Dexter "Do the Wrong Thing" Review: Double Date
I don’t know about this.
We’ve reached the halfway mark of Dexter’s seventh season, and “Do the Wrong Thing” felt like a true pivot point. While the first portion of this season has focused almost exclusively on the aftermath of Deb learning the truth about Dexter’s extracurricular activities, the events of this episode, and the path it paves for future episodes, suggest that the second half is going to be much more interested in Dexter’s relationship with the mysterious, likely demented Hannah McKay.
So, I’ll repeat: I don’t know about this.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the story with Dexter and Hannah is damn compelling. I’ve consistently lauded the chemistry between Yvonne Strahovski and Michael C. Hall—both are doing great work—and the show has always been intrigued with having Dexter find someone who he can share his true self with. He thought Lumen could be that person, and heck, at times he's even found (temporary) comfort in his relationships with some of the Big Bads he's gone on to kill. With Deb deciding that she doesn’t want anything to do with Dexter’s real identity and simultaneously suffocating him and giving him the cold shoulder, he probably feels particularly stymied and frustrated. So yeah, it does make a good amount of sense that Dexter would, after investigating and stalking Hannah with the intention of killing her, decide to have sex with her instead. He has needs, after all.
Still though, I’m concerned about what this episode and this story mean for Deb’s centrality to the main story. She’s not going to be completely swept away in stupid B- and C-plots because the knowledge she has isn’t going away—no matter how much she wants it to. But more so than any other episode this season, “Do the Wrong Thing” felt like an old, mediocre Dexter episode. I said this last week as well; it’s curious to me that the first four episodes of the season were so chock-full of Deb-and-Dexter tension, and the last two have lacked it and been much more familiar.
Whereas before all the supporting characters were mostly sidelined, the last two episodes have begun pushing them further and further into the spotlight. Just in case you weren’t getting your Batista fix, he randomly decided in this episode that he wanted to retire and buy a crappy restaurant, a plot that was both dumb and completely unrelated to anything else that was happening. The good news is that it allowed Batista and Jamie to have a conversation where she got to do that TV character thing where someone says, “You’re my [enter sibling relationship] and I love you, but...” I enjoyed that so much, and it was probably useful in this case because Jamie’s such a non-entity that some fans probably forgot she was Batista’s sister.
Meanwhile, Quinn was doing his Quinn thing, i.e. making bad decisions. Desmond Harrington is kind of decent in this role and I can at least appreciate that Quinn taking money from the Ukrainian cartel is associated with an important season story. However, there’s nothing redeemable about Harrington having to deliver earnest lines about rediscovering Quinn’s crooked nature so that he can save a hooker from being shipped off to Dubai. It’s just not good.
But not everything is similarly bad. Deb dating the new character, crime writer Sal Price, is beyond cliché, but like the Quinn story, it's at least connected to important goings-on. Price has information about Hannah’s involvement with those past murders, which of course is going to lead to Deb learning that Dexter lied to her once again. Santiago Cabrera is pretty stiff and Jennifer Carpenter carried their scenes together (shocker), so I’m not particularly looking forward to a few more episodes of Sal popping up and Deb having to lie to him. The story will probably result in more good material for Carpenter and Deb, but there’s never been much value in Deb dating stories.
Have I mentioned that I don’t know about this?
There were lots of things to like about this episode, particularly the performances from the major players. And based on how Dexter typically moves, I can already imagine the final few episodes of the season, with an exasperated Deb having to manage her feelings for and knowledge about her brother while attempting to do her job and take care of Hannah. And it will be different once she figures out that Dexter isn’t just “taking care of” the ones who slip through the cracks, he’s now forging evidence, covering things up, and keeping a bad person alive. At that point, the show will be able to return to the ideological differences between the Morgan siblings, as well as force Dexter to make a choice between Hannah and Deb.
The problem is, we presumably still have a handful of episodes left before all that comes crashing down. We’ve reached that middle part of the season where Dexter often gets distracted by silly and worthless stories starring its lifeless supporting characters. The last two episodes have started to point Season 7 in that familiar direction. And while neither this episode nor last week’s offering were as bad as similar moments in past seasons, I was hoping that the writers had figured out how to avoid that lull that the show almost always falls victim to.
I’m hoping that Hall and Strahovski’s chemistry will be enough to power the show through the bumpy spots I’m predicting. And maybe I’ll just be wrong and Dexter will expedite the stories that I'm assuming won’t progress until later. The show is still going strong, but I hope this is as weak as it gets.
– Isaac in prison was fine. I like that the character is still hanging around and that the show is taking a different approach to the season-long villain’s trajectory. It still feels like that story is going to take a while to develop, though.
– That blood-splatter flower was pretty cool looking, right?
– Masuka ratting out Batista for thinking about retiring was amusing. That guy can’t shut up.
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