Monday, October 27, 2008

The Student Becomes The (Puppet)Master (S3, Ep 5)...

Last week, Showtime announced that they have ordered two more seasons of twelve episodes each of their crime serial Dexter, despite waning interest as the character (and the show in turn) shuffles down a slow and steady path of less destruction. The announcement was not so surprising, despite my proclamation that the show jumped the shark with last week's rife-with-exposition "All In The Family" episode, due to solid ratings, but it made me wonder if I could keep up the detailed descriptive writing of a show with which I once found ridiculously clever and am now growing increasingly disenchanted, not to mention bored. On the one hand, I would only be committing to a dozen articles to match the shortened season length, but at the same time, the only thing I had more than watching a once favorite program repeat itself is having to repeat myself in what my opinions have to offer. All in all, Showtime's announcement has definitely left me with something to think about, which is far more than I can say for Dexter's latest episode, "Turning Biminese."

Dex-Bot stands over Rita, watching a heart start as opposed to his usual activities, as the OB-GYN tells Rita she's at about nine or ten weeks and prepares to take a sonogram photo "to show the kids." The OB-GYN sees Dex-Bot's distraught facial expression and tells him not to worry because everything looks perfect. If she only knew, though, right, Dex-Bot? He keeps the photo in his pocket like any proud papa, though he seems surprised on the golf course when Jimmy Smits knows he has it with him. He passes it over, and Jimmy Smits is all "this is amazing; this is a human life; this picture right here makes it real." Yeah, we get it: Dex-Bot's life is going to change forever. In the next breath, though, Jimmy Smits turns and screams at some dude whose rogue ball nearly dents their cart; he may be just as erratic as his brother(s). Something Dex-Bot will have to watch for in the upcoming scenes. Jimmy Smits apologizes and says he just has his mind half stuck in the office because he has this case with a missing woman who vanished in international waters; he has no jurisdiction, but he's convinced the husband is guilty because his first wife ended up dead, too. Basically, the law has his hands tied, and he is subtly asking for Dex-Bot's help. If this was the Dexter of seasons past, Jimmy Smits would probably turn out to be some undercover FBI guy there to trap Dex-Bot, but since the writing has been less than creative lately, I'm going to take it at face value and say Jimmy Smits really is just in a pickle... and Dex-Bot, itching to kill someone, anyone soon, will get him out of it. I'm just as itchy to see it as he is to do it.

I'm going to ignore the voice over from now on in order to save myself (and you guys reading this) from repetitive commentary. Though when Dex-Bot tees off, Jimmy Smits leans in and says "Slice it," and Dex-Bot thinks "Yee-aah," it's smile-worthy, the inner dialogue is not nearly as witty as it could be or even as it has been. So we're onto lunch with the Smits' and Rita and Dex-Bot, and the girls just got back from the spa, about which Jimmy Smits makes some flamboyant hand gestures and stereotypical responses, and Dex-Bot cheekily says that "lying naked on a table-- helpless? No thanks." Not exactly a sexy fantasy for someone in his line of work. Wifey offers to list Rita's house with her agency so the two can buy something bigger and better together, faster, but Dex-Bot says he might want to keep and sublet his own apartment. He compares himself to Custer-- being surrounded on all sides-- but Jimmy Smits graciously rescues him, and the women go off to the buffet line to try some "to die for" crepes.

As Dex-Bot walks back to his apartment, he reflects on how many times he's walked the same path or taken a dip in the pool (um, really? We've never seen it!), relaxing with the words "No children allowed." Finally back upstairs (what looks like hours later, as the windows are dark), Dex-Bot researches the guy Jimmy Smits was talking about to make sure he fits the code, but even as he voice overs about it, he sounds bored-- he is just going through the routine, as this is his ritual, but he doesn't seem to take the same excitement from it that he once did. Is he escalating? Does he need more and more of a thrill now to feel the high, much the way a junkie will grow to need more and more of a fix to get to the same elation. He imagines Harry standing in his apartment, talking to him about this is not a suitable place for Rita and a family. He walks over to the air conditioning unit and pulls out Dex-Bot's souvenir of slides (it still gets to me how he can hide that in there like he never needs to turn that unit on... in freakin' Miami!) and adds that what's his is now Rita's, as they are in it together 50/50. Though he is a bit bitter that Rita and Wifey are planning his life, he (falsely) figures at least he still controls one thing, and he prints out the report on the Wife Killer.

The C.I. sits in his SUV and chats with Deb on a cell phone as she sits in a matching SUV supposedly on the other side of the street. They get into some cute little disagreement over whether its "bupkis" or "bumpkiss," and she tells him to split before he "gets made." He tells her the way she's trying to protect him is cute, and she curses at him, but they both get out of their cars and head to the alley to find the guy... strung out. That's a bit anticlimactic considering they were looking for info on Pheebo, who was a dealer; you have to figure whoever they find who knows the kid will be a crappy witness. The C.I. gets down on this guy's level, both literally and mentally, and the guy admits Pheebo's gone and gives them another name "Wen-dell" (emphasis on the latter).

