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Monday, December 10, 2012

Dexter Season 7, Episode 11: “DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE” Recap & Review

Dexter Season 7, Episode 11: “DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE” Recap & Review
After last week’s groundbreaking Dexter-sode, “The Dark… Whatever”—which saw Dexter making yet again another enormous shift in his journey as a devilish angel of death—we’ve all been turning blue from holding our collective breath for this season’s killer penultimate installment, “Do You See What I See.” On the edge of what’s sure to be the most dizzying endgame of any season of Dexter yet (let’s all kiss goodbye even the sacred shock that overtook us in the final minute of “This Is The Way The World Ends”), how did we get here? And is there ANY possible way out or trap door to slip through? We’re at the starting gates of the final race at last, with the odds stacked heavily against our beloved number one gun. If you’re still reeling from the thrills of this dicey new game, try to ground yourself with the mini-synopsis below, followed by an in-depth review of just what is spinning into fearsome motion with this episode and the sharp stab of a surprising double-edged sword that’s changed the nature of everything! So tell me, now... Do you see what I see? CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD.

 THE BREAKDOWN: As Dexter lets time slow down for the briefest minute to entertain the idea of a comfortable future with Hannah—complete with her vibrant nursery, his lethal rituals, and a teen Harrison who’s matured out of his signature dimples—several hot pursuits are unfolding just outside Dexter’s dreamy consciousness: Debra’s hot on the heels of Hannah and LaGuerta’s hot on Dexter’s, attempting to drag Matthews along for the breakneck ride. While Debra makes good on following up with Clint McKay’s tip about Arlene, a washed-up, barely-recovering drug addict who witnessed Hannah poison a halfway house counselor years ago and whose confession could land Ms. McKay behind bars at last, LaGuerta passionately insists that Dexter is her primary Bay Harbor Butcher suspect. Matthews confronts Dexter about LaGuerta’s theory, as eager to shrug off her “lunacy” as Dexter is—Debra, however, isn’t too pleased to be confronted by Hannah McKay, who insists that Dexter will be far happier if she and Deb can see eye to eye. One black out, car accident and broken wrist later, Debra feels that she’s become a victim of Hannah’s darker side after attempting to glean the truth about Hannah’s murder from Arlene. As Dexter considers just how terrifying plausible this theory is, the warmth of the Christmas season quickly degenerates into an elaborate mousetrap: the bait being Estrada, the last living member of the alliance that saw to the murder of Laura Moser… and the mouse being Dexter himself. Skip the jump for the full meal deal. 

Last night’s episode spins into action with a delicate reverie of Dexter’s future. Dexter? A future? A state hoped for, instead of repulsed by? Dexter’s previous future-fantasies have been marked by acute fears of his predilection for slitting throats and stopping hearts ruining his family’s unknowable days-to-come. Several seasons ago, he imagines stumbling across Harrison donning a miniature kill suit and holding a garrote wire as Rita screams, What have you done?! And now, he’s seeing himself settling into a happy daily grind with a doll-like Hannah, who is tending plants in her loose, flowing tee and endearingly baggy overalls. And Harrison’s coming home from sports practice with an easy smile and amiable wave. Living the dream, alright. The dream quickly recedes into Dexter’s present in which he’s contemplating what he perceives as a distinctly plausible future life with the woman he loves. The present has always been his key arena—an actor leaping from stage to stage, he’s contented himself to try not to assess what’s to come unless he’s heeding not the Dark Passenger, but his own desire to kill. Could it be that the safety that Hannah offers is real? With Christmas in the air, it’s difficult not to be wooed by the prospect of shackin’ up with a smooth, spry blonde who could kill a man as easily as he one day and chatter about holiday traditions the next. It’s the fact that we get a sense of utopia here that alerts us to its very unraveling. Though we often find ourselves seeing the world through the eyes of Dexter, our unreliable narrator whose thoughts are verbalized to us in constant, we’re quickly reminded of the fact that there is a hell of a lot spinning into motion just beyond his love-buzzed radar.

