Monday, October 22, 2012

Showtime Dexter "All In" #704 "Run"

Debra is all in. 

She’s no longer just an accomplice after the fact as she was in the first episode of season 7 when she helped Dexter cover up his murder of “The Doomsday Killer.” She is no longer just a keeper of her brother’s secrets as she was in the second episode when she tried to reform Dexter. She is no longer just an unwilling participant caught up in Dexter’s campaign of vigilantism as she was in third episode of the season when she went mano-a-mano with Ray Speltzer, a serial killer who liked to trap young women in a house transformed into a maze and hunt them down. After the fourth episode, “Run”, she is all in. “Run” is a good name for this episode (I’ll discuss that a little later in this review) but since I like to renamethe episode to reflect a theme that I find in the episode, I’m renaming this episode “All In.” My title reflects a turning point in the lives of Dexter and Debra. 

The twists and turns of the plot revolve around Speltzer makes me feel like I’m on a roller coaster ride. It’s thrilling as the coaster races up and down at great speed.  The roller coaster ride starts when four policemen find Speltzer, take him down in a fight, and arrest him. It’s like the slow climb when the roller coast ride begins.  

Since there is no evidence linking Speltzer to his latest murder, Debra will need to get a confession or Speltzer will walk. Detective Batista sets Speltzer up. He plays to Speltzer’s hatred of women by confiding that he hates working for Debra—she’s such a bitch.  

Batista leaves the interview room and Debra goes in for the kill, so to speak.  She torments Speltzer by talking about his mother, a single woman with lose morals, who evidently had a habit of bringing men home to bed them when Speltzer was a child. She played to Speltzer’s feelings of jealousy and rage. The roller coaster is still climbing higher and higher as the suspense builds.  Suddenly we reach the crest when Seltzer explodes with rage and says, “I should have killed you like I killed that bitch.” Debra smiles with satisfaction; she has her confession. High-fives all around, it’s over. Not quite yet. 

We discover that the Miranda thing was not done properly when Speltzer was arrested. His lawyer gets the confession thrown ou,t and Speltzer is a free man. Dexter is also free, free to hunt him down again. The roller coaster is climbing again. Dexter tracks Speltzer down, but Speltzer is able to fight back. Speltzer wins the fight knocking Dexter unconscious.   

The tables are turned on Dexter. Usually, Dexter brings his intended victims to his “kill-house”, but this time he wakes up to find himself in Speltzer’s kill-house—a maze in an abandoned isolated warehouse.  Speltzer appears wearing a horned bull’s mask.  “Run”, he commands.  We hear Dexter’s thoughts.  “I don’t run.  People run from me.”  More and more, we are seeing Dexter’s need to feel powerful and in control of others.  

This need for power and control arose from Dexter’s experience as a young child when he witnessed the murder of his mother, powerless to do anything, sitting in a pool of her blood for days, helpless, crying, alone.  (I’m getting a little choked up as I imagine this scene, and what a terrible experience it must have been.) 

As Speltzer rushes Dexter, we have the “retreat-is-better-part-of-valor” moment of the week when Dexter decides it might be better to run after all. Dexter runs from room to room up and up and down flights of stairs with Speltzer in pursuit. Throughout this chase, it feels like the roller coaster is twisting and turning as it plunges down its tracks. Finally, Dexter escapes the warehouse.   

The roller coaster climbs again as Dexter pursues Speltzer one last time. He finds him at night at the cemetery where he works. This time Dexter is able to sneak up behind Speltzer and bash him over the head with a shovel.  We next see the two in a crematorium. Speltzer is strapped to a table with strips of plastic sheeting. When Speltzer comes to, Dexter attempts to confront him with his crimes as he usually does before he kills. He usually does this, but not this time. Speltzer utters a howl of rage, prompting Dexter to mimic the howl of rage, run to the table for only a brief moment of lording it over his victim,before impaling Speltzer with the broken end of the shovel handle. Dexter disposes of the body in the flames of the crematorium. The roller coaster ride is over. 

Dexter has departed from his usual M.O. in so many ways.  He knocked his victim unconscious instead of using a needle to sedate him. He used the shovel handle to kill his victim instead of a knife. He expressed rage instead of maintaining his usual calm demeanor. He disposes of the body in the furnance of the creamatorium and not with his usual burial-at-sea.  

But most important, Dexter did not slash the cheek of his victim and take blood for his trophy collection of blood slides. Dexter does one more ominous thing. He takes his entire collection of blood slides, lovingly caresses the slides, and then places them atop Speltzer’s body before setting it on its path to the fire. Dexter has decided it is too dangerous to keep trophies.  From now on, his only trophy will be his memory of the kill.  

In the past, Dexter has occasionally departed from a few aspects of his ritual due to the exigencies of the moment, but this time, almost the entire ritual has been abandoned.  The structure is falling apart; “the code,” once so carefully adhered to, is being abandoned.  Without these self-imposed restraints, Dexter is going to be “all in” with his killing.  

And there is one more departure from the way Dexter usually does things. He does not enjoy the afterglow alone. He calls Debra to his side. They watch the smoke rise from the crematorium together. He tells Debra that the smoke she sees is Speltzer, giving up the ghost, so to speak. Debra sits in silence. She approves.  She is “all in.” 

I’ll just briefly mention some other scenes that advance the plot lines. Sirko forces Alex, a bartender from the strip club he owns, to take the fall for the murder of the stripper in episode one. He goes to the man’s house and starts in with the sweet talk. Sirko being nice to you means you are going to die. Sure enough, he forces the man to write a suicide note confessing to the murder of the stripper and the police detective who was killed when he discovered Viktor, the real killer, with the stripper’s body in the trunk of his car. He doesn’t just shoot Alex and make it look like a suicide, he forces Alex to shoot himself in the head by threatening to kill him and his family if he doesn’t kill himself. This scene is heart-stopping. I felt so much empathy for the doomed Alex.   

Sirko needed a fall guy for these murders in order to get the police off his case. Sirko’s plan pretty much succeeds, the police consider the murders to be “case-closed.” But Batista is suspicious and he resolves to dig a little deeper. 

Sirko knows that Viktor, his mob underling, is the real murderer, and he also knows that Dexter has killed Viktor. Sirko appears to have had a very close relationship with Viktor --we see him weeping over a photograph of Victor. He is slowly circling in on Dexter.  Sirko is a very dangerous man to have as an enemy (and sometimes even as a friend.)  If I didn’t know that there is going to be an eighth-season of Dexter, I’d be thinking that this could be the end-of-the-line for our serial-killing hero. Sirko is all in with respect to his desire to avenge the death of Viktor. 

And, I am all in on my commitment to this show. 
This picture of Showtime's Dexter is from

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