Back Comments (2) Share:
Facebook Button
Reviewer Note: The series review part of this review is the same one that accompanied my original DVD review. For the new stuff cut to the video section.

Feature


Well I thought I was on to something there for a minute watching Dexter season one for the first time to prepare myself for this season two review. I admit Batman is on my mind a lot (probably an unhealthy amount of time), but the sheer volume of Batman to Dexter parallels are hard to ignore. Batman was permanently emotionally scarred after seeing his parents killed; Dexter was permanently emotionally scarred after seeing his mother killed. Batman has (in many instances of the character) based his moral code on the teachings of his father, just as Dexter does (his step father). Both characters are secret vigilantes that wear their humanity as a mask, and have trouble understanding the concept of ‘fitting in’. Both characters are detectives that work outside of the law to protect us from the worst criminals, and both have a distinct interest in not harming ‘innocents’.

Dexter: The Second Season
Imagine how stupid I felt when I did a quick Google search and discovered that these similarities were already widely acknowledged by Dexter’s fans. Then I started watching season two, and the fifth episode, titled The Dark Avenger, goes right out and makes the superhero comparisons bright as freaking day. Damn.

Like just about every superhero movie sequel, season two of Dexter starts with the hero losing his powers, finding temptation outside his moral code, and his secret identity is in danger of public revelation. The first episode features a cornucopia of calamity visited upon our heroic villain. Dexter’s still being shadowed by Detective Doakes, he finds himself unable to commit the terrible deed of murder physically and emotionally, his girlfriend’s ex has been killed in prison, his sister is suffering terrible emotional damage and compulsively exercising, and worst of all, his body stash has been uncovered. Things don’t get much better after that. Dexter’s past becomes even dirtier then it was before, the people around him start to fall apart, and, just like every second act ever, there’s another girl in his life.

Dexter: The Second Season
Season one featured a villain comparable to the Joker or the Riddler—a mirror into what the hero could become who liked playing games with the hero more than committing actual crimes. Season two features very different brands of villain—a whole bunch of really smart cops and feds, which I suppose would make Doakes Dexter’s Harvey Bullock. By setting up Dexter to be caught on the first episode everything everyone around him in the precinct says becomes suspicious. This puts us on edge, but has the unfortunate effect of becoming the entire season’s theme. Like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men, Dexter spends a lot of time covering up his secret identity, though interestingly enough Dexter is a cop show where the audience actively roots against the cops.

Very few serialized TV series can bring a smirk of satisfaction to my face with every cliff hanger ending. Usually I find them kind of cheap. For the most part I enjoyed everywhere the second season took me, with a few minor complaints about the lack of earth shattering surprises. Basically Dexter is taken to all the places second season heroes are always taken, but he’s taken there deftly, and though the surprises didn’t leave me shivering on the floor, they were as satisfying and addictive as fine food. I could do without the confused girlfriend stuff, but the writers take it to good places and it usually feels realistic (Dexter himself even acknowledges the silliness of a love triangle).

Dexter: The Second Season
There are three major characters introduced in this series of episodes, and two of them are welcome additions. Keith Carradine is always a plus, and Special Agent Lundy is a massively enjoyable antagonist, while Dexter’s would-be mother-in-law Gail (JoBeth William) is a loveably hateable antagonist. Lila (Jamie Murray) is another issue. I understand that I’m supposed to be suspicious of her, but I really wanted her to be the type of other woman I might go for in Dexter’s position. I like Rita, and despite her looks, I didn’t like Lila, and was exhausted by her every appearance from the beginning (meaning that the writers show their hand a little too soon). I was however, very happy with the way the character changed Dexter’s dynamics with his sister, and I appreciate where the character was taken by the last episode.

Overall I think I enjoyed season one a little bit more then season two, but it’s very close. Besides the on-going theme of covering up his lies, Dexter begins to deal with his murdering as an addiction, first as a cover up, but later with genuine progress. The wheels are spinning a bit, but there writers obviously had an overall season arc in mind from the beginning.

Dexter: The Second Season

Video


Season two is a virtual match to season one on both DVD and Blu-ray. Both DVD releases were grainy, noisy and full of digital blocking, and both Blu-ray releases mostly make up for all the most obvious problems. Dexter takes place in a bright, and almost overwhelmingly colourful Miami, Florida, which pushes the hi-def video to its limit in some areas. The outdoors are shot brightly and colourfully without pressing the saturation too far, while indoors are shot with a noir-ish control of light. Season two features a little more darkness than season one, and is shot through a little rougher of a prism. The colours are consistently clean, clear of blocking, and are ultimately much brighter than those of the DVD’s. Details are a bit more inconsistent than those of season one, thanks mostly to the rougher, darker, swamp scenes. Edge-enhancement is still a small problem, just like the season one Blu-ray.

Audio


Reviewer Note: I actually pretty much copied this from my season one Blu-ray review.

Dexter: The Second Season
Despite a few minor hisses the DVD releases did not disappoint in the realms of surround audio, so there wasn’t too much room for improvement on this Blu-ray re-release. The new Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is a step up in overall volume, depth, and all other things that come with a lack of compression. Dexter’s sound mix is quite theatrical, often playing with the dynamics between silence and noise. There’s plenty of fine details and hyper-realistic exclamation points to explore in the mix, but the basic blend of dialogue, music and effects isn’t forgotten either. Despite a special focus on the emotions expressed between actors without words, Dexter himself narrates his own adventures in a strange past and present tense, and with his audience in mind. In TrueHD Dexter’s voice booms over the rest of the track, but not in an overwhelming fashion, just loud enough to let us know it’s an important element. And like I said last time, Dexter has some great original music. Rolfe Kent’s opening theme, and Daniel Licht’s score have never sounded more eerily menacing, and the new track offers more warmth and spatial broadness than ever before.

Extras


Boy, if you thought the season two DVD release was disappointing in its extra content, just wait for the Blu-ray, which actually features nothing, save some web-links. Oh, I’m sorry, BD-Live links. No commentaries.

Dexter: The Second Season

Overall


I love the manipulative nature of Dexter. I love the fact that it really makes me root for the ‘villain’ when I should be upset for the situation his actions throw the ‘heroes’ into. Season two is a tiny step down overall from season one, but the last three or four episodes on this set are some of the finest dramatic television I’ve seen. I’ve looked into the plots of the later books in the series and hope to God that the producers keep the show on track and as far away from that material as possible. A serial killer killing serial killers isn’t an original idea, but this series has the wherewithal to explore the most interesting aspects of the idea with genuine grace and undeniable attraction. On Blu-ray season two looks much better, but sounds mostly the same, and doesn’t have any real extras.

* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.


Links: