When I asked our forum posters to forecast what episode of "Dexter" Showtime will submit to the Emmy judging panel if, like last year, it lands in the top 10 run-off for best drama series, MissyGal predicted, "It's Alive!" Buffy Mars cited "Resistance Is Futile."
However, our forums moderator Robert "Rob L" Licuria nailed it right when he said, "Let's pray that 'The Dark Defender' is used as the series submission. For me it's really the standout episode of the season and it would serve as a perfect submission for Michael C. Hall."
Well, Rob's wrong about the latter turning out to be Hall's eppy for best actor, but I'll file a separate blog post about all that later. For now let's just explore "Defender."
The episode is such a standout because it explains why sweet-smiling, well-mannered Hall hacks up people with a butcher knife when no one is spying.
If you watch the show you know that, well, Dexter's not really the bad kind of murderer. Hey, he only goes after other killers because he wants to dispense awful justice and clean up the world. The reason: he was traumatized by witnessing his mom's murder when he was a small boy.
In "Defender," Dexter — a forensics expert in Miami — sees a poster of a creepy, hooded character labeled "The Dark Defender" on a wall when he visits a murder scene. He learns that the victim was planning to write a graphic novel based on this character, who is "a stalker of the night — his blade of vengeance turns wrong into right!" Hmmmm . . . anybody we know?
Next scene: Dexter travels back in time and imagines the scene of his mom's slaughter when she's cornered inside a semi-truck by three men wielding a chain saw.
Suddenly, behind them appears the Dark Defender, who kicks the thugs' butts, pulls back his hood, reveals himself to be a grown-up Dexter. He says to the frightened, young woman, "It's OK, mom. You're safe."
Flash forward back to real time today: Dexter learns the identity of one of his mother's killers and finds out that he runs a bar nearby. He goes to the tavern to confront the man, but not to kill him. Dexter merely wants to inform the man how he ruined his life.
SPOILERS ALERT — WIMPS SHOULD STOP READING HERE IF THEY DON'T WANT TO LEARN MORE!
After the bar's closing time, Dexter confronts the man: "This is going to be awkward, but I need to tell you how I feel. You stole my life. I'm not the person I'm supposed to be because you took someone from me."
Not understanding what the heck Dexter means, the man threatens him with a baseball bat, ordering Dexter to leave. Dumb thing to do to a serial killer, eh? Dexter pounces.
As Dexter beats the bloody bejesus out of the ole thug, Dexter cries — and I mean cries — "You turned me into exactly who I am! Did you have to saw her into little pieces? Did you have to leave two little boys soaking in a pool of their mother's blood?"
The man confesses to the murder and why he did it — something about her stealing his boss' drugs and snitching to a cop who she was dating.
Dexter roars: "You slaughtered her like an animal because she stole his precious cocaine?!"
Dexter grabs a knife and wields it over the man, juggling his two choices. Should he avenge his mother's blood with this new blood? Will it calm the dark demons inside him at last? Or should he let the man live? Maybe that is the only way for him to transcend the mad, bloody realm that always haunts him?
EPISODE STRENGTHS: If you're a regular viewer of 'Dexter,' this episode is a real knockout. Devastating. Finally, we see up close why Dexter is so screwed up and we want to comfort him. That's good. Emmys are really just hugs, you know. Also, the dialog in this episode's tavern scene is powerful.
EPISODE NEGATIVES: If Emmy judges aren't regular viewers, this whole Dark Defender bit might look pretty corny, especially when Dexter's dressed in a floor-length leather frock. You know how sci-fi/fantasy elements can hurt something's chances for Emmys and Oscars. The first 35 minutes of this episode drags. Voters might get bored and zone out the rest.
Click on the "Comments" link below and tell us what you think of this episode choice for Emmy's best-drama race. Check out the reax of our forum posters to this episode choice — CLICK HERE!