Friday, November 30, 2012

Showtime Dexter “Helter Skelter” #709 Help

Showtime’s Dexter, season 7 episode 9, is entitled “Helter Skelter.” (“Helter Skelter” is the title of a Beatle’s song. The Beatle’s a referencing an amusement park slide in Britain named “Helter Skelter.” The term means disorderly and disorganized. )

I’m going to entitle my review “Help” because “Help” is also the title of a Beatle’s song. In this episode, the characters need help from other people.

Let’s start with Sirko, a boss in the Ukrainian mob, the Koshka Brothers, who has vowed to kill Dexter in revenge for Dexter killing his lover, Viktor. But now there is a bit of a switcheroo—The higher-ups of the Koshka Brothers have turned on Sirko and they are trying to kill him. They have sent hit men after him.

Dexter killed the first hit man in the last episode because both he and the hit man had the same idea—wait for Sirko to return to his apartment and then kill him. When Dexter arrived at Sirko’s apartment, the hit man tried to kill him, but Dexter ended up killing the hit man. Now the bosses have sent two more men for Sirko—these men are highly skilled assassins. 

Sirko shows up at Dexter’s apartment and says he wants to be Dexter’s roomie so the assassins will not know where he is. He says that if Dexter will help him kill the assassins, he will abandon his plan to kill Dexter. Dexter refuses. Dexter is rooting for the assassins, and should they fail, Dexter still feels that he can kill Sirko before Sirko kills him.  (The plot is getting very helter-skelter.)

So Sirko has to motivate Dexter a little more. He has his right hand man, Yurg, kidnap Hannah. Now, Dexter must help Sirko to save Hannah. Dexter stabs the first assassin at a rifle range, but he needs Sirko’s help to get the second one. Sirko is the bait to lure the assassin to the deck of a deserted merchant marine vessel. The scheme works. SEirko shoots the second assassin. Sirko leaves, but Dexter stays behind to clean up the blood. Unfortunately for Sirko, George the local boss who runs the sex-club, has also followed George. George shoots Sirko and runs off. 

Sirko is still alive. Dexter wants to help him by taking him to a hospital, but Sirko says he knows he cannot survive this gut wound. He needs Dexter’s help one more time. Dexter takes Sirko to his boat. Sirko dies on the boat, and Dexter “buries” him at sea. Sirko wanted this because Viktor was also “buried” at sea; he wants to be with Victor for their eternal rest.

Sirko is gone and I’m not sure I like that too much. First Sirko and Dexter were well matched in cunning and ruthlessness.  It was exciting to watch them play “Who Will Kill Whom First.” Second, they were developing a complex relationship. Sirko was teaching Dexter a lot about himself and about love. The only other person Dexter speaks to  so openly is his father. His dead father. His dead father who is just Dexter’s imagination or hallucination.   

Before Dexter would agree to help Sirko, he had asked for “proof of life.” He spoke to her with a camera phone and was able to see the room where she was being held. He noticed a soccer ball in the background. He realized that one of the Columbians that Sirko had killed was a soccer player, and he deduced that Hannah was in the dead man’s house.  Debra goes to the house to investigate. 

Hannah is an independent woman used to taking care of herself. She is not waiting for Dexter to help her. She hatches a plan of her own. She tells Yurg that she has noticed some green tomatoes growing in the backyard. If he will go out and pick them, she will make her grandmother’s recipe for fried green tomatoes for them. Since this is Hannah, I’m immediately thinking poison. I’m wondering if there is a convenient stash of poison handy.  Not exactly. Hannah simply over seasons—she adds so much pepper that Yugo is choking and gasping for water.  

While Yurg is disoriented, she knocks him over. Hannah’s legs are chained to a chair, so she cannot run away, but as they struggle together, she manages to bash him over the head with a lamp. Unfortunately for Hannah, Yugo manages to stab her. Hannah shimmies across the floor trying to get to the phone to call for help, but she collapses. 

Debra has gone to the house. She finds the two of them on the floor and checks them for a pulse. It looks like Hannah is “gone” and this has conveniently solved Dexter’s dilemma concerning whether or not he should be romantically involved with Hannah.   

Debra is against this relationship.  She has given up on asking Dexter to Kill Hannah, but she is still concerned that Hannah might kill him. “She’s a killer,” she tells him. “You’ll never be safe with her.” Dexter has the perfect comeback: “You’re safe with me.”  This is the “touché” moment of the week. 

It turns out that Yurg is dead, but Hannah is alive. Debra called for an ambulance.  Later as Hannah lies in her hospital bed, she asks Debra why she didn’t just let her die.  “I’m a cop”, Debra answers. It seems Dexter was right in the last episode when he told Debra that she would not be able to live with her guilt if Dexter killed Hannah on her orders.   

Dexter and Hannah are reunited in her hospital room. We can see how strongly Dexter has fallen for Hannah. He tells her how scared he was when he thought about never seeing her again. The only other time he was that scared, he tells her is when he was three years old sitting for two days in a pool of his dead mother’s blood.  Hannah has been trying to get Dexter to “commit,” and now that he has, she seems to have some mixed feelings about it. I feel that this relationship is not going to work out well for Dexter. Dexter kills for emotional release, but Hannah kills for personal gain.  I think Hannah is safe from Dexter, but as for Dexter being safe from Hannah, all I can say is, “Watch out, Dexter.”  