Batista, Hot Cop, and Masuka arrive at another crime scene where the D.B. has skin missing, but they are really only there to observe because the Sheriff's Department has jurisdiction. Two seconds later they all regroup with Girlfriend, Dex-Bot, and Deb in the offices, and Hot Cop stubbornly refuses to give up his files even though no one has even asked him to do such a thing. Girlfriend placates them with a "we're still in charge" and tells them the forensics are on their way, and she needs their input. Masuka, in a dress shirt and tie, doesn't take Deb's bait when she sets up a great "that's what she said," and that's about all there is to say about him, as he's still sulking over what Hot Cop said to him last week. Deb pipes up about bringing in the Wen-dell kid, who was Pheebo's doorman, in order to find out why all of these people connected to his boss end up dead, and the camera pans to Dex-Bot, as if to remind everyone here is another chance for him to be recognized for being at the scene of a crime before it is committed, and though Dex-Bot says "he may be one of those dots" (being connected, get it?), there will obviously just be another upcoming "lucky" break for the D-Man.

As Wen-dell is lead through the station, Dex-Bot holds one hand up to the side of his face in the worst "I'm inconspicous" attempt ever. His cell phone buzzes, and who else is it but Jimmy Smits, who is canceling their lunch date because the Feds have informed him the Wife Killer is going to skate. This has made Dex-Bot's quest all the more clear: "there's due diligence to be done." He stares at the Wife Killer's mugshot that he just happens to have lying in wait as the music picks up.

Deb gives Wen-dell attitude for not being able to get in touch with his mother. She can't question him without her present because he's only fifteen, and she's really annoyed at having to sit and stare at the kid and not get any work done. You can tell she's really annoyed because she's slouching and glaring at him and practically drumming her fingers on the edge of her desk. Glancing over at Hot Cop, it seems she gets the idea to seduce the kid the way he seduced the Lady-Killer from last week. Except, her idea of seduction is to get up in the kid's face and talk about her own father being gone a lot in order to get her and her brother what they really wanted. Wen-dell is all "Yeah, I bet you had things real bad" in a way that was probably supposed to be sarcastic, but his line reading is off, and she has the audacity to admit that she didn't. I'm not quite sure how she thinks this is going to help her reach him. She mentions how Harry never came to her softball games, and he doesn't believe she really played because "she doesn't look gay." Aaand I just lost my last shred of respect for this show. She buys him roach coach food while Hot Cop babysits.

In his lab, Dex-Bot has the lights out, and he closes the blinds, but he's not up to anything shady; he's actually just leaving for the day. Bumping into Deb en route to the elevator, she asks him when he's giving up his apartment because she's going to want to get out of her lease early and move into his. Ew. He repeats his sentiment about wanting to keep the apartment, and she shoots him down like everyone else has so far. I don't know why he keeps looking for someone's approval; by now he should know that his line of thinking is not "normal." Ramone steps off the elevator, all polite-like, and they stare after him dumbfounded as they point him in the direction of Girlfriend's office. Deb says it's a big mistake that the Sheriff's Department would send him to look into their files because "that guy's wound way too tight." And coming from her, that's saying something (which she at least has the self-awareness to admit)!

Girlfriend makes the mistake-- okay, I can't give them the benefit of the doubt anymore and call their actions "mistakes" like they just have so much on their plates that they get overwhelmed and distracted and word vomit just "slips" out-- of telling him that Wen-dell knew Pheebo. That kid will probably end up with some broken limbs within a scene or two. She also says she's surprised to see he's the one the S.D. sent over, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few people over there had to incur some broken limbs, too, in order for it to be this way. Girlfriend tells him to cut the B.S. because she knows he's just there to insert himself into his brother's case, and she threatens to go over his head and get him reassigned... but in the same breath, she promises she won't do that. Because, you know, they go way back and stuff...

In a pro golf shop, Dexter watches the Wife Killer, who has a serious case of Gay Face, eye some potential new Suga Mamas. He gives us the dude's back story in voice over, offering to return the favor of "throwing overboard" or some other not-so-clever pun for which he has become known. Dex-Bot sidles up to the register, where Wife Killer is purchasing a bunch of boat equipment for some "cruise" he's going on, and he manages to "charm" some information on diving schools out of him. Wife Killer offers him a tip on where to go to avoid having to take weeks and weeks of class and just get right into the water, and Dex-Bot plays the "maybe I'll take my boat for a chance to get my wife off my back" card, banking on the fact that Wife Killer won't be perceptive enough to notice he doesn't wear a ring. Apparently, killers really just want to connect with other people, so if you say something about one of their interests, they will cling right to you. At least that would explain Dex-Bot and Jimmy Smits' relationship.

