This week’s episode of Dexter, “Buck the System” continues with Deb attempting to rehabilitate Dexter and cure him of his nasty murdering habit. Unfortunately, Dexter begins to lose it, has a few homicidal fantasies and ends up as twitchy as a meth addict. Still, like a trooper he manages to take care of his business with Louis, find himself a new kill target and deal with his sister at the same time.
Dexter, upon finding a nice juicy murderer to go after, decides to inform Deb about the various details of his hunt. He tries to explain to her how he knows the way killers think and that he can tell when they’re about to kill again. He also tries to convince her that if she lets him off of his leash, he can stop said killer from taking another victim. This leads to conflict between the two – Dexter desperately trying to make Deb understand his point of view and being somewhat successful in that regard, Deb seeking to hold on to her ideals and reconcile them with the reality her brother presents to her. The episode ends with Deb having a certain revelation about Dexter’s serial killer nature and its place in the world.
In the background, the Russian mafia subplot is still boiling, but not quite soup yet. Quinn is becoming more prominent in that line and the bad guys are getting closer and closer to finding out who killed their buddy. The Russian mafia boss, Isaac, gets more screen time and is starting to become a developed character with potential for the long term. And one particular character (I’m not going to say who) ends up dead. That’s two dead in three episodes. Not bad guys.
“Buck the System” takes a different pace from the previous episodes, working more with set-up for future arcs, steering the focus of the show away from the relationship aspect of Dexter and Deborah and getting back to some of the crime-drama themes. It also presents a nice look into Dexter’s head in light of his attempt to quit killing as well as showing the desire he has to make Deb understand where he’s coming from.
The highlight of the episode is that “understanding” theme. As Dexter reveals himself to Deb, he bridges the gap between them. Deb is beginning to have second thoughts about her brother’s situation and tendencies and Dexter finally has the chance to share his secret with someone that he’s close to. This connection is likely to become a major focus for the rest of the season and has the potential to set up some interesting (and potentially very dark) story arcs if the writers take advantage of it. It might even end up evolving to encompass the “Deb loves Dex” arc from season 6 that has still remained unaddressed.
So, the season is moving along nicely thus far. The pacing change keeps the show from degenerating to pure drama but maintains the focus on Dexter and Deborah. The background characters are, for the most part, hanging out in the background where they belong. The writers are starting to bring some of them back into the game, but as functional elements instead of dramatic ones. Hopefully, the writers can keep making each episode meaningful to the overall story and prevent it from taking on too much of a serial format. I’m still holding out that this will be the best season yet and so far I have not been disappointed.