Dexter "Helter Skelter" Review: An Uneasy Alliance Begins... and Ends

Dexter S7E09: “Helter Skelter”

Dexter is a ridiculous show. It is not realistic at all. Sometimes that can bother me, but what I love about the show (when it's good) is how well it can take me along for a ride that can I simultaneously recognize as pretty silly and enthralling nonetheless. And amid a season of relatively down-to-earth and character-focused stories, “Helter Skelter” saw the show reach its highest level of absurdity so far this season, and it thrived in doing so.

Only on a television show like Dexter can an entire episode revolve around the uneasy alliance between two cold-blooded killers who've spent most of the previous half-dozen installments plotting to kill one another. And only on a show like this one can those characters trade barbs, pull multiple weapons on one another, and then discuss heady concepts like love, loss, fear, and responsibility as part of their alliance. Simply put, the relationship between Dexter and Isaak has been an odd but compelling one to watch develop throughout the season.

If you are one of those people who thought their chat in the gay bar last week was a treat, "Helter Skelter" may have been one of your favorite episodes of the season so far. Though I've really enjoyed the Dexter-Deb stories this season, I consider myself one of those people. And really, this episode—and this story—shouldn’t have been this good. We have seen the show try to pull Dexter and various villains and Big Bads together for very manufactured, troubling reasons and it has rarely worked; as viewers, we know that the show is not reflective of real life, but some stories just stretch the credulity of the world a smidgen too far.

However, Isaak’s presence in Miami has worked from the get-go and progressed very well. A lot of the credit goes to Ray Stevenson for bringing real ethos and pathos to the role, but the quality and care that's gone into the Dex-Deb story has been shared with Isaak as well. The show has done a fine job of making Isaak’s decision not to kill Dexter (and vice versa) as believable as possible, considering that they understand and respect one another on a more civil level. Not all of Dexter’s relationships with other killers have to careen into twisted, over-the-top territory. And so, when "Helter Skelter" spent most of its running time with Dexter and Isaak working together (quite successfully, I might add) while also featuring Dexter’s backdoor plan to take out Isaak anyway, the story hummed along, logic and believability be damned.

Similar things can be said for the supporting details in the Dexter-Isaak partnership story. Isaak and his loyal buddy Jurg kidnapped Hannah, which is why Dexter agreed to help in the first place, but in the meantime, there was a whole lot of discussion about Dexter’s ability to embrace emotion and love. It was odd to watch Dexter mumble his way through a breathless, half-assed romantic FaceTime conversation with Hannah, but it was even odder to then watch Isaak provide the instant replay of everything Dexter did wrong. The purpose was ultimately to build to some moments at the end of the hour—Dexter taking Isaak out to where he dumped Viktor’s body and Dexter rushing to the hospital and acting generally (and creepily) lovesick toward Hannah—that were simply not as powerful as the show would've liked them to be, but I appreciate Dexter's willingness to try to make an already outrageous situation even more outrageous by including the loaded language.

Of course, the bad news is that Isaak is now gone, leaving Dexter to presumably fend off George and the rest of the Brotherhood. I am assuming they might want some revenge for something, even in Isaak's absence, because that is how these things go. I will definitely miss Isaak and Ray Stevenson. His performance was certainly more subdued than what most of Dexter's special guest-stars bring to the show, and I'm sad that breath of fresh air is now dead (or I guess stale).

Perhaps even worse is what Isaak’s influence has done to Dexter. I'm all-in on his relationship with Hannah, and I know that the writers want to show their work so that we'll understand how this pretty blonde is different from the previous two pretty blondes, but the way Dexter was acting at the end of this episode was an uncomfortable sight to see. Maybe it's just the way Michael C. Hall played that hospital room scene, or maybe he just can't do romantic because he's kind of inherently creepy, but... *shudder*. The show has definitely beat the idea that Dex’s relationship with Hannah is different, yet terrifying, into the ground. My hope is that we can now move on from the “different” part and move onto the “terrifying” part. Did you notice the look on Hannah’s face after Dexter did his eerie love confession thing? Somethin’s a-brewin’.

Even Deb got roped into the silliness this week and unfortunately, she couldn’t handle it like Dexter and Isaak. After being talked off a cliff from a seemingly unbothered-by-her-proclamation-of-love Dexter, she spent most of “Helter Skelter” running errands for her brother that he specifically asked her not to do. She got directly involved in Dexter’s partnership with Isaak, putting her career and life on the line—a typical move for the show, but also one that didn't make much sense in the aftermath of her lecture to Dexter about how wrong his decisions are. The episode tried to pass off Deb’s choices off as “for Dexter,” and I buy that to some degree, but after everything that she's said to him, and even what she has said to Hannah’s face, it's tough to understand why Deb would help a bleeding-out Hannah. We've seen her embrace the idea that bad people need to be punished or get theirs or whatever, so why stop now? Again, Deb’s choice reinforced her complicated feelings about Hannah and only further muddied the waters between the trio of Dexter, Deb, and Hannah, but I'm still concerned that Deb is going to be the character who gets screwed up while the writers try to juggle what is admittedly an odd, compelling story.

But as this episode proved, Dexter knows how to do odd and compelling.



NOTES


– I love how this show always tries to slide in some random case so that all the police characters have to meet for at least one scene. Suddenly there is a serial arsonist going around and lighting people on fire in Miami. The good news is that it's clearly the randomly new and eerie inspector guy, because duh.