Batista grabs Deb coming out of the bathroom (for a second I thought the icon was of the men's room symbol, but then I just realized I needed to put on my glasses) and tells her that Wen-dell's mom has finally arrived. She asks him if he's ever heard the term "bumpkiss," and he corrects her, over which she's not too upset. My guess is that becomes some sort of cutesy secret word between her and the C.I. now. Before he lets Deb go back to her desk, though, Batista asks her about the stings she was involved in when she was undercover: did she try to hit the same places over and over again, namely? He makes up some bull about a cold case he's working, and she gives him what he needs. He can't be so sad to actually want to try again at picking up a real hooker, so my guess is he wants to see Kristin Dattilo again. She must have made quite an impression on him. Masuka walks by and is the same stiff, professional guy he has been all episode, and Deb calls him out on it because it's weird, and he's like a zombie. He says maybe he's just realized he doesn't have any friends here, and the only time people come looking for him is when they need something, but no one read his paper and only one person (I'm guessing Dex-Bot?) showed up at his keynote speech. He doesn't rat out Hot Cop for the hurtful things he said, though.

Deb's desk is empty when they finally make it back, and Hot Cop says he had to cut the kid loose because the mother didn't give consent. The mother knows that the last person who talked about Pheebo ended up dead-- well, not entirely true. That junkie the C.I. led her to is still alive as far as anyone knows. Deb yells at Hot Cop for trying to make her look bad-- ooh, yeah, that does seem to be his game! Whispering in people's ears, undermining their hard work, and then swooping in with a "Well, at least I have a good attitude" whenever the bosses are around. I know people like him; sadly, I work with people like him. At least in my job, lives aren't on the line, though-- just sanity.

Batista drives up and down Hooker Alley and manages to find Kristin Dattilo again. Let's just say I was right and leave it at that. His awkwardness around her (or any woman, I guess it would be) makes me uncomfortable.

Rita has a "surprise" for Dex-Bot in the kitchen: brochures for houses. There are a lot, but they are the only ones Rita "fell in love with" after spending the day with Wifey looking at open houses. His "no" is flat out and quite cold, and she seems genuinely taken aback, like she wasn't expecting it from someone who really has only given such standoffish stubbornness. He says he doesn't want to look at houses right now, and he plans to go fishing all day tomorrow, and they get into their first television fight (ie: over mis, or lack of, communication). But Dex-Bot has to go fishing as planned because Wife Killer is only in this part of the water for one day (apparently Dex-Bot found his itinerary?). Jimmy Smits shows up on Dex-Bot's boat to try to smooth things over and tries to get an invite out on the boat, but when Dex-Bot doesn't take the hint, he just says that he really has to be in court anyway. Lucky how those things turn out, no? Oh, but Dex-Bot does have to catch a fish now because Jimmy Smits wants to pop it on the grill that night.

Batista allows Ramone to address the team, but Deb takes offense, as if he's there to check up on the work they "didn't do the work right the first time," and Hot Cop sticks up for her-- and hard. Everyone's so surprised that Hot Cop has to actually say "Yeah, you" to Deb to clarify who he's defending. Masuka speaks up and says that Ramone's case is not connected, though, because the skinning had minor traces of ink in the last one: someone tried to dig out a tattoo, perhaps to further avoid identification? Also, the newest victim wasn't actually strangled but smothered and made to look like she was strangled-- a copycat or some desperate guy with enough of a background in forensics to make it look like a copycat just to get one murder to stick on the dude who killed his brother. Then everyone sticks up for Masuka when Ramone says it's just his opinion. Aw, it's one big happy family again; group hug! Anybody? Anybody?

Panning across the beach (!) Dex-Bot lies on a chaise in the shade watching Wife Killer out of the corner of his eye. Harry appears to him again, telling Dex-Bot he will have to make a choice just like Wife Killer has-- just like he had to. Harry makes the point that Dex-Bot might think he's different or better but really they are the same: Dex-Bot has his own mistress. When he hallucinates his mother sitting on the chaise in front of Harry, needing more sunscreen, he realizes he's had too much sun. He manages to sneak onto the sea taxi without one of those laminate ticket badges hanging around his neck. Meanwhile, Rita is still looking at houses with Wifey, who is now pulling the whole realtor selling angle and telling her to focus on how she "feels" inside a home and not get bogged down by cosmetics. She realizes she has to use the bathroom, which is apparently allowed in homes for sale so long as the current owners aren't there to know about it I guess, and when she returns outside to announce she's bleeding, Wifey rushes her off to a hospital. Though a little spotting can be normal early on in a pregnancy, this is a show in which the main character doesn't want anything to do with his own child, and as the weeks tick on, and the belly gets bigger, it's going to become equally increasingly harder to like him because of that. So the only solution is to get rid of the kid in a way that will tug at the heartstrings of the audience enough to allow them to ignore that the show basically aborted a plot point because it got too difficult to write.

