This review contains spoilers.
6.1 Those Kind Of Things
It’s obvious now that Dexter created something of a rod for its own back in season four, by creating such an impressive narrative and then gut punching the viewers in the final moments. That created an expectation which season five never actually lived up to, and possibly never could.
The introduction of the character of Lumen divided fans, some of whom loved her, and others wanted to see her fast-tracked to the plastic covered table. Myself, I liked the team dynamic, but accept that especially the final couple of episodes became an anti-climax, as the threat represented by Jordan Chase wasn’t one that remotely challenged to Dexter Morgan.
Dexter needs a new challenge, and the new one is represented by the somewhat odd combination of Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica) and Colin Hanks (The Good Guys). Their appearance in Those Kinds of Things is on the edge of proceedings, and not at the top of Dexter’s agenda, but there’s clearly some potential there.
But they do set the season’s theme, which is ‘spirituality’ or religious passion, however you wish the label it. It’s a condition that, like this writer, Dexter doesn’t experience, but he’s willing to accept that other people believe, and for them it has meaning. This is something he’s forced to confront when choosing the best school for his son, which happens to be a religious one, run by nuns.
That’s not to say that he can’t maintain a healthy body count, because from the outset Dexter is in prime killing mode. The opening sequence just served to explain to anyone new to the show what he’s all about, as he dispatches two bad cops with consummate ease.
But the main dish that he’s looking to present is old school nemesis and wife murderer, Joe Walker.
I’m entirely with Dexter on the subject of school reunions, because I’d probably refuse to attend mine at gun point. But he manages to make the most of his, and the entirely disconcerting discovery that he’s now ‘popular’. In terms of stories this one had more humour than we’ve been getting for a while, and Michael C. Hall is very good at playing the fish-out-of-water aspect to Dexter’s persona.
There was only one component in this story that was slightly jarring, and that was the direction they took Maria’s character, who is now a Captain! How she managed to get this promotion was a significant step up in her duplicitous nature, and one I’m not yet willing to accept is a natural development. It’s also a somewhat obvious lead to Angel finding out how he also got promoted, and his extreme discomfort with that when he does. They’re divorced now, but I think their relationship is likely to get worse, not better.
But overall this was a fine opening episode, which felt like a hot cup of strong coffee after a particularly tough night, setting you up for the new day.
What I did find interesting was while all the main characters get at least a small appearance, Cody and Astor don’t even get a mention. I’m not sure if that hints at them playing little or no part in season six, or not. So far no Mos Def either, who’s been cast in the show.
What does that leave us, currently? Well, along with the potent threat of two religious killers, there’s still the issue of Quinn’s inside knowledge about Dexter, Debra’s suspicions, Angel and Maria’s relationship, and probably a busload or two of the totally unexpected.
Dexter always starts the season slow, and then builds, and from that perspective, Those Kinds of Things showed enough potential without cutting to the chase or providing a predictable direction that we’re destined to follow.
I’m expecting great things from the acting of Edward James Olmos, more people to find out what Dexter’s hobby is, and the necessity to bulk-buy plastic garbage sacks. I’m confident that Dexter won’t disappoint me on those counts, but what else have the writers in their bag of tricks? Time will tell…