– LaGuerta harassed Matthews into giving her some information about the BHB in exchange for reinstatement. Why can’t those two characters just get a room? A room on a show that I never have to watch.

– Batista doesn’t want to talk about the restaurant. He's got health inspection violations that need to fixing very quickly. Hard-knock life.

– George taught Quinn a lesson by... having sex with Nadia. This is probably the apex of Quinn’s time on the show for sure.


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What really bothered me is that Isaak instantly game up on going to a hospital. I thought bullets to the stomach were survivable...he was still going hours later after sunset!
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When Dexter closed Issac's eyes after he died was one of the worst bits of television I have seen in ages. So cliched.
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"Did you notice the look on Hannah's face after Dexter did his eerie love confession thing? Somethin's a-brewin'."
I thought I interpreted her expression incorrectly, but if you saw it as well I wonder what it means.....will she eventually try to kill Dexter???
Can't stand Laguerta!!!!! Wish she'd just jump off a cliff already!
I wonder if george will kill nadia to get back at quinn?
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"Why can't those two characters just get a room? A room on a show that I never have to watch."
This! So many times, this!!
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Awesome, awesome episode. I AM SO SAD that Isaak is gone though. Hell, he is half the reason I was so excited for this season!
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Psst, I have some magic beans I think you'll like to see...
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what the ... ?
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I have magic beans to show anyone who thought this episode was awesome².
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I like the storyline with Deb, though I do feel her complicity is hard to buy and I would actually like to see a bit more struggle on Dexter's part over how to handle the situation-I wouldn't want him to actually kill Deb, but I think it would be more believable if she were still wrestling with whether to turn him in and he actually wrestled with whether to kill her or not. This is where an evil posthumous character, like Brian, would be helpful in exploring the darker aspects of Dexter's thought process. I also don't like the Hannah storyline. Like Lumen, we don't know her, yet Dexter says that the two times he felt fear in his life was watching his mother die...and thinking about her dying? Really? He was more afraid of her dying than Deb dying when she was kidnaped by Brian? Or Rita, when it became clear that Trinity was a threat, or even when he found her dead in a bathtub? Or what about when Astor and Cody were locked in a burning building with him, or when he thought Astor had been kidnapped in season 5? The thought of losing Hannah was scarier than the possibility of those losses? Why? And, again, I've always felt that the writers should show Dexter grieving Rita's death in a more tangible way, such as by visiting her grave, talking to her "ghost," and/or by attempting to be more present in her kids lives. He was the only father they knew for four years and then they were conveniently adopted by their grandparents, who we also never met before the season 4 finale. I still like the show, but I think that Rita's death and the elimination of her children was a significant wrong turn from which the show's narrative has never fully recovered.
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Personally I found ridiculous that the shrink pushed Deb to pursue love feelings for his own brother, being same blood or not. Come on, shrinks would not do that. At the most, they would allow her to see that she has a great opinion of his brother (like it could have been his father, normally) and that is making it difficult for her to find love as she finds everybody else flawed in comparison. Classic shrinks stuff. But this pushing her into exploring sexual love with her brother was totally out of the pot, and Deb even considering, even crazier. But this is where we are going, guys. Then Hannah comes in accepting his dark passanger without blinking, and after all the struggle with Deb, he just has to go for it. But attention, Hannah will not accept Dexter fully as he is. There is a part that will not be accepted and this is where everything will break. And Dexter's life will be in danger. And Hannah will be the mean villain that she's meant to be (and not a love affair, as most of you seem to see her).
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I agree with much of what you wrote; certainly the end of season four signalled a twist in the narrative that the writers have been unable to properly negotiate. I think this is because until that point the storyline was continuous, building gradually on plots that had developed for many episodes over several seasons. Now the writers are lazy, tossing twists and turns into the mix over the course of a few minutes in some cases. Exactly how long did it take Isaak to enlist Dexter's help before the first assassin was killed? How long did the counsellor from season six take to diagnose Deb's love for her brother, and specifically how long did Deb need to accept this as the truth? How abrupt was Isaak's death (actually his death was ridiculously protracted, but the scene in which George decided to do his own dirty work was laughably sudden).
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This season has been OK. Isaak was a big plus and the love affair with Hannah has been done a lot better than Lumen for sure. Still this is season 7 and I rank this one 5th, 4th maybe. The season with Julia Stiles was the only one I'd categorize as BAD but the material here is getting tired and Deb's complicity is one of many things that are becoming more and more implausible. Getting really really near the end of the road for Dexter. Been a great ride but please don't ruin the good with increasingly ridiculous seasons.
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It seems that I am one of the few who really like this season a lot.
On par with seas 2 so far and just an inch behind seas 1. Yes I said it season 4 comes behind because I didn't forget about the Kyle-mess and the ridiculous explanation of Trinity's motives. And Rita was so f++++ stupid that everyone was happy to see her in that bathtub. Dexter needs to be the monster and this season really shows him the way he is: a sociopathic killer. But he is our monster and we love him for that. Just like Deb. His sister.
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Are you sure this season hasn't made Dexter more moron than monster? I enjoyed the first few episodes of the current season, but the writers have appeared to run out of ideas. The storytelling is incredibly sloppy and I think the show is now insulting its viewers.
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One of the things I love about Dexter is their willingness to change up what seems to be an obvious game plan. I thought sure the resolution was Isaak killing Hannah and Dexter killing Isaak at the end of the season, making the kill all the greater because he had a thing for her. Didn't expect it to go this way at all. And meanwhile, we've had some fantastic conversations exploring the depth of Dexter's character, more than an earlier season's worth of voiceovers accomplished. Kudos.
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Well, Hannah is this seasons villain, like it or not. It is not Isaak. It's Hannah. And she is not in the list of compelling antagonist above. I suppose we don't see her like that yet. Well, we will get over Isaak soon enough. He was just there to put Dexter in the mood for Hannah.
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So, atlastsomeoneinteresting Isaak is dead and BORING Hannah is still alive.