A few other plots are underway.  One involves a serial killer dubbed “The Phantom.”  Miami Metro Police have found two bodies so far of people who were doused with gasoline and burned to death. Dexter analyzes the crime scene and deduces that the killer stayed to watch his victim burn.  

Nadia got a little help from Quinn, although I’m not so sure this “help” is going to be a good thing for her. George decided to enjoy a little afternoon-delight with Nadia, more to mess with Quinn than anything else. Quinn was enraged, and punched George out in a fierce beating. He then grabbed Nadia and left with her, shouting over his shoulder, “consider this her notice.” 

And LaGuerta is still trying to find the real Bay Harbor Butcher. Her investigation is leading her closer and closer to Dexter. She goes to Tom Mathews for help. A while back, LaGuerta was playing office politics and had gotten Tom fired so she could take his job. Tom is not inclined to help her. However, he gets back with her later and says he will help her if she will help him get him a job back on Miami Metro, just long enough for him to qualify for his pension. It looks like LaGuerta is going to go for this deal. 

If LaGuerta discovers Dexter’s secret life, will there be any help for him?  I read that season 7 is going to run right into season 8 without the usual wrap-up of the plot lines.  So we may have to wait a while to find out if there will be any help for Dexter.
This picture or Issac Sirko is from
R.I.P. Isaac
Helter Skelter
When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again.

Do, don't you want me to love you
I'm coming down fast but I'm miles above you
Tell me, tell me, tell me, come on tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer.

Helter skelter, helter skelter
Helter skelter.

Will you, won't you want me to make you
I'm coming down fast but don't let me break you
Tell me, tell me, tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer.

Look out
Helter skelter, helter skelter
Helter skelter.
Look out 'cause here she comes.

When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again.

Well do you, don't you want me to love you
I'm coming down fast but don't let me break you
Tell me, tell me, tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer.

Look out
Helter skelter, helter skelter
Helter skelter.

Look out helter skelter
She's coming down fast.
Yes she is.
Yes she is

Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I've never done before.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these daya are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, oh.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Showtime Homeland "Two Hats" #209" Your Move

Showtime’s “Homeland” season 2 episode 9 is entitled “Two Hats. Towards the end of the episode we learn that the title refers to Quinn, but it could just as well be a reference to any number of people in the show who have secret lives and who might not be just exactly who we thought they were. I’m naming this episode “Your Move” because I feel like I’m in a game of three dimensional chess. A player makes a move, another player responds, and the game unfolds in incredibly complex ways. 

The CIA team has assembled in their little war-room and they are trying to decide what to do. Carrie announces that Brody is probably dead. She’s very matter of fact, intent on proving to everyone that Brody was simply “an asset” to her, nothing more. Her attitude conveys that the only thing on her mind now is “what is our next move?”  

The team decides that their only option now is to bring Roya in. Just then they get a call from Brody. He asks them to get his family safe. Once he knows that his family is safe, he will meet with Carrie. When Carrie meets with Brody, the “I’m-a-total-professional- here- no-emotional-involvement-whatsoever” mask falls. Carrie is clearly relieved to see Brody alive.  

Brody feels the same way about Carrie.  After he is brought back to the war-room and debriefed, he asks Carrie if she believes hims.  She says t she does. He says that is all that matters to him. 

Next move. Good old Mike is back in the picture. The CIA team knows that they have to send someone for Brody’s family that Jess and the kids will trust, and someone who will not arouse the suspicions of any nosy neighbors. Mike tells Jess and the kids that they have to leave with him right now. Dana kicks up a fuss. She says, “This is bullshit.”  She appears to be going through a phase where everything that happens elicits that phrase.  Mike becomes step-in-daddy again and Dana falls in line. 

They all go to a posh apartment “safe house.”  Mike is spending the night. Is he there as a marine to protect the family, or is he there as a friend of the family. That is not clear, but it soon becomes clear why Jess wants him there. Evidently, there are only two bedrooms in this apartment, and Jess insists that Mike take one of the bedrooms and she and the kids will share the other one. Later that night, when the kids are asleep, Jess makes her move. She sneaks out of the room and goes to Mike’s room. Mike wakes up when she enters. She lifts her night-gown over her head and lets it drop to the floor. She stands there naked for a moment, and then slides under the sheets with Mike. Mike and Jess are re-united—if you know what I mean. 

Jess should be much too worried about her husband, or the danger that she and the kids might be in, for a 2am hookup, but apparently not. So has Jess decided to leave her husband and resume her relationship with Mike, or is this just “revenge sex”? Is Jess so angry at Brody for his lies and disappearances and his association with Carrie despite knowing that he really is involved in a dangerous CIA mission—that’s why they were all brought to the safe-house—that she thinks bedding Mike is the way to “get even”? This is the “don’t-get-mad-get- even” moment of the week. I’m starting to feel bad for Mike. He’s a good guy, a good friend; I hope he isn’t being used by Jess.  

