Last week's Dexter gave us a good idea where season six is headed. This week, we see a little more - just enough to get me concerned about that direction - but you'll have to wait for the real surprises.
Dexter's got a bad feeling when a murdered prostitute reminds him of the modus operandi of a serial killer he once tracked. He's convinced that the now-elderly Walter Kenney (Ronny Cox) hasn't come to Miami just to retire. Getting close to Kenney is not a good time for Dex, who has to suffer through the man's horrible golf game and near-constant complaining. It's funny if only for the awkward expressions that Michael C. Hall pulls off perfectly. Yet being "the world's oldest asshole" doesn't make Walter the Tooth Fairy. No, that's made clear when he puts a gun to Dexter's head. No need to worry, Dex takes care of him. I'm almost tempted to call this particular killing a public service, even.
There's plenty of drama going on at the Miami Metro homicide unit, anyway. Only three days after being dumped by Deb, Quinn has already moved on to a rebound girl (the cliche blonde with a convertible, no less). When Batista calls him on it, he runs his mouth and Batista nearly punches him in the face. Later on, he decides to chat up Ryan (Masuka's pretty blonde assistant) when he knows Deb is watching, and then has a few choice words for his new boss besides. I'm the biggest Quinn apologist on the planet, but even I think the guy's asking for someone to hit him in the face sooner rather than later. It's a shame, because I don't want to see his character become unlikeable after taking some pretty big strides in development last season.
Speaking of Deb, she's trying to settle into lieutenancy and it's not going very well, whether it's worrying about her wardrobe or LaGuerta popping by to do the equivalent of backseat driving. To fill her spot on the team, Deb brings in transfer detective Mike Anderson (Lights Out's Billy Brown), whose first move is to think she's a secretary. Between that and the friction between herself and Quinn, Deb has every right to go nuclear yet manages to confine herself to a second straight meltdown in Dexter's office.
It's nice that thus far, the show has shown the real pressures and concerns of such a promotion, rather than just what might be dramatic for TV. We're seeing Deb really have to sort out who she is going to be, professionally and personally, and to do so in short order lest she lose a lot. That's not easy or pretty, and Jennifer Carpenter is doing a fine job showing us how that's wearing on her. Much like Quinn, I hope she gets through this decently - after she was genuinely happy last season, I don't want to see her end up worse off in this one.
Colin Hanks gets a ton of screen time this week, as Travis gets to acquaint himself with his next victim. Those scenes are downright uncomfortable to watch, as they should be, and they finally get me to stop seeing him as a good guy (see what I did there?). He's got that detached, slightly unhinged state down pat. Things obviously won't end well for Travis, as that's the way it goes on Dexter, but just because I have a soft spot for Hanks I'll continue to hope he wises up, even if that hope is futile.
The show caps itself with two interesting moments: Dexter's blood slides getting mixed up, creating chaos in his once-neatly organized record, and two horses with a pair of very creepy riders thundering down the street in broad daylight. I like the first one, which is obviously meant to symbolize what's going on in Dex's life in the jumbling up of what he holds most dear, but I'm not quite sold on the second one. That's just one of those head-scratching moments to me. There's probably some meaning there that went over my head, so let's hope episode four clears it up.
"Smokey and the Bandit" feels very much like a transitory episode for Dexter - filling an installment of our time to let certain plot strands develop before we move on to the next major developments - and there's not necessarily anything wrong with that. Even when it's slow, Dexter is still interesting to watch, and we wouldn't want the show getting to the good parts too soon. While I still think the show is on the right course, I will admit to hoping that some of the bumps in the proverbial road iron themselves out over the season before they become missteps. Yet by that same token, there's no good journey without conflict, is there?
On its own, this is not the most memorable episode of Dexter, but it does remind us of the crux of the show: there will always be something around the corner for the characters - and by extension the audience. It doesn't let us get comfortable. Was it a home run? No. But was it true to the idea of the show? Certainly. Even if I, like Dexter, can't help but hope for a happy ending anyway.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.