Things just keep getting better and better..........
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Hannah's a black widow who'll pobably try to kill Dex.
As for Deb's decision to not let Hannah die... Bad people need to die but not by her hands!
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Ugh, I'll miss Isaac and Ray Stevenson so hard. Hannah? Still boring. I can't stand her. But overall, good episode.
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Too bad Isaak had to go. Didn't have to be that way. But they ended it well, the boat-scene and all. LaGuerta being all super-detective now doesn't make any sense. Even if she DID love doakes. She also loved Angel for a while, right? She's being irrational, probably because she doesn't have love in her life right now she dwells on the past and what could have been. Hannah's look for a split second had me wondering as well. And the new 'big bad' being the arsonist guy who is obvs the fire-specialist, as he reacted to that name on the wall. Well, hopefully they will keep us interested as Isaak is no longer here.
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I do have to say the Dexter and Isaak thing ended up working out pretty well -- better than it deserved to, for sure. They killed Isaak off so quickly that it seemed abrupt, though. In my opinion, it would have made more sense just to show them parting ways amicably (a complete 180 of your original expectations). Then, if they want to close the open plot thread of Isaak later, they could show a brief scene of him dying, or even have it off camera and just mention X authority finding his body. At least it wouldn't seem so ridiculously abrupt.
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What i noticed that the writers have use a lot of stories that had begun in previous seasons and built up on that ground. we can see laGuerta dwelling on Doakes mystery, the therapy sessions of Deb and what seemed like the final appearance of tom the captain.
Dexter sees Isaak turn into a friend not just an accomplice with him taking his advice on love life and helping Isaak to laGuerta asking for help from Tom. bringing back he motto- nothing is forever. getting over politics and doing what really mattered here.
shady psychologist lady should be bought back. I think there is a story there. Inception is not easy. Dexter 's track record with women makes me think Hannah would be dead but then he did this comparison with the past relationships which leaves me confused. I do that comparison all the time in my life it has never helped me.
Lastly, Isaak problem seemed big but gradually u see the man within and so does Dexter. Rather than keep the character alive they made him impact Dexter more with his death. The advice that love was worth it from a man dying for love and revenge leaves Dexter wondering. Excellent portrayal by all characters.
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Am I the only one who is totally irritated with the utterly fabricated nonsense of Matthews partnering with LaGuerta??? In what alternate universe would any self respecting man, a decorated cop, really choose to work with the reptile female who burned him, stole his job, and cost him his pension? I truly hope that Matthews is coming on board the BHB investigation in order to manipulate the evidence and tie LaGuerta in as Doakes' accomplice, otherwise the writers have shoved some serious manure at us and called it tea and petit fours.
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That actually makes sense!! Then we could finally get rid of Laguerta once and for al!
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Don't be surprised if that isn't exactly how it plays out.
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I agree totally. It makes no sense. Besides, isn't Dexter his best buddies son? Maybe he's trying to protect Dex in the end? I really hope it turns out the way you say it does. Rather have Matthews the prostitute-lover than LaGuerta as captain.
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Awful episode. Probably worst of this season. How is it easier for Dexter to bring a wounded Issac to his boat, presumably by car since that large ship has never been seen anchored near his moorage and navigate to the dumping spot rather than drop him off at the Hospital???? Similar injury to Hannah, yet she loses way more blood and survives. Reminds of the last episode of season 5. Ridiculous
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they'll find traces of Issacs blood all over Dexters boat (along with that other creepy dudes) then somehow they'll find Issacs body, which is near the chopped up remains of Victor.. and all the others he has killed.. tying it all together and proving it was Dexter... but then again, they are the worst bunch of police detectives ever.. so a good chance it wont happen.
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That is all I could think about during the Issak death scene: now Dexter's boat has Louis and Issak's blood all over it, just when LaGuerta finally recalls she's a cop rather than a politician.
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he cleaned his boat after Louis was killed on it and he will do the same with Victor's blood.
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if I recall correctly he didnt chop victor up
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Too many side-strings, looks like the writers want to go out with a bang and everybody's aiming for the next series to get booked. Creating threads but loosen and loosing them is the wake of sunrise - though before that the sun set for all of us. However, I know where I work tomorrow but if those bonkers do not get their sh*t together they better meet Cheech in that Honkytonk for a sunrise and keep on boozing.
This show is dead.
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sadly this show has 1 more season to end
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That is: on life support.
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Such an important character this season like Isaak and he can't last until the end of this season? And now how does this arsonist stuff get thrown in there just out of the blue? Okay, forget about Isaak and now a couple eps. of a new story? Hmmmm.
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Do people really believe Doakes is going to return? I agree, that the title seems very Doakes-ish, and when I read it I immediately thought of him. Vengeance has been a strong theme this season. And It would be funny and great if Doakes is the Arsonist, seriously eff'ed up by being toasted alive himself. But if the writers are clearly sign-posting such a surprise so early on one with the title, then that is the worst thing they have done since subjecting us to season six.

