Dexter – Those Kind of Things
Dexter has always been a good watch week to week, but if you step back and take a more omniscient view of the show you can quite quickly see how the individual seasons have been quite literally hit and miss. Two was the show’s breakout season, it was the one that truly started the hype and hooked us in to this mythos, but then it was followed by the third which is -while still more than watchable – rightly reviled as more than a little off tone. Then, just as everyone had started to give up hope out came Four which not only blew everyone away but , to my mind, established a new series highpoint. After this season Five was statistically set to fail and though it seemed to start well it finished more than limply, copping out by contrivially having the cops simply let Dex out of a long overdue reveal for the sake of successfully serializing the show forevermore. Will this new season continue on that same downward slide or will it follow that other trend and redeem the series? That’s the big question.
Though the show itself is fascinated with an altogether different ‘big question’ this year mine is still a particularly pertinent question because this Sixth season seems set to play with redemption as its primary pet theme, in particular religious repentance. I for one really like the show’s theme writing (and think that those people who just watch this phenomenologically, or not at all, are actually missing out on a lot more cerebrality than they probably realize) and this monster to man style redemption is a nice idea, though it’s not a particularly riveting one, especially compared to past season arcs which have had the pressure on from the beginning. Redemption does not seem like a high stakes story center, mainly because it is more a character than plot based concept, but the episode’s first scene starts to prove this wrong by setting the stakes very, very high… before again coping out completely.
Given the major backlash against the shows officially sanctioned predilection for wheel spinning it is somewhat ironic that the theme of this particular episode, Those Kind of Things (a reference to brutal religious artifacts) is ‘moving forward’ (You may read that in Julia Gillard’s voice, that’s how I wrote it). As well as the verbal voice over references this theme surfaces in the form of Harrison’s first school (and another plot element that would be spoiled by any reference) and this is juxtaposed with ‘looking back’ in the form of Deter’s school reunion. It’s a very clever and complicated but ultimately quite concise example of what the show’s writers do best, unfortunately though there are more important things making up a show than its themes.
Given that the show’s story is so strongly serialized in this season specific way judging the ‘plot’ from the premiere alone would be pretty foolish, but there were no elements introduced in either the contained or arced plots that I found all that enticing. The other important element of a good show is characters; by now you know all the regulars and I’ll tell you now, they havn’t changed despite a year having past. There are some new characters though: firstly we meet Dex’s new nanny ( Has there ever been a show with this many Nanny-centric characters and plot-lines?) who conveniently happens to also be Angel’s long lost sister, or something. Again, nothing all that enticing here (though the actress is attractive, young and scantily clad), but the fact that the writers have condensed two of the stupid side-plots together bodes well for the future. Masuka also gets a young attractive female to interact with in the form of a student intern; while this plot feels out of place outside of Scrubs introducing some newbies into the lab rather than just the Detective pool (as past seasons have) is a good idea and should work to freshen things up a little.
We of course then have the Big Bad(s) who come in the form of a pair of scripture quoters (we really know nothing else about them); they are by far the most intriguing aspect of the premiere but while the scene with the horseshoe shaped scar spewing seven snakes was certainly a very effective, very chilling one but ultimately their presence was entirely shoehorned into the plot. They directly interacted with none of the other characters or plots in any way, meaningful or no, and whenever this happens I have to ask myself, ‘Would the story have worked fine – or even better – without them?’ and in this case I think the answer to both is yes. All they added to this episode was another subtle as a hammer strike to the head reminder that this season Dexter was going to be taking on God, but honestly the six to seven other sequences which they wrote solely to shoehorn in this information already made far too many forced reminders; I’m already close to super saturated with the concept and they’ve barely began to utilize it in any deep manner.
Of course given how well cast those roles are and how unique a psychological situation Dex presents I do have faith that this theme will pay fruit in future episodes, but at this stage the show is simply setting up more sins in the scale, maybe more sins than it will e able to repent for before the end… but until I see the worst, I’ve gotta have faith.