Episode Title: "Those Kinds of Things"
Writer: Scott Buck
Director: John Dahl
Previously on "Dexter":
Dexter (Michael C. Hall) and his lover/potential apprentice Lumen Pierce (Julia Stiles) were nearly caught in the act of murdering Jordan Chase (Johnny Lee Miller) when Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) walked in on them. However, their faces were obscured and Debra let them go because she was aware of the severity of Chase's crimes against women and she understood their desire for revenge. Meanwhile, Detective Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington) faced potential murder charges after he stumbled into the blood of Stan Liddy (Peter Weller), a dirty cop whom Dexter killed when he threatened to expose him.
With Lumen's vengeance finally complete, she told Dexter that she couldn't go on killing anymore. Although Dexter was disappointed, he let Lumen go and began rebuilding his life with his infant son, Harrison.
In the opening moments, Dexter appears to have been fatally stabbed by one of his victims as he stumbles out of a warehouse. He calls 911 for help and then collapses. When two EMT techs arrive in an ambulance, Dexter quickly tranquilizes them both and reveals that he faked his injuries to get them close to him. Before he kills them in their own ambulance, Dexter makes sure that the men know that it is for their role in an organ harvest scheme. Dexter dumps the bodies in his usual way and returns home, where Harrison is being watched by Jamie Batista (Aimee Garcia), the younger sister of Sgt. Angel Batista (David Zayas).
Some time has passed since last season's finale and things are going well for Dexter. Debra accompanies him to an interview for Harrison's enrollment in a Catholic preschool. The faithless Dexter seems troubled by the religious overtones there and Debra is surprised to learn that her brother only believes in a code of rules designed to keep him out of trouble. Back on the police force, Captain Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez) has blackmailed her way to a promotion while the always creepy Vince Masuka (C.S. Lee) has a legion of potential interns trailing his every move.
Dexter tells Debra that he is excited about going to his high school's 20th reunion, but she thinks that he just wants to get laid. In reality, Dexter wants to catch up with Joe Walker (John Brotherton) and determine if he murdered his wife and former classmate, Janet. But Dexter's plans to get a blood sample to confirm his suspicions are foiled by his sudden popularity among his classmates. The next day, Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks) receives instructions from a man named Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos). As Gellar watches, Travis murders a fruit vendor. When Dexter, Debra and the rest are called in to investigate the scene, the man's body is missing but his intestines are left behind on the scale.
Back at the reunion, the apparition of Dexter's foster dad, Harry (Jeams Remar) urges Dexter to elbow Joe in the nose to get his blood sample. Soon enough, the body of Travis' victim shows up on the beach and when Dexter and company examine it, they find that seven newborn snakes have been left within the body as a twisted message. Dexter also has a bit of a crisis of faith regarding what he wants to pass on to Harrison. Although Dexter doesn't believe in anything, he decides to give Harrison the option of belief by enrolling him in the Catholic school. Dexter also gets a positive result from Joe's blood, confirming that he killed his wife.
On the last night of the reunion, Trisha Billings (Kristen Miller) intercepts Dexter and pulls him into a class room. Over Dexter's objections, Trisha performs oral sex on him. But to his surprise, she finishes him off quickly and he gets the chance to steal her phone. Posing as Trisha via text, Dexter lures Joe to a shed near the football field. However, when Dexter moves to tranquilize Joe, the bigger man is too fast and knocks the syringe out of his hands. Dexter is forced to choke out Joe, but he eventually gets Joe on the table. Dexter delays finishing off Joe to learn that he killed Janet to avoid a costly divorce.
When Joe begins speaking about how his faith in Jesus will protect him, Dexter seems alternately intrigued by his faith and annoyed by his increasingly delusional ranting. Dexter finally clocks the man with a hammer and delivers the final blow. At a restaurant with Debra, Quinn tries to work up the courage to propose to her. While he goes to the bathroom to compose himself, a gunman enters and begins shooting up the restaurant. Debra takes out the shooter before Quinn can come out and make a difference himself. And a bystander appears to have filmed Debra's heroics; which is a video that is sure to go viral.
"Those Kinds of Things" had a much lighter tone than most of the episodes in the fifth season of "Dexter." Much like the man himself, "Dexter" is past the mourning of Rita's death and ready to smile again. And several of the gags were very funny, including the reoccurring references to "Hammer Time" and Dexter's subsequent use of a hammer on Joe. The entire high school reunion was oddly brilliant as Dexter's usual tricks don't work when people notice him. Joe's fist bump was also a classic way to thwart Dexter's attempt to get a blood sample.
The promo materials for this season suggest that Dexter is going to find religion, or at least explore his issues of faith. This episode began moving down that road by reestablishing that Dexter has no faith in anything. And he was being unusually honest with Debra when he said that he only lives by a code designed to keep him out of trouble. Dexter may be soulless, but he has enough of a heart to want to spare his son the same path of violence that he took. It's an intriguing idea that the hole in Dexter's soul could be filled if he really does discover a more spiritual side. But that would mean the end of the series, so don't hold your breath for that one.
I'm not sold on Professor Gellar and Travis as the new main villains for this season. Their introduction didn't really seem organic to Dexter's storyline and without letting the audience understand why they killed the fruit vendor, they are in danger of coming off as almost cartoonishly evil villains. Again, the issue of faith and religion is bound to come up during this storyline as well. But so far, neither of these characters are very compelling. In fact, I'm not convinced that Gellar isn't a hallucination that Travis is having.
As for the supporting cast, I had to role my eyes when it was revealed that LaGuerta blackmailed her superior to get a promotion. That character is so useless on the show that her scenes seem to kill any momentum an episode has until the focus jumps away from her. I've also come to realize that Masuka is the Charlie Runkle of "Dexter." In other words, he's the annoying guy who can't shut up and stop talking about his sexual desires. Both characters are annoying and hard to watch.
Overall, this episode gave us most of what we wanted: Dexter cracking jokes and killing people. There's still a solid premise carrying this series, but it remains to be seen how long the writers can keep making it work without going over ground that they've repeatedly covered in previous seasons.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.