Have to agree with the disappointment of Issak's demise. I have been fond of the character and Stevenson's performance from early on in the season. It was refreshing to see a villain become almost a friend/respected associate than see things end in the usual way. I was really hoping for a handshake parting of the ways for a change. Nothing tops Trinity and Brian Moser though.

As the kills go, though, I actually loved the driving-range one. After Dexter killed a man in an airport luggage room, nothing can ever seem too ridiculous and bordering disbelief quite so badly.
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I'm ambivalent about this episode as I am about this season as a whole
I love the Deb/Dex storyline and interplay (their relationship I believe is absolutely the core of the show, and neglected too often)
But Dexter is a victim of its own success; The first 4 seasons (and Trinity's) are, IMO, some of the best written drama that we have ever seen, and I'm including feature films here as well
but too often of late I feel the show cutting corners, little things perhaps, but enough to puncture the surrealism Dexter strives to create, and things that never happened in earlier seasons (don't get me started on season 6...)
eg: Isaak ditches his cop tail, and realizing his limited window of opportunity, tracks down Dexter and shoots at him through a donut shop window, and after missing drives away?! Instead of, oh I don't know, getting out of his car and walking in and finishing him? Oh well, I had my shot, Isaak seemed to think, guess I'll try again in a future episode...
Small things, I know, but on a show like Dexter, jarring, at least to me

Dexter does the nearly impossible, creating a world where we the loyal viewer willingly suspend disbelief and accept a serial killer as our protagonist, our hero
It's a balancing act, and one they have done incredibly well...in earlier seasons
but there is little margin of error on a show like Dexter
and these little things, the corner cutting, lowers the stakes
Having said all that, Dexter's still one of the best shows on TV
Victim of their own success
Cheers
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Are you guys kidding me? You voted Isaak a better killer than Brian Moser? You shouldnt even be allowed to watch the show.
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im more stunned by people who selected travis marshall :/
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At the risk of appearing peckish, the poll asks, "WHICH DEXTER ANTAGONIST HAS BEEN THE MOST COMPELLING?" Not which was the better killer. Perhaps you might feel less offended if you bear in mind the question being asked.
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However you frame it Brian Moser is better.
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Agreed with Emmiegirl. Isaak's character was more compelling. Ice Truck Killer was 2nd only to Trinity as compelling serial killer. If of course you don't include Dexter himself.
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My ranking of villains
Rudy > Isaak > Trinity > Doakes > terrible stuff goes here.
My ranking of the seasons
1 > 7 > 2 > 4 > 5 > 3 > 6
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I agree almost exactly with you, except that I'd probably put Season 2 before Season 7. I never like Trinity as much as everyone seems to. Dexter's brother and Isaac were both awesome!
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Exactly my season ranking too!
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Trinity ranked third?????? And season 4, fourth????? Gotta love that saying, "To each their own." :D
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This was a great episode in a great season. I also wish they hadn't killed off Isaak so soon. I was just beginning to warm up to his character after his confession in the previous episode about his relationship with Victor.

Also, I would like to say that I, for one, don't give a rat's ass how realistic this show or any other is. Television is entertainment. If the stories were true to life, they wouldn't be very interesting or entertaining. So I say bring on the ridiculous and the absurd!
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I wish they will take more chances with deb's feelings, I mean if they already made the character like that, end it or continue this feelings, I think the relation between deb and dexter in this episode was like the confesion never existed except some scenes
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Why didn't Isaak (offer to) call Jurg at the end to release Hannah. Didn't make any sense. Am I the only one who noticed this?
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I noticed and questioned that during the episode too. I kept waiting for Isaak to call Jurg, or to at least tell Dexter that he called or something... but apparently not, because he'd have realized no one picking up the phone.
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Isaak didn't have the heart to inform Jurg that his role in the script - and the script itself for that matter - was not destined to improve.
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Isaak was scared because the two killers were supposed to be really good , but they were just ridiculous , the first one , there was the element of surprise because he didn't know Dexter , but the other one , he knew it was probably a trap , followed Dexter on a boat like a moron , and just get killed easily , it was so bad.
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That was pretty silly. Dexter killed the first one in A CROWDED DRIVING RANGE. During the day. LOL.
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when I saw the scene I wondered if there are no cameras in a place like that where everybody is using guns... A body shows up in a public place and nobody is going to check on security cameras? Oh well.
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So cynical. The writers clearly had this covered. Who's going to notice a man being stabbed in the back in broad daylight on a crowded range if he is LYING ON THE GROUND?!
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Disliked how the Isaak kill happened. Random retard Mafia guy comes by shoots in the stomach and leaves ... lol .. I'd have liked if they had made Isaak last a bit longer, one of my favorite bad guys so far. The suspense with Doakes and Lundy on the other side was great, too.
Curious if Tom Matthews works with laGuerta or talks to Dex in the end. Dex is completely unaware of this "threat" atm.
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Well, I imagine that now Dexter goes after George, or vice versa. Might be cool to watch Dex try to take George out to get revenge for Isaak, no?
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I also think it will be Quinn who goes for him. After the beating he got his mind may have been on something different, but just appeared out of nowhere and shot him - even left before he finished the job.
he came out of nowhere,
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I was thinking that as soon as Dex saw it happening. But it might be Quinn who takes George out.. I was thinking he could've taken George out anyway and call it self-defense during their fight (if he kept it in the office). who's going to believe the word of anyone in that place over that of a cop anyway. stupid Quinn.
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Solid episode. Surprised they killed of Isaak so soon, but I actually didn't mind how they did it. There was a civility and respect between him and Dex that there really hasn't been before. I enjoyed all their interaction, right up until the last scene they had together.