Brody tells Carrie, “I thought I was dead. Brody reported that he had been wired to a car battery, but they didn’t use it to torture him with electrical shocks. They simply left him alone in the room for a few hours. Then Nazir entered with tea. They had a nice little kiss-and-make-up chat. They got down on the floor and prayed together, Muslim style—but Brody does not tell Carrie about this prayer session. Brody explains to Nazir that he wavered in his dedication to the cause because he was blindsided by his feelings for his wife and kids. Nazir tells Brody that he is essential to the plan.  

Nazir tells him that the attack will occur at a homecoming ceremony for 300 soldiers at at a naval base. Vice President Walden will be there. Brody’s job is to get Walden to agree to have one reporter present—Roya. 

Is Nazir being straight with Brody or is just making a move in this real-life elaborate chess game? Perhaps he knows that Brody has defected back to the side of America, and he is giving him dis-information to mislead him and the CIA.   

The game proceeds. The CIA follows Roya and her TV crew.  They have stopped at a restaurant. Another van pulls up to the camera van. Large camera batteries are switched from one van to the other. The FBI team swoops in; the plot is foiled, and Roya and her crew are taken into custody. Is it really all over or was this whole operation just a decoy operation? Nazir is still free. Perhaps Roya was just a pawn to be sacrificed, and the big move is still to come. 

While this plot is unfolding, there is a bit of a sub-plot. Call this one, “Who is Peter Quinn?” It seems Saul has had some doubts about Quinn. He had Virgil and Max, two trusted agents that have long worked with him and Carrie, check Quinn  out.  They follow him and then decide to break into his apartment for a little look-see. They discover that Quinn’s apartment is as bare as a monk’s cell. “This guy is ready to bounce at a moment’s notice.” They also find a picture of a woman and a young boy. 

Saul finds the identity of the woman, and he begins a little game with her. Saul visits her pretending to be from the IRS investigating Quinn’s tax returns. The whole purpose of the visit to get her to call Quinn and tell him about the visit so that Quinn will become concerned that Saul is “on to him” and make a move. The plan works, Quinn leaves the war-room, takes a bus, takes another bus, but Saul and his boys keep him under surveillance despite these evasive maneuvers. 

On the second bus, they see Quinn meet with a man. The man is Dar Adal played by F. Murray Abraham. Dar Adal is a legend at the CIA, a high level operative. This raises so many unsettling questions. Why is Quinn involved with him? Why was Quinn brought in to head up the team? What is Quinn up to? Who is he working with? 

The questions become even stronger at the end of the episode.  As the capture operation is about to go down, Estes nods to Quinn. Quinn leaves the room. “Where’s he going?”, Saul asks.  Estes says he is going to liaison with the FBI.  Saul says, “an analyst.”  Estes says , “He’s wearing two hats today.”  

Later we see where Quinn has gone. Quinn is driving a limo and is at Brody’s house to pick him up. Brody get’s to the back seat and he cannot see what we see.  Quinn has a gun with a silencer and is about to shoot Brody. However, just at that moment, he gets a call from Estes informing him that Nazir has not been captured. Estes says, “We still need him.” The game is not yet check-mate. Quinn replaces the gun into the glove compartment. Brody will not die today. 

Just when it looks like the game is won, a whole new game is beginning. It’s three-dimensional chess.  

Here's a photo of Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), Homeland's "Mystery Man."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Showtime Homeland "I'll Fly Away" #208 Losing It

by Catherine Giordano

Showtime’s “Homeland” season 2 episode 8 is entitled “I’ll Fly Away”.  I naming the episode “Loosing It.” The characters literally get lost in that people who should know where they someone is, don’t know where someone is.  I also mean losing it in the sense of losing one’s sanity, losing one’s temper, losing one’s will to fight on. The main action in this episode involves Carrie and Brody finding each other and losing each other, both literally and metaphorically.   

Brody is supposed to meet with Roya. But he is busy having a screaming match with Jess, his wife. Dana has gone missing, and she blames Brody and his “secret mission wit the CIA. She tells him that he has to tell the CIA to back off.  Brody loses it and screams, “I can’t, I can’t.  

Just then the phone rings, Dana has gone to Mike’s house. Dana and Mike had become close when he was seeing Jess before Brody returned. When you’re a teenager and Mom and Dad are pissing you off, it is nice to have a Dad-in-waiting to pick up the slack. 

When Brody doesn’t leave his house, Carrie goes in and finds him sitting on the floor in a corner. He’s pretty much lost his will to live. He tells Carrie that he doesn’t care what happens to him, he just can’t do this double-agent routine anymore. Carrie talks him into getting up and going to the meeting.  

He meets with Roya, but he loses it again. He asks her for answers and she won’t tell him anything. He begins shouting at her about how stressed he is. He shouts “I’m through” and he storms off. 

Quinn, the leader of the CIA team working with Brody, says “We have to bring him in. This thing is over.”  After Brody walks away from Roya, Carrie, who is in a surveillance van, tells her associates to strop tracking Brody. She chases after Brody and finds him, but the CIA has lost surveillance on both of them. This buys her a little time to try to turn things around. 

