Editor’s note: Big apologies to Tony this week for running his column so late. A combination of the holiday season and savage, violent illness had me on the ropes for most of the week. Tony is nothing short of prompt with his columns excluding the previous installment when he was out due to, you know, his wife having a baby. So everyone take a second and congratulate Tony and the fam on the new addition.
TVEYE is back this week, with a Dexter Morgan, Rick Grimes, Olivia Dunham threesome, and a towel thrown at the most uneventful Aliens on TV.
DEXTER (Ep. 57 “Teenage Wasteland”) You want a review/recap of this week’s Dexter? TAKE IT! You want answers to your questions and more questions to go with your answers? TAKE IT! I missed reviewing last week’s fantastic episode (“Take It”), so I have to compensate this week with some random shout outs of the TAKE IT motto. This week, Dexter took the motto to heart, turning the tables and taking something from the “TAKE IT” man himself, Jordan Chase. Turns out Mr. Chase, the perpetrator of this whole Lumen, young woman rape and murder scheme wears a trophy around his neck, a small vile of blood, a keepsake perhaps? A dangling necklace of blood in Dexter’s presence is akin to waving a Breaking Bad DVD in front of a meth addict. Of course, the blood-addicted expert feels the need to TAKE IT, and extracts a bit. Jordan Chase finds out, and, well, the chase is on (so sorry). This week also marked the return of Astor, who delivered her defiant preteen angst to a surprisingly “cool dad” Dexter. With a friend in tow, she showed up at her old house, looking to throw back a few on the down low (shouldn’t she be at home listening to Bieber?). This of course led to the obligatory Lumen encounter, and forced Dexter to open up more than he ever has to the unofficial daughter he obviously cares deeply for. Dexter unleashed some angst of his own on the stepfather of Astor’s friend, an abusive prick who gets his ass handed to him by a serial killer. I guess you could say he’s lucky? This visceral moment of care even led Harry to show up and tell Dexter he now thinks of him as “more than a monster.” Gee, thanks Dad! The rest of the episode saw some more selfish posturing by La Guerta, who seemingly alienates everyone she comes in contact with. All the while, the best cop on the force, Deb, was sent to the file room on an undeserved suspension. Deb pulls the files of the barrel girl case, and the episode takes a nauseating spiral into the squirm-inducing tension Dexter (the series) excels at. Deb finds out about Lumen, everyone discovers Dexter’s interest in Jordan Chase, Liddy (Peter Weller) and Quinn have pictures of Dex and Lumen dumping a body, and Chase calls Lumen to warn her and Dexter to watch out. The nail-biting tension as the season reaches closer to its climax is so close I could reach out and…TAKE IT! I predicted in my Fall preview that Deb would find out the true nature of her brother by seasons end. Looks like I might be right. I love when Dexter seasons get to this point! Excited for next week?
THE WALKING DEAD (Ep. 4 “Vatos”) Merle’s got a sawed off hand. Sounds like the title of a Primus song, but it’s actually a descriptor for the closing of last weeks Walking Dead. This week, Merle was back with a vengeance. Or, at least I think he might have been. In the first episode penned by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, “Vatos” proved to be a tense exercise in the psychology of survival. Vatos is Spanish OG (old-gangster for those old fogies who don’t know) for dude. It just so happens that a gang of (literal) OG’s are slumming it up in the zombie infested ATL, and they don’t like people treading on their turf, dead or alive. Darryl, Glenn, T-Dog, and Rick stumble across the group in a brief skirmish during which the Vatos’ kidnap Glenn. Rick and co want to find Merle and reclaim their lost guns and tools, and now, they have to rumble with bangers as well. The OG’s want the guns too, hence the kidnapping. A series of tense encounters followed, which led to the amusing revelation that the OG’s are actually a group of male nurses and custodians, held up in a Nursing Home where they care for the elderly zombie apocalypse survivors who would have otherwise been helpless without them. This was all new action, with new characters written solely for the show. Kirkman must have had fun reinventing some of his characters around the details Darabont has pounded into the Walking Dead story. The most familiar action took place back at the survivor’s camp. Here, survivor Jim scares the others by manically digging a series of graves on the outskirts of camp. He dreamt of death. The opening scene involves sisters Amy and Andrea fishing near the camp, having an in depth discussion about their father. While it was well acted and written, the scene made it a bit too obvious that one of the sisters would be zombie bait by episodes end. We’ve come to recognize that overlong emotional scenes at the start of horror films mean that someone’s going to die. Writers want us to feel bad, but using one episode to introduce the character just doesn’t create that emotional tie with the audience that they were hoping for. And sure enough, Amy dies at the end of the episode. Gripe aside, the zombie attack was quite compelling. There were a ton of great zombies here, and all nicely consistent. The big question of the episode is how did they find the camp? Rick and co never found Merle, and eventually lost their van. Could Merle have taken a vanload of zombies back to camp as a form of vengeance? In the books, the zombies just find the camp by coincidence. Merle doesn’t even exist in the books. Yet here is this huge opportunity to create the slimiest of villains, a man so cold and vengeful that he would carelessly unleash a zombie horde on a camp where children sleep. Compelling indeed! So what do you think? Did Merle deliver the zombies?
