With such a light offering on the Tube last week, with Thanksgiving and all, I was thankful for Sunday’s offering of new WALKING DEAD, DEXTER, and BOARDWALK EMPIRE for me to feast upon. So to get you ready for this Sunday’s finale of Dead and Boardwalk, here is a review/recap of last weeks episodes along with a review of last weeks Dexter as well.
DEXTER (Ep. 58 “In the Beginning”) It was DIYM (Do It Yourself Murder) week on Dexter, as the Dark Passenger pulled over to pick up a hitchhiker on the road to the killing room. Where does this road lead? It’s clear that even Dexter is riding blind, unsure of who is even driving. It seems like he has shed some of his sociopath shell, and grown a new, more human skin in which he is still not entirely comfortable. As great as this new emotionally awakened Dexter is, it has unmistakably impaired the calculative nature which has for so long kept him safely blanketed in caution. So many times season to season, we’ve watched him barely squeeze by the prying detectives he works with daily. Always one step ahead of everyone else, he has thus far managed to remain an airtight enigma. But now, I see a Dexter so deep in lies, false pretenses, and veiled connections that he will undoubtedly unravel by seasons end. Deb, and the rest of Miami Homicide are becoming dangerously aware of the layers of the barrel girls case. As they comb thru each layer, they get closer and closer to discovering Lumen, and ultimately discovering Dexter’s connection as well. They know there is a 13th victim who has escaped the fate of Jordan Chase and company, and Deb thinks this 13th girl is engaging in vigilante homicide, slowly taking out each of the 5 rapists with her own hand. Deb’s right! What she doesn’t know, is that the 13th is being aided by her homicidal vigilante brother. Dexter’s association with Lumen has him backed into a corner, with Deb and Jordan Chase both trying to close in. Who poses more of a threat? Jordan Chase, the proponent of the TAKE IT mantra prefers to manipulate others into taking things for him. Using Deb and Miami Homicide, Jordan’s attempts to have Dexter caught during a kill come up empty. Deb on the other hand seems to believe in what the vigilante is doing. There is no doubt in my mind that if, or should I say, when she finds out the truth about Dexter (albeit watered down), she will back him up. The real threat in Dexter’s world is Libby, Peter Weller’s hard-boiled jackass role as the sleaziest of selfish cops. Libby has taken on surveillance of Dexter as a pet project to save his job. With photos of Dex and Lumen dumping garbage bags into the bay at night, and video of their knife plunging practice kill, Libby has quite the case. Surely Libby will suffer the same fate that Doakes did, teaching the detective world not to pry in matters of Dexter Morgan. Lumen was the one who did the killing this week, taking out the 5th rapist in the skillful dance of death taught to her by Dexter. He even gave her a gift of a matching pair of his black OJ kill gloves. That’s a sweet gift, lets just hope they fit. As interested as I am to see what comes of Lumen and Libby, I am FAR more curious to see if my season long prediction of Deb meeting Dexter’s Dark Passenger will come true.
THE WALKING DEAD (Ep. 5 “Wildfire”) “Wildfire” has solidified without question, Frank Darabont’s desire to take The Walking Dead into new, and unpredictable territory. Perhaps his desire is to give even the nay-saying comic reading purists something to look forward to. If this week’s episode doesn’t prove his intent, take the recent news that he’s fired his entire writing staff with plans of bringing a fresh group of freelancers onboard for next season. It would appear that he wants to keep the stories fresh and new. I’m surprised, but in a really good way. As much as I LOVE the comics, I really admire Darabonts commitment to telling the story in his own unique way. The ending of this week’s episode shocked and excited me because I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I like that. In the most emotional episode so far this season, Rick continued to reach out to Morgan, hoping to reconnect with my favorite character of the series so far. I hope we see Morgan again in next weeks season finale. The obvious tension between Rick and Shane grew to it’s most venomous as Shane was caught aiming his gun at Rick in the woods. Couple the twisted infatuation Shane has with Rick’s family with his increasingly violent departure from sanity, and you have the makings for something truly ugly in the works. There were plenty of good horror elements in “Wildfire,” including a pick axe to head mutilation and some more fly-infested street corpses, but the real gut-churner of the episode was the emotional impact of the growing desperation of the group. The pacing of Walking Dead is wonderful in that it really allows us to stay with situations beyond the action and fighting. It is here that we truly