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Dexter season two episode reviews

Dexter, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Julie Benz, Lauren Vélez, Erik King, Jaime Murray

Season 2, Episode 1. "It's Alive!" Twenty Five years ago, my Saturday Night TV always started out with MacGyver. Now, all these years later, I sit down to watch yet another TV hero who is good with his hands. But not in the same way. Nope, cos Dexter is a serial killer. So if you gave him a stick of gum he'd probably find a way to kill you with it!

Season 2 opens with Dexter in a state of turmoil, after the events of the Season 1 finale. So much so, that this episodes highlights two failed attempts to kill someone. Worse, his girlfriend knows that there is more to him than meets the eye, the cop on his tail is utterly relentless and - in the stunning final moments - his dumping ground for all the bodies is discovered and becomes a huge news story.

It's a great episode. But, I'm not sure I want the show to take this direction. Is Dexter himself going to be the subject of a massive police investigation? One of the things that I liked about Season One was the fact that nobody knew that Dexter's victims were the result of a serial killer. It meant, in effect, that all of Dexter's problems were in his head. If the show makes his killings the central story engine, it might limit the stuff they can do with the character. But, it will certainly make things more tense in the short run.

On a side note, Julie Benz has never looked more beautiful than in this episode. Before her nude scene, at the very start, she looked positively radiant. Beaming up at Dexter as he fed donuts to her kids. Rita usually looks tired and stressed, but there is a definite change in this episode. Up until the dramatic ending (and I certainly did not see that twist coming) and poor Rita is in tears. Benz has for a long time been one of my favourite actresses, and she is almost doing her best ever work on this show. Almost.

Season 2, Episode 2. "Waiting to Exhale" Dexter is delicious. The ending of this episode has one of the coolest twists I've ever seen. A real laugh-out-loud how-is-he-gonna-get-out-of-this-one moment. And it caps off another great episode. It's really the conclusion of the two-parter that starts off the new season, the new storyline and - I suppose - the new direction of the show. Dexter is still after the big bad guy who got away last week. And as the evidence piles up we (the audience) can see just how evil this guy is, and how much he deserves The Dexter Treatment. The fact that the guy can fight back, and is - in fact - ready for Dexter makes it all the more exciting for us to watch.

Rita gets some of the best scenes in the episode, however. She has really matured. Her way of dealing with Paul's death is fascinating to watch, and - as I said - her questioning of Dexter at the very end is the absolute highlight of the episode. Delicious.

Season 2, Episode 3. "An Inconvenient Lie" Since my favourite thing about this show is it's insight into the male mind when part of a relationship, my favourite parts of this episode are the ones where we see Rita withdrawing from Dexter as a means to getting him to do something she wants. Ultimately it's a good thing for him, and it certainly sets him off down an interesting path, but it's very interesting to see her tactics. It comes back to bite her anyway because, in the end, she finds that Dexter has made a new friend: a hot new friend. Hilarious ending, yes, but fascinating to see the way the script 'punishes' Rita for her earlier behaviour.

Season 2, Episode 4. "See-Through" Several highlights in this great episode: a very intense storyline for Doakes, the revelation that Laguerta was/is sleeping with her superior's boyfriend and Dexter's deepening friendship with his sponsor. Doakes is never given much to do and his constant tailing of Dexter this season was just starting to get annoying when they (wisely) brought it to a stop. This episode gives him a strong storyline and some (much-needed) character work. The stuff with Laguerta blew me away. I totally did not see that coming. Love it! I'm slowly warming to Lila. She's very much a TV cliché so far (we've seen this character many times on TV shows) but it'll be interesting to see how much of a part she comes to play in Dexter's world as the show progresses. Will he tell her his secret, I wonder?

Season 2, Episode 5. "The Dark Defender" Dexter briefly sees himself as comic-book hero in this one. Clever. Dexter has always reminded me of Wolverine. How cool to see him seeing himself in these terms. Also, the fact that he's saving his own mother in this vision makes it all the more interesting/sad. Truly the writers have turned Dexter into a complex and wonderful character (how much of who he is, is due to his father's well-meaning training?). And, it must be said, they have served all the characters in the show just as well. This episode has some wonderful stuff between Laguerta and Doakes. Interesting chiefly because of what we know about them from previous episodes. Laguerata fascinates me. I alternate between liking her and being shocked by her. Great stuff.

Season 2, Episode 6. "Dex, Lies, and Videotape" This is the one with the copycat killer. And both Dexter himself and the FBI are anxious to put an end to his antics. Making Dexter himself the focus on the investigations has certainly made his life-of-crime more interesting this Season, but the focus of the show is always his personal life. Rita dumps him, after (hilariously) overhearing a phone message from Lila. Dexter reacts badly and - to my great surprise - winds up in bed with Lila! Even more surprising he tells Rita about it, just as they are on the verge of getting back together. All these twists continue to make Dexter a fascinating character.

This is also the episode where his (adorable) sister hugs FBI Agent Lundy in a moment of unguarded joy. It's a wonderful scene. Perfectly played and sweet and joyful.

Season 2, Episode 7. "That Night, A Forest Grew" Fantastic. When the episode started I was suddenly smitten with Lila and concerned for her safety (given her new status as Dexter's girlfriend). All that stuff with the light bulb and the mysterious landlord had me worried. What direction was all this taking, I wondered? Was Lila going to 'cure' Dexter and then fall prey to some horrible murderer, which would then send Dexter back to his murderous ways, as he sought revenge?

