Dexter, Season 7

"Helter Skelter": Mourning, Praise, Consolation. 
Talking television.
Nov. 26 2012 1:59 PM

Dexter, Season 7

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The continued elegy for Isaak Sirko. 

C.S. Lee as Vince Masuka and Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in 'Dexter.'
C.S. Lee as Vince Masuka and Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in 'Dexter.'

Photo by Randy Tepper/Showtime.

Most elegies, or poems of mourning, reflect three stages of loss: grief and lament, celebration and idealization of the dead person, and finally the search for solace. In honor of Dexter nemesis, frenemy and spiritual mentor Isaak Sirko being iced last night, I’ll follow that format in presenting the critical response to episode 9, “Helter Skelter.”

Katy Waldman Katy Waldman

Katy Waldman is Slate’s words correspondent. 

Lament:

Alas! What happened to this episode? Like a bereaved’s eyes, it overflowed with logical inconsistencies and questionable narrative choices. And Slate commenters were, of course, all over them. Emarty asked why Isaak would bother brokering a peace with his lover’s killer when he could just avenge Viktor and flee Miami. After all, the two Kashka assassins who met their fate last night couldn’t be “the only hit men in the rolodex of the Ukrainian mob.” Probably better to check off the Dexter box on his to-do list and skip town. Emarty also noted that Isaak seemed in no hurry to die—he went on a leisurely boat ride to Viktor’s final resting place and managed to have a soulful chat with Dexter about expressing one’s feelings before succumbing to his injury—so why did everyone take it for granted that emergency surgery wouldn’t have helped? And as dj wrote, Dexter seemed pretty careless about making sure that Hannah was in fact safe while gallivanting around the Kashka steamship with Isaak. He didn’t place a single phone call to Yurg, even as the one man who could have authorized Hannah’s release lay dying in a pool of blood.

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As Richard and I discussed in our chat, Isaak grew into one of the great Dexter villains—a perfectly blended cocktail of smooth and complicated—and most reviewers were sad to see him go. (Not that some of them didn’t love watching him leave: “Ray Stevenson is so gorgeous,” sighed Zap2It’s Drusilla Moorehouse.) But almost as depressing as the fact of Isaak’s demise was the clunky, cheesy way in which it was accomplished. Alex Moaba at the Huffington Post called the ending “a strange and somewhat anti-climactic way for one of the better Dexter villains in awhile to go out.” And Rys, in his own recap, declared, “Isaak was destined to die, but he deserved a better, bolder sendoff.”

A final lament: How lame was Dexter’s response (“Likewise”) to Hannah’s heartfelt “I miss you”? I mostly find Dexter’s emotional illiteracy endearing, but that line made him ridiculous.

Celebration:

Let us praise Deb Morgan’s endlessly imaginative use of the word fuck, as in, “holy fillet of fuck” and “M and fucking Ms.”  

Let us praise Hannah McKay’s resourcefulness with garden tomatoes and pepper.

Let us praise the clever plot twist that had Deb coming to Hannah’s rescue, because any devices that bring these two women into the same frame make the show livelier, subtler and stranger.  

Solace:

Several reviewers predict that former police chief Tom Matthews’ return from early retirement will pay off in late-season plot twists, especially as LaGuerta closes in on the Bay Harbor Butcher.

Deb proved herself “a good cop and a good sister” this episode. And according to the eminently sane-and-balanced Dexter (I kid), she’s not even crazy! Perhaps most important, no matter how unceremoniously or gracelessly the show’s writers sloughed it off, the incest storyline does appear to be really, truly dead. In a dark moment for the series, that is no small comfort.    

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