see the horrors of this zombie wasteland, and here where we really learn about the hearts still beating. I was a bit disappointed with last weeks handling of some of the characters, griping about the emotional interactions being a bit too forced. This week, it was almost like the writers heard my complaint and remedied it brilliantly. Survivor Jim, who was bit in the abdomen by a zombie in last weeks attack is slowly turning throughout this weeks episode. Darabont puts us right there with him every step of the turning process, his pain, suffering, and delirium forcing us to empathize with his agony. By the time Jim made the decision to be left to turn, alone and afraid, I was so infused with his pain that I too contemplated what I would have done in his situation. I think I’d rather be shot. In the end, the remaining survivors caravan to the headquarters of the CDC. A new character, Dr. Jenner (Noah Emmerich) appeared on a screen labeled “Wildfire,” giving a video report about failing tests and his frustrating solitude in a massive war room that looked 100% like the set of Dr. Strangelove. In a bulky bio-suit, the doctor conducted a series of tests on preserved brain tissue, accidentally spilling an acidic compound onto his suit. In the decontamination shower he watched in horror as all of his work went up in flames, a result of the decontamination process. Is this a cure that he is working on? What is project Wildfire? This is not where I expected the survivors to end up at the end of season one, but here they are, being let into Jenner’s CDC fortress at the pleading cries of their desire for survival. I’m curious to know what Walking Dead comic readers think about the path of the season, and where season 2 might take the story? Next week is the finale of this short 6-episode initial run, and I Can honestly say I have no idea what’s in store.
UPDATE: Producer Gale Anne Hurd refuted claims that Darabont fired his writing staff, instead claiming that some of the writers have decided to move on to other pilots they have in the works. Not sure I buy it.
BOARDWALK EMPIRE (Ep. 11 “Paris Green”) There is plenty of nepotism in Boardwalk Empire. Nucky Thompson reigns over Atlantic City like any ruling king would his empire. The difference between say, Henry VIII and Nucky however, is that Henrys kinship is bound in blood, while Nucky‘s is most certainly not. Never was this more apparent than during last weeks episode, when Nucky‘s father was introduced as a drunken, belligerent hermit, living amongst his cats and filth. This man is no king, and Nucky, no prince. The bonds and connections between Nucky and the men in the AC are anything but concrete, each man fending for themselves in this selfishly hedonistic playground of corruption. Nucky was placed into his position of power by the Commodore, and older man who was no doubt more of a positive father figure to Nucky than even his own father was. However, there is no blood tie between Nucky and the Commodore, and although 1920’s New Jersey is a far cry from the Tudor dynasty, blood still rules the ambitions of men (just look at Nucky‘s desire for a child). It turns out, Jimmy is actually the Commodore’s real son, and is entertained with the notion that “the wrong man is running” Atlantic City. Does this mean that Jimmy will make a run for power over Nucky? I’m sure this will progress slowly, but I doubt anything extreme will come out of it until at least the third season. Going back to bloodlines, I can’t help but to see the shame that Nucky obviously feels for his own. His father is no doubt a waste of life, but even his own brother, the appointed sheriff in Nucky’s pocket, is a stain on his aspirations. Firing his brother this week, Nucky makes note to compare him to Hardeen, the lesser accomplished brother in Harry Houdini’s shadow. The blood on the Boardwalk is boiling. Other pushes for control this week came from Prohibition Agent Van Alden, played by the ever creepy Michael Shannon. Killing his own partner in a ruthless masked in righteous baptism ceremony, Van Alden has officially crossed the threshold of imbalance, confusing judgment with religious entitlement. On the receiving end of the shoves, Margaret walks out on Nucky after coming to terms with the contradictions of their relationship. I haven’t covered this show for the last few weeks, and just wanted to make mention of how awesome I think the Tin Man character, Richard Harrow is. What a great character, a wounded WWI veteran sharpshooter employed by Jimmy to protect his and Nucky’s interests. The porcelain mask he wears to conceal half of his broken face is an obvious and fitting metaphor for this show full of men and their half truths and half alter-egos of sin, corruption, and foremost, self-interest. There’s plenty of nepotism at the surface, but don’t think for a second that nihilism isn’t the true dictator of the Boardwalk.
Next week, a review of the Boardwalk and Dead finales and more!