Dexter "Chemistry" Review: Strange Bedfellows

By Cory Barker

Nov 12, 2012

Dexter S7E07: "Chemistry"

I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong, and I’d say that some of my comments about last week’s episode of Dexter now qualify as such. My concerns about the shift in focus from Dex and Deb to a slew of other, somewhat-connected stories were alleviated by this week’s episode, "Chemistry." More importantly, the show has avoided its typical extended, middle-of-the-season slump by not plodding along with threads that aren’t particularly fruitful. It turns out that mediocre and predictable stories aren’t as bad when you plow through them in short order.

On that note, “Chemistry” worked well because it moved at a little faster pace than the typical Dexter episode. I would suggest that it was reflective of Dexter’s state of mind; he was running around from work to Sal Price’s apartment to Hannah’s place and back, multiple times over. He was off-balance, confused, and reckless, which is something we’ve seen before, but perhaps not in this way. This isn’t bloodlust, it’s just lust.

After their sexual encounter, Dexter tried to pretend—or maybe, convince himself—that he wasn’t interested in Hannah, but when she played the same game, Dexter was clearly shaken. She blankly asked whether he is going to kill her and there were some humorous knowing jokes about their respective neuroses, all of which signaled to Dexter that there might be something more—dare I say real—to his attraction to Hannah.

Unfortunately, the post-coital high didn’t last too long, because Sal Price quickly closed in on both Hannah and Dexter. He cornered Dexter into giving up some information (it wasn't true, but still) and pushed Hannah into doing an interview. But neither of the two new lovebirds was interested in screwing around with Price, so Dexter plotted (quite ridiculously) to pin the murder of one of Price’s former book subjects on the author, while Hannah did her poisoning thing, leading to Price dropping dead from an apparent heart attack—right in the middle of Dexter’s apartment.

All the while, both Dexter and Hannah were facing pressure from a very persistent and angry Deb, who'd figured out that Hannah not only helped Wayne kill people years ago, but she also took out a former husband (also with poison). Deb pushed Dexter on his falsified blood-spatter report and brought in Hannah for a fairly intense interrogation session. But once Price fell by the wayside in a similar fashion, Deb had had enough. She knew she couldn’t actually prove that Hannah had killed Price, her husband, or anyone else. So it was time to call for reinforcement: Dexter.

Now, that’s a pretty great ending. As I said last week, and as I’m sure so many of you could recognize, it seemed likely that the show was heading in this direction. We knew that Deb’s knowledge of Dexter’s night moves wasn’t going to go away, no matter how hard she wanted it to, and we knew that Hannah would eventually become a larger, more imediate problem. However, I’m still pretty shocked that the writers actually made it happen so quickly.

What this does, I think, is further ramp up the pressure on Dexter in quite a novel way for the show. Because the middle part of Dexter's seasons often bump along with a lack of energy, Dexter is usually able to manage his regular half-dozen pressing issues in a somewhat calm, sequential fashion (kill bad guys, cover it up, track the Big Bad, lie to Deb, profit). Yet now, not only does Deb too much of the truth—and just enough that it makes Dexter feel especially guilty that he isn’t telling her all of it—but everything is falling down on him at once. He doesn’t really understand his feelings for Hannah. He can’t control her increasingly hasty actions. Price turned out to be a moderately formidable foe. And hell, now Isaac is out of prison thanks to Quinn’s dirty dealings. Dexter can usually handle his self-inflicted problems well, but I get the feeling that he doesn’t have a true grip on all the elements in play.

And at the center of his confusion is, of course, Hannah. While Dexter abides by a code, Hannah does not, but I don’t think Dexter really cares. I appreciate that "Chemistry" went out of its way to explore why Dexter’s attraction to Hannah is different than his relationships with Lila, Rita, and Lumen—and although I think the show can get away with some retroactive storytelling thanks to Dexter’s voiceover providing us the context, I’m willing to go with its point that Hannah could be the one because she actually understands and accepts him. Nevertheless, a big part of the reason she does understand is that she’s a serial killer herself, and one who doesn’t seem to be as “honorable” as Dexter. There’s something silly about how the show constantly affirms Dexter’s code as if he’s the best-behaved and psychologically solid murderer in the history of mankind, but using that logic, this relationship works very well.

