This review contains spoilers.
8.8 Are We There Yet?
The title of this episode has a double meaning, I’ve concluded. At one level it’s the junk that kids come out with five minutes after you’ve left the house on a long journey, and on another it’s a desperate call from those watching the show for it to get to the point. That said, I actually enjoyed most of what went on, up to the point where the writers decided that because Dexter is close to ending that every episode should end dramatically. Why? But before we came to that, the story managed to start off heading in one direction – the imminent extinction of Zach for the murder of Cassie – before taking a sharp turn when it became obvious that he’s been implicated by another person, as yet unknown.
In previous reviews I haven’t been a big fan of Sam Underwood (Zach), but in this one he really upped his game, making himself quite likeable at a number of points. What I had much less time for were the awkward interactions between Hannah and Dexter, which concluded in probably the most unnatural lovemaking scene I’ve witnessed for some time. Perhaps it was the creative choice to make sure that Yvonne Strahovski didn’t display a nipple, or that the two actors were really embarrassed, or some other reason but it didn’t work. And, it also went on too long, which amplified for me the discomfort.
A much better scene on so many levels was the family dinner, where Vogel got to play queen bee with her artificial relatives around her. She was obviously enjoying that intensely, though not relaxed enough to actually answer the critical question about how she became involved with so many killers. Rampling was on fire in that scene, and it re-established her as the focal point of this season, if there was ever any doubt.
And then, when it was going in an interesting direction, and they’d turned Zach into a watchable character, they did away with him! I’ll be honest, I was annoyed. This must be at least the fifth time this season that they’ve built up a character or plotline to dump them unceremoniously. They’ve done it so many times now that as soon as character takes on that extra bit of personality it’s like a death marker.
When Dexter finds Zach looking like a giant pez dispenser, there’s an iPhone docked nearby playing Make Your Own Kind of Music, a song written in 1968 made famous by Mama Cass. That’s the title of the next story, but it also probably indicates that whomever is responsible was either born in the fifties/sixties or is a big fan of that era. This music also appeared in both Every Silver Lining and This Little Piggy, so it’s an important clue and not just a random track. I’ll let those willing to speculate what it means to have that discussion below, because at this time other than it hinting at an older person I’m stumped.
The bigger issue here is that those behind the show have now created a reveal that I can’t see will satisfy those who watch the show, as all the possibilities would be lame to some extent or another. If Vogel has a multiple personality disorder and she’s the brain surgeon then that doesn’t entirely make sense, because we saw someone else deliver the brain gift to her door earlier in the season. So that leaves Joey, Oliver (Cassidy’s boyfriend), or Elway. Unless you want something really off the wall, like Batista or Tom Matthews?
Joey’s never exhibited any above average intelligence and usually much less, so that would be a major shark jump for this writer. Elway does have a short fuse, and seemingly no personal relationships outside work, but it’s becoming somewhat late in the day to put him centre stage. That leaves Oliver, who lied about having never seen or met Zach. That would be a fine irony for Debs, who told Cassie to date Oliver and stay away from Dex!To be honest I don’t like any of those choices, but it’s far too late to introduce a character we’ve never met, I’d suggest. What the twist also showed was how easily convinced they were that they’d caught the brain surgeon, when it was obvious that they hadn’t got him/her.
But I’m being so easy distracted away from the true reveal, which is what started Vogel’s interest in psychopaths (her own son?). For this all to make the slightest sense, it’s her motivation in all of this that’s critical, and if that’s unbelievable then they’ve blown the whole final season on it.
Dexter is now moving into that show-defining phase where they’ll either deliver something magical where all the pieces suddenly drop into place, or they’ll offer up a solution that manages to piss off just about everyone. With only four to go, it can’t be long before we find out if they’ve got a better trick than the repeated disposable plotline/character that they’d done to death this season.
Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, Dress Code, here.
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