Carrie drives Brody to a motel near a lake. She continues to try to persuade him to call Roya, and get back into the good graces of the terrorists. “You’d be a real hero,” she tells him. “This deal is the way out for both of us.”  She means that Brody will not be prosecuted, and she will be able to be a hero also and return to the CIA. She knows that if this operation is not successful, Brody is ruined, but so is she. 

Brody tells Carrie that he has burned every bridge— with Nazir, with the CIA, with his family. He says, “I’m more alone now than I ever was in that hole in Iraq.” He’s sure that he has been replaced in the plot, and he is glad to be done. “I’ll finally be able to stop lying to everyone.” 

Carrie says, “You are not all alone.” She kisses him. They make love. For a long time.

By this time the CIA has established an audio connection. Saul guessed that she went to a “safe harbor site where she knew I would find her.” They all listen in to the grunts and moans of love-making until Saul cuts the audio.  

The next morning Brody calls Roya. He tries to get Roya to take him back. “I’m under a lot of pressure,” he explains, “I have troubles at home. I just lost it yesterday.”  He explains that he wants to continue with the mission. Roya is cold to him. 

Carrie tells Brody that he doesn’t have to feel alone. He can talk to her if it gets to be too much. They share a tender moment. Is Carrie for real or not?  Does she love Brody or is she just using him to accomplish her mission? I think Carrie is lost in a confusing web of conflicting emotions. She tells Saul and Quinn that she is not emotionally involved—she is just doing her job. She took Brody to a motel where the CIA could find her—that’s the CIA agent acting. But the love-making? Is that just to control Brody or is it because she loves him? I think a little bit of both. Saul warns her that things did not work out well for her the last time she got emotionally involved with Brody.     

The CIA is tracking Brody again. Brody meets with Roya in a parking garage. Roya tells Brody to turn the car around and drive.   

The CIA team follows cautiously. Roya brings Brody to a deserted field on a lonely road.  It has gotten dark, and the team can’t see what is happening. Carrie is ordered to stay back, but she insists on doing a drive-by to catch a glimpse of what is happening. They see that Brody and Roya have been joined by a third man, the unidentified terrorist that Roya met with several episodes ago and who shot up the “tailor shop.”  

Carrie is again ordered to stay back, but she leaves the van and approaches on foot. A helicopter lands, and Brody is strong-armed into the helicopter. The helicopter flies away with Brody on board.  

Carrie is standing in the middle of the field screaming, “We’re losing him. You have to track it.” As the helicopter leaves, she stands there screaming, “He’s gone. He’s just gone.” She’s lost it. 

Brody is brought to some kind of hanger or warehouse. A car drives in. A man gets out of the car—it is Nazir. The episode ends with Brody and Nazir face- to-face. No words have yet been spoken.  

Was the CIA able to track the helicopter?  If not, they have lost Brody again. 

Dana is having a crisis of her own. When Jess arrives to take her home, she asks if she can stay with Mike. This is the “this-is-a-little-weird” moment of the week.  I know he is a stand-in Dad, but isn’t it a little strange to let a teen-aged girl sleep over at the apartment of a bachelor? 

The next morning Dana asks Mike to take her to the house of the woman that was the victim of the hit-and-run.  Mike waits in the car as Dana goes to the house.  She meets that daughter of the dead woman. The daughter is holding a crying baby on her hip—the baby is one of her two younger sisters. She immediately recognizes Dana as the girl she met at the hospital and she puts two and two together.  

She loses it. She berates Dana. She tells Dana that she must not go to the police.  Things have been taken care of. She has been given money not to pursue anything about her mother’s death. She needs this money to care for her sisters. She warns Dana not to mess things up for her. 

Dana is lost. She has issues with her mother and father. She is confused and hurt and angry. She has gotten a lesson about how “might makes right” and as a girl who was brought up with values, this sudden revelation of how the world works has affected her deeply. She goes home to her mother and falls into her arms sobbing because she will not be able to confess.  

Everyone is lost, and found, and then lost again. Everyone is lost in more ways than one.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Showtime’s Dexter “Argentina” #708 “Feelings”

by Catherie Giordano

Episode 8 of season 7 of Showtime’s “Dexter” begins with Dexter waking up in bed with Hannah and wondering if Debra’s demand that he kill Hannah was just a bad dream.   

Dexter soon learns that it definitely was not a dream when Debra confronts him in person and demands again that he kill Hannah because it is the only way to bring justice to Hannah for the murders she has committed. Dexter refuses to do so and tells his sister he is refusing for her sake. He tells her that she thinks she wants this, but she would suffer enormous guilt if Dexter were to kill on her orders. Debra reluctantly agrees that Dexter is right, and she lets go of her desire for revenge. I say “revenge” and not “justice” because I think Debra is more than a little influenced by her feelings for Sal Price, a true-crime writer that she was beginning to fall for. He was working on a book that would have exposed Hannah as a murderer; consequently, Hannah dispatched him by poisoning him. 

