Episode 10 - In the Beginning
6 March 2012
Dexter has finally got good enough and potentially annoying enough that I have to treat it with the familiar review structure.
The Good: I have really enjoyed Lumen's story. Trying to realistically portray someone who has been through rape and torture on such a horrific scale isn't really possible. But then you can't say that about a humane serial killer either. But somehow putting the two together has worked for me.
Despite what she's been through I believed that Lumen wanted to sleep with Dexter. And despite the last four episodes or so definitely pointing them in this direction, it didn't feel predictable to me. They hadn't touched up to that point. Dexter has been his usual asexual self and after what Lumen went through romance was clearly the last thing on her mind.
Early on in the episode though we got our strongest hint yet that she was starting to feel this way. She almost broke down in tears when thanking Dexter for helping her get through her ordeal. She recognized the risks he had taken on her behalf and was sincerely grateful. Which makes perfect sense. When you think about what she went through, there must have been so many times that she would have done anything to make it stop and get a normal life back. Thanks to Dexter she has now found a direction to go in, she has been empowered and managed to make herself feel like some kind of life is possible again.
So after the adrenalin rush and emotional shock of actually killing one of her attackers she kisses Dexter. Her gratitude to this man who has saved her has turned into a strong emotional bond, which now turned physical. I thought the acting from both in that scene was excellent. They had so many emotions to try and convey and it was gripping to watch. I genuinely cared about their relationship.
From Dexter's side the story is equally simple and plausible. With Lumen he doesn't have to hide who he really is. He gets to share all of it. "In her eyes, I'm not a monster" he says. The line he doesn't add is "I am a hero." If you remember the end of season one Dexter daydreamed of a world where he was cheered by crowds for ridding the world of villains. Now he has found a woman who genuinely sees him that way. He is her Jordan Chase; he has actually transformed her life and allowed her to self-help.
It has been the kind of psychological story which I think suits Dexter (the show) much better than the police procedural parts.
The Bad: Speaking of which, the Jordan Chase story has a whole creepy element to it that feels far less convincing now that we've met Emily. Apparently Jordan's first victim was malleable enough that he has talked her into falling in love with him but won't actually touch her because of his own intimacy issues. It all feels very super villain-like and rather diminished the brutal realities of what Lumen went through.
There was no tension in Deb and Quinn walking into Tilden's house. We know the show isn't going to blow the first Deb-Dexter confrontation in the middle of this story. The writers are foolish for teasing that. This was almost full blown 24 territory and that's just irritating. Deb's suspension was lifted a little too easily too. The reinstatement of a closed case and suspended officer surely should make La Guerta look stupid in the press? That whole story received short shrift here but I'm not complaining.
The Unknown: I kind of liked Chase's plan to get rid of Dexter, Lumen and Tilden in one fell swoop. I suppose it would have implicated him no matter what but presumably he thought he'd be able to hide behind his lawyers and let Dexter's crimes take the spotlight. The escalation of Liddy's investigation massively raises the stakes for where his story needs to go. I like that he has been thorough and discovered what Dexter is really up to but now he pretty much has to die and the show will be in danger of either having Dexter kill an innocent (if skeezy) man or killing him off in a contrived manner.
That worry about Liddy is doubled when it comes to Lumen. The pattern throughout Dexter would suggest she will die or leave. At this stage there would need to be a major dramatic development to justify that. We don't yet have much reason to see why their relationship would fail quickly enough to see her leaving as anything but a letdown. If she gets caught in the crossfire it could feel like a major cheat. Especially after he just lost Rita in presumably similar fashion. It would seem that one direction really could be Deb arresting Lumen as the vigilante killer. I don't even know how that would play out. It's one of those dangerous situations where I now really care about Lumen the character and won't blame the bad guy who kills her, but the writers for scripting it.
Conclusion: I felt each season of Dexter was getting slightly worse because of their predictability. This has been a happy change and I put that down to Luman. The show has found a story which taps into what makes Dexter so fascinating. That he isn't like normal people. He doesn't have normal relationships. I am afraid that all this good work will be flushed away in a bloody reset but so far all credit to the acting and writing, it's been very enjoyable.
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