Dex with Hannah at the end was friggin weird. I still think Deb and Dex end up together next season, so Hannah will have to meet her end at some point. I bet Deb kills Hannah in the name of protecting Dex.

O and speaking of Deb and Dex together, I'm surprised nobody is talking about how Dex handled the whole in love with ur brother situation. I thought he handled it very well, and even convinced Deb it was normal. Deb on the other hand fell right into her old pattern of having something messed up happen and Dex talking her down and making her feel better. That consistency is what made her have feelings for Dex in the first place. The ironic thing is that her feelings for Dex kept Hannah alive cuz if she died Dex would've been heartbroken.

As for the daytime to nighttime boat trip, these are things i choose to ignore cuz clearly the intent was for minimal time to have passed, they just filmed it at 2 different times and for whatever reason either didn't fix the continuity or didn't notice the error. Either way, not the first show to make this mistake, so to me no big deal.
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At some point I found stupid that Isaak told Dexter about his love for Victor himself, I thought they would write it so that Dexter would find out and use it against him. It seemed out of character for a guy like Isaak to talk about such a thing with anyone. But after this episode, this makes sense in Dexter's story. He was a mafia guy that happened to be gay. Being gay in such a world, he had to pretend far too often and could only feel himself when he was with Victor (who was also gay and also a mafia guy). Dexter killed him and I believe they built up the whole character in order for Dexter to understand how important it was to be next to someone without having to pretend - being able to share every important part of yourself with someone else, without being judged. In this sense, Isaak's character achieved his goal. As a conclusion, now Dexter is ready to be with Hannah, he believes this is where he belongs. Basically, we are upset because they didn´t give our villain a whole season like they did with Trinity, for example. But it seems he was just a means to an end. The season is more about Hannah that it is about Isaak this time. She is meant to be the season's villain. And that relates more closely to the Deb and Dex situation. What I don´t know yet is if they will make it somehow be worth it. If Hannah's plot will have the necessary strengh at the end. Let's see.
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I think it worked that Isaak told us about Viktor. He was an open and honest guy. Dexter "using" Isaak's sexuality against him would have been problematic, to say the least.
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QUESTIONS:

- What was with Hannah's look after Dexter all but said they should start going steady? It didn't seem like a "I love you, too" look. More like a "I wonder what poison I should use this time" look.

- What do we definitively know about Doakes's death? Were his remains recovered? I vaguely remember something about Lila blowing him up in a shack/cage with some propane, but that's about it. The title of the final episode, "Surprise, Motherfucker" is very much something Doakes would say, so I'm starting to wonder if he's really dead. Can anyone with a better memory put these musings to rest?
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Hannah is certainly not as interested in Dexter as he is in her, apparently.
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totally true with hanna's look and I also think that the last episode may be connected to Doakes, but we'll have to wait
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Right?! I guess we're all in agreeance. It's weird, though. She seemed really into him.

Girl's got commitment issues ... And poisoning issues.
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1. I agree about Hannah's look. I don't believe she care for Dexter the same way he cares for her.

2. The remains of Doakes' upper half was found in the lake after the explosion. They couldn't identify him at first, but they were eventually able to match dental records, confirming it was him. I also remember Lila was very into arson. Hmmmm....
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haha the crow...
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Thanks. So the writers would have to do some unjustifiably inane writing acrobatics to bring him back with third degree burns all over his body and a thirst for vengeance.

Good to know.
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Too much going on. What should be an internal season for Dexter wrapping things up and setting a course for the character instead has been an off the wall season. Dozens of story lines starting and ending while adding little to nothing for the character. Dexter falling in love or being in capable is pretty much the same writing we have seen past seasons. I think it would have been a stronger season had they kept it simple with strong performances from its core cast rather than cramming new characters in at every turn.
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Agreed. More Dex and Deb. Less everything else.
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As for the poll regarding antagonists, I'm going to vote for Doakes. If it were for villains, I'd go with Brian or Trinity, but overall, I just loved Doakes as a character and as an antagonist for Dexter. Brian and Trinity are both right up there, too. I liked Isaak (and Stevenson) A LOT, but the way his plot turned out in this episode, his impact on the series dropped significantly.
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You're absolutely right. The distinction between villain and antagonist is an important one. Because Doakes wasn't really a "villain" in the classical sense of the term. He was a cop that was trying to bring down a serial killer. He was adversarial as hell. But definitely not villainous.
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I appreciate that you folks appreciate my word choice.
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I really didn't much like this episode, mostly because of the way Isaak died. It seems a little similar to me as Brother Sam last season. In what was easily the worst season of "Dexter", Brother Sam (Mos Def) stands out as the ONE good aspect of that season. His death was not only fairly early but it was also very anticlimactic. I think that's where the similarities are with Isaak. Isaak was a pretty damn good character and Ray Stevenson is a pretty damn good actor, and he's arguably been my favorite part of this season (along with Deb knowing Dex's secret) -- it kind of sucks to see these characters I really like go out very boringly and reasonably early in the season. I know it's near the end of the season for Isaak's death, but I'd have hoped Isaak was around until the season finale, especially considering the end of Isaak's plot is just making room for some stupid serial arsonist. It seems like the writers just wanted both Sam and Isaak to be less significant plot-wise (the early battles between Dexter and Isaak now seem pointless) and more significant to Dexter's "growth" as a character or person. The problem with that is Dexter doesn't seem to grow or change much from season to season. Brother Sam (and his death) affected Dexter for the remainder of last season, but this year, he's basically back to his usual self. I figure it'll be the same here -- Isaak (and his death) was ultimately existent just to basically push Dexter into being more clingy to Hannah. While that should make for an interesting plot in the next few episodes, I don't see it having much affect next season to Dexter the character. And yes, as others have already mentioned, the length between getting shot and being taken out to the Atlantic Ocean is a little odd -- I didn't know Miami was so deserted.
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Ranking of Dexter Seasons:
1. Season #1
2. Season #2
3. Season #4
4. Season #5
5. Season #7 (So far.)
6. Season #3
7. Season #6 (By a fucking mile.)
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My ranking would generally be the same, although I didn't dislike season 3 as much as most others (as well as yourself) seem to. I'd probably wedge season #3 between 4 and 5.
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I get that. There were many good things about season 3, but the "I want to have a friend that's not imaginary" arc did nothing for me.

