Dexter "Buck the System" Review: Nothing Will Ever Be the Same Again

By Cory Barker

Oct 15, 2012

Dexter S7E03: “Buck the System”

Well, we knew that couldn’t last.

Deb’s plan to save Dexter through intense observation and half-cocked detoxing came from a place of love and hope, but there was no way that he was ever going to help make that work—because he doesn’t really want to change. Dexter has spent too much time embracing his Dark Passenger, and he's certainly worked very hard to convince himself that the code is good enough to keep him from being a full-blown monster. So, despite Deb’s best hopes, her plan is all but busted.

However, that’s actually okay. Another week, another episode of Dexter that subverts my expectations in a good way. Instead of harping on Deb suffocating Dexter and him trying to sneak away from her every 10 minutes, “Buck the System” moved into another realm of their new relationship: Dexter telling her the truth.

When he recognized that she wasn’t going to stop badgering him about his whereabouts, Dexter turned the tables on Deb and laid everything out on the table. He further explained the code, why he does what he does and more importantly, why he does what he does. And for good measure, he brought Deb along while he was casing a probable killer in hopes of convincing her of the value of his work. That conversation in the bar, with Dexter opening up and promising that he wouldn’t kill unless he knew for sure he was doing what “must” be done and Deb wholeheartedly disagreeing with him, is now my favorite scene of the season so far.

The show is (somewhat surprisingly) examining Dexter and Deb’s relationship with a great deal of subtlety, particularly with regard to their ideological differences. They care for—but can never really understand—one another. But although Dexter has always been super afraid of Deb finding out his secret for this very reason, the show is working hard to at least give Dexter a chance of convincing her that while his way might be horrible and unorthodox, it’s not THE WORST.

“Buck the System” took the smart approach to making that happen by allowing Deb into Dexter’s process, creating workplace tension about warrants and procedure that was low-key but still purposeful. Plus, I love that Dexter admitted to Deb that she’s already been in on his process forever since she’s followed so many of his fake hunches. By the end of the episode, Dexter was proven right—because he almost always is—but still, Deb questioned what this means for their relationship both at work and outside it. Maybe they can’t have the same relationship they had before. For the third episode of the season, that’s a damn great conclusion.

Some might say that the show should have allowed Deb to freak out about Dexter’s identity more, or maybe the writers should have slow-played some of the tension between them in these early episodes, but it’s worked really well for me. The show is nicely and logically moving through beats of this story without falling into melodramatic drivel, which was really my big fear coming into the season. The fact that there hasn’t been a scene with Deb pointing a gun at Dexter and suggesting that she needs to turn him in is really promising. Their relationship is deep enough—and screwed up enough—that it’s believable to me that Deb would try to fix Dexter and that she would ultimately see his side of the argument, only to recognize that his side of the argument isn’t good enough. Frankly, that’s an adult and complex conclusion for a show that tends to skew toward the silly and stupid side of things.

The other big news (which, based on the comments, I know you folks want to talk about): Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovski made her anticipated debut in this episode as Hannah McKay, the former accomplice of a deranged killer Miami PD needs information from now that the long-closed case is opened. Dexter, for whatever reason (well, she’s pretty, I get that), dropped the Q-tip when trying to perform a DNA swab, which is basically this show’s version of a meet-cute.

There was certainly a spark between Dexter and Hannah, who refused to give much of anything to Batista, information-wise, because she was giving googly eyes to Dex, but it’s still unclear how she will play into the season as things progress. The show always has more cases going then it seems, so I’m guessing she’ll have to come in for questioning or something silly like that. But nevertheless, it’s always great to have Yvonne around. She and Michael C. Hall worked well together in just a short scene.

And! The Ukrainian mob story took a nice turn as well. After Dexter sent the hand back into the office and the weird video diary to Jamie, Louis lost both his job and his girlfriend. So, in hopes of getting some quick (read: lame) payback, Louis went to the marina to sink Dex’s boat. The problem with that? Issak and George happened to be there at the same time, looking for the owner of said boat because it was the last place that a GPS tracked Viktor to. Louis gave up Dexter as the owner of the boat and got himself a bullet in the head for his troubles.