Dexter reflects that everything he said to Debra about why he should not kill Hannah was true, he still feels like a liar. Protecting Debra is not his real reason for refusing to kill Hannah. He won’t kill Hannah because he has feelings for her. Hannah has feelings for him too. Hannah may be a cool murderer, but she is subject to all the same insecurities as any other woman when it comes to love. She keeps throwing out these little hints trying to get Dexter to confirm that she is more than a “booty call.”  Dexter evades her questions. This is the “Oh-yeah-girl-I’ve-been-there-too” moment of the week. 

This conversation takes place as Dexter and Hannah are preparing breakfast. Large sharp knives are involved for dicing vegetables.  Whenever I see Dexter with a knife in his hand, I start to feel a little uneasy. I wonder if Hannah feels the same way. If so, she is much too cool to show it.  

The name of this episode is “Argentina.” Dexter notices an old calendar on Hannah’s kitchen wall dating back to 2007, the year when she was 15 years old and on a killing spree with Randall, the man who was her lover. She tells Dexter that the calendar is not a memento of her time with Randall; she keeps it because it has a picture of Argentina on it. She and Randall had talked about running away to Argentina. Ever since, Argentina has come to represent a magical place of escape from the real world and all its problems.   

Dexter totally understands this. He has a lot of problems he’d like to escape from right now. Sirko is one of those problems. Sirko won’t give up his desire to avenge Viktor’s death by killing Dexter. The manager of the sex club tries to persuade him that his desire for revenge is dangerous for the whole operation in the United States. He wants him to go back to the Ukraine. George realizes that Sirko will not leave, so he gets permission from “the top,” and hires a hit man to kill Sirko. 

At the same time, Dexter knows that he must kill Sirko before Sirko kills him. Sirko had made another attempt to kill Dexter, attempting a drive-by shooting as Dexter stood in a donut shop. Dexter just missed being shot because he had bent down to pick up his keys. The baker was in the back getting some donuts for Dexter and missed the whole thing. The baker thought it was just neighborhood hoodlums. 

Dexter knows that Sirko is staying at Viktor’s apartment ,and he decides to kill there. He picks the lock intending to wait in the apartment until Sirko comes home, and then take him by surprise. He arrives to find a hit man there. The hit man thinks that Dexter is a second hit man. The hit-man demands that Dexter leave—he doesn’t want to go “halvsies” on the fee. They fight. Dexter slashes his throat. Dexter leaves.   

When Sirko returns home and finds the dead man on his floor, he calls the police.  Dexter is called to the scene. Sirko has guessed exactly what happened so he has some fun with pointed remarks that Dexter understands, but everyone else takes no notice of. 

Later, Dexter is following Sirko and follows him into a bar. Slowly Dexter realizes that he is in a gay bar. Slowly Sirko reveals the nature of his relationship with Viktor. They were lovers. Sirko talks about the feelings he had for Viktor and talks about the mysteries of love. Sirko and Viktor could not have been more different, yet he loved him. Sirko says that “Love is a powerful weapon.  It can work for us or against us. Love defies reason.” Dexter and Sirko talk together like intimate friends, yet they are deadly enemies. Sirko won’t give up on his desire to kill Dexter.  Afterwards, Sirko says he will probably “retire” to some corner of the world to live in luxury and anonymity. “Argentina,” Dexter says. Sirko is bemused by this, and replies that Micronesia is more his style. They are still each determined to kill the other.  

Dexter had sent his toddler son, Harrison, for a visit with his grandparents and step-brother and step-sister because he realized that they could be in danger because of Sirko. However, grandfather suddenly requires surgery, so all three children are sent to stay with Dexter. It is too dangerous for them to stay with him, so Dexter hands them off to Debra. It’s nice to see Dexter reestablishing his relationship with his step-kids. I hope nothing will happen to the children.  

Hannah gave Dexter her truck to drive so that Sirko would not be able to follow Dexter’s car to get to him. However, she discovers that she left the key to her garden shop in the car. She calls Dexter and asks him where he is so she can pick up the key. Dexter is at the beach with the children’s nanny, Jamie, and his kids. Hannah spots Jamie and immediately freezes. “I should have known,” she says more to herself than to Dexter. (This is the second “Oh-yeah-girl-I’ve-been-there-too” moment of the week.) Dexter explains that Jaime is not his wife and apologizes for not having told her about his children. Hannah softens. She’s dreaming about having a family with Dexter and Dexter is having similar thoughts. 

Towards the end of the episode, Debra finds out about Dexter and Hannah’s relationship. She is distraught with anger. Dexter betrayed her by not telling her about this. She feels humiliated because she believed Dexter when he told her that his refusal to kill Hannah was because he wanted to protect her. And maybe she feels a little jealous, too. She blurts out that she came to the church the night Dexter killed Travis because “I was going to tell you I was in love with you.” 

Dexter is stunned. Debra has romantic feelings for him? “I don’t know what to say”, he mumbles. Debra is desperate to take the words back, but there is no going back. 

