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Dexter season one episode reviews (#4 - #12)


Episode 4. "Let's Give The Boy A Hand" Dexter is a lot like Kyle XY. Both shows feature an outsider who doesn't understand - and thus allows the writers to comment on - the human condition. And it's a great device. It helps that both characters are very cool. This is the episode where we find that all is not right with Angel's private life. He spends the episode talking about his anniversary gift for his wife, (and some of those scenes are very funny) but - in the end - we discover that she is not exactly glad to see him call for a visit. The plotline for Doakes, meanwhile, is much more predictable. It looks like he is about to be shot by gangsters, but it was always obvious that Detective McNamara would show up in time to save him. Yawn.

Episode 5. "Love American Style" Is it wrong to root for Dexter when he stalks a murderous human-trafficker? Who cares? It's great fun having such a different hero to root for. As always with this show, there is no real tension when Dexter tracks his (evil) prey, but the scenes where Dexter has to act normal around people are nerve-wracking. In the previous episode Rita took their relationship to a new level of intimacy and this has changed everything. Mundane chit-chat won't do any more. Rita - Dexter muses - will expect him to open up and show his inner self to her. How the heck will he manage that? Some of his attempts are hilarious (his decision to initiate a sex act during a very sad movie, for instance) and some are genuinely sweet (the final scene, where Dexter tells Rita what he wants most in life).

Jennifer Carpenter is a real scene-stealer in this show. She brings a sort of edgy lack-of-comfort to the role of Dexter's sister that - I think - few actresses could manage.

Episode 6. "Return To Sender" The murders that Dexter committed in the previous episode become the subject of the investigation in this episode. Novel twist. Dexter's world is falling apart. His lies are starting to fall apart around him. Uh-oh.

Episode 7. "Circle Of Friends" This is one ballsy little show. When Neil Perry first appeared in Dexter I assumed he would turn out to be the Ice Truck Killer. Eventually. In a final episode climax with Dexter. Imagine my shock when Dexter is sidelined in a storyline which shows Dexter's sister tracking down and arresting Perry who is then revealed to be the Ice Truck Killer (in both evidence and confession). Dexter is incredulous. So was I. But we both came round to the idea. So much so that I was applauding the show for it's daring storytelling when the episode pulled it's final twist: Face to face with Dexter for the first time, Perry seems to have no idea who he is. Wow. What the heck is going on? Who is the real killer? And if it is Perry, who the heck has been following Dexter? Great stuff.

Also of note, this episode introduces Paul to the show. A real boo-hiss villain, whose confrontations with Dexter are a highlight of the episode. Can't wait to see him get his comeuppance.

Episode 8. "Shrink Wrap" Dexter enters therapy. Well, not really. He suspects that a psychologist is killing his patients, and goes undercover as a patient. Which leads to some very tense scenes as Dexter makes some major self-discoveries. Debra, meanwhile, is starting to get serious about her new boyfriend and Rita is starting to get serious about Dexter. As usual, the personal stuff is far more exciting than the crime stuff on this show. When Rita bared her soul to Dexter (literally and figuratively) it was painful to watch. We are privy to Dexter's thoughts, so we know he is going to run away, and we can see how vulnerable Rita is. And we don't want to see her get hurt. Her confusion as Dexter left was painful to watch. Kudos to Julie Benz for her amazing work on this character.

The fake Ice Truck Killer is dispatched in this episode. In fine style, too. A lesser show might make Dexter the only character to suspect the truth, but this show makes Laguerta just as suspicious. How she reasons it out is very clever. The cleverest part of the whole episode. While the best part of the whole episode was Dexter being able to go back to Rita and spend that the night. That was awesome.

This episode also revealed the identity of the Ice Truck Killer. Unfortunately, I had begun to suspect it during the episode, so it wasn't much of a surprise. If they had opened the episode with that final scene, it would have been awesome. Never mind. We know now. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Episode 9. "Father Knows Best" Now that the audience knows who the Ice Truck Killer is, it adds a whole new level of tension to what is happening on screen. This is the episode where Dexter finds out about his natural father, and it's a great story. I love the relationship between Dexter and his adopted father (shown in flashbacks every week) but the strong bond between them is thrown into a different light in this episode. Dexter believed that there were no secrets and no lies between them, but that is not the case it seems. However, the fact that Dexter's Thank You Card was passed on by Harry is wonderful, I think. And keeps the bond strong, in my eyes.

Over in the sub-plot: Doakes shoots someone is cold blood, and Angel is forced to cover up for him. It's a good story for Angel's character, but the story itself doesn't make a lot of sense when you think about it. It only exists as a story because Doakes is a jackass, and won't tell anyone why he did what he did. That's weak storytelling. A lazy way to create conflict. Which could have been avoided. Doakes could have shot the guy, and told Angel why. Then we would have had a story of Angel trying to keep his secret for him. That would have been a much better story.

Episode 10. "Seeing Red" Lots of surprises in this episode. Dexter freaks out at a crime scene, Angel makes a break-through in the Ice Truck Killer case, Dexter finally takes care of his girlfriend's dangerous ex-boyrfriend (Yay!) and Angel is attacked for his efforts on the ITK case. Some of the scenes are very emotional and powerful. The confrontation between Dexter and his sister is very sad. He completely shuts her out of his life. It's all too easy to relate to, and very sad to watch. Great television.

Episode 11. "Truth Be Told" Another killer episode. Dexter finally figures out who the Ice Truck Killer is. The way they did it was very clever. As much as I loved the storyline with Dexter I was really impressed with the other two storylines. Angel's marriage finally coming to an end in a low-key way and, in the episodes best scenes, Rita taking her kids to see their father in prison. Powerful drama.

Episode 12. "Born Free" bring the first season to an end in superb fashion. Dexter's final battle with the Ice Truck Killer is everything we could have hoped for. A great build-up and a great pay-off. Very emotional and certainly deserving of a twelve episode lead-in. Just as good are all the subtle signs that Dexter's perfect life is (probably) about to come to an end. Some of the signs are not so subtle (Doakes). And what about that final scene? A fantasy sequence in a show which never does them? A crowd cheering Dexter because he's their favourite Serial Killer? Wow. Cool idea. Nice ending, given the emotional battering that poor Dexter had taken.

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