Tuesday, December 04, 2007

“Doakes is a lot of things, but he’s not an idiot.”: Dexter 2.10

But, Dexter! I already said that he was an idiot. Don’t you remember?

Here’s the problem with me: I’m not so bright. So, let me go on record and say that I was wrong about the writers of Dexter and their use of Sgt. Doakes. I still don’t think King is that great of an actor (though these past two episodes have shown impressive growth in talent), and I feel that they took a bit too long to have this storyline really get off the ground; but that is mostly my dislike for the character. The arc unfolded, in retrospect, at a mostly perfect pace. The result is one of the better hours of television the show has produced thus far. The tension, the mind games, back and forth; it is all working beautifully. They are paralleling the two characters really well. Is it predictable that they would eventually do this? Sure. Is it working nonetheless? Absolutely.

"There's Something About Harry” (which is a title that has just been WAITING to be used by this show) highlights the impeccable way that Dexter is able to build quiet suspense out of what should be foregone conclusions again and again. I’ve said many times that season two’s brilliance lies in its willingness to reinvent the show’s dynamics without really altering its overall appeal. It seems to be constantly toying with your expectations and preconceptions.

Everything seemed to click this time around. I was particularly surprised with the Debra Lundy relationship finally showing some signs of truth as well as resonance. Carpenter gave some of her best work since the start of the show with a pitch-perfect reconciliation of Debra’s emotions, misgivings, and fear of abandonment. Lundy and Deb actually had some realistic, tender scenes that (for once) made me care about what is going on with them. Her daddy issues, coupled with her trauma caused by her serial killer boyfriend last season tend to make her emotional state a little too obvious; but the show is mostly tasteful in the way these ailments bubble to the surface.

Lt. Laguerta was finally given something else to do besides sleeping with her boss’s fiancé in order to get her promotion back. Her past with Doakes has been coming up a lot in recent weeks. They clearly have a romantic connection from years ago, and she is determined to clear his name. She is convinced this is all a witch hunt and thinks no one will listen to her. Because of this, she decides not to tell the FBI that Doakes contacted her…which is kind of a big deal. When she finally finds evidence in her personal records of a stakeout that she and Doakes were on the night one of the Bay Harbor Butcher victims went missing, it is deemed inadmissible by Lundy due to her lack of cooperation with the feds.

Elsewhere, Dexter and Rita decide that they are going to “hang.”; While Batista continues to be willingly used by Lila, though he clearly doesn’t understand what he is about to be used for. The meat of the episode, though, is the back and forth between Dexter and Doakes in the cabin. Expectedly, debates of morality, civic duty and the nature of murder come into light. It all sounds like a lame idea, but, really, this is what the show is all about. Based on how well the two actors (surprisingly) play off each other, the head to head is coming off in remarkable fashion. Doakes, trapped like a wily rat, is interesting to watch. You can constantly see him assessing and dealing with the situation in little ways as well as more obvious ones. His allusion to the (later confirmed) revelation that Harry killed himself was handled with particular expertise. And Dexter, as we all know, is seriously fucking crazy--which is great, because we so rarely get to see him completely unmasked like this. Hall is just a revelation in this role week in and week out. At episodes end it appears that Dexter is fairly easily going to frame Doakes for all of the murders (after drugging him and getting his prints on some tools), but he comes to the realization that seeing the beast that his son had become may have just killed Harry all together.

Next week Doakes escapes!

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