Tuesday, 13 November 2012

DEXTER, 7.7 – 'Chemistry'

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

written by Manny Coto & Karen Campbell / directed by Holly Dale

This season's all about love. Or that's the driving emotion behind most of the character's motivations, I feel. There's Dexter (Michael C. Hall) and Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) trying to keep their family together in the wake of Dexter's dark secret being revealed; Dexter and comely poisoner Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) are now an item that's causing problems for people around them; true crime author Sal Price (Santiago Cabrera) has made a beeline for Debra's affections as he gathers evidence to imprison Hannah; I still think Isaak (Ray Stevenson) is motivated to destroy Dexter because he killed Victor, his lover (although this theory isn't shared by some); and even peripheral characters are letting their love for people guide them—Quinn (Desmond Harrington) going back to his dirty cop ways to help his stripper girlfriend, and LaGuerta's (Lauren Velez) feelings for Sgt Doakes being the key reason she's poised to reopen the Bay Harbor Butcher case.

Consequently, now season 7's moved away from the joy of watching Debra try and make sense of her brother's real nature and grisly pastime, I'm finding the stories each have a lot of heart to them; an emotional quality that's easy to get behind. "Chemistry" is where the second half of the season truly begins, and it started to tie some of the stories into tight knots. It was particularly fun to see Dexter try and rationalize why he's going to let Hannah live, when Harry's Code dictates she should undeniably be killed. He appears to have been consumed by love (or infatuation?), because Hannah's accepting of him to a level Rita, Lila and Lumen never were—but that in itself may be a greater danger, and he knows it deep down. Latching onto someone who offers unconditional love in return may also be preferable to the current situation with his sister.

I've been a little unsure of Yvonne Strahovski's suitability as the Hannah McKay character, but she was stronger throughout this episode. Her breakdown scene while being interviewed with Sal was a definite highlight for her, even if I didn't quite believe Hannah would get that emotional so quickly. (More a fault of writing than anything else). I still don't see Hannah as a woman who'd go on a killing spree with a psycho boyfriend and enjoy killing people, but the aspect of her character being a clever, manipulative poisoner is working much better. I guess Hannah's present-day "adult" character fits Strahovski better than the teenage back-story she's been given—although maybe a future episode with Hannah getting her hands dirty (with a victim's blood) will make me reevaluate things. For now, I like Hannah and I definitely like seeing Yvonne's side boob. (You'd never get that on Chuck, no matter how much the Buy More's off-camera wind machine was turned up.)

I also enjoyed seeing how many angles of attack were on Dexter this hour. Sal Price quickly discovered that Dex is in a relationship with Hannah and fudged the blood spatter report to keep her safe, and for awhile it felt like Dexter may have to break Harry's Code again to get Sal on his kill table in order to keep his lover out of jail. Things didn't go that way, with Dexter instead aiming to frame Sal for a famous murder he wrote about years ago, but a doubt did creep in after Hannah seemed to excite Dexter with talk of just ditching his father's rules and killing whomever he pleases.

Second of Strahotness: where are the pillows?!

We also had Isaak being released from prison thanks to Quinn's handiwork losing vital crime scene evidence, so Dexter has that threat looking over him once again. For now, Isaak's on a leash with a police presence following him everywhere he goes, but that won't last forever. Ray Stevenson's been fantastic this season, too—making the best impression as a major villain since John Lithgow in season 4. His suave, respectful, quietly vicious air of authority really burns off the screen. It'll be interesting to see where the writers take Isaak next. I'd personally enjoy seeing Dexter at the mercy of Isaak in some way, however briefly, because, ultimately, we know Dexter's going to be victorious come the finale's end credits.

"Chemistry" left us on a tantalising note, too. An exasperated Debra, unable to get anything to stick to Hannah (even when Sal died of a suspicious "heart attack" like her late husband), realised the only way to get justice is by calling in her brother to indulge his dark side... unaware this would mean asking Dex to kill the woman he loves. Will the regard for Harry's Code and the blessing of his sister mean more to Dexter than whatever he's feeling for Hannah? I suppose he could always pretend she's been killed and smuggle her away to safety, but that would still mean waving goodbye to a chance of happiness—which is rare for a vigilante serial killer.

A random, crazy theory: might Hannah's "miscarriage" be evidence of a particular hatred of children? I have to wonder if she terminated her pregnancy on purpose, and once Dexter's son Harrison returns from his grandparents this will become the key reason Dex can't be with her.

Overall, "Chemistry" was another good episode of thickening plots. I know people have a few issues with the Dex/Hannah pairing, which certainly isn't as unique as the writers are trying to make it feel, but I'm still enjoying it. I'm certainly very invested in what's going on, which I haven't been since early-season 5, and looking forward to seeing what happens next—especially if the BHB case is going to finally reopen, perhaps making Isaak realise exactly who he's tangling with..?

11 November 2012 / Showtime