Tag Archives: The Wire

Dexter – 5×01: Guilty as Charged

She had a big heart. Big enough for both of us. It had to be. I wasn’t even human before I met her.” – Dexter
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Goodbye, I'm Sorry. (Showtime)

After a somewhat disappointing premiere week (Bones – meh; Boardwalk Empire – good but not great yet; The Event – suckage; House – whatever) the return of Dexter last night finally got me feeling the September buzz!

The season opener finds Dexter Morgan in a sea of guilt and confusion over his wife Rita’s unjust murder by whom we all assume to be last year’s Trinity Killer, Arthur Mitchell. But he’s not drowning, he’s slowly rowing along and further away in that disconnected way Dexter does. The guilt comes from the fact that, as Dex puts it:

This would have never happened if I had just killed Trinity from the beginning.

Touché! But Dexter’s guilt looks different from the average person’s. Sort of. He appears to be more shocked more than sorrowful, which can happen to the average “human”, but it was the lack of emotion that stood out here.  Of course there was the typical dose of self-punishment we expect from the guilt-ridden with Dexter’s choice to separate himself from Cody and Astor – thinking he is not good enough for them and that he deserves to be alone – but what was most shocking was his sloppiness. Ironically, the one time that he didn’t kill the victim, the police are starting to believe that he did. He tells the police “it was me”, he evades the FBI, he acts guilty, he doesn’t come up with extravegant but believable lies… all very atypical for Dexter.

Dexter looks on from the human side (Showtime)

But the audience recognizes this change as Dexter finally suffering. If he were okay about things he’d still be functioning like the killer he is and covering up his tracks and anything that could lead to him as a suspect. Of course, he didn’t kill Rita, but he does know who did and has a relationship with the Trinity’s family, and so I wonder if this season of Dexter will have Dexter taking a more laissez faire approach and, out of his own guilt, allowing the police/FBI investigate freely without any interference from him… because he deserves it? This would be a fascinating twist and would add a new depth to Dexter’s character. One of more self-recognition other than the usual “I’m not normal” or “I’m a monster”.

Although Dexter has always been aware of his “Dark Passenger” he has never expressed any belief that he should be punished for the people that he killed. The only thing he’s ever felt badly for is having to lie to the people he loves as a result. But now his Dark Passenger has cost him his wife. It’s true that if he hadn’t made himself so vulnerable to Trinity, because he had “learn more from him“, and then actively crusaded to kill him, Rita would be alive. Or would she?

Does anyone else think that “Trinity did it” is easier said than proven? I could be way off here but, what if Elliot, the adulterous neighbor, did it? What if Dexter at some point found out that it wasn’t Trinity after all? He’d supposedly be absolved of his guilt but at the same time he’d have suffered and contemplated his choice to be a killer because, after all, it is a choice.

Dexter kills in cold blood! (Showtime)

And speaking of being a killer – Dexter killed a non-killer! That hick in the public bathroom was the worst kind of dickhead imaginable and its even very possible that he had killed before, but Dexter didn’t know that… and he murdered him in cold blood. I was so incredibly shocked when Dexter smashed his face in with that anchor-hook! Was anyone else? Even more shocking was that the imaginary ghost of his father, Harry,  approved and near-congratulated Dexter for it! Isn’t this against the code?!?! As the great Omar from The Wire used to say “Every man’s gotta have a code.” If Dexter loses that, he’s no better than any of the other serial killer pieces of garbage that he’s killed. Five years ago, Dexter successfully got us cheering on a serial killer, which not an easy task, but the biggest factor in this was not even Dexter’s hidden heart of gold, but his code. He was a vigilante, not too different from the Batman we’ve idolized for decades, so without a code, what is Dexter?

Eventually he breaks down. AN ABSOLUTE FIRST! He yells and weeps and screams and smashes the ground, which was so heartbreaking considering what he’d just done in that bathroom and all he’d just been through. After everything Dexter thinks he is, it’s always him whose been the last to know that he’s a caring and loving person. He’s insisted for years that his family and friends don’t know who he really is because they don’t know what he’s done but I know that’s not true and I think we all do. Do you think that people who don’t know your biggest secret don’t know you at all? And if you’ve never told anyone your biggest secret does that mean no one knows you? I sure hope not. I think we all want Dexter to see that he actually does have a heart and that “humanity” isn’t so black and white. It’s not too late to find that out and to stop thinking of his role as father/brother/friend/co-worker as the mask he wears to hide the killer inside. Who he is to his friends and family is who he is  — and the fact that he’s a serial killer is just a part of him the way that being addicted to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Brooklyn Lager before bed is for me. As sinful as I know it is, it doesn’t define me as a person even if no one knew it until now, and even though its probably important that I give it up. Dexter’s got a similar lesson to learn, except with, you know… bodies and murder and stuff.