Deb pulls up to Wen-dell who is sitting and smoking on his bike. He knows the law and that she can't talk to him, and she says that's true-- officially. But she bribes him with some burgers, fries, and onion rings and tells him it's okay for him to call her "unofficially." He takes her business card, and I think he should pass it on over to Dateline: To Catch A Predator, but whatever. He tells her he has no idea where Pheebo is because he stayed out of his business. He figures Pheebo's probably just hiding out somewhere and that when she finds him, he still owes him three weeks pay. They're being watched by someone off in the distance, noted only by the binocular ring around the frame. How modern. The kid seems to know he's being watched. At least someone on this show is savvy.

Somehow Dex-Bot has snuck into Wife Killer's room, and he stabs and sedates him before laying down the Saran wrap. I don't even want to know how he fit so much of it in the little backpack he had on him when he boarded. He tells Wife Killer he had fun shuffling full the shit on his iPod but that his shipmates are all up on the "lido" deck and can't hear them over the crappy house band music anyway. He tells Wife Killer he has to make this quick and doesn't have much time to talk because the last sea taxi leaves soon. He comes clean about the changes he will go through soon, with the marriage and the baby, and he talks about the poeticism in the taking of a life and the making of one almost simultaneously.

Jimmy Smits pulls his ADA card to the admin nurse in the hospital because Wifey can't get any information since she's not family. She grumbles that she can't get Dex-Bot on the phone and "the father should be here;" she's more upset than Rita probably is. No one mentions that he's out at sea where there's probably no reception; good looking out, Jimmy Smits! Somehow he manages to get them into Rita's room, and Jimmy Smits says he sent the Coastguard out to Dex-Bot's fishing spot to look for him, but he wasn't there, so now Rita is worried that something has happened to him, too. Again, good looking out, man! Like she isn't stressed enough!

Deb shows up at the C.I.'s house and starts rambling about "you know who," and some chick in an oversized tee shirt answers and says he's still in the shower. Deb slinks away, embarrassed, and takes a call from Jimmy Smits who asks her if she's heard from her brother. He tells her he's at the hospital with Rita, and she gets panicky again, but this time it's rightfully so because he doesn't give her any other information.

Dex-Bot says that Wife Killer was incapable of compromise (um, how does he know? He didn't take the time to talk to the guy before he fatally stabbed him!) and that it cost him dearly, but he doesn't want to be like him. He turns his cell phone back onto twelve unheard messages and rushes to the hospital where he learns the baby is fine. Rita says if she stays on bed rest for a few days, they can go home. She calls him out for not being around and being scared that she could have lost it without himthere, but she compromises and says they should wait to find a house until after they get married, and he says he's ready when she is. She wants to do it sooner rather than later-- before she starts to show. Um, where are Cody and Astor while Mommy is in the hospital, by the way? Dex-Bot crawls into her hospital bed with her and says that he "may never be able to feel his baby's heartbeat... emotionally," but as he glances up at the monitor, he knows he can never ignore it, either. It's oddly comforting to him.

Deb shows up and tells him she hopes this was a big wake-up call for him, and he says he gets it now-- how his life is changing. And he tells her she can have his place, but once again he has missed the important point of her upset: she doesn't want him to be like Harry, missing out on homework and plays and softball games. He says that would never happen, but he's strictly referring to turning out like Harry. I hope that's true; I hope you can fight your surroundings and turn out better.

Jimmy Smits tells Dex-Bot that his office got a report that the Wife Killer was just reported missing in a strange twist of irony. He checks up on Dex-Bot's "alibi" and tells him how the Coast Guard couldn't find him and flat out accuses him of being on that cruise ship "finishing what I couldn't." Dex-Bot denies it, even when Jimmy Smits puts it in terms that would make him sound like a vigilante. Jimmy Smits tells him they're the same yet again; he tells him he "gave him a chance to avenge two women who the system had failed" (uh oh, if it was a set up all along, was that guy even guilty?), and he seized the opportunity. Jimmy Smits' getting excited! And Dex-Bot is being led around by someone new now, someone who may be far worse than Harry. At least Harry wanted to protect Dex-Bot; he had a conscience underneath it all and was "repulsed" by what Dex-Bot truly was. Jimmy Smits, though, is proud and sickly infatuated with it; something tells me he'll soon be using Dex-Bot for his own dark deeds. Dance, puppet; dance!

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