Dexter – “Once Upon a Time…” & “Smokey and the Bandit”

Dexter – “Once Upon a Time…”

So I didn’t do any blogging last week so I’m kind of doing double-duty this week to catch up. So first I’m going over last week’s episode before moving on to this week’s. Dante Terrell Smith, better known as Mos Def, recently announced he will be rapping under the name Yasiin starting next year and I couldn’t help but notice he was credited in tonight’s episode of Dexter as just Mos. I don’t have any witty comments about this, I just thought it was odd and worth pointing out. Anyway our good friend with the varied nomenclature guest stars as Brother Sam, a murderer who went free due to a technicality and used his second chance to become a preacher and try to save other wayward ex-cons from the recidivism and damnation. Dexter has his doubts, but over the course of the episode comes to believe that Sam is on the level. Fortunately, another less repentant fellow makes Dexter’s acquaintance so his table isn’t left empty this week. The idea of redemption might be a tricky one for Dexter, since his entire victim-selection process involves the belief that some people are just monsters.

Also going on this week, Travis (Colin Hanks) seems less-than-gung-ho about the whole “murdering people” thing. He takes a night off to visit his sister (Deadwood’s Molly Parker) and his mentor (Edward James Olmos) burns himself to guilt him (because you can’t have a religion without guilt). In less-interesting non-serial killer plotlines, Deputy Chief Matthews has decided not to grant Angel the promotion he was all-but-promised by La Guerta in the season premiere. Instead he’s decided to go with Debra. Concurrently, Quinn has finally got that proposal out and Debra is freaking out. Quinn wants to move forward and she wants things to stay the same. He doesn’t take it well and the two split. Then she’s his boss. Awkward.

Smokey and the Bandit

I’m really not sure what exactly is going on with Travis and the Professor. They’re killing fruit vendors, stuffing their corpses with snakes, kidnapping and torturing joggers and sewing their parts to mannequins and they’re doing it all very seriously. Colin Hanks is an actor whose main appeal (like his more famous father) is in his personality. It would be great if he could show it. Their plan is obviously building to something but it isn’t really compelling. I know after John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer, the temptation for the show is to show more of the killers and their plans, but Lithgow had an intensity that here is replaced with a more dull solemnity. I almost think it would be better if we didn’t see what these killers were up to, and the show built mystery like with the Ice Truck Killer in the first season.

Speaking of our old friend the Ice Truck Killer, Masuka’s new intern Ryan (Brea Grant, who I remember as being cute on Heroes but now… DAMN) seems to be something of an aficionado on the case. So that’s obviously leading to something… if she’s studied the case extensively she could easily figure out that Brian Moser and Dexter Morgan are brothers (Deb did, remember? Funny how after one conversation she never really mentions it anymore). Debra’s promotion to lieutenant goess less-than-smoothly as Quinn seems to have no respect for her position and La Guerta may be actively trying to sabotage her under the guise of “helpful advice.”

The kill-of-the-week was more interesting than usual this episode. The “Tooth Fairy” (Red Dragon flashbacks, anyone?) is a geriatric serial killer who has been inactive for years but makes one botched attempt to get back in the habit. Dexter can really only end two ways: he gates caught or he gets away with it. Now the former has many obvious problems for the character we’ve all grown to identify with to a disturbing degree, but the whole Tooth Fairy storyline explores the drawbacks of the latter. If Dexter just keeps getting away with it and grows old, eventually outgrowing his ability to satisfy his dark passenger, what then? Will he end a bitter old man looking over his blood slides like the Tooth Fairy and his box of teeth? The episode ends without any real definitive conclusion on the topic, with Dexter freaking out over dropping his blood slides. He doesn’t know what goes where. It’s all a mess.

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