What’s next this season? Whose going to be the Big Bad? As per my own “code”, I don’t watch any previews or sneak peeks so I’m totally in the dark but I’m so intrigued since I think there might be a very significant change taking place inside Dexter — it must for the show to conclude one day. Like I say about Don Draper (Mad Men), our protagonist doesn’t have to eradicate all his inner demons by the series conclusion, he simply has to try and to learn something along the way even if its not enough. Even if he never makes it out triumphant, we must see the journey and we see the failure… but you can’t fail if you don’t try. Dexter has been trying, but not enough, and so I hope this season will be the moment to break through.

Extras

As you may may know, I’m not particularly a fan of most of the supporting characters on the show and I find that to be its greatest weakness so I won’t be discussing them very much, but, for what its worth…

  • Does Debra have to sleep with everyone?? Every season she’s ripping someone’s clothes off or falling in love with someone else. She’s both slutty and a relationship addict. And then she’s always crying about it. She is the Tara (True Blood) or Dexter.
  • LaGuerta’s reasoning for not wanting to investigate Rita’s murder was stupid — not wanting to ruin her wedding day? I thought it was going to be something more benevolent than that like not wanting their feelings to get in the way of the investigation or something.
  • If anyone saw The Expendables last month, you may understand why its impossible to watch Batista (played by former OZ star, David Zayas) considering he should win every Razzie under the sun for that performance.
  • How beyond inappropriate is Matsuka’s opening joke about imagining “Rita naked but not like this” at the crime scene? That wasn’t even funny, it was totally unlikeable and really cut the tension of the scene for which there was no need since the episode had just started. Also, he’s the one who originally jumped to the possibility that Dexter may have done this when he spills the beans about Rita and the neighbor’s kiss and Dex’s knowledge of it. Aren’t these people his friends?
  • Quinn is the new Sargent Doakes, but why do we need another Sargent Doakes? I mean, seriously he’s the same exact character isn’t he? Only difference being that Doakes was smart enough not to put his penis between that used-up spot between Deb’s legs!
  • I always liked Rita. She was the one supporting character I enjoyed coming back to. The only one ever… and now she’s gone. Goodbye Rita. We all know that no one will ever replace you and that Dexter may very well be alone for a long time. Please come back frequently in flashbacks and dreams! (Not likely unless Julie Benz’ No Ordinary Family gets canceled.)

Next week, Single Daddy Dexter! Will Deb really take over as surrogate mother? Ugh, I pray to a world of NO.

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Treme – S1 Finale: ‘Hey. Who died?’

I write this with a little jazz playing in the background. Ooh yeah. All three of you who follow these blogs may have read last week’s post regarding my lack of initiative towards catching up with Treme. Well I did it, and it was sweet.

I watched episodes 1×05 thru 1×09 in a couple of days and, you know what? I finally got a solid understanding of the show. Actually that’s a lie. More like I got a solid feeling from the show and what it is. Yes, that’s it. Treme is about a very specific moment in time and a very specific place. The music and the food and the politics. The old people, young people, white people, black people, natives, tourists, etc… they all have their own lives but they also give their lives to that city and the city gives back. It’s a symbiotic relationship that exisits in every city in the world but is only recognized AND openly cherished by it’s dwellers in a few rare cases. New Orleans is one of those cases.

Having lived in at least two very “personable” cities myself — Miami and New York City — I can relate to that feeling of give-and-take, but of course no two cities are the same. For example, one could argue that a similar story could have been told of NYC post-9/11 but I don’t think so. It would be very different. New York is too big and, while it has a personality, it suffers from a case of geographic schizophrenia, as well, because so few “New Yorkers” are actually from here. Meanwhile New Orleans seems to be firmly rooted in specific traditions which bind it’s people to each other and to New Orleans itself.

