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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dexter Season 8 Episode 9 "Make Your Own Kind of Music" Review by Gracie

Dexter Episode 8.09 "Make Your Own Kind of Music" by Gracie: "First of all, I wanted to apologize for this taking so long. Moving into school and getting the school year started, it’s been busy. Considering it’s been a week since I saw the episode and I don’t have time to rewatch, it probably won’t be as in-depth as usual, but there’s a couple things I definitely wanted to touch on.

I just wanted to say that the brain surgeon plotline… I actually am extremely interested in it. It’s no Trinity, but I think it’s more well done than Jordan Chase, and the DDK. I don’t think it’s comparable to Isaak because, Isaak wasn’t a straight up villain.

I knew that Yates wasn’t the brain surgeon because although there was overwhelming evidence, and everything stopped after he was dead, Yates killed girls and screwed up their feet and there was no physical evidence that he messed with their brains, just circumstantial. That left the question, who the hell is the brain surgeon? I guessed Oliver around the middle of episode 8 - Cassie was dead, but Oliver was still involved, which means he was continuing to be written into the story for a reason. Honestly I figured it out through logic-ing through the way stories are written and I’m extremely analytical of the show, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have figured it out. Read more after the jump.

In any case. It’s actually quite the interesting development. A couple of my friends have brought up the fact that Vogel/Daniel (Oliver) is paralleling Dexter/Brian which I think is a really interesting element to bring into everything. A long lost ruthlessly killer family member, suddenly showing up and screwing around with everyone’s lives. Sounds an awful lot like Brian, y’know? Dexter even wanted to keep Brian around in his life, as Vogel obviously wants Daniel in her life. However, in season 1 Dexter knew it wasn’t feasible, so he killed Brian. Vogel, however, doesn’t have this bit of foresight and obviously will refuse to kill Daniel (or let Dexter do it) and this poses a unique problem. Daniel has made things personal for Dexter by leaving a dead Zach in his house, and Dexter’s quite upset about it. Thus the reason he wants to kill him is not because Daniel is a terrible person and danger to the world - it’s a revenge killing. This is one of the most dangerous reasons to kill anybody, because revenge is a strong motive and it makes it easy for people to see connections and trace you to a murder. It appears that Dex is insisting he kill Daniel before he does anything else, and I imagine it’s really gonna screw something up. In fact, I’m sure it will.

The end of the episode was a huge twist for me though. I know some saw it coming about a minute before it happened but… definitely not me. Like Dexter, I assumed that had Daniel gone to Vogel’s, he would have kidnapped her or something out of anger. But she was fine. So Dex left, and the camera pulls back and you see that Daniel is actually with Vogel. Vogel feels she has been betrayed by Dexter (I suppose she is totally justified in feeling that way, but I also happen to agree with Dexter that Daniel needs to go) and as somehow talked Daniel down. Are they on the same side now? What even is that side? When Daniel starts messing with Dexter again, will Vogel be aware of what he’s doing? She’s got her real son, and her “”spiritual”” son… which one matters the most to her? I have a strong feeling that her indecision about this could easily get her killed. And at this point, I feel as if the brain surgeon is Dexter’s most formidable foe since Trinity.

One last thing about the brain surgeon - his name has been revealed as Daniel. I want you to think back to an episode early this season when Dexter was making Harrison pancakes and Jamie told Dexter about Harrison’s imaginary friend “Dan.” …. Yeah. Just let that sink in. I’m positive that that is far from a coincidence. Daniel Vogel has spoken to Harrison, he’s gotten him alone without anybody knowing, and who knows WHAT he’s told the kid. Or what he might do.

Let’s talk Deb and Quinn - first of all, I was extremely surprised (and pleased) to see that this is even something that’s being addressed this season. I thought that they had come and gone. I thought it was in the past. But I always thought they both remained very important to each other, and I am overjoyed this is being revisited. Granted, it’s a jerk move of Quinn to kiss Deb while he’s dating Jamie - Jamie doesn’t deserve that. But Quinn was trying very hard to have a healthy relationship with someone and to be happy. And I’m sure he does care about Jamie. But she’ll never be Deb. And he’d probably have an easier time of it if the love of his life wasn’t still in his life. He might even be able to make it work with Jamie. But it’s not feasible anymore and I imagine it’ll fall apart soon. And like I said, Jamie deserves better than that. That being said, Quinn and Deb’s scenes were so wonderful in this episode, and I kept finding myself so badly just… wanting them to be together. And that kiss, man.

I think what I’d have to say was my favorite scene of the episode, was Deb and Hannah’s dinner scene. The dynamic between the two of them is always electric, for a couple of reasons. First, Jen and Yvonne are both tremendous actresses. Second, both of their characters are also tremendous people, with very strong attitudes. Third, they have a history. Stick them in the same room together, and it’s bound to be a great scene. I was not disappointed. At this point the two of them are actually overwhelmingly, bluntly honest with each other, and it makes every exchange of theirs very real. My favorite part of the scene was when they both admitted, “I wish, somewhere along the line, I’d have learned to take no for an answer. Would have made my life a lot easier.” This element to their character is actually a huge part of the reason I love both of them.

And before you ask, no I don’t believe it’s ridiculous that Deb agreed to let Hannah stay with her. Deb is perhaps one of the most resilient and forgiving characters on television… she has always been this way, and it is part of why I love her. It is perhaps a weakness as well as a strength. So yes, she has a lot of animosity towards Hannah, that much is clear. But as of 808, Deb came to understand that she and Hannah are now coming from the same place. She is still wary of Hannah, but Hannah is no longer a threat. And as we all know, Deb and Dexter have been constantly flip flopping between bending over backwards for each other. It should come as no surprise that she’s doing it again.

