Dexter Week 2: Back on Track?

Last week I and many other longtime Dexter viewers lamented the noticeable drop-off in quality of recent seasons, up to and including the slightly dire Season 6 premiere. The opener spent too much time on (awful) supporting characters as well as Dexter Morgan's increasingly muddled motivations, and made it hard to imagine sticking with this thing for a whole new season, let alone several (congrats on those premiere numbers, Showtime!). But after watching Episode 2 twice now—and believe me, I'm as surprised as anybody else that I'm saying this—Dexter may have just rebounded in a BIG way. This is largely because of three outstanding new supporting characters, who made the franchise suddenly feel alive again.

First things first: Brother Sam (Mos Def, billed here simply as Mos) is awesome. Much of "Once Upon a Time..." was devoted to this mysterious figure whom Dexter had originally pegged as a man who'd escaped punishment for a murder he'd committed. But after we followed Dexter's usual routine of stakeouts and verification of guilt, something unusual happened: Brother Sam preemptively confided to Dexter that he'd gotten away with murder and was in the process of atoning for it by keeping other criminals in check. Apparently he found God while serving time for a lesser offense, and now views himself as a "shepherd" to a flock of recently released ex-cons. As far as I know, I don't think we've ever come across a Dexter murderer who's genuinely tried to make good for his crimes; Dexter himself was certainly thrown for a loop. How can you punish a man who's already in the process of doing penance? But with that said, is it possible that Brother Sam's moral piety is merely a front for a hidden dark passenger of his own? By the end of the episode, at least, he seemed more or less to be what he claimed. Also, he's awesome. Did I mention that yet?

Additionally we learned more about the pair of tantalizingly cryptic sociopaths introduced last week. For one thing, The Professor (Edward James Olmos) and his pupil Travis (Colin Hanks) have a SECRET LAIR (in a rundown church). Also, Travis has a lonely sister who The Professor demanded he break off contact with in order to save her life. Most importantly, the pair seems to be motivated by a strange mixture of doomsday prophecy and Catholicism, the implication being that they are possibly looking to speed up the Apocalypse? It's not clear yet, but we know these men are SERIOUS about their intentions. How'd you like that scene where Olmos pressed glowing, red-hot steel to his own flesh just to make a point? And let's not forget that Travis behaved pretty scarily in his own right; please, everyone, when you come to my house for dinner, don't silently enter my apartment, sneak up behind me, and tap my arm. Basically, these guys are nightmares. Like Brother Sam, they're like something from a whole other show... and I mean that as a compliment!


Also earning marks in this episode's "plus" column were the SLIGHTLY more interesting subplots dealing for the supporting cast. The big one was obviously Deb's surprise promotion to Lieutenant, a completely implausible scenario that the Dexter nonetheless made convincing. After her shootout heroics were caught on video and garnered a half million hits, Deputy Chief Matthews decided to capitalize on the good PR and offer Deb the Lieutenant position over Batista; this also resulted in the happy side effect of LaGuerta being humiliated. Made sense to me! I love it when LaGuerta looks like a fool. It should also be pretty entertaining watching Deb, someone so completely unsuited for responsibility, have to adjust to ordering her co-workers, brother, and now ex-boyfriend around. Because that's right: Quinn and Deb may have finally broken up! Just kidding, who cares about their relationship? In case you do their split had to do with Deb's refusal to marry him. But Quinn seems to have dodged a bullet here, as Dexter's voiceover made it clear that he'd planned to murder Quinn before he'd ever let Quinn marry Deb. So everything worked out for everyone!

Another intriguing new addition began as a visual joke, but I have a feeling her appearance will lead to something more significant: Ryan, the new blonde intern character played by Heroes and Friday Night Lights alum Brea Grant. At first she was only around to shake her booty at Masuka, but she later proved that she has a keen mind for investigative work when she discovered a lead in the water snake murder from last week. I don't know about you, but I was getting the sense we were meeting a future series regular here. If so, that's great news: Grant's an interesting actress (with a super geeky resume), plus the character's unlike any of the others in the increasingly static (and underpopulated) Miami Metro headquarters. Ditzy bombshell jokes aside, her presence was downright refreshing.

Of course, in spite of all these improvements, the episode began and ended per the classic Dexter formula: thematic voiceover and later the cathartic murder of a killer. Dexter's definitely still the show we've always known—and that formula still works—but Sunday's episode made me optimistic that the writers can refresh and renew it without spinning in circles too much. As it is right now, though, these three (and possibly four) new characters were just what Dexter needed to get me excited about the next ten episodes. Fingers-crossed!


Random Blood Splatters:

... How much did you love it when Dexter set his coffee on the pavement before intentionally crashing his car? I would've never thought of that!

... Should Dexter really be looking at crime scene photos in front of his two-year-old child?

... Do you think Brother Sam's intentions are pure?

... What were the killers going to do with that mannequin, anyway?