What a weird story. For a handful of episodes, it seemed like Louis was going to be a major threat to Dexter for a reason we were not privy to. Then, it was revealed that he was just a pipsqueak, but there was still something there. Turns out, nope, just a dweeb with a weird temperament. That’s an odd conclusion to what was a pretty odd story. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see that the baddies already know about Dexter. Usually, it takes eight episodes to get to that point.

But this season, Dexter isn’t doing things in the usual fashion—and is much better for it.


– I quite enjoyed Dexter’s frustrated dream sequences in the first part of the episode. Michael C. Hall nails the unsettling satisfaction that takes hold of Dexter during certain kills. The glee is terrifying but awesome.

– Quinn falling in love with a stripper who outwardly tells him that she’s been ordered to manipulate him is both the funniest and saddest thing to happen this season. Can’t someone just put that guy out his misery? For all of us?

– That killer’s bull costume and Saw-inspired murder den were sufficiently creepy, right? I feel like the show has done so many things like that over the years that new attempts to shock fall on deaf ears.

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  • MelanieBaldwin Oct 22, 2012

    great review! I totally agree on all points.

    Concerning Louis: I really think, he is going to be the one who will come around to bite Dexter in the ass, from beyond the grave... Dexter has always been so meticulous with his boat, cleaning up after himself. But he can't know someone has been murdered on it at this point, so the tell-tale blood evidence stays on his boat, unnoticed (for now).

    With the one blood slide out in the open, in combination with the captains hunches and now Louis going missing - wouldn't it be awful, yet somehow fitting, if Dexter would finally be "caught" in the end for the one thing he actually didn't do?!? This season's underlying theme seems to be the fall guy, that got punished for the crime he didn't commit - like Sergeant Dokes in season 2...

    I am VERY curious where this storyline will lead Dexter (and us with him...;))

  • vivyrox Oct 18, 2012

    Fantastic episode!! Loved it! Hope louis' blood doesn't come back to haunt Dex.... I can't stand anything bad happening to him :) Also if they finish season 8 with Dexter dying I will be sooooooooooo endlessly pissed off! They better give the series a good ending......

  • rye06p Oct 18, 2012

    Dexter is finally getting somewhere new and exciting! And something I've noticed over the past three episodes is every time I roll my eyes and think I know what's going to happen, I'm surprised. This mainly happens with Deb not giving Dexter any room to breathe. I'm so glad we are exploring Deb and Dexter and Dexters Dark Passenger thoroughly.

  • InkramNestoes Oct 17, 2012

    This season is really up to something good. The last 3 episodes were simply amazing, such a difference with the first 3 of season 6. I'm so grateful that the show has evolved to this point, cause seriously this is exactly what it needed. Debra finding out about his secret has been such good television and I'm really surprised about Jennifer Carpenter, she has been doing such a great job. She's always good, but she stepped it up even more the last couple of episodes. I'm completely in love with Debra thanks to her. Michael C Hall is amazingly terrifying as always and as you said the bar scene was spot on! These two make some of the best television.

    I liked Yvonne as Hannah, she had one scene, but it was convincing. I can't wait to see more. I wonder how Rita/Lumen-like she is, cause c'mon there definitely is a pattern in his choice of women. Blonde, kinda fragile but strong at the same time, I'm very curious what they got in store for her.

    Thank God, Louis is out of the picture, cause seriously he was getting on my nerves, trying to play a game, he obviously can't play at all. The best part is that Dexter made him irrelevant right that moment (Coincidence? Ha!), no one will even care for him. Masuka fired him and Jaime left him. Great timing!

    To finish my thoughts: the Ukranian gangsters or whatever they are. I like them, we have seen Dexter deal with a lot of serial killers and crazy people, but he might have hit the jackpot this time! This is just what the show and Dexter himself need, some REALLY crazy people to fuck with him, can't wait to see what's gonna happen. I'm definitely more excited about them than that Bull-guy, cause that's just Dexter usual clientele.

    Basically, I'm really excited for next week and the next 20 episodes to come, I'm now pretty convinced Dexter is gonna get the ending it deserves.