Same with Miguel.
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Is this is a safe place to admit that five might be my favorite?
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I actually really liked season 5. It was a well written, complete season with strong themes and a solid character focus. Lumen brought so much more to Dexter (the show and character) than Hannah ever will. Redemption was the theme, and it was new and fresh. This seasons theme of acceptance has been, uh, stabbed to death.

It's very close to being my third favorite. But seasons 1 and 2 are in a different league. They were some of the best television I've ever seen and season 5 doesn't quite make that grade.
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I don't get why people like season 4 overall so much, it ruined Rita and the kids, introduced a lot of bad stuff, and made Dexter even more terrible at serial killing than he was in season 3. It had an amazing villain, and a cool ending, but that was about it.
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Thank you. The brilliance of Lithgow made a lot of people forget about the weaknesses of that season and the strengths of the other ones.
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I think in this show bad things aren't necessarily bad.

Dexter was good when it was a dark show. Now it's more about love affairs and it sucks.
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You're right. It did ruin Rita and the kids and was the beginning of Dexter's decline. But that doesn't take away from the brilliance of Trinity/John Lithgow, the absolutely shocking death of Rita, or the strong writing that has taken several vacations in the latter seasons.
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I agree with your ranking almost completely,
though I might be tempted to move Trinity's season up a couple of notches
but might I suggest leaving a few empty spots between Season 6 on the bottom and 2nd last place...I'm still shocked at that train wreck...wow
maybe fill them with the "Early Cuts webisodes haha
Season 6 deserves to be in 10th place in a ranking of 7
Cheers
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Haha! So true! That blight of a season doesn't even deserve to be included in a ranking. Thanks for making my day, Kevin!
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Great ranking. I hope season 7 ends up being the 4th best season. We can both agree it won't end up being better than 1, 2, or 4.
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There's a good chance season 7 could crawl its way above 5 with a strong finish, but 1, 2 and 4 are indeed untouchable.
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First off, it's Brian Moser, not Moses. I'm super fucking pissed at the way Isaak was written off. The only thing I'll give Isaak's death is that he was killed in a way that most Dexter villains aren't, but that doesn't change the fact that it was unbelievable. I still think Isaak was a great villain, but the lame way his arc ended unfortunately keeps him from reaching the villainous heights of Moser and Mitchell. I don't know, his death just killed a lot of interest in this season for me, and I don't know what else they could do with Hexter. I'm expecting something to happen with Laguerta's suspicions, and I hope this arson storyline isn't some random fodder and actually ends up being something big. Three episodes left, don't let me down now.
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Isaak's death could only have been more idiotic, senseless and poorly written if the bullet he used to kill Louis Greene ricocheted off Dexter's boat and pinged into his skull. Perhaps Isaak could then have been left in a coma, with his pink passenger connecting with Harry and sharing anecdotes during the voice-over sequences.
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You wrote two sentences. The latter is one of the greatest ideas like ever. "Pink Passenger". I love it.
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fixed. thanks.
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Agreed! It truly was an unbelievable and contrived death for a character that deserved better. As for the direction of the remainder of the season, it appears this new serial arsonist will take centre stage. I just hope it's not actually the creepy inspector dude, because that would be way too obvious. And I would LOVE if Laguerta would meet her very timely end at the hands of Dexter or maybe even Deb by the end of the season. It probably won't happen, but it would be awesome if it did.