... How often do YOU punch out your friends and throw them in the trunk?

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I really didn't think I'd like Brother Sam. BUT he became one of my favourite characters. Damn you Dexter for ruining it! Brother Sam was an interesting foil to Dexter - and it should have lasted longer. Re: Ryan... Another disappointment. She better be around in season 7 - she was awesome.
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The funny thing is that my feelings are the other way around. I think that having a season premiere where everything is undisturbed, showing us an happy Dexter, is good for this show. However I would have liked to go right inside the main plot of the season right on this second

episode. I understand though that Brother Sam deserved a whole episode to be set up as he will be a key character for this season.

But if I'm quite impatient to get into the core of the season it's because I think that a too slow start was the problem of the last season : Dexter decided to help Lumen around the sixth episode. I think that their relation deserved to be brought up earlier because this show is all about one thing : How Dexter evolves after meeting special people (his brother, Doakes, Leila, Landy, Rita, Trinity, Lumen...). It's not a procedural about a dude killing a bunch of other dudes (people thinking that tend to consider that the first season was the only good one... that's a poor analysis).
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What is the problem with supporting cast on Dexter? The show does not take them seriously, same as Vamipire Diaries, and I dont see see anyone complaining there.And .yes, I just compared Dexter to Vampire Diaries, sorry guys.
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*sigh* still season 1 is the best in the series...nothing has topped it yet sorry to say
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You poor thing, obviously you didn't see season 4 then.
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Mos Def was awesome, and he has some acting chops. Loving the show so far.
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Lots of religious references this year: Brother Sam, the school, the ritualistic serial killers... Is this a set up where Dexter will find a way to control is Dark Passenger without having to kill? Three sub-stories referring to faith? We'll kinda be soaked in the subject, this year, it seems.

Debra's swearing was kinda cute in the previous years but I think it is becoming exaggerated, not to say annoying.

Grant's character is a bit corny but Masuka is corny also. But I agree, since she is showing some good investigating skills she may become a regular on the show, filling the role previously played by Debra.

One thing noticeable in Miami Metro headquarters is that higher one gets in the rank less we see them. So we won't see too much La Guerta this year. I think we will see Debra mostly through some interactions with her brother (maybe Quinn) with a few brief appearances as lieutenant. (I wonder if Debra's promotion, thus less screen time, has anything to do with Michael and Jennifer breaking up in real life.)

Quinn, I never liked, and Batista... well... he's there.

I can't help but to find most of the characters at the MMH bland, lifeless, empty, insipid and almost caricatural at times (except for Debra, of course). I am therefore very inclined to subscribe to the idea suggested by "Im_right_aint_i " last week that they are showing us those characters as Dexter sees them. That would explain the contrasting higher caliber of actors used to portray the serial killers and the people to whom Dexter gives some importance like Doakes, Lundy, Lumen, etc. Those characters have so much more substance on the show compared to the MMH's gang.

I believe that Brother Sam is "legit". He's going to act like a mentor or sponsor for Dexter. Lots of dialogs about religion, faith, atonement, right & wrong this year.

The mannequin is either a practice dummy or they're going to use it for a scenery in their next murder. As they've used the snakes for the previous one. They are probably going to use many props for their murders. A little bit like in the movie "Anamorph". They will build scenes around them which are supposed to carry a specific message in reference to some still obscure scriptures.

This will be a very intense season, I believe, with heavy psychological turmoils for Dexter.
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First time I'm quoted... I'm proud ^^

I agree with most of what you said. I'm just surprised that you're not sure about the religious dimension of this season because it was quite explicit in the season trailer that it would be the center plot.

I couldn't agree more with your last sentence because, as I said last week, I think that all of the seasons were about Dexter's psychology. He had experienced "rational" things such as friendship, love, family, fear. Now he has to experience something as "irrational" as faith and religious beliefs : that's a smart move.
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"First time I'm quoted... I'm proud ^^"

LOL!



I didn't see the trailer.
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1 - The coffee thing is car crash 101, everybody knows if you're going to crash your car into something/someone you leave any hot beverages outside the vehicle.

2 - I'll answer this question with another. Should Dexter really have killed hundreds of people? I don't think what people 'should' do ranks high on his list of priorities.

3 - It looks that way.... maybe not though.... probably.... well possibly....

put me down as a definite maybe.

4 - I started and restarted writing many things for this. Mostly involving references to cheesy 80's movies or mocking the acting 'talents' of Keira Knightly but screw it.

SEX.

5 - Friends? Almost never. People that suggest Dexter was ever off track or say things like "disappointing plotlines, wildly uneven storytelling, and straight-up intolerable supporting characters''.... How's Friday for ya?
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I don't often punch out my friends and throw them in a trunk, but my friends are junky ex-cons who need the law laid down (pretty much literally). Seems pretty plausible to me, I've heard of other community leaders in rundown neighbourhoods being just as tough.
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One of the points of this episode was Dexter being himself in front of Harrison and thus watching crime scenes photos. But towards the end he realized he couldn't do that any longer.
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Mos Def is a good actor - another good one to see him in is "The Italian Job".

