Tuesday, 13 December 2011

DEXTER, 6.11 – "Talk to the Hand"

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Co-writer Manny Coto used to work on 24, which could explain why a few aspects of this episode evoked that show. A poison gas attack on our heroes' workplace? The lead actor being gassed, damaging his health, meaning he's slightly less invincible in the minds of the audience? Both were common features of 24 whenever it approached its own finale and wanted to shake things up, but they didn't work too well in the context of Dexter. At this point in season 6's torturous life, I'm just hoping for a swift end and a finale that does something, anything, to renew my interest in what's likely to be the last two seasons...

You can always tell when a feeling of desperation descends on a TV show, because episodes suddenly swap finesse and depth for pace and occurrences. It's all designed to try and distract you from thinking too much about how appalling the story's become, but I hope most people don't fall so easily into this trap. "Talk To The Hand" involved Travis (Colin Hanks) convincing his acolyte Beth to gas the Miami Metro; Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) deciding to hide Captain Matthews' (Geoff Pierson) indiscretion with a call girl from the public; Dexter (Michael C. Hall) trying to get Travis's attention by staging his own horror tableau using Gellar's dismembered hand; intern Lewis becoming even creepier, as he's decided to anonymously mail the Ice Truck Killer's hand trophy to Dexter; Angel (David Zayas) being rescued from Travis all too easily by Quinn (Desmond Harrington); and Deb getting very uncomfortable after her therapist suggested she subconsciously desires her own brother... sexually. Alright, then...

That latter moment was probably the episode's biggest deal, if only because it's something that could potentially ruin the established dynamic of the Morgan siblings. Will the writers seriously take things down the path of Deb realising she loves Dexter as more than a brother? Would Dexter reciprocate her feelings if he became aware of them? Is this all just a pointless and icky development that proves the writers are clutching at straws and have no idea where to take these characters after six years? Would it be of any value to the show if Deb and Dex grew closer, in that sense, ahead of Deb realising her brother's a serial killer? It seems like an extremely risky strategy to me. I don't really see Dexter having sexual feelings for Debra, especially if we're supposed to believe it took him such a long time to grow to love Rita (where it was free of any taboo), and I'm guessing it's just not worth the risk to pursue it further.

I've also heard it said that Lewis may be a long-lost third brother of Dexter's, which would be another extremely foolhardy development. I'd be happier if Lewis just knew Dexter's brother Brian somehow, and had worked out their connection because he's done his research as a serial killer fanatic. The pieces are there to be put together, after all. Otherwise, I don't see why Dexter needs to take another pass at an idea it's covered back in season 1, which appears to demonstrate how the writers are having grave problems coming up with fresh material. But if Lewis really is going to be revealed as Dexter's other brother, does he mean Dexter any harm? From what we've seen this season, Lewis appears to really admire Dexter and truly value his opinions on things.

Overall, "Talk To The Hand" was a slightly better episode than the previous few, but only narrowly. Colin Hanks makes for a really insipid villain, who just can't communicate a sense of threat because he looks like a constipated mannequin, and the show is just throwing lots of stuff at the wall to see what sticks now. Dexter's finales are usually good fun (even in the bad seasons) so I'm hoping next week's conclusion finds ways to get inventive and give us a pleasant surprise. But something really has to be done to salvage this show, quick-smart. The voice-overs from Dexter have become so dumb and expositional it's actually insulting to the audience (who can pay attention just fine without their lazy plot reminders!), and there are so many random moments that feel bizarre or hokey to me. Like Travis painting Dexter as "The Beast" in a painting, or deciding to set fire to the bedroom he was keeping Angel without shooting him first.

Only one more week before we can assess the future of this show, which is guaranteed to be sticking around until 2013 at the very least. What are your hopes for the finale? Can this season be rescued somehow with a brilliant twist or game-changing development to the ongoing mytharc?


  • They've really transformed LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) this year. I used to just find her tedious, but now I actually want to see her die slowly for being such a contemptible bitch.
  • How stupid was Dexter to be sending a video of himself talking to Travis? These things can be traced! Or when he decided to go out and catch Travis after being poisoned and advised he'll have nosebleeds and dizziness for awhile.
  • That dream sequence with Deb and Dex getting closer over a takeaway meal was really quite poor. It never felt real, so didn't work as an effective fake-out, and just bashed you over the head with what it was trying to achieve.
  • Ditto the soundtrack this whole season. Every time the music ramps up to let us know Travis is thinking bad things, or about to commit a terrible crime, it's like you're watching a bad straight-to-video horror from 1992.
written by Manny Coto & Tim Schlattmann / directed by Ernest Dickerson / 11 December 2011 / Showtime