(P.S. Haha! Hexter! Yes!)
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Ranking of Dexter Villains:
1. Brian Moses
2. Trinity
3. Isaac Sirko
4. James Doakes
5. Jordan Chase
6. Miguel Prado
7. Travis Marshall
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Come on FF, even you are calling him Moses!
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No problem. I agree with this list, except I don't know if I would switch 1 & 2 or not. Ice Truck and Trinity are definitely the top of the food chain.
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I copied and pasted from the poll! Simply unforgivable on my part. I apologize.
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Surely there were things to criticize like the way Isaak died or the fact that we already have the next random serial killer villain on the horizon (and it took us 5 seconds to guess who the murderer is - it's the extra who got promoted to 3 minutes screen time with dialogue)... but watching this episode really gave me back the feel of season 2. Mainly because it once again focused on Dexter's mind and explored it in a nice way without the use of much unnecessary deus ex machina voice overs. I think this was one of the best episodes since a very long time.
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The standard for Dexter fans has seriously hit an all time low. People make excuses for this show but it just plain sucks. It is fucking garbage. The fact that there is a weekly discussion for Dexter is probably the biggest joke of all.
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People make excuses huh? So than by your logic EVERYONE thinks and agrees with you that the show "Just plain sucks, it is fucking garbage" So than that means according to you there is no way, not one person out of millions of Dexter fans out there who not only still likes but loves the show's current season than huh? They comment on how much they love the show in these weekly discussions but secretly hate the show as you do and only write these "excuses" out of some misguided loyalty? Really now?
Wow thank you for enlightening me! I had no idea that my thoughts and opinions as well as all the other Dexter fans who still love the show, weren't actually real! In fact it turns out that we have no minds of our own, at leas when it comes to Dexter. People, it turns out that Kryptonkalel27 does our thinking and our opinions for us cuz according to him there is no way ANYONE can like season 7. Yeah I don't fucking think so!

So what's the moral of the story you ask kryptonkalel27?
Feel free to watch the show or don't watch, this goes for everyone actually, than go online and feel free to write a comment about how you don't like it, hate it even, whatever, that is your absolute right to do so there's nothing wrong with that. However DO NOT talk shit about the people who do like it, say that we only write positive comments that we don't mean and calling our weekly discussions the biggest joke of all, basically calling us stupid for liking something u dont. If you are gonna write a neg review at least actually do what some others do, actually write and talk about the episode and the characters and plots. But no I can see you are part of the negative group commentors of which there are many on this show, page, and all other shows of this kind drama/thriller etc, that who don't actually watch the show, but sit and LOOK at it with a pen and paper ready to write down any nitpick or you can see or make up and than immediately go online to bitch about it and it's the same nitpicks and words, just because you word it differently doesn't make you any more clever.
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Ya man i barely got any of that shit you spent 2 hours writing. This show is BAD and demands nothing, not a shred of intelligence from its audience anymore. But you're right, no more talking shit about its audience.. just the show from now on.
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First off it took me about five to ten minutes to write those two paragraphs cuz I'm a writer and sometimes when I intend to write a few sentences it turns out to be alot more, but that's beside the point. I'l admit I went a little overboard with my sarcasm and apologize for that, but I do take it personally when someone tells me that my and other people's opinions are not only wrong but we also write positive things that we don't really mean. Plus when you said that the fact there are discussions, of which you took part of, are a joke, what about the others who feel the way you do? The ones who don't like the show anymore and write comments about it, is that discussion a joke too, or just the ones who do like it? That was my point I was trying to make as well, but I do appreciate you understanding that writing opinions, good or bad, about this or any show show is fine, but talking shit about those who disagree with said opinions isn't cool.
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It's not garbage, but it's not even close to what it used to be. The first few episodes of this season with the central focus being placed on Dexter's relationship with Deb (and Jennifer Carpenter acting the shit out of her role) made me hope Dexter could return to the quality of its glory years (Seasons #1, 2 and 4), but these past few episodes have sadly been a regression.
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Agreed.
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This show has a knack for dodging climaxes. Seriously, they killed this character off in the least dramatic way that they possible could have.
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The way Isaak went was kind of anticlimactic. He takes a bullet and is somehow "beyond help", but then they still have time to wait for nightfall to take the boat out to sea? Stevenson was great for the role, though.
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That's because the writers do not know how to write scenes that build plots. I don't think they even know how to write plots, scripts or grammatically correct blood reports. If you handed them a bunch of crayons they would be in their element, but ask them to write a good story and they would be completely lost. Perhaps they could instead draw a map to when the show used to be worth watching... probably before some idiot gave them the crayons.
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Haha! That made no sense! It wasn't even dusk when he was shot, but nope, he's totally beyond help. I suppose taking him to a hospital with a gunshot wound would have raised some pesky questions. And he very well may have wanted to die. But as you wrote, the ridiculousness of his death did not diminish the fantastic acting performance of Stevenson.
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@myrddinde -- Yeah, I never quite understood that either. I was waiting for one or the other to mention the fact that Isaak was supposed to call Jurg to tell him to let Hannah go or something, but they kept talking with each other as if it was all done.
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Was weird that they did not even talk about "Hey Isaak, tried to help, but you are going to be dieing, how about you let Hannah go?" :D
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for me hard to say which one was the most compelling. Loved Trinity and Miguel seasons,Brian and Jordan were ok(loved Lumen in that season) and season with Travis ruined show for me. So maybe Isaak deserves to "win" it,since he was a "breath of fresh air",which this show greatly needed. Hell, he was more than just a "breath of fresh air". He pulled more than his weight.
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This season is so close to being the best season of Dexter ever. I can't remember the last time I cared about a villain on a show, but Isaak was great towards the end. And I was on board with Dexter/Hannah (Dannah?) the moment she smiled at him a couple of episodes ago. The only thing they need is a mildly satisfying conclusion.
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I don't think this season is close to be being the best season of Dexter. I don't even think it's close to being the 3rd best season of Dexter. I do agree about Isaac's greatness, though. But he's still only the 3rd best villain. Also, I'd go with Dexter + Hannah = Hexter. Because Deb is right, their relationship does not have a future.
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This season is much better than last season, and THAT is good enough for me.
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I get it,that Isaak "gave up" at the end, because life without Victor in it,wasn't worth living anymore. I get it. But what I don't get is what followed after Isaak was shot. Dex says he will take him to hospital and Isaak says no need for it,that he is a dead man. Still get it....now comes the stupid part: when he was shot it was daylight and when they were on boat it was pitch black. So at least 4h passed and of course Isaak doesn't need no bandage or anything for his wound. Of course no one will see bleeding man or his blood dripping everywhere he steps. My point is that I think,that Isaak should have bleed out way before they got there.
Will miss Isaak,was great edition to this show. I expect rest of episodes to fall "into boring Dexter rutine" without Isaak.
otherwise great episode,considering that there was only 1-2 scenes with Batista and the rest of dead weight(not 1-2 scenes total,but per dead weight character)
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The sad thing is Dexter wasn't always a ridiculous show. In its early years there weren't nearly as many plot holes and inconsistencies. Not to mention just plain bad writing.

