Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunday Television 10/07/12: Dexter's Return to Form


Damn, just when I had decided to quit watching 'Dexter' for good, they had to come up with this. 

For the past couple of seasons, 'Dexter' had become a pretty terrible show. The plot was always basically the same, which meant the show lacked any kind of thrill or surprise when Dexter was shockingly not caught at the end of every season. Also, in the past two years it started stripping down the moral complexity that it sported in its first years (especially season two). When the show started Dexter was a very complex figure, a serial-killer, a man addicted to kill that wanted to make a good thing out of it. In the past two years Dexter's status as a rightful vigilante that was cleaning up the street of any bad guys took over the moral compass of the show. 

In any case, those two major problems seem to be gone in season seven. 

I initially didn't believe the hype when people starting saying that the newest 'Dexter' season was being any good (especially after season six, which was just outright horrible), but soon it wasn't just a couple of people saying it, it was everyone. I didn't watch the season premiere last week, but I caught up with the show and watched its second episode tonight. And it was really good. 

The big thing about the season is the fact that Debra has discovered Dexter is a serial killer. When this sloppily happened at the end of last season's finale, I thought the writers would find out a way to write the whole thing off, so I was very pleasantly surprised they decided to actually change the status quo of the show. This development seems to have been very invigorating for the show. The fact that Dexter is now living with Debra, who in turn is trying to serve as a kind of rehab for her brother is pretty interesting and brings back the morally complex storytelling from the first seasons of the show. 

'Sunshine and Frosty Swirl', which was tonight's episode, was one of the very best episodes of 'Dexter' I've seen in a long time. It featured some terrific scenes with Deb going through the emotions of finding out her brother is a serial killer (although I thought they should have done more with the fact that Harry trained Dexter, considering Deb had such a peculiar relationship to her dad), but most of all it gave Dexter a very existential journey to embark into. 

I thought it was pretty nice writing that Dexter thought he could handle being 'rehabed' by Deb and that he could really change to become a better person because of the serial killer who is now revealing the location of his victims' bodies to the police. That man, of course, commits suicide at the end of the episode. He couldn't handle not being able to kill and now Dexter is afraid he can't either. 

I don't know if this 'return to form' will last more than one season for 'Dexter'. Many shows have had a stand-out season late in their run to then continue to the mediocre state they were in ('Friends' eighth and 'Frasier's last come to mind). This might very well be the case with 'Dexter', but it seems like at least we'll get one very good season this year. 

What Else Did I Watch?

The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror XXIII"
'The Simpsons' did their annual halloween episode (it seems a little too early to me, but whatever). It featured parodies of 'Paranormal Activity', 'Back to the Future' and the Mayan prediction that the world will end this year. It was basically the kind of treehouse shenanigans they present every year, nothing especially funny or clever. though. 

Bob's Burgers: "Full Bars"
Bob's Burgers also had a Halloween themed episode tonight, in which the Belcher kids go trick or treating and have to stand up to teenage bullies. These three kids always work better when they are featured together in a storyline, so the episode brought a lot of laughs out of that front. The storyline featuring Bob accidentally killing Teddy's guinea pig wasn't as strong and had an unsatisfying ending, it did however provide a great capper for the episode having Bob and Linda tell the children what happened in a very nice scene featuring the family hanging out together.  

Homeland: "Beirut is Back"
Here we f***ing go. Not only did this episode have one of the best 'Homeland' cliffhangers, it also did a great job leading up to it. On the one hand we have Carrie being once again distrusted by   the CIA, which brings her to a very emotional scene with Saul in which she expresses how much it has affected her to know she was wrong about Brody being a terrorist. On the other hand we have a Brody who has to safe Abu Nazir from being murdered by sending a text message in a room full of American politicians and then seemingly wanting to get out of informing for the terrorists. It all added up so that when Saul found the video of Brody, I just lost it.

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