In episode 1×09, “Wish Someone Would Care”, Davis discusses those moments which make up the feeling of New Orleans (and downright slaps New York down in the proccess) to which he gets a reality check response from Janette: “Those are moments, Davis. They’re not a life.” I loved that line for two reasons: (1) It made me think, “Is life just made of moments? Or is it something bigger?” and, (2) it really captured the format and concept behind the show. My problem with Treme was that it just felt like small moments inside one big moment, and most of those moments consisted of people just feeling things and of looking at things in a reactionary way to the storm and the flood. At first, the format felt scattered and not enough like a “life”, which is what I would like a show to feel like: like I’m being privy to another life.

With a little time, however, those moments began to form a life around these characters and in a very unique way I might add. I certainly don’t believe this show is everybody’s cup of tea, because I must admit I struggle with it myself since its such a different way of approaching serialized drama. However, I’m very intrigued by it and think I may get something a little different from watching it. For example, I’m sold on the characters now more than ever and I’m clueless as to how it happened. Most shows have make-it-or-break it moments that define whether I’m going to despise this character or love them forever. Often, I’ll even go back and forth between love and hate in inexplicable ways (I hated Jack Shephard on LOST about 5 times, and loved him about 6). On Treme I just get them, the way I get people I love and so I try not to judge them too harshly, and that’s pretty cool for a show to do.

I haven’t spoken about the finale directly because I really don’t have much to say, except it was awesome, but I’ll try:

  • CONFESSION: I cried at Damo’s second line. When LaDonna (played by the fabulous Khandi Alexander of CSI:Miami fame) started dancing with her white handkerchief, those were tears of joy my friends… I think. I mean, it was a bittersweet moment of acceptance and realization that the city is great enough and joyful enough in their spirit to get through it
  • Poor Toni and Sofia. I honestly still cannot believe Creighton jumped into the bay. No really, it didn’t hit me for his sake yet, only for his family’s sake. I probably feel much worse for them because, like them, I don’t understand. Sure, he was sad and angry and slipping into depression but I would in no way have guessed he was suicidal until the beginning of the episode where he did it. Did you?
  • I said it last week and you’re hopefully going to hear a lot from me on this next seasons as well but, the women on this show are FANTASTIC. I criticized David Simon a bit for his treatment of women (mainly for his lack of them) in The Wire and I wasn’t alone in that, I later learned. I don’t think he meant to but if I had to guess he listened to that criticism out there and made sure this time around he would do that right. It’s one of the things I love about television: you learn from those that came before, always.
  • And speaking of women: Annie. Pffft… I love this girl. She’s making real decisions and although they aren’t perfect they are sound and I respect her so much for them. Perhaps because she’s my age and she’s in a new city and all but as someone who can relate, who better to say: you got it right! Right? Even if she ends up with Davis, who I still don’t love but he’s aiiiiight and they could be good for each other.
  • It’s odd, but I don’t hate Sonny, although he really fucked up with the drugs, and hitting Annie, and then sleeping around on her. He’s lost but not like a hippie bum, there’s something more to him in his respect for a culture that’s not even his which really grounds him for me. He’s a bit judgmental and selfish but, it is what it is and I hope he grows. Annie did right by leaving him, and that line: “I wasn’t going to leave you.” Gold! I could feel his heart breaking.
  • Antoine Batiste. This man is probably my least favorite of them all but I still got love for him. He really hasn’t had much conflict this season aside from looking for a job as a musician and trying to feed his kids. His relationship with LaDonna does wonders for his character though because you can see how he still loves her and it makes him extra likable because, I love her, too.
  • And the Indian Chief. I still don’t know his name because everyone just calls him “chief” (or “dad”) and I’d like to keep it that way. He’s a father and he’s a chief, enough said. I had no idea this St. Joseph’s Day thing with the Indians existed and I’ve yet to do my research on it, but I’m amazed at how intense it is. I would have actually liked a little more back-story and explanation within the show in regards to it, but whatever… exposition can often be quite the burden. His son, Delmond (aka the kid from Finding Forrester, in case you were wondering) really came full circle for me and I hope to see him a bit next season (from what I hear, he’s filming the second season already)!
  • You too, Janette! We miss your restaurant!

In the final moments of the episode (after that eerie flashback of all our characters on the day Katrina hit), we see Damo’s second line hit the streets with people singing and dancing and playing music in the Treme. One man, who we’ve seen before, looks out at it and asks another, “Hey. Who died?” The guy shrugs, and they both chuckle as they bop back and forth to the beat. A city that knows its crazy, but it works! Love it. See ya’ll next year. I’m looking forward to it!

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