Isaac's death made no sense whatsoever. It was really a shame for such a great character to be given such an unbelievable death.
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The writers are tired. The producers are tired. When a show has been on a long time it gets harder to produce quality episodes. That's why showrunners leave, so they can do something fresh.
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@Taccado - That was one of the best descriptions of Dexter's early years I've ever read. The writing was on another level back then. I love how you wrote "I was literally sitting at the edge of my seat", because I was, too. Not metaphorically. Literally. The tension was built up so strikingly, so palpably, I don't remember any other show that has EVER made me feel that way. I simply HAD to see the next episode.

I wrote this about Dexter in an earlier article:

"I will NEVER forget how those first two seasons made me feel. It was my favourite show 7 years ago (pre-Fringe era, people!), and I truly believe it was one of the best shows on television at the time. The internal monologues, the haunting scores, the sweet thrill of something truly elegant in its stark, vicarious originality. All the while deftly exploring the depths of Dexter's darkness. I still very clearly remember Dexter's reaction to that first bloodless crime scene (arranged by his brother Brian). The way it made him feel clean and whole. Like he was searching for this beautifully bloodless corpse his entire life, but didn't know why. Like he was being given the answer to a question he didn't even realize he was asking. That scene captivated me in a way I'll always remember. I, like Dexter, was entranced and excited by the spectacle of something so new and different, but oddly familiar at the same time. Spine-tinglinging awesomeness is the only way to describe the sensation."

As you wrote, Dexter is still much better than most Network fare, but I honestly don't believe it will ever make feel quite like THAT again.
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Agree about the inconsistencies. I remember during the first seasons of the show when I was literally sitting at the edge of my seat all those times when Dexter was so close to being caught. He had to juggle all these balls in the air: his family, Deb, his kills, not being caught by the police, the lies, etc. And every time an episode ended I was wondering how he was going to get out of the mess he was in. But every time the pieces somehow fell into place, sometimes because of Dexter's planning, sometimes just because of sheer luck or someone making a mistake. There were never any plot holes in how the situations were solved. Dexter just miraculously managed to dodge everyone's radar, the writing made sure of that even without plot holes.

But now there are a huge number of plot holes which have kind of become the explanations for why characters conveniently get out of difficult situations or for the plot to move on when it's at a dead-end. What about Quinn stealing the evidence (Isaak's blood samples)? Did no one but Batista figure out that Quinn had signed in to the evidence locker? Didn't anyone question the people who had singed in, Quinn included? Batista asked Quinn about it and then just let it go because of their friendship. Really?! There has been far too many inconsitencies this season.

However, I do think that Dexter is still a fine show. I don't agree with kryptonkalel27 who called it garbage. Sure, it's not as good as it was, but it's still cable entertainment about a serial killer as the main protagonist. So in my book it still beats most, if not all, network shows.
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I agree, I remember when Trinity killed Rita, Dexter killed Trinity etc and people were talking about the inconsistency in how Trinity found time to do that. That wouldnt even be a hole that would be discussed anymore, theres so many holes in each season now. Saying that I have enjoyed this season and Isaak is the best villain since Trinity imo
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Like I said in my past posts, I used to love watching Dexter. Even, when show had minor "problems" or whatever you wanna call, I loved to watch Dexter. Nowdays I just watch it, so I can have closure with this show and counting how many episodes left till it is finally over.
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I will miss Isaak :(
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Action packed episode, over in a whisp. Deb is just finding her ground. The writers always throw everything at her. I doubt many people would be able to deal with all that stuff in a consistent way. Anyway, it would make her as inhuman as Dexter. The same like Quinn beating up the Ukrainian guy. Easier would be to kill him, but these people are cops, not murderers. As a viewer I just know that Dexter will kill any character that's becoming superfluous. It would be nice to know that Dexter would also kill all the annoying charachters, but sadly they seem to stay alive. It's like as a sportsteam selling a few its topplayers every season, only the ones nobody wants stay behind :)
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More votes for Isaak than Trinity... what?
Isaak was fantastic and all, but really?
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serial killers vs mafia... mafia wins!
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I blame this on The Godfather.
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R.I.P.
I'm sad to see Isaak go so soon, but I like how the his arc ended. Strapping him to a table and knifing him like every big bad before him would have been a disservice.
I'm not so keen on introducing that Phantom guy so late in the season, though. It smells like filler.
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