I decided to name this review “Feelings” because of the feelings between Dexter and Hannah, the feelings between Sirko and Victor, the feelings that were emerging between Debra and Sal, the feelings between Quinn and Nadia as Quinn continues to try to get Nadia free of the mob, even the feelings between Sirko and Dexter as they move from enmity to mutual admiration and respect. Sirko says, “Under different circumstances we could have been great friends.”   

Dexter could definitely use a friend.  Right now, the only one he can talk to is his dead father. 

While Deexter and friends are trying to deal with their feelings,LaGuerta continues to have a feeling that the Bay Harbor Butcher is still alive.  Her investigation is leading her closer and closer to Dexter. 

At the end of the episode, Dexter is musing again about “Argentina.” He wishes that there was a place to go “where the slate is wiped clean,” but “Argentina is just Argentina.”   “No matter where we go we take ourselves and our damage with us. Is home the place we run to or the place we run from?”  

Dexter runs straight to Hannah.
This picture is from

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Real Time with Bill Maher #267 "What About Dick"

By Catherine Giordano

I’m naming this review of the season finale of Real Time with Bill Maher, episode #267, aired on November 16, 2012, “What About Dick?” Don’t go there!  Dick is a man’s name and Eric Idle, the special guest this week, wrote a play entitled “What About Dick.”  (It is in a Los Angeles theater.)

Okay, now I am going to go there—into the land of double-entendres. Now usually, I try to keep things clean here, which if you know Bill, is not all that easy to do. This week Bill and friends (and the stuff in the news) have made that a really hard task. 

Bill’s opening monologue was unusual this week. It was devoted almost entirely to a single topic—the David Patreaus-and-friends sex scandal. Bill is not one to condemn anyone for their sex lives, but he had a good point when he said “I do sorta care that the CIA director can’t keep a secret.”  He referred to Jill Kelly, the other other woman as a Gypsy Grifter—part Khadashian, part Sarah Palin, part Snooki. This is the “insult-one-get-three-free” moment of the week.  He took down four airheads with one line.

Patreaus really screwed-up giving Bill enough material for the entire monologue. What was Patreaus thinking when he wrote all those emails. Or maybe the question should be what was he thinking with? “His d---.”

Bill did the interview with Dave Axelrod. Naturally, they talked about the election and Obama’s victory. Bill asked Axelrod why Democrats won’t come on his show. “I know I’m a pot- smoking potty-mouth, atheist, but…”  “There you go,” Axelrod said. They got it right, but I feel it is a shame that prominent Democrats feel that it would hurt their reputation to be seen with Bill. Bill is also an insightful political commentator and a great comedian. 

Bill and Axelrod discussed the tea party for a while. They said that losing made the Republicans nuts, although some of them were that way before, even before there was a tea party. However the tea party made them nuttier because special interests came in and shaped the group and exploited them.

There is a lot of discussion among Republicans about changing the party’s message.  I don’t see how that is successful for them. One, they want to change the words they use (try to be a little less insulting), but not the things they believe and want to do. Two, if they become more moderate, they lose the radical right wing base of the party, and if they become more right wing (as they did in the last election), the lose the moderates. They have become the party of the super rich and since that is too small a base for winning elections they have to bring in the haters, thee crazies, and the misinformed.  (Research has shown that people who watch no news at all are better informed than people who watch only Fox News.) Further ,the people who have become rich pandering to the haters and crazies (e.g. Rush Limbaugh) are not going to stop saying the things that have made them rich. I don’t think the Republican party has a path back. Republicans know this, hence all the efforts at voter suppression. They know they can’t win elections with their ideas.

The panel included Ana Navarro who was billed as a Republican strategist and CNN contributor. She lost me at “Hello.” She had that smug, condescending, know-it-all smile on her face. However, she did make a few good points all the while speaking in a school-marm voice.  She tried to dismiss Romney as “old news.” She said he should GOP—Get Out of the Picture.  She noted that Republicans twisted themselves into pretzels trying to defend Romney prior to the election, and now Republicans condemn him when he says the same things he said before. (Awww, no one loves a loser.) She said Republicans had to take the asylum back from the inmates. However, everything she said sounded like rehearsed lines, and not like something that was the result of genuine thought. It sounded like she had decided to position herself as a moderate, and so she said moderate-sounding things.

And then Pow! Ana said something so stunningly stupid. The panel was talking about why Patraeus had to resign, she said, “Women are smarter than men. Women can get around men especially when men are horny.”  (She evidently thinks that women can lead all men around by their “d---s.”) Everyone just stared at her because her statement had nothing to do with the subject they were talking about. (Also, I doubt this pasty-faced over-stuffed sofa of a women knows anything about what men do when they are horny, never having been around a horny man. ) (And yes, I’m ashamed for my gratuitous insult, but she really annoys me.)

The panel spoke about gerrymandering and how that was the only reason the Republicans kept their majority in the house.  In the Congressional races, more people voted for Democrats than Republicans, but the Republicans had “safe” districts.  Ana said that gerrymandering was good because some districts were gerrymandered in favor of Hispanics and African-Americans.  Wrong again, and very self serving because she is Hispanic. I don’t want any “safe” districts. I want congresspeople to be accountable to the voters on election day. Good African-American and Hispanic candidates can win in fair districts. My thought is that redistricting should be given to an impartial team of cartographers. They should have population counts and NO other information. Then districts would be fair and would represent neighborhoods.