Although I couldn’t quite see it last week (the pitfalls of writing about episodic television), I feel like the show has done a fine job of allowing Deb to know certain things while keeping other, perhaps more urgently important things, from her. This tension gives Deb the opportunity to be competent and confident in her job, which results in conversations like the one where she accused Dexter of hiding the blood-spatter analysis so he could go kill Hannah. But it also maintains the show’s longtime framework of Dexter obscuring the truth in some fashion; thus, Deb calling Dexter and asking him to take Hannah out becomes an even bigger moment. Not only does it signify that Deb is finally falling victim to the effectiveness of the Dark Passenger, it also complicates matters, because Dex has to now pick between his sister and his new bedfellow—and sooner, rather than later.

These developments were made more effective by predictably strong performances. Michael C. Hall and Yvonne Strahovski work even better together in their light comedy scenes; both of them are underrated comedic performers. And I thought Jennifer Carpenter delivered strong work yet again. She’s portraying Deb with a newfound confidence, in both her personal and professional spheres, and it's very charming.

Last week, I thought I knew exactly where this season of Dexter was headed, and how/when it was going to get there. This week, I have no idea. I’m so happy to be wrong.



NOTES


– Not to further cut myself down here, but I’ll even admit that I kind of liked Quinn and Batista’s scenes this week. You know why? Because the show smartly combined them. Now Batista’s stupid restaurant is funded by Quinn’s dirty money and there is all sorts of guilt for Quinn to swim around in. These developments aren’t overwhelmingly interesting, but I respect the economical storytelling.

– My one big problem with this episode was Dexter screwing around at Price’s apartment on two different occasions. Not only do I find it somewhat hard to believe that a competent true-crime writer like Price—who assumes Hannah could be deadly—would leave so much stuff out in the open, including his files, but Dexter’s internal waffling over what to do was just a waste of time. By the way, Price probably has backups. Google Drive, yo.

– Isaac getting out of jail so quickly is both compelling and dumb. I’m happy to see him torment Dexter a little more because Ray Stevenson is doing good work, but goodness, how terrible is the Miami PD? Shouldn’t they all be fired by now?

– LaGuerta found... something? Someone let me know when she becomes relevant or useful.


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  • krismaz Nov 14, 2012

    What did LaGuerta find? I didn't get it, only managed to see Dexter's name on some list.

  • brianreilly Nov 14, 2012

    Does anyone see a twist in the story between quinn and the k brotherhood?

    He (quinn) seems to be acting really dumb around them (k brotherhood)

    yet he seems really confident to his new girlfriend in the sense that he can save her from the k brotherhood

    also the cheque to batista is almost a symbolic goodbye to repay his wrong doings

    Is he going to go down in a blaze of glory taking the k brotherhood down?

    Or am i reading too much into this and quinn is just his usual dumb self ?

  • ToddMurray Nov 14, 2012

    Good review, Cory! I absolutely loved the ending of the episode! This has been a very fun season of Dexter.

    As for the frame job, I thought it was ingenious of Dexter to lay the groundwork of framing Sal Price for an unsolved crime that he had previously written about in incredible detail. Now, we'll never know if he would have actually gone through with it (I doubt it), but it was a masterful piece of motivation for Sal to get off his back.

  • sincubus00 Nov 14, 2012

    Should we blame the writers for Dexter's sloppy plan to take care of the annoying Price(the writer guy on the show, not Tim Price, hehe) or should we blame the pu$$y trance Hannah's got him in, you know there is less blood flowing to his brain right now.

