Dexter: “A Horse of a Different Color” Review

28 Oct

The ratings seem to go up whenever John Dahl directs an episode of Dexter. I believe that is because John Dahl understands the underlying, or in this case, overt themes of darkness in any noir work. And Dexter is most certainly TV Noir. It’s a police procedural, melodrama and thriller rolled into one.  If you aren’t aware who John Dahl is, just go to IMDB or Netflix.  Watch Red Rock West and The Last Seduction for some great neo-noir.  He worked much more in indie film in the 1990s and has established himself as a director for cable dramas including Dexter, True Blood, Californication and Justified to name a few.  He even slums on the networks and has directed a few episodes of The Vampire Diaries and Hellcats.

And in Dexter we are at once going into very dark places and ironically, the light.  When I say the light, I mean religion and in this week’s episode, Brother Sam (Mos Def) discusses religion and light with Dexter (Michael C. Hall).  So much so that Dexter “kind of prays” (SPOILER ALERT) when Harrison is rushed into emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix.  Yes he pulls through.  And Dexter is beginning to wonder about a higher power, which now is starting to intrigue me because if one believes in God, then how can one be an effective and guiltless serial killer?  This however, does not really serve to  make the show a thriller.  Instead it slows down the narrative, and although Brother Sam’s speech about unwittingly helping his father kill a man and then realizing he no longer wanted to kill is compelling, the whole story about Harrison’s burst appendix, surgery and Dexter’s faith feels somewhat out of place in the story.  Yes, the scene at the Nescafe machine is clever.  It’s just that I’m not positive regular Dexter fans are going to want to get this philosophical about the character.  Honestly, I tune in for the twisted killing.  But I also understand that Dexter’s character needs to evolve or the show gets old.

Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) is evolving in her new position.  She does a stilted and embarrassing job at her first press conference but by swearing on camera, comes off as sincere with a no nonsense attitude that manages to annoy LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) who was hoping she’d screw up.  Her new recruit, Mike (Billy Brown), gives her some fashion advice that helps her but oversteps when he chastises her swearing.  He adds a slightly more serious air to the Miami Metro team, especially when Batista (David Zayas) and Quinn (Desmond Harrington) get stoned in his Trans Am.  Yes it was a fun scene but I didn’t really see the point.  It didn’t screw up their investigation and we didn’t really learn anything new about the characters (I know I wasn’t surprised they’d light up on duty) so I felt like this was a wasted moment in the narrative.

Travis (Colin Hanks) gets lucky but the woman he sleeps with ends up as a sacrifice because Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos) is angry that Travis had sex.  I won’t even begin to explain how she dies.  It’s brutal and definitely worth watching but it’s the final scene of the episode.  All I have to say is if I were that Miami PD officer who tripped the wire, I would feel guilty for the rest of my life.  In the final shot, Dexter spots Travis in the crowd of people watching the crime scene.  I guess the hunt is on.

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