-That was a good idea with the coffee.

-Don't think he should be looking at the crime scene photo's while Harrison is right there in the room.

-Yes - I do think Brother Sam's intentions are pure. He seems like he is what he says he is and he cares about others.

-Don't know what they are actually doing with the mannequin, but speculating they are using it as a substitute for a demonstration of the next way they are killing somebody.

-Never punched somebody and put them in the trunk.
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Dante Terrell Smith, American actor and Emcee known by the stage name Mos Def

http://www.aabout.biz/2011/10/mos-def.html
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I think the mannequin's head coming off was a clue that maybe they'll be putting a human head on a mannequin (or vice versa)...
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Loving this season and this episode of Dexter. Mos' performance was moving, even to Dexter.
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-I loved the coffee thing. Had me laughing.

-Not really, but then, he addressed that very issue at the end of the episode.

-I hope so. I think it would greatly assist in the development for Dexter's character.

-I am SOOO curious to find out!!!

-Only every day... except never. Brother Sam rocks that one.



As for the show, I've always liked it. As for Ryan, she seems to be a pretty solid addition to the cast in spite of my earlier misgivings. Debra got the promotion, obviously, and I'm glad she said no to Quinn, though I am also satisfied with his actions as well. I like the concept of Olmos being a mental construct. This show hasn't used that before (unless I'm forgetting something) and these two would be the guys to pull it off. Also, it could be that he isn't and that's just mistaken guesswork, but either way, I'm liking them as the Big Bad for the season; they do a good job.
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Dexter (TV series)

http://www.aabout.biz/2011/10/dexter-tv-series.html
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I had my doubts about casting a rapper, but I absolutely love Brother Sam and hope he stays on the show for the rest of the season. Travis and Gellar are intriguing, but I'm still not totally sold on them yet. We already knew Deb would end up Lieutenant thanks to a certain spoilery trailer, but I can't wait to see how that goes.

And Ryan has a nice ass.
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I like Ryan and i also feel like she is going to be a regular and the new big bad(s) is quite interesting :)
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Personally I think every season of Dexter has been great. Some are better than others but Idon't think there has ever been a bad season. And now with these first two episodes it shows the show is stronger than ever. the three guest stars were all indeed fantastic, this goes extra to Mos Def because i have never seen him act before and I was impressed. He fits the character and it seems that he might be heading towards being Dex's ally.

So does anybody else think that Olmos's character might only exist in Travis's mind? Like he is Travis's own version of Harry, his Dark Passenger"? He hasn't interacted with anyone, nor any name given. And so whatever he does is what Travis is really doing himself like in Fight Club, so Travis really burned himself with that poker. So then that would mean that Dex might be going up against another killer with a DP as smart and deadly as his own. That's my theory for now, either way i am happy and very creeped out by these two
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I agree with you on Olmos' character existing in Travis' mind only. It's something they haven't explored on the series yet, like, someone having imaginary companionship just like Dexter. Still, I haven't really liked any of the episodes so far. Nothing engaging to me.
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Somebody else proposed that last week but, as I mentioned, if EJO is in Colin's head (as Dexter's dad) how can the flashlight he holds reflects on the snake (when they're in the swamp collecting them) and how come we hear the taping of his hand on Colin's arm near the end in last week episode?
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very interesting theory!
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If you want to see Mos Def's extraordinary acting abilities, see the movies "Something the Lord Made" and "13 Blocks."
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Pierce didn't convince me last week that Dexter shouldn't be on the air. Now Pierce seems to be having trouble convincing himself. Dexter has always been great. Always. If you compare it to season 1, you will inevitably find some minor drops in quality; if you compare it to most dramas on television, Dexter is superb.
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Wrong b*tch. Breaking Bad wipes its ass with Dexter. Well maybe not season 5, i don't think anyone would wipe their ass with whatever that was.
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Did I say Dexter was better than Breaking Bad? Chill.
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What the hell is wrong with you ? Why do you even bother commenthing if you see it that way, b**** ?
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Because people need to know.
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I LOVED both eps and am very happy that this season has started,
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first episode of dexter started slow , but the second proved its making its way to a good story , seeing ( Colin Hanks and Edward James Olmos ) makes me wonder if they are related in the series or not , i really hoped if both hanks were to be in the series ( Tom and Colin ) that would have been something !

but i guess tom is too big to fit the silver screen ..

last movie he did sucked big time ..

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this is episode,where Deb said f*ck word so many f*cking times,that you had to say: Girl, WTF ??? :D



but yeah,it got better from previous episode.

I say that Dex and The Professor will meet in church,when Dex's kid will do something wrong. and from there plot thickens :D
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"f*ck b*lls" was my favorite line in the episode
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