All in all, at least one good thing came of “The Dark… Whatever,” that being Dexter finally accepting his Dark Passenger for what it really is, nothing more than an embodiment of his personal urge to kill.
That being said, the manner in which this revelation came about was wonky. To have a second big baddie enter the fray with four episodes remaining, only for Dexter to figure out his identity and turn him over to Miami Metro one episode later, but not before he has his second consecutive kill table therapy session, is anticlimactic at best.
The Phantom, despite his cheesy name, was built up to be a real threat, maybe one that would carry over into the final season, yet he became nothing more than a major disappointment.
We got the requisite attention paid to the arson investigator possibly being the one behind it all, including copious moments of him trying his hardest to look guilty. I mean, sniffing a body like it’s a bouquet of roses? Dexter’s plausible explanation aside, that’s still a bit much.
Then Masuka found a miraculous fingerprint at the scene, Dexter sneakily got access to the necessary records, and minutes later the mystery of his identity was solved thanks to a juvenile record that might as well have been replaced with the words “I’m the Phantom” in bold print.
Has a killer as prolific as the Phantom was fast becoming ever made it so easy on Dexter? For that matter, based upon my rudimentary understanding of fingerprints, wouldn’t the massive fireball have compromised those fingerprints, if only slightly? Because even CSI rarely has fingerprints that perfect to work with.
Oh, plus I found it a little bit of a stretch that Dexter’s search would take mere seconds. Give the viewers some suspense. Have the woman come back from her break early because she forgot her cigarettes or something. You do that sort of thing all the time on this show, so why not this time?
Could it be due to the Phantom being nothing but a tool you clumsily used in order to get that last-minute swerve that made exactly no sense at all? He can’t stand to take responsibility for the death of a man who’s known to have murdered somewhere around a half dozen people, including a small child (AKA, Dexter’s kryptonite); however, he can bring himself to kill his girlfriend’s father and then lie to (or, at the very least, mislead) her about it?
Our explanation? He wanted to kill Hannah’s dad. Wait, didn’t he, moments before, want to kill the Phantom, as well? Because I could’ve sworn he did, hence the plastic wrap and theatrics.
He must not have wanted it too badly, calling in an anonymous tip just as Harry had suggested he do in the first place. Did I mention the writers took that opportunity to trick viewers into feeling suspense, making them think Deb and the rest of Miami Metro had somehow arrived there on their own and that Dexter was at risk of being caught?
But I should’ve known better, since nobody ever gets caught doing anything on this show. They may often tease it, but it actually happening is quite the rarity. Look at this episode’s Detective Quinn misadventure. He dumbly shoots and kills George, then the writers gift him something like a minute, enough time for Nadia to wrestle with whether or not to do as Quinn says, before Batista barges in.
It’s a joke at this point how easily people in the Dexter universe avoid getting caught, as well as suspicion altogether. Likewise, it’s hilarious how easy everything unravels for those same people when someone actually puts a modicum of effort into their investigation.
Continue reading on the next page…Next
People fall through the cracks in real life too, but that’s because the justice system isn’t perfect, not because it act as if it should be defined as legally retarded. Seasons ago, Dexter managed to get the entire police department to himself by pulling a fire alarm and nobody even bothered to check a single security camera afterwards. This season, Batista finds something suggesting Quinn might’ve stolen evidence, evidence from a high-profile case no less, yet he essentially tells Quinn he knew it wasn’t him and was just covering his bases.
Need I mention that this was the same Batista who, earlier in the season, was the only one who noticed there was something off about the bartender’s suicide? Or who, in this episode, was slow to accept Quinn’s story about what happened at the club?
The show is criminally (pun intended) lacking in two areas: intelligence and consistency. Basically, the capabilities of its characters are dependent entirely upon the whims of the writers, Batista serving as a perfect example. For the most part, they’re made to play dumb. Then, when the tension needs ratcheted up, they become almost super-human as far as their deductive abilities are concerned.
Moreover, each week, at least in terms of these last couple seasons, there’s a moment or two that comes completely out of nowhere and seems out of touch with everything that came before. This week it was Hannah’s father calling in that tip despite the fact that he was letting Dexter mull it over some more.
The writers wanted to give Deb another shot at Hannah, but they also wanted to kill her father (an inevitability from the moment he entered the picture), and this gives them the best of both worlds. Who cares if it doesn’t make the most sense? Not the writers, obviously.
At this point, though, I’m not sure what the writers really do care about. Lately, whenever they actually hit on a compelling storyline it becomes mired in useless bull (ex. the love angle with Dexter and Deb), is over too soon (ex. Isaak, the Phantom), or gets ignored for weeks at a time (ex. LaGuerta’s BHB investigation).
As a result of both this, and the aforementioned deficiencies in intelligence and consistency, the show has no discernible direction anymore. Prior seasons always had a clear end game they were building to. This one, however, has had a bit of an identity crisis.
First the focus is on Dexter and Deb’s now strained relationship. Then that took a backseat to the threat of Isaak. Next Hannah took all of the show’s attention and Deb was relegated to being jealous that she was boning the brother she wishes was her lover. Following that, it was the Phantom taking center stage, but his fifteen minutes lasted all of, well, about fifteen minutes.
Now we’re onto LaGuerta’s investigation into the Bay Harbor Butcher, which some viewers might have forgotten was even a thing thanks to the writers ignoring it for the vast majority of the season. It looks to close out the season, along with this love-triangle stupidity between Dexter, Deb, and Hannah. Who would’ve predicted that at the start of the season?
Can unpredictability be a good thing? Certainly. But there needs to be some semblance of order to the goings on, and in the case of Dexter there isn’t. Not anymore. I almost wish there was a way in which the writers could simply reboot the show, forgetting everything that happened the past two seasons, and have Dexter go on to be The Dark Defender for real, the series ending with him getting a real-life version of that parade he daydreamed about seasons ago.
I imagine most would scoff at that, but I think of it as preferable to whatever clusterfuck of a conclusion these writers must have in store for us. To me, Dexter has been dead-on-arrival for some time now as much as it pains me, a long-time follower and lover of the show, to admit. They’re just defiling its corpse now, so I’m glad there’s only one season’s worth of episodes left for them to do that with.
Bits and Bobs:
- “We have a Phantom to catch.” Did the writers really not notice how ridiculous that sounded? What is he, a comic-book villain. Further, the witnesses and their comments about him being an alien or a monster, and seven feet tall, were equally ridiculous.
- He told some lady that his daughter’s “anise” smells delicious? I’m sure it smells a lot better than that joke. The same goes for the other one about Dexter and Hannah being the cutest couple her dad’s ever seen outside of him and Bubba in prison. The daddy drama was bad enough, but the humor was somehow even worse.