FRINGE (Ep. 50 “The Abducted”) This week it was announced that FOX, Fringe’s television home, will be moving the show to Friday’s to make room for American Idol. To this I say, WTFF? WHAT THE F**K FOX? Friday timeslots are the kiss of death for network television. In an alternate universe, this would never happen. SEGWAY! In the alternate universe, Olivia is now fully aware of her situation. She has been lied to, tested on, and abducted. She keeps up appearances while plotting her escape, but how does one escape from one alternate universe to another? She’s successfully crossed over in Walternate’s sensory deprivation tests, but that was only momentary. Luckily, Olivia is resourceful, and tracks down the one person who has helped her in her alternate universe prison, Henry the cabbie. Her plan; pull a reverse Alcatraz and swim to Liberty Island, home of the DOD. Throughout the episode, her own escape preparations continuously take a backseat to the ongoing Fringe case she’s working. Any other case she would have likely ignored, but this one involved abducted children, with whom she felt an obvious kinship. A case of the abducted helping the abducted. Throughout the case she manages to help alternate Broyles’ son, who was also once abducted by the same kidnapper they are investigating. Finally, Olivia seems to have an ally on the other side with a higher clearance than a cab driver. The Broyles characters on both sides are fantastic, so cold and calculated, and absent of much definable difference. Olivia finally succeeded with her plan, but you can only go so far in injecting yourself with hallucinogens and sinking into a scientific dunk tank. She gets captured, but not before crossing over and getting a brief message to a Statue of Liberty cleaning lady. Anna Torv is phenomenal as Olivia Dunham, and her performances (two different Olivia’s) this season have been spot on and true to the characters. The desperation of her attempt resounded with such tension and hope that I too felt like I was crossing over with her. The episode ends in the prime universe, Peter awoken by a phone call from a freaked out cleaning lady. Olivia is on the other side. Now the season’s REAL drama will begin. This show is so ripe with amazing acting, stellar sci-fi, and compelling stories. Never is there a dull moment, and nowhere on TV right now is there more refined production value. Each season gets better and better. If you don’t watch Fringe, I implore you to check it out. You won’t be sorry.
THE EVENT (Ep. 8 “For the Good of Our Country”) I do believe this will be the last week I watch THE UNEVENTFUL. Grandiose promises of a perpetual mystery series that would be heavy in sci-fi, and succeed where Lost may have failed, were all for naught. This show has actually turned into a less appealing version of 24. I really liked 24; it was a great action show full of conspiracy and interesting archetypal characters. The Event has loads of conspiracy, and so little action. And where the HELL is the Sci-Fi? Political scandals, reluctant heroes on the run, predictable acts and over-dramatic acting are clogging up my DVR. Why do I bother? And now, NBC is going to stop the underperforming show from airing again until Spring. They hope a relaunch of the show will breath new life into it. How about writing some good TV? That might revitalize it. What’s that? Oh, The Apprentice and The Biggest Loser are on? Oh, right then, you’re too busy with shit to put good TV back on your network. How’s that working out for you NBC?
Next week, More Dexter, Walking Dead, and back to the AC with Boardwalk Empire. Enjoy your Turkey’s!