Dexter Review: “Buck The System” (Season 7, Episode 3)

In weeks prior, commenters have made mention of what seems to be becoming a trend as of late on Dexter, that being the general messiness of Dexter’s actions. There appears to be little left of the calculating character who was so adept at evading anyone and everyone.

This could be partly chalked up to the situation he’s been thrust into, Deb having finally seen beneath that mask he puts on each day to fit in as one of the crowd. He’s on edge, as driven home by two wonderfully bloody dream sequences, including one in which he lashes out at poor Masuka, a character I, and many, hope lives a long and perverted life. Being under the watchful eye of Deb leaves him feeling caged, the last thing you want to do with a beast such as himself, as Dexter’s internal monologue points out.

Setting aside the fact that this seems in stark contrast to last week’s events where there seemed to be a glimpse of possible reform with Louis, it makes sense that he would be so like an addict gone into withdrawal, barely in control of himself and wanting nothing but to satisfy his craving, his blood lust.

Except the way it’s been handled makes it feel less like a natural extension of his current state of mind and more like a shortcut to ramping up the tension. Take the sequence pictured atop this page, for instance. Manufactured is the word that comes initially to mind when pondering the failed communications between Deb and Dexter. One would think, given his desperate desire to nudge Deb towards his way of thinking, that Dexter would’ve popped out of the mausoleum fast as he could the second his attempt to text her the proof of Speltzer’s guilt failed.

Yet he seemed to rather take his time in exiting said mausoleum and trying to get in contact with Deb. In that time, Deb was able to call him, leave him a voice mail, drive over to see what Speltzer’s up to, and then go to investigate when she sees something strange is going on. From what I could tell, all Dexter had to do was simply walk a couple steps and open the door, something which wouldn’t have taken nearly that long.

Following that, as nearly anyone could’ve predicted, Speltzer attempts to kill again and Dexter arrives just in time to save Deb from being added to Speltzer’s list of victims. Then again, as one could’ve guessed, this starts Deb down the path of coming to terms with Dexter’s dirty little habit. In the end, what should have been a huge moment for the show felt slightly telegraphed, robbing it, at least for me, of some of its impact.

Though, in that case, the perceived messiness was on the writers. Dexter wasn’t lacking in it either, as his efforts to rid Louis from his life go to show. While Louis was not the menace the build-up made viewers hopeful he was, he’d been shown to have a short fuse and a reluctance to give up when he set his sights on someone. And so, angering him by getting him fired and dumped in the same day didn’t seem like the best course of action.

In addition, it left me wondering once again why Dexter spared him last week in the first place. Was it merely a scare tactic, a kill he never planned on going through with from the start, like I suggested in last week’s review? Did he use it as a ploy to get some breathing space from Deb? Killing him might not have given Dexter the opportunity to convince Deb to relax her grip on him; however, it would’ve given him that release he wants and needs and made his maddeningly long trip to the post office unnecessary. On top of that, with Louis dead, things at the marina would’ve gone differently given the mob would’ve only found Dexter’s boat and would have had to work from there.

Now, Dexter isn’t psychic and couldn’t have been able to guess the series of events that would lead the Ukrainians right to him, but looking at them in hindsight gives me pause because, once more, I can see the hand of the writers at work. Having him, the mob, Deb, and LaGuerta all after Dexter in one way or another would’ve been overkill, and his storyline had stalled as of late, so they needed a way to kill him off.

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