Dexter recap: Falling off last week's cliffhanger
Last week's big cliffhanger is jettisoned, while Hannah McKay sends Dexter into a confused tailspin
Before recapping this week’s episode, we’re going to spend this entire page and then some on how Dexter resolved last week’s big cliffhanger. Because Dexter fans got robbed.
Hannah McKay made her dramatic return last week, poisoning Dexter and Debra into unconsciousness in the show’s final minute. Muahhaaha! What a cliffhanger! So what happened next? Did she kill them? Torture them? Put them into a cube maze with each room having a nefarious trap? Write hilarious things on their faces? No. She did none of that. She left Debra alone. And she took Dexter and … moved him to another location. Left him on the side of the road, to be exact…
[Cue EW recap crickets].
Wow. That’s really … wow. How … mildly annoying of her! That’s like, kind of inconvenient! Surprised she didn’t leave him with cab fare while she was at it. I mean she … leaves him on the side of the road? Maybe next time he’ll wake up and find himself in a movie theater, or perhaps in a spa getting an overly aggressive deep-tissue massage.
THIS move, more than anything else this season, annoyed me. It’s worse than Dexter setting up a kill room at the Miami airport last season. It’s also more egregious than the previous cliffhanger fake-out — where Deb crashed Dexter’s car and nearly drowned him. At least that ending resulted in an compelling argument and Deb moving beyond her anger at the top of the next episode. The post-accident fall-out wasn’t realistic, but it served a purpose.
This cliffhanger included the return of a major character successfully capturing our heroes. It should ideally have resulted in three things: Hannah’s actions should make sense, have consequences and provoke at least one interesting scene. Or two of those things. Or how about one? … No? No.
You get the feeling the only reason the poisoning occurred is because the writers needed a cliffhanger and fun entrance for Yvonne to get everybody interested … then scribbled themselves out of the corner as dully and incoherently as possible. Hannah drugging Dexter and Debra had no impact on the rest of the story other than alert them to her presence — “We’ll just give Hannah a line about being conflicted and changing her mind or something — women do that!”
But even THAT weak reasoning doesn’t make sense. Because Hannah also says her motivation was to convince Dexter to kill her new rich lover. So why go through the motions of drugging Dex and his sister and messing with them if she’s there to ask him for his help?
And — one more time — even THAT doesn’t make any sense! Because if there’s one thing — ONE THING — that we as an audience know about this character, Hannah McKay, is that she ruthlessly and capably kills men who mess with her and she gets away with it. Why-why-why would she suddenly need Dexter’s help for that? My God, they’re traveling on a boat! You’re telling me this smart, sexy, deadly serial killer can’t figure out a way to dispose of some rich jerk while crossing the Atlantic ocean with him on a yacht? Average travelers manage to get away with shoving their spouses off cruise ships all the time! It’s sure a lot easier than drugging murderous Dexter and his ex-cop sister and dragging his body to the side of the road on the other side of town for no reason!
[Recapper hyperventilates, breathes in bag…]
Ahem. Okay. Back to an indoor voice.
NEXT: ‘Dexter’ vs. ‘Breaking Bad’: Unfair comparison? What bothers me is the writers on Dexter are very bright. Every point I’m making was probably debated in the writers room. But somewhere along the line, the thought sometimes seems to be either: “We don’t care if it makes a lot of sense” or, worse, “We don’t think the fans will care if this doesn’t make sense.” That bugs me. Because for a large percentage of fans … it’s true. Many won’t be bothered, much, or won’t care, much. For every annoyed viewer, there’s probably three or four who just shrugged it off. But man … shouldn’t the goal be set higher than that? “Leave him on the side of the road” should become a writers room meme, like “jump the shark” or “sexposition”; something that’s said when everybody is stumped on how to resolve a cliffhanger. Because this season, Dexter has had cliffhangers the way Looney Tunes had cliffhangers — the coyote falls off the cliff, hits the canyon floor and is back to normal in the next scene.
I’m tempted to spend the rest of this recap going rogue talking about AMC’s Breaking Bad premiere. Because, holy God, that was amazing. The first episode does what I’ve wished Dexter would get around to this season — having the main character challenged by an ongoing threat of danger/capture/discovery by the other characters. And the sound design — that’s weirdly specific, I know, but literally every scene in the Breaking Bad premiere has something interesting in the background that adds to the mood, whether unique music or a hypnotic lawn mower or the irate buzzing of a neon sign. It’s not just, you know, moody tones and seagulls. I asked creator Vince Gilligan after last year’s Breaking Bad finale about whether a very brief shot of something in the finale was going to pay off later. And he replied, “We try to never have a scene in our show that adds up to nothing.” That’s a very high standard, and it’s probably unfair to compare any show on TV to Breaking Bad right now (except HBO’s Game of Thrones), but I wish more that has happened in Dexter this season felt like it was there for a reason other than to fill the hour I’m currently watching.