Then, as the episode unfolded, my perception of Lila changed and - by the end of it all - I positively hated her.

That's some skillful storytelling, there.

Aside from the Lila stuff there was lots of cool goodness in this episode. Dexter takes the lead - for once - and sends the police on a merry chase. He also takes the battle to Doakes in a major way. And gets the good Sgt. booted from the police force. Nice.

Watching this show can be rather conflicting. Doakes is the bad guy. We hate him. But, he's the smartest person on that police force. He's the one that knows that Dexter is... iffy. He's the real hero here. And we hate him. For no other reason than the fact that he's on to Dexter. He's a threat to Dexter so we hate him. Cos we love Dexter more than anyone.

Then there's Lundy, the FBI guy that Dexter's sister kissed. We like him a lot. He's nice. But he's smart and he's making advances towards catching our hero. Shouldn't we hate him to?

Know what? A show that can make me hate Lila in the space of one episode probably has a lot of tricks up it's sleeve. I bet they can make me hate Lundy any old time they want. Clever bastards.

Season 2, Episode 8. "Morning Comes" Another superb episode, with a fair amount of twists and turns. The biggest shock in the episode (and there are many) has to be the sight of Doakes finding Dexter's hidden stash of blood samples. Blood taken from his victims. That's a real what-the-frak-happens-next moment.

Dexter (quickly) realises that he cannot trust Lila and brings their relationship to an ending (after she breaks into Rita's house). It's a show about a serial killer and his new girlfriend is the scary character in it.

Season 2, Episode 9. "Resistance Is Futile" My stomach is tied in knots after watching this amazing episode of Dexter. Surely the single best episode they have thus far delivered? The first half is constructed to make you think that Dexter has been found out. You are thinking to yourself that that cannot possibly be the case, yet how else do you explain what is happening?

The answer, when it comes, surprised me. It shouldn't have. I should have anticipated that Doakes would be a suspect. But I didn't. I could see it heading in this general direction, yes, with him storming out on the meeting with Lundy in the previous episode. But I did not expect things to move this fast. Pow! This show hits you between the eyes.

Barely had I processed the fact that Doakes had found Dexter's hidden stash of blood samples (last week) than the FBI has the box and is using it as the main evidence in their case against Doakes. Wow! I feel whiplash from the speed of that development. Yet, it makes perfect sense.

Then, before I have time to process that development, Dexter and Doakes are locked in a pitch battle to the death (which, of course, it isn't) with one of them getting shot and Doakes - finally - confronting Dexter about his murderous ways.

It's brilliant. But the show is brilliant in other ways, too. Usually, the fact that Dexter is a serial killer takes second place to the fact that he is socially inept. And, usually, the moments of high drama, come from Dexter's attempts to lead a normal life. This is not one of those episodes, however the scenes that depict Dexter's normal life are just as gripping as usual this week.

His ex-girlfriend showing up, in the midst of his friends, trying to pretend that all is rosy between them (while - in private - they have a blazing row) is a moment that pretty much every viewer can relate to. I know I can. Likewise, Dexter's humbling but honest/heartfelt apology to Rita struck a chord.

It's amazing. In the midst of a crazy, wonderful, OTT plot development about a serial killer covering his tracks this is still a show about a ordinary guy trying to navigate the pitfalls of everyday life.

Which is what makes it such a great television series.

Season 2, Episode 10. "There's Something About Harry" There's a lot of great stuff in this episode, but all I wanted to see was Dexter and Doakes. How can the show get out of this? I mean, Dexter likes Doakes. He can't actually kill him and still be our hero? Can he? At the mid-way point the episode makes you think that Dexter has actually decided to do the deed. But it proves to be - yet another - red-herring. The show has gotten really good at doing these.

Almost as exciting as the Doakes storyline: Lila. She drugs herself and passes out while on a date with Angel. To what? Frame him? Can't wait to see where this goes and what Dexter does about it...

Season 2, Episode 11. "Left Turn Ahead" A melancholy and unsatisfying episode of Showtime's drama about a likable serial killer.

It's a gloomy ride as Dexter puts his affairs in order and prepares to hand himself over to the police for his crimes. In the end he changes his mind after a conversation with his sister. And it's a pretty unconvincing turn of events. Seems like the writers painted themselves into a corner with this story and didn't know how to get out of it. A short, flippant comment from Debra is a weak solution. Had it been Rita and the kids (particularly the kids) I might have bought it. This? Not so much.

Season 2, Episode 12. "The British Invasion" A superb conclusion. The beauty of this chapter is that - before it starts - it is impossible to predict how it will all turn out, yet once it is over you cannot imagine it happening any other way.

I am shocked that Doakes is dead. I wasn't sure that he would die, and I never imagined that Lila would be the one to kill him. Clever writing. Great performance from Lauren Vélez in the aftermath of the death/discovery, too.

But the episode belongs to Jaime Murray as the evil Lila. Poor Lila. At different parts of the season I liked her and loathed her. In the end, there was almost nothing to sympathise with. She went after Rita's children for Frak's sake!! No sympathy left for her after that.

But the script is clever. Up until that last scene we were led to believe that she has gotten away scott free. Not so. Dexter found her. And justice was served.

It's been a great season. Better than the first. What's next for Dexter?
Dexter, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Erik King, Jaime Murray

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