5
Oct
2009
Dexter: Season 4, Episode 2
Remains to be Seen
Jordan
When we last left Dexter, he had fallen asleep at the wheel and his car careened off the road. To add to the cliffhanger element of that ending, Dexter had just come from killing Benito Gomez, and had his body stashed in his trunk. Or did he? In an interview, Michael C. Hall once said that Dexter is like a shark, and if the show can't keep moving, it will die. I thought that a clever observation at the time, given the suspense driven nature of the show, but watching this week's episode, I couldn't help but wonder if the show has played its hand.

The story at the center of the episode revolves around Dexter trying to recover the body of Benny Gomez. We learn early on, however, that the body isn't in the car, nor is it at the crash site. Which means, half-baked theories about dumpsters near the pharmacy aside, Benny is somewhere in the boxing ring. This took a good portion of the intended tension out of the episode, as Dexter had pointed out last week that the ring had been abandoned for years. If there is no chance that the body will be discovered, there is an even slimmer chance than usual that the events of the episode will lead to Dexter's capture. The show is always at its best when Dexter is one small mistake away from capture and has to keep himself one step ahead of the law. The stellar second season was based entirely around that idea, and when last year really got going, the driving tension behind it was that Miguel could expose Dexter at any time. This episode attempted to bring that tension back by making us think our titular hero was about to be caught, but the tension was nothing more than an artifice hung over a shabbily put together episode.

Considering Dexter is the show's narrator, and much of its appeal comes from the audience being inside his head, it makes almost no sense that he wouldn't have mentioned stashing the body at the end of last week's episode. The only possible reason for him to not narrate about that was so that there would be a level of tension in this week's episode, but instead of injecting the episode with a sense of dread, it just came off like a cheap storytelling trick.

It's no secret that Dexter is by far and away the most interesting character on the series, so it does not bode well for an episode when his storyline falls flat. In fact, what we're left with is the vomit-inducing La Guerta-Angel pairing, a totally uninteresting scene about Quinn banging that reporter from last week, and a storyline about Deb's suddenly very strong love for Anton. The last story is the closest "Remains to be Seen" comes to a solid hour of Dexter. While it seems Deb as a character is doomed to be forever defined by her current romance, her interests have never irked me as much as they do many. Putting her with Ice Truck in the first season was a smart way to build tension, her relationship with Lundy in season two was my favorite coupling on the series so far, and Anton made for a solid subplot last year. I respect Deb's decision to stick with Anton enough, yet it still irks that she (and more importantly, the series) is turning down the opportunity to rekindle things with Lundy. Anton is fine as a boyfriend, but Lundy is a much more interesting and fully drawn character, and not exploring he and Deb's lingering feelings seems like a wrong move.

After tearing apart good portions of this week's offering, it's only fair to end on a positive note. John Lithgow's Trinity didn't get much action tonight, but I was impressed with how the episode kept him on the fringe. He felt like a shadow, drifting in pursuit of his next victim, stalking through a marina in broad daylight, and then causing a run in by sinisterly using a stray dog. At this point in the season (which, to be fair, is still pretty new) he seems like the most appealing portion of the story to come. Whether the show can use him to tread on new grounds or whether he'll end up under Dexter's knife just like Ice Truck and Miguel remains to be seen, but for the moment at least, I am very excited to find out.

Grade: C+

Notes:

-The show wasn't even big on one-liners this week.

-Harry as a character has gone through two incarnations. He was originally only used in flashbacks, then, when the show ran out of back story to flesh out, he suddenly started haunting Dexter in fantasy sequences. I much preferred the first, more grounded version of Harry, and I can't help but think he feels tacked onto every episode now, as if the show just doesn't want to fire James Remar.
Tags: Dexter
comments powered by Disqus