  • pretzilm Nov 13, 2012

    Do Mac computers even have a log in screen? With a password? As far as I can tell from watching Dexter, they do not, everybody, from serial killers, to police officers and writers, all leave their computers turned on and logged in all day for anybody to use...

  • Snatzer Nov 13, 2012

    The relationship between Dexter and Hannah has to develop a lot more for him to risk Deb being killed. Harry taught him to protect Deb at any cost. So, if the writers would actually go for that, Dexter would have to abandon his code. in that case Dex would become an unsympatic serial killer. That change in character would be stealing from Breakig Bad and be a complete disrespect to both shows. Furthermore, if Hannah has no emphatie to see that she can't kill Deb, then Dex will see that he has to kill Hannah. A/the circle is round, end of story...no killing Deb or Hannah writers, that would be silly.



    For me the interesting turn was to find out that Hannah just kills when someone or some animal is in her way. She has no dark passenger or urge to kill. How does that combine with Dexter, who is an addict?



    Isaac is so looking for a new bromance. You could almost see him thinking "I can learn so much from you Dexter, don't you want to be my friend?"



    Anyway, bad progress for Isaac, he was so menacing, evil and the perfect don...and now the writers are degrading him (except for the different kind of animal quote, that was brilliant). Dex deserves the pre-lunch Isaac as a worthy opponent!!



    ps. how dumb are we, do we really need all that explaining? Voiceover information and Isaac telling he was soooo encompassed with revenge that he could be lured in a trap. I thought it was a great episode, but which episode isn't great that starts the way this one did. Therefore after all the dissin' the writers in this forum a big thank you is in place, for getting Yvonne to take her clothes off.

  • rye06p Nov 13, 2012

    I'm thinking this show should downgrade all it's main characters excluding Dexter and Deb.

  • elhund Nov 13, 2012

    I would like to see a Dexter on the run in the last season, like a first episode we get to see a very hairy dexter living off the grid in some cabin up in Colorado perhaps.

    Then we get to see through flashbacks when Dexter had too flee from Miami cause the incompetent police force finally figured out he was a mass murderer.

  • Ubercolt Nov 13, 2012

    This might happen considering the title of the last episode of the present season, which implies a confrontation with La Guerta (Doakes' head cheerleader).



    The writers would inevitably make a mess of the flashbacks; by then, voice-overs would account for 85% of each episode, so flashbacks would probably be substituted for internal dialogue (e.g., 'Ah, bacon. Crisp. Greasy [cue fade-out]. I remember when Quinn was on my tail, shortly after I killed Angel for no other reason than to justify a plot twist that centred on his buying a restaurant and being one day away from retirement. The humidity was... [insert more descriptive fluff and waffle]... If only I had listened more to Harry').



    Maybe then Dexter calls Miami P.D. and leaves the coordinates of his hideout on Masuka's voicemail ('Harry: Dexter, is this really a good idea? Dexter: Maybe not. Perhaps my dark passenger is tired of the writers taking fans for a ride'). Of course, by this stage, the supporting cast will have their own internal voice-overs, so Masuka might never check the message ('Masuka: now that Dex is gone I can check his computer [which was left on] for snuff').



    All very plausible, I'm afraid.

  • elhund Nov 13, 2012

    LaGuerta,Quinn and Batista = The lineup for the most incompetent police force we have seen to date on any television show.

  • AlexanderNiel1 Nov 13, 2012

    Dexter takes pleasure from killing people, while Hannah simply smacks them like flies or mosquitos. She doesn't go out of her way to kill people, she simply kill those that buzz around her and annoy her. I enjoy this contrast, although I prefer Dexter in the book series, somewhat darker ^^



    Though I may point out that I don't think Dexter was going to pin the crime on Price. There is no point telling Price about it if his intention was to hand Price to the police. It was probably a simple act of extortion: you leave us alone, we leave you alone. And for that purpose it should work. Plausible motive, physical evidence and probably also means to commit the murder.

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