Michael Moore, the documentary filmmaker, author, and Democrat was another panelist. (Just to show that I am fair, I want to say Michael’s appearance leaves a lot to be desired. He reminds me of the sagging over-stuffed arm chair, springs-popping, stuffing-hanging, upholstery-fading. Michael, you are a successful intelligent man—start looking like one!)

Michael is a great guest because he is intelligent and witty. He spoke about these petitions to secede from the United States that have popped up all over since Obama won re-election.  (Remember, the old “love it or leave it” taunt—maybe these secessionists should just all leave to a country more to their liking—if any will have them.)  Michael said, “Let the Red States go. The Blue States have all the money. The Red States are one big Mississippi.”

David Frum, a republican and author of Why Romney Lost was the third panelist. David Frum is an intelligent and reasonable person, although he is one of the ones who has to occasionally twist himself into a pretzel to defend Republican ideas. Unlike most of the Republican guests, he speaks in a calm and thoughtful way. He tried to defend Romney’s post election comments by saying every losing candidate is bitter, but they are not usually taped.  (Bitter? I think Romney is “acting like a d---.)

Frum thinks that in the Republican party “the ice is cracking, and new ideas are coming.”  Well, I guess that is win-win.  If Republicans don’t change, they go the way of the Whigs and Democrats rule.  If Republicans do change, they stay in the game, but they govern better.

For the mid-show comedy bit, Bill went on a rant about Romney’s comment that Obama won because he gave “gifts.” Some see gifts; some see good policies that invest in America and make her a stronger, better country. Plus, turnaround is fair play. Bill listed the gifts that Romney promised his backers—the rich ones: Tax cuts, deregulation, defense contracts, turning Medicare over to insurance companies, and giving high-interest student loans back to the banks.

Towards the end of the show, Bill continued his tradition of giving end of season predictions—the headlines we might see while the show is on hiatus. One of them was “Romney’s second and third wife revealed.” (I know cheap shot—but funny.)

In New Rules, Bill had these cautionary words for Obama. “You can interpret the election in two ways. One, we love you. Two, we like you 3% better than Romney.”  He told progressives to hold Obama’s feet to the fire. He told Obama, “There’s no third-term. Throw caution to the wind.”  He suggested never say “clean coal” again—it’s an oxymoron, “like internet privacy, tea-party intellectual, or Fox News journalist.” He said, how about a “surprise retreat” from Afghanistan.  He suggested that we don’t rewrite social security; we rewrite the Patriot Act.

Bill closed with the topic near and dear to his heart. End the “war on drugs.” Colorado and Massachusetts made marijuana legal. Don’t send the feds in. Republicans can’t object—it’s States Rights. He ended with “I’m not a teenager and you are not my mother. There’s a much better way to confirm your suspicions that I’m smoking pot and hanging out with the wrong people. Just watch the show!”

Of course, I will watch the show. Bill and friends will be back on January 18 2013, and so will I.
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Showtime “Homeland “The Clearing” #207 "Clear and Unclear"

By Catherine Giordano

The Clearing” is the title of Showtime’s “Homeland”, season 2 episode 7. It I may take the liberty of a little play on words, I’m entitling this review, “Clear and Unclear.”   

It is clear that a terrorist attack is coming, but when and where and what is still as unclear as ever.  Roya intercepts Brody as he is jogging in the park and tells him “it’s close.” And that is all he, the CIA, and we the viewers, know. 

The identity of the man who met with Roya by the fountain is still unclear. The CIA thought they had cleared this up, but it all went wrong. Here’s what happened.  Saul goes to visit Aileen, an American woman, who is in prison. She had been part of a terrorist cell and Saul established a relationship with her when she surrendered to him in Mexico where she had been hiding from terrorists who wanted to kill her. This involved a long road trip, just the two of them together.   

Saul visits Aileen in an interrogation room of the prison in the hopes of identifying the person who met with Roya. Saul shows her a photo and Aileen says she knows him. Aileen has been kept in a basement cell in the prison in isolation so she makes a deal with Saul to reveal the identity of the man in exchange for being moved to a cell with a window. Saul agrees. But the warden doesn’t. It is a bit of a turf war. The warden says that he is the boss in his prison, and he doesn’t have to do anything for the CIA. Saul says he will get an order from the attorney general. However, there is a delay in doing this since the attorney general cannot be immediately reached. 

In the meantime, Saul, because he is a good man and because he wants to ensure that Aileen remains co-operative, allows her to stay in the interrogation room. This is a treat for Aileen because the room has a window. Saul even brings in some “contraband”—a small bottle of wine, some good bread and cheese.  

