Every week in Slate’s Dexter TV club, Katy Waldman will have an IM conversation with a different Dexter fan. This week, she rehashes episode 7.7 with Jeffrey Bloomer, SlateV‘s blogger and editor.
Katy Waldman: Forget opening pleasantries. Let’s please start with Hannah gazing significantly at Dexter while saying that sometimes life adds as well as subtracts. Is she pregnant? With Dexter’s kid?
Jeffrey Bloomer: That would certainly complicate things! Though it would be awfully quick, no? Their sweaty killer's-table love nest only went down what seems like a few days before.
Waldman: Yes, you’re right. I’ll calm down. But I do think the show is doing something strange and sort of mythological with Hannah, as a fertility/harvest goddess figure, a giver and taker of life. The bright-haired lady of the garden. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dexter continued to use her to explore “cycle of life” themes.
Bloomer: There's certainly something ethereal about her. I found it ironic that, in an episode called "Chemistry" and featuring some of the most exuberant sex of the entire series, the flames between Dexter and Hannah seem to be pretty extinguished. It was much hotter when they were just doing the tactical sparring!
Waldman: You think their relationship is cooling off?
Bloomer: The relationship is definitely escalating, but suddenly during this episode I found their back-and-forth to be a little... awkward. I remember the first meeting when Dexter had to take a mouth swab, and the energy there was palpable. When they became a hot and bothered pile of limbs, it wasn't doing it for me anymore.
Dexter went out of his way to say Hannah is unlike any of the women he has ever been with before—Rita, Lumen, Lila—but I don't see any evidence that he won't dispatch her when the time comes.
Waldman: Unless she gets him first! Dexter says Hannah is different from the other ladies because she "accepts" his darkness, rather than being drawn to it or oblivious to it. (That acceptance ideal is what Dexter is working toward with Deb too, right?) But maybe he’s mistaken and the difference is much simpler. No other woman has had the upper hand with Dexter in the way Hannah does. We saw a visual reminder of that in the first scene, with Dexter naked on his own kill table and Hannah holding the knife.
Bloomer: That's true. Dexter is more vulnerable than ever before, on multiple levels—that's the engine of this season. But with Hannah, I can't shake the sense that she is but another provocation thrown his way to illustrate the larger arc at hand. She is certainly a formidable killer in her own right, and I like the way Yvonne Strahovski is playing her, but I'm not convinced she's a permanent fixture in Dexter's world.
Waldman: Right. Not if Deb—the other woman with power over Dexter—has her way. What did you make of the final scene, in which she orders Dexter to kill Hannah?
Bloomer: Deb has come full circle. That's the natural progression of her time with Dexter—she has an intense, almost primal need to put killers away, and she's finally come around to the nuclear option. How weird was it that she told the crime writer her favorite music is the sound of jail bars clanking!?
Waldman: That was nuts! I took it as a clue to how impoverished her life is outside of work, and how badly she needs Sal. His name means "salt" in Latin: He's the spice or flavoring she needs to add to her life. I thought their relationship would last for more than a few episodes, that he’d change her, or at least help counteract her obsession with Dexter’s dark passenger and bring her back into the world of the normals. Oh well.
Bloomer: Yes, goodbye Sal. Dexter is not shy this season about getting rid of catalyst supporting characters when the time comes. It was nice to have a crime writer appear in a series that has become increasingly novelistic in tone and temperament.
Waldman: Interesting! Say more?
Bloomer: I think the texture has changed this season, with more pulp pumping through the show's veins. There are so many moving parts, so much idle menace between Hannah and Isaac and Deb's newfound bloodlust. To me, even though it's obviously outlandish, the series was once more emotionally grounded—Dexter's relationship with Rita, the raw power of grief with Lumen. Deb's discovery at the end of last season seems to have permanently changed that, leading Dexter into looser, wilder, more fantastical territory.
And to be clear, I think the new direction has been fascinating! The show needed a new charge. But the stakes for Dexter, Deb and the old gang do seem less personal now for me. I'm convinced more of them will check out by the end of the season. LaGuerta? Joey? I see targets on their heads.
Waldman: Oh, Joey for sure. When Nadia asked him, "Joey, what did you do?" I flashed back to dog training scenes from childhood. Does he have a plan? Does he realize he has no leverage to help his girlfriend? I’m so scared that his generous gesture to Batista--giving him a check for $10,000--is meant to make him look especially sympathetic right before he exits the stage.
Bloomer: I thought the move was a touch selfish: a way to speed up Batista's retirement and quash questions about why he was in the evidence locker. Of course I have a soft spot for Joey—he's such a loveable doofus—but I think as a character, his time is now. But what will happen to LaGuerta? I find this subplot to be a little contrived, but it is forging ahead to the inevitable confrontation with Dexter.
Waldman My secret suspicion about LaGuerta is that Hannah, who is showing protective instincts towards Dexter, will step in to shield him by poisoning her. And Dexter, who still lives by the code, will be even more torn over whether to kill a repeat offender—but one who murdered in order to cover HIS tracks.
Bloomer: That's a good working theory. I definitely think you're right that all these parallel stories are going to become a big, messy pileup by the end of the season.
Waldman: The sheer number of story lines this season has become a theme on the Dexter TV Club! Do you think it's, ahem, overkill?
Bloomer: Yes and no. I think they benefit the series in the sense that it's discovering so much new ground, but at the same time, we've talked about any number of menacing scenarios for Dexter and we haven't even mentioned Isaac! Who wants to do really, really bad things to Dexter! He seems to be a physical foil to Hannah's psychological threat this season.
Waldman: He may also be a foil for Dexter himself. Dex is never more creepy than in his bone-chilling alpha male conversations with Isaac ("I'm the kind [of animal] who hunted Victor down, strapped him to a table, and bashed in his skull with a fire extinguisher. Which is what I'm going to do to you, give or take the fire extinguisher.") It's odd that one murderer, Hannah, showcases Dexter's tender, comparatively less bloody side (Dex is the one insisting Sal doesn't need to die), and a second killer brings out the nightmare slasher in him.
Bloomer: Yes. Maybe there's more harmony in this hot mess of a season than we're giving it credit for.
Waldman: Here's a question. Do you LIKE Hannah? Are we supposed to? The touch about her killing her husband because he wanted her to get an abortion seemed like a (cartoonish) effort to stir up sympathy for her.
Bloomer: I have to agree. I'm intrigued by the effect she has on Dexter, but like I said before, she has yet to register as a distinct character to me. The only real dimension she has—the tension between her persona as an unwitting victim and a ruthless killer—is pretty much settled now. We know she's like Dexter, if a little more grounded—she kills because of her extreme take on survival of the fittest, not necessarily because she needs it. The writers haven't shown sincere interest in her outside of her relationship with Dexter.
And that brings us back to your first question! Is Dexter the guy to bring her dreams of a family to life? What a delightfully warped little blond child they would produce.
Waldman: Horrifying! One last question. Do you think the show is playing with the concept of unreliable physical evidence at all? There are so many silent crime scenes in this episode: The Colombian bar where the homicide team can't recover any evidence, the desiccated skeleton of Jake, Hannah's husband, Sal's negative tox screen. Plus the imaginary crime scene Dexter plans to create with Sal Price's DNA. I'm not sure what any of this means, thematically, but it did strike me that physical evidence was failing the show's characters in a major way this episode—or at least, failing the truth.
Bloomer: Fun observation! The police department does seem like a uniquely ineffectual place this season. When's the last time Miami Metro actually put away a killer for good?
Waldman: Yeah. They should all go buy restaurants like Batista.
Monday: What other writers and Slate commenters thought about Episode 7.