  • katikool Oct 17, 2012

    I am really really pleased with the direction the show is taking this season. All of Dexter and Deb's revelations and confessions feel very emotionally true to the characters and also very realistic. Plus I love how fast the show is already moving through the story lines and bringing Dex and Deb to a place where they fully understand each other.

    I'm also very glad they wrapped up that Louis plot quickly because he was kind of the worst. And I love how quickly the real baddies are onto him! Dramaaa.

    And finally, is LaGuerta being a ton better at everything now? Semi-competent detective, nearly decent human, and she stopped doing stupid selfish stuff all the time! I'm not ready to forgive her for past seasons' indiscretions, but I'm not completely PO-ed by her scenes anymore. Progress!

  • dragon22a Oct 17, 2012

    I am really happy that Dexter is getting back to the level it once was after last season. the Dexter and Deb storyline is just what needed to happen to inject life back into the show and gladly the whole Debra being in love with Dexter bit has been forgotten and Deb is back to being the somewhat protective sister.

    Yvonne's character is a bit of a mystery right now but I am sure that will change soon. She claims to be someone trying to just move on but maybe she still has that darkness in her. Maybe that is why Dexter has chemistry with her, they recognize each others dark passengers.

    For a while I thought that Louis was something more sinister than a punk kid. Like maybe he was Brians son or something like that and was tormenting his uncle.

  • ElisaDiaz Oct 17, 2012

    Loving the new season. I think that Louis might still play a rol in the coming episodes if his body is found and Dexter can be linked to his death somehow (there was blood spelt at Dexter's boat when Louis was killed). Just maybe. It would make more sense, as the show took some time to develop this Louis character just to let it fall so soon.

  • DavidJackson8 Oct 17, 2012

    Quinn: "Don't worry about me. If I can protect you and catch a cop killer, it's worth sticking my neck out a little."

    I REALLY hope that that's a foreshadow and a prelude of sorts to Quinn being killed. Please, please please please please, please. His whole talk with Nadya really makes me think he's gonna be killed -- writers, don't let me down :(

    More importantly, please kill LaGuerta ASAP as well. I know I'm beating the same drum again and again, but I'll never be able to enjoy Dexter to my full ability until she's gone... :)

    YAY! I had totally forgotten that I read about Yvonne Strahovski's guest star this season. I love her.

    Also, I quite like that Louis is killed the way he was -- without a bang and by the hands of someone other than Dexter. Obviously the director was hinting that his death will effect Dexter in some way by showing us the blood splatter on the boat, so that could be interesting. Maybe LaGuerta will happen by it in some way while investigating the blood slide. Or, more likely, Deb will see it one day and assume he killed someone, when in fact, he hadn't... and possibly take a sample and see that it was a former co-worker and not-so-bad-a-guy.

  • TypeB Oct 17, 2012

    Agreed. LaGuerta has not been getting a lot of screen time lately, she might as well just die into oblivion.

  • violetpretty Oct 17, 2012

    AWESOME episode. Man, season 7 is REALLY damn strong. I love it!

  • knoffihoffi Oct 17, 2012

    I hope I am not the only one who noticed that the boat scene is going to blow right back into Dexters face!

    [possible spoiler]

    While his Dark Passenger takes over, Dexter is always so painstakingly thorough about not leaving any evidence behind. But now there is a blood/DNA trail of a murder victim right inside his boat. I really doubt the henchman is cleanig the blood up as thorough as it needs to be to leave no trail. This is the great catch for things to come at the end. [ /possible spoiler]

    And what better possible companion for Dexter than a woman who already went on a killing spree with a serial killer?!

    During her conversation with Batista, the part about "to live with it the rest of my life" seemed to me not born out of a bad conscience, but it appeared to be more like embarrasment of being caught. I think she has a dark part, too. She already did draw Dexters blood, through her plants. After this scene, she was really fixated on Dexter.

    There were so many subliminal "messages" in the greenhouse scene...

  • katikool Oct 17, 2012

    Oooh I think you are so right! Louis' murder can easily get pinned on Dexter now! With DNA and everything to lock it down. Such an interesting theory, my brain is working overtime now.

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