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.