Even though Clint McKay seemed to be highly absorbed in the notion of making a pretty penny off of Dexter and Hannah—as the unofficial secretary of Hannah’s seedier secrets—he bothered to leave Deb a juicy little tip before Dexter tipped his deceased body over the side of the Slice of Life. Although Debra failed to get Dexter to catalyze her hopes of avenging Price and satisfying justice by “doing what he does” to Hannah, it would seem that a new window of opportunity has opened. Death isn’t always the end of trouble; if anything, it’s often the beginning. Batista tries to warn Debra against Arlene, the sole living witness to one of Hannah’s varied crimes, but Debra has made it abundantly clear that her ambition knows no brake pedal. From Debra’s perspective, Dexter doesn’t understand how to take care of and protect himself enough to feel any trepidation about the special role Hannah often assumes in matters of life and death. As Deb learns to make decisions for herself, she accepts the responsibility of protecting her brother and removing him from harm’s way. This is her choice and hers alone. This isn’t playing cop for daddy—this is laying down her all for what she believes in and establishing her own truth after the old ones breathe their last. She is as loyal to Dexter as she is to her own integrity, and she makes it clear that the best way she can manifest love and remain true to herself is by getting Hannah good and gone once and for all, and freeing Dexter from the chains of thinking that he can only ever be understood by another killer. Now, we can’t be exactly sure of what grounds Hannah approached Deb on in the first place: it is likely that she was acting both on Arlene’s behalf, as well as on that of her and Dexter. We can’t see the way the invisible scales between her motivators hang—was she really seeking to establish peace, or instigating a near-fatal warning against the consequences of Deb’s tenacity? Either way, we KNOW where Deb stands: she would lay down her life to guard Dexter in the best, flawed, and yet genuinely human way she knows how.

If we look at Debra “laying down her life” in the context of her near-death experience with the anti-anxiety medication overdose… some interesting issues arise. We’re led to believe that she is an innocent victim of Hannah’s darkness wielding its ugly head at last; after an entire season of waiting for her cracks to show, it would appear that our anticipations have at last been met. Yet, many of us are wondering if Deb planned this incident and orchestrated it herself. Regardless of who’s really behind the devastating affair, two things remain: firstly, Dexter will never be able to fully trust a poisoner, even if it’s the woman he longs to love. Secondly, Debra has committed herself to protecting Dexter at any cost. Looking at the first issue, we need to consider that Dexter actually starts to suspect Hannah before he has any viable evidence against her. He is deeply provoked by the idea of there being someone out there who could injure Debra and immediately comes to terms with the fact that Hannah could so easily and so subtly do so. Before he even confronts Hannah after the Christmas dinner that is all but lost on his dizzily reawakened senses, he realizes that even if Hannah’s not the one behind Debra’s hurt, he can’t trust her to never be that vessel of wrath. "We could have it all," Hannah begs - but he can never give that all if he seeks to preserve Debra. Even Brian had offered him that same kind of 'all;' being fully known and living in the light of some kind of mad freedom. However, the truth tears its way out of Dexter's agitated, protective heart: "What'll happen next week, when Debra has a heart attack? If anything ever happens to Debra, I'm gonna wonder if you had something to do with it!" By giving Hannah up to the police at the episode’s piercing conclusion—that beautifully tragic Judas-like kiss of betrayal around which the camera pans, until we see Debra approaching to make the arrest (her body framed between Hannah and Dexter’s faces, creating a visual metaphor of the way she intrinsically comes between them)—Dexter sacrifices his fleeting hopes for the one constant of his life, just as he did when he “put down” his own blood-brother in the first season. And if Debra did dissolve her own pills in her water and take the risk of killing herself to get Dexter to wake up and smell the coffee, she did so out of her own sense of what is best for him. We can’t deny that she truly loves Dexter with every fiber of her buzzing little being; she may be wrong in her approach to that love, but it is no less of a love than was Harry’s in giving Dexter a Code to live by. There is no love that is in itself perfect and that brings about perfection, when acted upon. It simply is. All we know is that Dexter cannot trust Hannah in the way that he trusts his need to defend Deb from anything that could damage her—he knows that he’s already done enough.

 Even Matthews and LaGuerta are driven by their own understandings of love and how to express it: Matthews (that cheeky bastard!) loves Dexter and his family, and therefore refuses to take up the cross LaGuerta’s urging him to nail himself upon. And LaGuerta—although she has conditioned herself against admitting such things—loves Doakes enough to go through hell and back again to clear his name. Unfortunately, LaGuerta doubles as a master manipulator who is as capable of manipulating the truth into a convenient corner as she is manipulating it out of the shadows when she so pleases. Rushing Estrada out of prison, she knows that the real Bay Harbor Butcher can’t resist coming out for a little date with one last special playmate. Loves of all natures and magnitudes intersect, collide, and come into war in this wild episode, which will pale in comparison to the surprises in store this next fateful week.

Did you see what I saw? Do you see what I see? And what do we REALLY see in the previews for next week’s explosive finale, “Surprise, Motherf**ker”!? Sound off in the comments below as we ready ourselves for a new hurricane. This, is the way the world really ends. 

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