little but make self-serving logical leaps.  Capped off by two of the most disturbing kills in the history of the series, this episode paints a pretty unforgiving picture of Dexter Morgan. Continue reading

YOU’RE the Bay Harbour Butcher!

It’s fun to think of “Resistance is Futile” from Doakes’ perspective.  He’s spent years feeling like the last sane man in Miami PD, the only one able to recognize what a “creep” that Morgan in forensics is.  Dexter proves him right with some manipulation and a headbutt but no one else will believe him.  Now, with his career on the line, Doakes has proof that will exonerate him and break open the biggest serial killer case in history.  Only now the killer’s gotten his hands on the evidence, and used it to frame Doakes for the murder!  The only option James has left is to bring him in alone. Continue reading

I need to embrace who I am

Dexter’s identity crisis continues in “Morning Comes,” despite his assertions to the contrary. What’s so great about this episode is that we’re watching Dexter embrace what he thinks he is while still demonstrating the contradictions and uncertainties that have left him so confused in recent weeks.  This season’s body count has felt relatively low and so it’s nice to see Dex finish the job with Jimenez and it’s even nicer to see him turn on Lilah, the woman we all love to hate, but these monstrous acts are contrasted by the concern he shows for Rita and the kids.  The truth is that Dexter has no clue who he is. Continue reading

Is that what I am, clean?

This episode’s title, “That Night, a Forest Grew,” is a delightful reference to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.  For those of you suffering from either a bad memory or a deprived childhood, it’s a children’s book about a little boy sent to his room without supper for acting like a “beast.”  The boy (Max) escapes into a fantasy land populated by monsters over which he becomes king.  Fun as being a beast is, it soon grows tiresome and Max returns home to find a hot dinner waiting from him.  It’s one of those wonderful children’s stories that work on multiple levels, but the reading that best suits this episode is that of a boy coping with anger and frustration and coming to appreciate the love and security of family. Continue reading

Don’t tell me who I am

Fun as it is too see the task force gathering evidence against Dexter, it’s even more fun to watch him working with them, investigating his own crimes.  Technically, that’s not what happened here as the Miami PD were dealing with a Bay Harbour Copycat, but it’s still very entertaining to watch Dexter and Lundy discuss the BHB’s MO.  I was initially disappointed that Dex was kept off the taskforce, but episodes like “Dex, Lies, and Videotape” prove that less is more.  Not only are such scenes with Lundy proving more impactful due to scarcity, but it’s far more interesting to keep Dexter outside the loop; he’s been one step behind on first the rocks and now the surveillance footage and we get a far greater sense of him being in danger. Continue reading

I’m not who I’m supposed to be

Dexter works so well as a twisted take on super hero mythology that an episode like “The Dark Defender” feels largely superfluous.  I really didn’t need the series to point out all the connections between itself and the genre and the image of Dexter in the Dark Defender outfit feels silly and obvious rather than dramatic.  The notion that Dexter may be driven not only by bloodlust, but some subconscious need to avenge his mother is a good one, but making it this obvious robs it of the nuance that normally characterizes DexterContinue reading

The first step to recovery…

The contrast between Harry and Lilah in “See-Through” goes a long way to selling the illusion that she can be a positive force in Dexter’s life.  Harry’s parenting, always suspect, is at its worst here and it’s clear his son could use the self esteem boost, but Lilah’s “anything goes” brand of moral relativism isn’t the healthy alternative it seems to be.  She’s right that calling himself a monster is a way for Dexter to deny responsibility, but admitting that there’s evil in all of us doesn’t excuse its existence. Continue reading