Dexter, “Take It”

Of course, I said I’d be checking in with Dexter on a weekly basis and then I followed that post up by not checking in with Dexter last week. Even more unfortunate is the fact that last week’s episode was a damn good one. Nevertheless, “Take It” is yet another strong effort as far as the Dexter and Lumen Revenge Plot 2010 arc goes, one that plays on a lot of familiar plot points, but executes them gloriously with a fervent pace and more solid acting from Hall and Stiles (I know, I can’t really get over it either).

The most interesting thing about the Dexter and Lumen relationship is how it’s helped change the series’ perspective on Dexter. After the drama with Doakes in season two, the series seemed less interested in portraying Dexter’s actions as generally awful, and instead transitioned into more of a celebration of his actions, painting him more as a complicated hero than a slightly redeemable killer. That’s fine, but then when the series randomly produces episodes like those few earlier in the season where it seemed like Dexter was a creepy-ass serial killer again, it’s kind of jarring.

But with Lumen involved and with her now knowing “everything” about Dexter — she knows his origins, has seen him kill in his true way — at least there is a reason for the series to look at Dexter as a more sympathetic character. I think he’s always been sympathetic, but mixing in another character who views Dexter as a true hero — because to Lumen, that’s exactly what he is — gives more credence to that perspective on the series’ lead character. While I still prefer a Dexter where there is a little more complication to the lead character, if the series is going to go this route with Dexter, having another character look at him in that is the best way to do it.

Moreover, Lumen’s place in the series and relationship with Dexter also helps solve one of the series’ other big problems: the secret keeping. I understand that she’s just one person and she’ll probably be killed before all is said and done, but it’s nice to have Dexter regularly interact with someone who knows everything about him and doesn’t use that as a bargaining chip or attempt to turn him into the police. Not only is it an interesting dynamic to pursue for the character himself, but it makes the series more enjoyable for viewers.

If you notice, with Lumen around, Dexter is much more sure of his actions and more confident that what he’s doing is the right thing — there’s that heroic validation again — and because of that, there’s less Harry. And although I love James Remar in the role, I felt like the Dark Passenger approach became a crutch in the last few seasons. As did the random instances of Dexter wanting to turn himself in, where he’d burn all the tools and figure out what to tell Deb. With Lumen around, there’s less of both of those things, and the series is ultimately better for it.

This has been discussed by me and others already, but I’ll mention it again: One of the best things about the Dexter-Lumen relationship is that it still could go anywhere. She’s obviously become something of a partner and protegé, but she’s in such a fragile state, that I wouldn’t be shocked to see her flip out at some point in the future, make a mistake and ultimately become something of a problem for Dexter. I don’t think that’s the real direction the season is going to go, nor do I think the series is totally sold on putting them together as a romantic pairing, but the fact that their relationship is so, kind of weird, and entrenched in such an odd space and sense of connection means it’s not exactly identifiable what the heck could/should happen here. There’s a great moment in “Take It” where Lumen suggests she might leave, and although Dexter thinks it might be best for her, the look on his face and tone of his voice suggests that he doesn’t really want to her to go. At this point, they’re more reliant on one another than Dexter thought possible just a few weeks ago.

Finally, on the positive side, I’ve really enjoyed how the season hasn’t let us or Dexter forget what happened to Rita. I didn’t necessarily expect the season to wipe the slate clean, but nearly everyone episode has spent some time trying to figure out where Dexter’s head at with Rita’s death, in a really honest moment with him on stage at Jordan Chase’s workshop. Doing that continuously reminds us why Dexter is so open to trust Lumen, since he thinks he can fix both her and himself with this partnership.

On the bad side, the stories with anyone but Dexter and Lumen are particularly insufferable this season and whatever it is that Peter Weller is doing spying on Dexter and Lumen, we know it’s going to end badly, so I just can’t waste my time thinking about where it’s going.

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