There were, however, just a couple of things in this episode that bothered me. It kind of came out of left field, too, and left me feeling very upset and confused. First and foremost, it was Dexter’s attitude. He was… an asshole. Dexter and Deb both have their moments of being complete assholes and I love them despite it, but I swear to god, Dex hasn’t acted like such a douche since season 3. Let’s see if I can recall some of the things he did…

First of all, he didn’t exactly ask Deb if Hannah could stay. He sorta said “You have to.” I don’t remember the exact wording, but he didn’t leave her much of a choice. Second of all, I really didn’t like that he told her to not inquire further and “Do as I ask” when she started inquiring about Oliver Saxon. First of all, she’s not a baby and she can handle herself. She doesn’t need to be shielded from everything. I understand that Dex didn’t want her getting involved with that murder because of the nature of the brain surgeon - unpredictable, going after Dex already, etc. But she deserves more than to just be brushed off to the side. Him saying “please just do as I ask” felt like a huge fuck-you and a huge betrayal to this new relationship they had developed by episode 806.

Second, when Deb was struggling with the idea of going back to the force, he wasn’t there for her. At all. She was trying to speak to him, she needed somebody to lean on and help her through this decision, and he just stared at her blankly not knowing what to say, which is something he would do back in seasons 1-5. And I just… what the hell, Dex? Like… I understand that even though he’s definitely developed feelings, he still has trouble with empathy, and I guess that’s something we all have just got to accept, but it still felt odd just how unresponsive he was. I just… I don’t know. (I’m going to address, after the next topic I touch on, why it perhaps was written that way…)

The last major thing that upset me was… well, this final 3 episode plot arc that we’ve got introduced to. Dex and Hannah running away to Argentina. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of it - we’ll have to see how it plays out - but perhaps even worse is the way it suddenly came to fruition. Suddenly, Dexter’s like, lets just leave. Go to Argentina. Take Harrison.

… Excuse me Dexter. Didn’t we just spend 5-6 episodes wrestling with the idea of you not having Deb in your life? Didn’t we just just come to the conclusion that you need to have her in your life? Didn’t you, at the end of season 7, decide to put Deb above all else in your life? Didn’t you offer your life to her? And you’re suddenly like, “lolbye.” I mean.. What?

When I think about it on a deeper level, I get it. Dexter has constantly lost people in his life. Real mother, real father, foster mother, foster father, brother, wife, a woman who he wanted to start a life with, and then Hannah once… I get it. He’s absolutely terrified of losing someone in his life again. If Hannah disappears, her name changes, she’s gone forever, he’ll never see her again and he’ll have lost somebody for good again. This is the only solution to that, no matter how crazy it is, so I understand him latching onto this. However as a viewer, I shouldn’t have to be reading between the lines to figure that out. Why couldn’t Dexter have said something like, “Hannah, I’ve lost so many people. My entire family, except Deb, and Harrison. I can’t do it again, I can’t lose you too.” That makes him entirely more sympathetic. It makes him making this decision, despite everything that happened in episodes 1-6 with Deb, make way more sense, especially because if he’s gone at least he can like.. you know, call Deb. It’s not like he’d never see her or speak to her again. So just… what the hell, Karen Campbell (writer of this episode). I’m just really, really dissatisfied with the way that decision was written.

And that’s where I think the problem with this episode is. The way Dexter’s character was written was just… bad. He’s better than that and I have dozens of episodes of evidence to support that. So I went and looked up Karen Campbell, right, and it turns out she had a hand in my least favorite episodes of both seasons 6 and 7. And not only was the one in season 7 my least favorite, it left a really bad taste in my mouth too. It was 707 Chemistry. And I think back to it, and I really disliked the way Dexter’s character was written in that one, too.

Considering everything I’ve come to learn about the writing process of this show and the way the writer’s room works… it would seem that they create the general broadstrokes together, and then hand off single episodes to the writers, then the scripts are presented to everyone and edited, but the writer still has a big hand in what goes on the screen. Sometimes it works great. Sometimes it doesn’t. And what is becoming apparent to me, is that some of the writers have very different views of Dexter than others. Some view him as some sort of antihero, a Batman like figure, who can do no wrong. Some view him and Hannah as a “wonderful perfect love story” and let it take the forefront and they seem to forget that to us viewers, usually even if we like Hannah, it’s actually about Dexter and Deb. Other writers view him as human, vulnerable, someone who makes mistakes but is still good at heart, someone who cares about his sister more than anything. The latter of those is my favorite. I don’t think he’s a batman, I don’t think he should wriggle out of every situation, I don’t think he and Hannah are the greatest love story ever told even though I do like her, and I do think he can do wrong and I do think he needs to end up facing the consequences of all the things he’s done. So what I’m getting at is, if you hand it off to a writer, they write it the way they see Dexter, and I don’t think I like the way this writer sees Dexter. And when I found out she wrote my least fav eps of s6 and s7 too, it confirmed it for me.

That being said, I went and looked up the writers for the final stretch. Episode 810 is Scott Reynolds - he’s the one who does the podcast, and I like him. He treats Deb very well and I like his view of Dexter, I like the way he writes him. Episode 811 is Tim Schlattman - self proclaimed “Defender of Deb” - and Wendy West, who consistently writes some of my favorite episodes of the series. I like the way both of them write Dex, as well. As for the finale, while it’s not listed, I can assume Scott Buck wrote it. And although I have not 100% agreed with some of his plot choices - like the DDK, like this “run away to Argentina” thing, I always like the way he writes the characters, and I like the way he voices them. So that makes me feel a little bit better, a little hopeful, that they will be able to damage control Dexter’s atrocious behavior in episode 809. All we can do now, is wait. "

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