Finally, the order from the AJ comes through, and Aileen gives them the name and address of the man in the photo. The CIA team storms the house of the suspect only to find that the man who lives there is not the man in the photo. Saul is still at the prison when he gets the news. He’s puzzled, why did Aileen lie? Suddenly, it’s clear to him, and he races back to the interrogation room. There he finds Aileen on the floor in a pool of blood. She had slit her wrists with the glass from the reading glasses that Saul had lent her so she could read the agreement that would allow her to have a cell with a window.  She dies in Saul’s arms. She killed herself because she could not bear to live out her life in prison.   

So nothing is cleared up about the identity of the man with whom Roya met. Perhaps it is not even important whom she met with. The CIA doesn’t know and neither do we. 

Carrie meets with Mike. She once again tries to make it clear to him that he must cease and desist his investigation into the death of Tom Walker. She tells him is too emotional because of his involvement with Jess, Brody’s wife. She tells him the best thing he can do for himself and for Jess is to stay away from her. Will Mike take this advice? I tend to doubt it.  

There is a big fund-raiser event at the home of a rich backer of Walden for President campaign, a man named Owen. The Walden family is there, the Brody family is there, together with a bunch of donors. It appears to be an all-day pool party. A woman starts asking Brody some insensitive questions about his time as a POW. It makes Brody uncomfortable. Owen gets Brody alone and apologizes for the “lookie-loos.” He explains that he was a Navy man, and he had experiences similar to those of Brody. He understands.   

Brody says, “Just don’t call me a hero. All I did was not die.” Owen says that he doesn’t care much for Walden. He is only supporting Walden because he’s looking eight years down the road for when Brody can run for president. Brody insists that he is not the man for the job. The host thinks that he is just being modest.   

Later that evening, Owen makes a little speech to the donors. He talks about Brody more than Walden. Much to Walden’s annoyance, he makes it clear that he wants Walden to choose Brody as his running mate.  

Carrie calls Brody and says that she is in a nearby clearing. She tells Brody to take a walk and gives him directions to the clearing. She tells him that she has spoken to Mike and he will leave it alone. One small question:  Couldn’t she have just told him that on the phone?  Of course she could. One thing is clear, she takes every opportunity to see Brody in person. 

Another thing is clear. Brody is under a lot of stress. He has to constantly lie. Lie to Jess. Lie to Walden. Lie to Roya. Carrie may be the one person in his life that he does not have to lie to. He tells Carrie about his conversation with Owen. He feels a lot of guilt because he is not the man that Owen is. He says, “Owen believes that I am like him. That guy is the man I could have been if I hadn’t lost myself.”  The lies and guilt are getting to Brody. 

Carrie takes his hand. They look at each other for a long time. Then they are swept up into a kiss. It’s not clear who “swept” first. It appears it is simultaneous.  Brody is unclear about whether he can trust Carrie. He asks, “Is this for real? Are you just handling me?  

Carrie replies, “Brody, I don’t know.  I don’t want you to feel used.”   

Brody answers, “I feel used and lied to. I also feel good. Two minutes with you and I feel good.  How do you pull that off?  More kisses and Brody leaves.  It is clear that both Brody and Carrie are unclear about their relationship. 

Vice president Walden’s son has been drinking the dregs from glasses left on tables.  Dana, Brody’s daughter, has been pestering him about the two of them telling their parents about the hit-and-run. Fin’s mother sees them arguing, and Dana blurts out the truth to her. Mrs. Walden immediately escorts them into the house.  Jess is brought into the room. 

Jess feels that they must go to the police with this information. Mrs. Walden tries to dissuade her. “You are new to the world stage. Leave it to me.  I’ll take care of it.  You have to follow my lead here.”  Jess does not like what she is hearing and says she has to talk to Brody.     

When VP Walden gets the news from his wife, he complains, ”Why does that kid always get into trouble.” Then he blames Dana.  He says that Estes will take care of the DC metro police. Mrs. Walden tells him, “We have to worry about Jess.”   

Walden tells Brody, “We should not be benched by this. It’s a moving train and a screw-up by a couple of teenagers is not going to change that.”   

Brody decides to go with Dana to the police. Carrie is sent to intercept Brody at the police station. She pulls him aside and tells him, “You can’t do this. You won’t have a deal if you do this.” Dana is angry and surly when she sees Dana, and especially when her father tells her that they will not be talking to the police today. They will do it sometime “down the line.”  Dana marches off, where to, is not clear. 

One small question: Why are Brody and Jess and Dana are all so intent on confessing right this minute? This is the “This–just-does-not-make-any–sense” moment of the week. The prudent thing to do would be to consult with a lawyer, and, should they decide to confess, to be accompanied by the lawyer when they confess.  Are they unclear about how this will ruin all of their lives?  Perhaps Jess and Dana have a strong sense of right and wrong. Perhaps Brody, who so enmeshed in lies, must finally get on the side of truth. 

How this will all play out is not clear at all. Is Dana going to confess on her own?  Will Dana tell Jess that Brody met with Carrie? Will Mike back off? Will they find the out who Roya met with? Will Brody and Carrie resume their affair? will the terroist attack be thwarted?  Is Walden the target? Can Brody navigatethrough all his lies?  Perhaps it will all be clear next week.

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This picture of Carrie and Brody in the clearing is from