Dexter 7.07 "Chemistry"

A tv review article by: Jamil Scalese

 

The foretold "storm of fuck" approaches the coast of Dexter Isle, and unfortunately there is no FEMA for serial killers.

OK, look, I'll promise to tighten up my metaphor game if you agree to get caught up on this season of Dexter. I've written a lot about the theme of this season being payoff, that is, the successful execution and delivery of long simmering plot points. At the beginning of season seven the Dexter/Debra dynamic took hold, and now, about a month away from the season finale, the pieces previously set up in the background assemble like Voltron to create a truly prickly situation for just about everyone involved.

Last week we left Dexter and Hannah mid-penetration, consummating one of the creepiest relationships on television with sweat and plastic wrap. The start of "Chemistry" opens with Dexter pondering the principals of attraction and the inevitable effect of  it and it's clear he's aware of his screw up getting with Hannah, a woman he is convinced kills her way through life.  On the ride home from their impromptu tryst he suggests they don't see each other in future. She agrees without hesitation. 

Dexter: "W-Why?"

Cute.

As soon as the audience realized what was happening at the end of last week's episode we knew the relationship curried trouble but the way it explodes into chaos in this hour is quite amazing. The whole thing is packed with dramatic moments and fresh interactions, and it's due to the excellent plot structure for the whole season. All those various, digressive subplots are funneling into one big "fuck nugget" creating a situation that looks to engulf the title character and everyone he cares about. Let's start with Debra Morgan and crime writer Sal Price.

Introduced a tad forcibly last week, Price functions as a driver for this episode. Author of a series of nonfiction true crime books Sal is hot on the trail of Hannah, a person he believes is more than an innocent accomplice to a single set of murders. Giving him more credence in the scheme of the show Sal also takes a shine to Debra who returns the affection marking the first time she hasn't pursued a totally inappropriate relationship in the series' history.

Things complicate when Sal sees Dexter with Hannah, causing the two men to have a talk, agreeing to meet again so Dexter can barter info he has on Wayne Randolph in exchange for impunity. At the same time the bold crime scribe arranges a meeting with Hannah, using the info he has on Dexter as bait. This proves to be his downfall as Hannah poisons him (shouldn't chew on your pens, bro!), and he dies while Dexter is in the middle of an awesome blackmailing.  Bad for Dexter, he dies in his apartment.

Aside from the regrettable crime scene it would appear that the problem is neatly dealt with until Debra in Lieutenant Mode shows up to inform Dex she knows that Hannah is an active serial killer. She swears vengeance, and even manages to get Hannah in for a face to face interrogation. Later, Dexter confronts Hannah, insisting he intended to handle the situation in a non-lethal manner. Despite the two saying "goodbye" numerous times throughout the hour they hook up for the third time in the episode (counting the recap), realizing they both preformed selfless acts to protect each other from Sal Price.

Hannah: "That's big for people like us. Maybe even historic."

Indeed, and historic for Dexter too. As our hero mulls over his precarious situation he realizes Hannah is the first and only woman to see his true self, both killer and man. Hannah accepts him, peers into his darkness and is neither repelled nor allured. She simply understands, and it's a unique sensation for the bottled up life-taker. The new couple's discussion on their personal creeds makes for excellent TV, with Dexter unveiling his tried and true Code and Hannah expounding on her "do what you gotta do" mentality. She kills those in her way, and she doesn't mind it. Chalk it up to Darwinism. I love the clash of philosophies, and you can tell she's planting a seed in Dexter's head around the idea that killing doesn't demand a moral justification.

With Sal Price dead Debra badly needs a win. At episode's end she calls her brother and tells him to  "do what you do", indicating she wants Hannah to pay the ultimate price. Normally, Dex would jump at the opportunity, except this time the cold-blooded murderer he should be stalking sleeps next to him.  Does he erase his first love for the sake of justice and family loyalty? The next few weeks will tell us.

Introduced late and fast developing, the Hannah saga turns into the premier event of the season, but let's slow our beating hearts over the killer romance cause ISAAK SIRKO IS OUT OF JAIL.

Quinn's theft of Isaak's blood grants the mob boss freedom, and instead of quickly fleeing the country he decides to track down Dexter. Even under police surveillance Sirko gains a meeting with his opponent, and the ensuing conversation is one of best in recent Dexter lore.

Isaak: "I have a feeling you're a different kind of animal. The question is, what kind are you, Dexter Morgan?"
Dexter: "The kind who hunted your friend down and strapped him to a board and put a plastic bag on his head and crushed his skull with a fire extinguisher."

That exchange right there had me giddy. However, Isaak is not a fan. He's not happy about being bested, and he appears interested in calculated, eviscerating revenge.

Dual threats? Dex has proven his ability to take on more than one antagonist. The writers know this and so they prop up another hurdle. Allotted only a couple scenes, Maria LaGuerta's  Bay Harbour Butcher investigation is first stalled by Debra suggesting it's a dead end, then reignited when LaGuerta discovers that Dexter owns a boat in the same dock  that was key to the season 2 plotline.  This ascending storyline should mingle well with the other events, and I'm looking forward to zombie Doaks flipping script on the entire show's mythology.  How does a serial killer handle legions of the undead?! (I'm available as a season eight writer, Showtime.)

With all these swirling components in the "storm of fuck" I boldly predict someone will die. Yeah, someone dies in about 80% of Dexter episodes, but I'm feeling something more heavy looming. With Quinn doing dastardly shit, Batista mulling retirement, LaGuerta sniffing around a dangerous case, Deb in the know about her brother and Hannah representing a true connection for our haunted hero I feel like everyone is in position to get knocked off.

In short: Good time to be a fan of Dexter, not such a good time to be Dexter.


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.

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