This review contains spoilers.
6.2 Once Upon A Time…
For those that don’t like spoilers and haven’t seen the show, or find the phrase ‘This review contains spoilers’ confusing, in this review I talk about what happens. So if you have no wish to know, then don’t read it.
After a mercurial opening story, Dexter’s life falls into a more predictable pattern this week. Having said that, this was an excellent example of the maturity of the show, where the depth of the characters, even Vince, becomes an ample resource that smartly drives forward events.
There are two major story threads presented in Once Upon a Time…, one involving Dexter and the other focused on Debra, or should we say Lt Morgan? The development of Debra’s character from the early seasons is quite marked, and her progression through forces of which she’s completely unaware to the rank of Lieutenant is as puzzling to her as it’s infuriating to Batista and LaGuerta. But this coming on top of some entirely divergent thinking from Quinn about their future throws her into a complete spin.
How this is threaded through the rest of the proceedings is exceptionally neat, and the implications potentially huge. There’s a sharp irony in the department announcement, where LaGuerta is forced to present her as her replacement, in a dark mirror of what happened to her own boss in making her Captain.
But the real revelation of the episode was the appearance of Mos Def as the reformed killer Brother Sam, who was once destined for a plastic-wrapped one-on-one interview with Dexter.
Some might disagree, but he wasn’t great as Ford Prefect in the Hitchhiker’s Guide movie, but here, he occupies the screen in a truly mesmerising way. The Brother Sam character is an interesting diversion for the show, and if he survives for any period, a possible mentor to our favourite serial killer.
The scene where they face off a gun wielding drug pusher was exceptionally satisfying, and hints that Dexter is going to have another partner this season, but one with an entirely different agenda from Lumen last year.
I must also comment on the infinitely unsubtle contributions of the awesome CS Lee, as king-of-the-perverts Vince Masuka. Every time his character appears I laugh, often spontaneously, as the clockwork mechanisms in Vince’s head lead him entirely into the uncharted waters of sexual harassment.
His current object of fascination is the curvaceous Ryan, played by Brea Grant, who you might recall as the super-speedy Daphne in Heroes. I don’t need to see the scripts to know that this liaison will go horribly wrong for Vince – it’s just a matter of how quickly and how bad things get. Given that his boss is now Debra, it could put an extra edge on this predictable misadventure.
The glue to all these components was the enduring love that Dexter has for his son, their bedtime ritual, and the murder-free future he’d like the boy to experience. The little boys they get to play Harrison (Luke and Evan Kruntchev) are super-cute, and there’s a genuine warmth in these scenes that’s hard to replicate.
What’s held back, for the most part, is the background threat, represented by the characters played by Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks. I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t something greater than we’re being presented going on here, especially with regards to Edward James Olmos’ character, Professor James Gellar. What’s odd is that we haven’t seen Gellar talk to anyone else other than Hanks’ character, Travis Marshall, which has led some to believe he exists only in Travis’ head. I’m not sure about that theory, but he does like to remain physically independent of the deaths at the point of execution.
For the second episode of the season, Dexter appears to be firing on all cylinders somewhat earlier than I’d anticipated. The only problem with that is, can the writers keep cranking up the tension continuously from this point onwards? They managed it in season four, but that was exceptional…
You can read our review of episode one, Those Kind Of Things, here.