Dexter Season 7, Episode 3: “BUCK THE SYSTEM” Recap & Review

Last week’s gripping, up-and-down-as-ever “Sunshine & Frosty Swirl” left us standing neck-deep in some pretty serious aftermath, with Dexter and Debra’s greatest hopes and revelations taking a southward turn in a moment of morbid realization. We weren’t exactly sure where we would find Dexter at the onset of the seventh season’s third chapter, but last night’s “Buck the System” plowed onward with intensity, bringing to the table new losses, new gains, and new faces that are setting every piece further into decisive motion. Check out the mini-synopsis below, and then skip the jump for an in-depth review of the latest unrelenting happenings in the life of our favorite serial killer! CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD.

THE BREAKDOWN: Dexter is suffering under the ruthless vigilance of his too-watchful sister, whose Doakes-like dedication to keeping Dexter in line detains him from so much as attempting to indulge in his most necessary ritual and way of coping with the world. Nonetheless, he finds ways to get back at the treacherous Louis, who is simply not content to back down after toying cold-bloodedly with Dexter’s life. In the midst of grappling with his frustrations and making honest, convincing appeals to Debra’s integrity, Dexter comes upon a new target with a dangerous fetish for violence—a prolific killer, Speltzer, who has slipped through the crevices in the system that Debra believes still has the rightful power to deal appropriate justice and trump Dexter’s sacred Code. As Isaak and the Ukrainian mob zero in on the whereabouts of their missing associate, Viktor, and Wayne Randall’s once-upon-a-time belle, Hannah McKay, makes a bittersweet first appearance, Debra comes to discover just how right Dexter is about his method of justice and finds herself wondering what she truly can accept about the firmest constant she’d ever known...

 We pick up in “Buck the System” with Dexter making what would seem to be a run-of-the-mill trip to the post office (of course, we later figure out that he was quite literally mailing out one of the pieces of his Louis-blackmailing scheme). Dexter is about as vexed as we have ever seen him, as is evidenced by his humorous, over-the-top daydream of slicing a postal worker’s neck as she puts up a ‘WINDOW CLOSED’ sign right when he makes it to the counter. (I, personally, died at that part. The show continues to keep that classic, macabre humor going!) Surely enough, Debra is looming right outside the room, making sure that Dexter can’t go for any lethal side-errands. She is adamant about the positive influence of her nearly omnipresent involvement in Dexter’s life—even if the life of Dexter’s sanity is on the line. And fans around the world can also un-bunch their panties now that we know that Dexter’s throat-slash assault on Masuka was another reverie based in his anxiety! Deb has a Doakes-like commitment to knowing Dexter’s whereabouts; not because she is trying to catch him, but because she is trying to keep him from being caught. Her desperate, confused love is taking a toll. Yet, as Dexter says at the end, even freedom comes at a cost. Life for Dexter and Debra is far from cheap.   

 Desperate to maintain control and to tie up the sea of loose ends in which he’s adrift, Dexter does manage to get back at Louis in vivid colors until he turns his attention to whom he hopes will be his next kill victim. Sending the Ice Truck Killer hand to the Miami Metro PD and the porn “vlogs” to a clueless-no-more Jaime Batista, Dexter lands Louis jobless, single, and vengeful beyond belief. Yet, while many of us expected to see a Dark Passenger emerge in this ambiguous yet infuriating individual, he comes to a shockingly swift end at the hands of Isaak and the Ukrainian mob, unintentionally stepping into their warpath after they track Viktor’s bracelet to the depths of the sea and discover the incriminating Slice of Life in the process. What Louis thought would end in a sunken ship certainly resulted in such regarding his own life; funny what a little bullet in the hands of another bitter man can do. While I was upset to see Louis go so soon (I had hoped that they would tease more out of his character and really play him up), I am confident that we can expect a truly riveting unfolding of events with Isaak and his sadistic yet sophisticated posse.

Just as Isaak is proving to be a menacing character that is rich in complexity, so is Yvonne Strahovski’s alluring Hannah McKay, who at last makes her debut and a “last name basis” acquaintanceship with Dexter through Miami Metro’s cleanup of the messily-ended Wayne Randall affair. Debra, telling Dexter that he is sufficiently “f**king with her head,” tries to steer Dexter’s “lizard brain” away from its primal urges—which sense that Speltzer is primed and ready to kill, as he has killed many times before—and towards other tasks that will keep the Dark Passenger from coming out to play. She sends him off to collect a DNA sample from Wayne’s ex, a lovely, earthy florist who is very much interested in keeping to herself and moving on from the “past.” Or, so she says. Dexter’s slipup in swabbing her cheek and even in pricking his finger on a plant leaf that Hannah warned was sharp serve as elements of foreshadowing regarding what is to come between these two. “Mr. Morgan” and “Ms. McKay” end their brief meeting on fairly cool, guarded terms. Perhaps the Dark Passenger is picking up on something rather familiar?

 If anything is for certain, however, it’s that Dexter is far, far from wrong about Speltzer. Dexter strives to let Debra in on his process of finding the right subject of his “necessary evil,” still hoping that his transparency with Debra will bring her to support and accept him—even allow him to take out this loaded gun of a man. He tells her that he’s “taking out the trash; the trash that would otherwise be left to putrefy,” but Debra remains rigidly skeptical of his process and is intensely distrustful of the fruit of his addiction. Deep down, she is terrified to believe that he may be right, especially as she tries to present the Speltzer situation to LaGuerta and get her brand of justice in motion. While Dexter is attempting to get more tangible proof to win Debra over, Debra—in a head-clouding frustration—takes off to go check up on Speltzer herself. As it turns out, her brother’s “lizard brain” sensed the danger correctly. Nearly losing her life in her attempt to rescue Speltzer’s victim in his chaotic house-of-horrors labyrinth, she finds herself rescued yet again by her faithful brother. Her life spared by a man who has a tendency to take them. At the episode’s conclusion, she quietly confesses to Dexter, “I get it... what you do, I HATE it, but I get it,” and tells him that despite this she struggles with how he enjoys killing. Therein lays her true crisis. She tells him that he should move back into his apartment, and Dexter seems to innocently hope that this means their former relationship is restored; yet, Debra is keeping her heart inside her sleeve, scared and confused by both him and herself. Closing in and pulling apart, these two know that neither of them can fundamentally change. Will they come to accept one another? And where will acceptance lead them?

 What did you think of “Buck the System”? Comment below with all of your thoughts, and your anticipations for what’s to come next week!

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