Anyway, I don’t want to leave this recap on the side of the road, so I’m going to play it off with eight things we learned on Dexter this week:
1. Debra wants Hannah dead — again!: Just when Deb was no longer having a shuddering tearful meltdown every hour, along comes her worst nightmare — the sexy killer who seduces her brother/wannabe lover. “The moment I asked you to kill her is the moment I started to lose myself,” Deb says, yet also declares: “I want her gone.” Later, Deb elaborates on her Hannah-hate: “She is everything that is wrong with our lives. She is a vortex, she is a black hole, she sucks everything in her being, leaving nothing behind.” She accuses Dexter of falling for Hannah’s dark vortex hole and seethes with classic brunette vs. blonde envy: “One little toss of Hannah’s pretty little blonde hair and you turn into a moron,” she says. Oh, Deb, it’s not just her hair; she’s pretty much utterly perfect looking. Even little Harrison is dissing Deb and pining for Hannah while watching Rastamouse (I assumed this title was an invention by the writers. But no! Rastamouse is a real thing! He solves crimes!).
2. Hannah becomes a wishy-washy damsel in distress: Hannah is hacking up with Millionaire Miles on his yacht. Dexter tracks them down to a private club and enlists psycho Zach and his cheekbones to get inside (“What kind of name is Miles,” he amusingly wonders). Dexter waits until Miles leaves Hannah alone and then approaches her seconds later (presumably beating out the line of other men waiting for Miles to turn his back on her). Miles returns and Dex lets himself get discovered. He isn’t scared by Miles’ dastardly super-villain accent. Later, they meet at Hannah’s old nursery which, as they say, has gone to pot. He demands an explanation for returning to Miami and drugging him. It seems she hates him, she loves him, she wants his help killing her husband, and now has changed her mind and wants to be left alone — pick a motive, one of these surely works! Dex asks my question: Why not kill him yourself? She says that might look suspicious and she doesn’t want to get caught. Because if you’re a serial killer hiding from the police, the best way to avoid being caught is to keep your appearance exactly the same and return to the city where you committed your crimes while traveling on the arm of a famous multimillionaire whose paparazzi pics are all over Google Images.
NEXT: Masuka gets distracted; two characters whacked
3. Quinn is moving in with Jamie: At Miami Metro, Quinn gets a shoulder-rub from Jamie at his desk. She floats the idea of them moving in together and at first we think Quinn won’t do it since he always seems completely uninterested in her except when she’s sitting on him naked. “Eventually,” he mumbles. Later, Quinn reverses himself and tells Batista he’s moving in with his sister, as if saying it just to spite him. Hey, “spite” is a motive. We’ll take it!
4. Masuka gets distracted by his daughter’s boobs: Masuka’s daughter is hanging out in his lab. Is this Bring a Girl to Work Day at Miami Metro? They’ve made up after their fight last week. She mentions she works at a sports bar. He drops by and is shocked to find her working at a topless “breastraunt.” I’m not sure I buy that Masuka wouldn’t already have a frequent-customer punch-card for this place. He’s instantly distracted and bothered by seeing her semi-nude. “I’ve stared at a million boobs but until now I’ve never considered them to be daughter boobs,” he says. He lobbies Batista to create an assistant position in his lab so his daughter can stay clothed in the workplace, but she doesn’t go for it. Slinging buffalo wings while topless might not be the greatest gig, but it beats making $13 an hour while working with your pervy dad who’s trying not to look at you the wrong way.
5. Dr. Vogel is still in the show. She advises Dexter to train Zach, then warns about how dangerous he is. Zach is willing to let Dexter teach him the code, but has no patience with all his young murder-hormones surging through him.
6. Elway gets a little interesting: Deb snaps at her boss (“You stand so close, try to flirt, you’re making me uncomfortable.”) and Elway shoots back: “Maybe you ought to try a little gratitude instead of always being a f–king bitch.” It’s the vehemence of his delivery, not the text itself, that makes this line jump out at you and wonder about Elway. She borrows a GPS tracker from him and puts it on Dexter’s car. She looks it up on her laptop and sees a GPS signal on a map showing Dexter driving what appears to be roughly 120 mph toward a pier. This tracker will pay off later, I suspect.
7. Hannah’s hubby gets whacked: Hannah takes care of her problem herself, killing Millionaire Miles in self defense on the yacht. “I’ll take care of everything,” Dex assures, but then asks her to go find an ax, plastic tarp and bleach. Thanks for the help, Dex!
8. Cassie gets whacked: Dexter, Deb, Zach each randomly bumps into horny next-door neighbor Cassie this week. At one point she leaves her apartment giggling with her date and sees Dex coming out his door and I wonder: How thin are those condo walls, exactly? Later Deb advises her to forget about trying to date Dex too, giving her what’s probably the episode’s strongest line: “Trust me, Dexter is not a mystery that you want to solve.” When she turns up bludgeoned, we naturally assume Zach did it. “Can anything good come from putting two killers together?” Dexter wonders, tying the episode’s threads together. We close with a nice shot of Dex reflected in the pool of her blood.
Okay, a little teaser for next week: It’s the best Dexter episode since the premiere. The bigger surprise: One of the best things about it is Zach Hamilton. Intrigued? See you next week.
Let’s have Rastamouse close the show. Give it up, give it up, for the Easy Crew!