Dexter season 7 episode 9 review: Helter Skelter

Review Billy Grifter 28 Nov 2012 - 08:38

Dexter says goodbye to a character who will be sorely missed this week. Here's his review of Helter Skelter...

This review contains spoilers.

7.9 Helter Skelter

It's difficult to see it any other way, but the creative people behind Dexter dropped the ball right at the point that season seven was about to score, big time! And, as odd as this might seem, I find it difficult to pin it on the writing team as specifically their fault.

What I'm alluding to is having created such a wonderfully nuanced character as Isaak Sirko, at least the most interesting foe for Dexter since Trinity, they to do away with him with three episodes of the season left to run! Grrrr...

However, I can see with hindsight what went wrong here, and it was casting the superb Ray Stevenson to play him. I'm sure long before he went in front of the camera the writing team had worked out the entire season's plotlines, and what Isaak's character was to do, and where he was to exit.

What they didn't know then was how engagingly Ray Stevenson would play him, and as such what possibilities they've trashed when they killed him off. This must be quite frustrating for the Dexter team, because by the time this became apparent they were committed to the plot they've just executed.

All the Dexter conversations with Isaak in Helter Skelter where the strongest parts, as they moved around each other like caged big cats, introduced for the first time. Each killer Dexter encounters have taught him a little something, but Isaak's attempt to get to understand Dexter was really different. In the end they looked into each other's souls, and saw a little redemption living there.

As deaths go, Isaak's in mid-conversation on the Slice of Life was the most touching yet, and I hope it resonates through what we've got left of the show.

And that, as they say is the crux of the problem, because what we have left in this season seems rather thin, at best. The Isaak story can't really be tied off unless Dexter visits George Novikov, though that has the implications to cause trouble for Joey Quinn. Other than that we've got the exploits of Hannah McKay, and a creepy fire expert who may be a sadistic killer. Neither of these is especially compelling, if I'm honest, because Dexter and Hannah haven't exactly done much together, and her story seems weak at best.

I'd also like to remark that the amount of toxin in an unripe tomato is very small, and it would take too long to concentrate it enough to affect poor Jurg after a single mouthful. I liked Jurg, though really we never got to really meet him properly. He was cool, he was smart, he was loyal, he liked looking like Agent 47 from Hitman, he was dead. Maybe someone should have mentioned that the cute woman he was minding was an even bigger sociopath than him. Things we needed to know yesterday!

The only other plot in play is that where LaGuerta is barking up the right tree, and has now got ex-Deputy Chief Tom Matthews involved. The scenes between Tom (Geoff Pierson) and Maria (Lauren Vélez) were excellent, though I was wondering how Tom was going to bend where this ultimately goes to pay back LaGuerta.

I'm left concluding that the final three episodes of this season are more likely to be preparation for what happens in season eight, the final part of the Dexter story. I do hope I'm wrong, because even with the muck-up of killing Isaak far too early, this has been a much more engaging season that the previous one so far.

As for Ray Stevenson, those working on Elementary on CBS should hunt him down and get him to play his smarter brother Mycroft, because he'd eat that acting challenge for breakfast.

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, Argentina, here.

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