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Monday, October 3, 2011

Dexter doesn't worry about "Those Kinds of Things"

     Showtime's Dexter begins season six last night with "Those Kinds of Things." Dexter (Michael C. Hall) attempts to get Harrison (Evan George Kruntchev and Luke Andrew Kruntchev) into a great pre-school. The one he chooses happens to be religious, so Dexter finds himself wondering about faith, something he's never really thought about before, and something he has a very hard time comprehending. Dexter also attends his 20th high school reunion, finding his new-found popularity makes it harder for him to accomplish his real mission: a kill. 

     Dexter and Dexter tackle many things over the years, a great number of them issues of morality. It seems appropriate, after six years, to finally get around to faith and religion. After all, the way that many people live their lives by often has something to do with their religious beliefs. Dexter has Harry's (James Remar) code, carefully taught to him so that he will only murder the right people. Sure, the crucifix symbol may appeal to Dexter's dark side, but for Dexter to start to consider sin, that would open him up to guilt and reflection upon what he is done. Thankfully, it does not appear the series will be going down that road, as it could ruin the character.

     Instead, Dexter explores religion from the standpoint of a father. He worries that Harrison will not have a normal childhood without some religious base, and hopes that this pre-school might fill that need. Dexter is honest about his need for help in this area with the admissions director (Michael Hyatt, The Wire), and the truth, combined with a sincere desire to do right by Harrison, is likely what leads the program to accept Harrison. Go Dexter!

     Dexter's other main story, attending his reunion, is more fun than deep, a welcome relief from the great, but dreary, storytelling of last season. Dexter has a great job, is in wonderful physical shape, and has a sad story involving the death of his wife. As such, he finds himself the center of attention, an unusual situation for him. It's hard to tell if Dexter enjoys it all, though he doesn't seem to be too annoyed by it, even though it means delaying the kill. An old classmate, Trisha (Kristen Miller, She Spies, That's My Bush), gives Dexter an extra special present, and as unrealistic and out of place as that scene comes across, it's nice to see Dexter get some female-induced pleasure.

     Dexter attends the reunion in order to take out Joe (John Brotherton, One Life to Live), an abuser who killed his wife, a girl who was nice to Dexter in high school. Joe pleads with Dexter to spare him, arguing that God will get even. It's a silly claim to make, considering that if God does take vengeance for the murder of innocents, Joe would already have suffered such retribution. Unless one considers that perhaps Dexter is an instrument of God, a stretch to be sure, and thus his selective killings are the universe's way of balancing the scales. Harry could even serve as the way that God speaks to Dexter. If nothing else, this is something to ponder, and heads into controversial and murky moral areas.

     Of course, Dexter is never the only one out taking lives. This season's new killer duo, Travis (Colin Hanks, The Good Guys, Roswell) and Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos), are introduced in "Those Kinds of Things." For unknown reasons, they slaughter a fruit vendor, leave his intestines on his scale, sew snakes into his stomach, and leave a Greek Alpha / Omega pattern on the victim's chest. There are religious undertones to what they are doing, which allows viewers a brief glimpse of another new character, Brother Sam (Mos, formerly Mos Def, The Italian Job), but what they are up to is unclear. Gellar is clearly teaching Travis, but to what end? Future episodes will have to reveal that. What they contribute to the premiere is to leave Dexter a tasty mystery to begin to unravel.

     There is some shake up in the police department in "Those Kings of Things." Maria (Lauren Velez) blackmails Tom (Geoff Pierson) into promoting her, making her future on the show unclear, since she will no longer work in Dexter's department. She recommends Angel (David Zayas) to replace her, which he does, at least on a temporary basis. Why not go ahead and make Angel's position permanent? Does that mean Maria will soon be demoted? Blackmail can have consequences, and it's regrettable that she resorts to such tactics to get ahead, no matter how much Tom deserves it for treating her so poorly.

     Also strange is Angel's whole demeanor. He is growing comfortable again working with Maria, now his ex-wife. But he is also on edge around young women. All of the sudden, he is very nervous that people will think he is dating a much younger girl. He even freaks out when his sister, Jamie (Aimee Garcia, Off the Map, Trauma), Dexter's new babysitter, looks too sexy in a restaurant. What are we to make of this? Surely he isn't just worried about appearances costing him a promotion. Something else must be going on here.

     Masuka (C.S. Lee) is now a teacher, and is tasked with picking an intern from among his motley class. Perhaps surprisingly, he chooses based on academic standards, rather than hotness, a sign of maturity from the somewhat sleazy forensics guy. But when his first pick, Peter (Christopher Frontiero), faints at a crime scene, Masuka is only too excited to tap the next in line, hottie Ryan (Brea Grant, Heroes). At least Masuka can say he tries, right?

     Finally, the biggest shake up on the horizon is Quinn's (Desmond Harrington) forthcoming proposal to Deb (Jennifer Carpenter). He is acting nervous, tipping off Deb that there is something going on, though she likely doesn't suspect him to pop the question. He is prevented from doing so this week when a gunman comes into the restaurant where they are eating. This is the second unrealistic, out of place event in an otherwise solid episode. But the delay will only be temporary, and he will try again.

     The question is, how will Deb take it? She deserves happiness, and Quinn seems like a good guy. However, the last time she gets engaged, back in season one, the man turns out to be Dexter's half brother, a serial killer with less scruples. The experience badly scars Deb emotionally, and will probably make her resistant to attempting such a union again, if the previews for next week are any indication. Can Deb defeat her biggest obstacle, herself, to find a happy ever after?


     Watch Dexter, already starting season six fantastically, Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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Article first published as TV Review: Dexter - "Those Kinds of Things" on Blogcritics.

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