8.07 "Dress Code"
Most agree — Running into an ex-beau is hard. It's even harder when that former lover drugs you and ultimately ditches you on the side of the road.
That's right folks, Hannah McKay is back and she hasn't forgotten the betrayals of last season. The return is welcomed by this viewer. Her presence makes this episode just a morsel better than the last couple, and gives a certain complexity that the drama has been craving.
Hannah poisoned the Morgan siblings but her intentions were to incapacitate rather than kill. When she leaves them unharmed, Dexter and Deb wonder why and work on tracking her down. As always, Dexter quickly makes progress and finds the blonde botanist at a high-class social club with a super rich dickhead lover in tow.
Dex and Hannah have that typical scorned-lovers-reunited conversation, except for this misshapen duo the transgressions are huge and nearly unforgivable. The feelings are still there however, that much is clear, but the idea of a reunion is halted when Hannah tells Dex she's married. The lucky man is Miles, an aggressive patrician, and he quickly reveals his (probably limited) knowledge of Hannah's past. Later in the episode Dexter gets the truth from her: she wants the abusive Miles dead and planned for Dexter to do it for her. That's why she drugged him, but while he was passed out she decided against blackmail and let him go.
At first I considered this plot point (or the erasure of one) odd, and disregarded it, but after reading EW's James Hibberd's feelings on it I can't really let it go. As he states — comparisons to Breaking Bad (and it's amazing premiere) are unfair; they're different shows (although I believe Dex tilled the soil for Walt), but goddamn if the one doesn't make the other look like "an inferior product."
To end the previous episode with a poisoning and then to hit reset and have Dexter do his so fucking boring now cat-and-mouse game is insulting to fans. It provided a solid thirty minutes of nonsense banter and posturing and that's it. The episode ends with Hannah killing Miles in impromptu fashion, so I guess not all momentum is lost but it's really cheap to end on a cliffhanger and then dismantle the device for lame rehashing.
I mentioned complexity before, and while it's not weaving a masterful quilt of storytelling magic, the element of Zach allows the show to be a little more unpredictable. If you've been asleep for the last few episodes, and I wouldn't blame you were, Zach Hamilton is the wealthy young man who shares Dexter's bloodlust and penchant for looking creepy. Under the suggestion of Dr. Evelyn Vogel, faux-mother and serial killer puppeteer, Dexter chooses not to kill Zach and instead takes him on as an apprentice. The theory is that Dex can play the role Harry Morgan did, teaching the kid how to channel his urges, choose his victims and most importantly, not get caught.
Zach pops up many times in "Dress Code," practically begging Dexter to help funnel his impulses. Dex repeatedly shrugs him off, preoccupied with Hannah and his sister. I found this whole thread partly comical. Dexter releases a killer from his table, a move he's done only once before, and just lets this guy roam free on the honor system. When this nut-job comes to Dex for guidance he gives him the syllabus to the course on controlling homicidal tendencies and promises to follow up at the earliest convenience.
It's no wonder it blows up in his face. Zach murders Dexter's neighbor Cassie in grotesque fashion and Dexter stares at her pooling blood wondering if anything good can come from two killers coming together. Probs not, Dex-man, but keep at it.
Alright, time for the side character rundown, as there seems to be a separate drama existing within Dexter that's loosely-affiliated with a police department.
- Deb isn't a side character. Not really, anyway. However this week she's marginalized a bit. That doesn't mean we don't get some good scenes, including an awesome reminder about Deb's feelings regarding Hannah. Jennifer Carpenter plays the emotion well, adding in parts jealousy, hate, and concern to get the point across. She tells Dex flat out that Hannah is poison. Of course she doesn't trust her brother to do the right thing so she stalks him, witnessing their meetings, and no doubt plotting.
- At her day job Deb deals with the flirtations of Elway. She first snaps at him, which triggers a scary response from the bossman. Later, the two smooth things out while Elway practically begs for it.
- Quinn is moving in with Jamie and Angel probably isn't happy. I'm beginning to think this is the origin of the spin-off because it's like these characters are on another fucking planet.
- We get a nice helping of boobs when Masuka discovers his daughter works in a topless bar. Then Dexter kills them both. Ha ha. No I'm joking of course, but at least that'd be impactful to the core storyline.
With Zach and Hannah in the mix, the show has a little more of a festive atmosphere for its final season but it's not nearly enough. It's obvious how this'll go: Some combo of Zach, Hannah, Deb, and Vogel will be involved in a vague hostage situation forcing Dexter to make some sort of ultimate choice, etc., and so on.
Everything doesn't have to be clockwork, but at least try to throw some cohesion into what you're doing, Dexter writers. Reverse the trend.
Get better, Dexter, before you leave us all with a foul taste in our mouths after so many years of tasty feasts.
Jamil Scalese is just like you — an avid comics reader and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, devotee of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation. Check out his original, ongoing webcomic And Then There Were Zombies and follow his subpar tweeting at @jamilscalese.