Stars: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Velez, Desmond Harrington, C.S. Lee, David Zayas, James Remar, Aimee Garcia, Geoff Pierson, Edward James Olmos, Colin Hanks, Brea Grant, Mos, Yasim Bey
Writer: Lauren Gussis
Director: John Dahl
Network: Showtime, Sundays @ 9 PM
Release Date: October 23, 2011
The main premise of DEXTER is that its serial killer protagonist stalks and kills other murderers. However, in “A Horse of a Different Color,” Dexter’s (Michael C. Hall) investigation is strictly in line with that of his employer, the Miami Metro Police Department, as they look into homicides committed by a Biblical scholar (Edward James Olmos) and his disciple (Colin Hanks) who believe the End Times are upon us. Nothing wrong with changing things up a little for an episode or two, and there are a lot of good moments here. Still, the most striking images here are at the episode’s opening, as four horses of different colors are set loose on a Miami street, each animal bearing upon its back a mannequin accessorized with real human body parts. This is something of an analogy – it’s eye-catching and dramatic on top, but the horses moving things around are wandering with no clear direction.
Dexter brings young son Harrison to a picnic-cum-baptism session organized by Dexter’s new friend Brother Sam (Mos). Dexter still doesn’t buy the religion angle, but he at least believes that Brother Sam believes. When the tableau with the horses is reported, new lieutenant Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) heads up the investigative team that includes her brother Dexter, plus Quinn (Desmond Harrington), Batista (David Zayas), Masuka (C.S. Lee) and new-to-the-squad detective Mike Anderson (Yasim Bey). Dexter realizes there are two killers, due to the contrast between the meticulous staging by one and the blunt butchery of the body by the other. He is intrigued by their apparent sincerity of faith – and then he’s totally sidetracked when Harrison gets sick and requires an appendectomy. In the hospital, Dexter actually prays (in his way) and gets what seems to be an answer when Harrison pulls through.
In other news, Deb thinks she’s screwed up her first big press conference, but her bluntness endears her to the press and therefore to deputy chief Matthews (Geoff Pierson). Masuka discovers his adored new lab assistant Ryan (Brea Grant) has sold old evidence on eBay and has to fire her. The killers set up a SAW-like situation where a still-living victim is strung up in a greenhouse. One of the cops on the scene accidentally crosses a tripwire that causes the victim to be impaled as angel wings spread out behind her.
If this all sounds a little less dynamic than the usual DEXTER episode, that’s because it is. It’s interesting and even touching to see Dexter weeping without realizing it out of concern for his little boy and it’s hard to go wrong with Deb. However, our serial killers, with all due respect to the irreproachable work being done by Olmos and Hanks, are so far the most colorless arced villains we’ve seen on six seasons of DEXTER. The season is yet young, so we may yet get some wild plot twists and intensity out of this, but right now, we’re not seeing what makes these guys tick or even how they may tick off Dexter. Lip service is being given to Dexter’s curiosity about the sincerity of their beliefs, but it’s not as compelling as, say, what happened last week when Dexter dropped his box of blood slides.
The character stuff is a lot of fun and reason enough to watch the show, and there are great moments like Harry pointing out to Dexter when Dexter thinks that prayer makes no sense, “You already talk to one imaginary father figure.” But as far as the kind of intricate, suspenseful cat and mouse games we expect from DEXTER, this season feels like it hasn’t yet begun to play.
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Article: TV Review – DEXTER – Season 6 – “A Horse of a Different Color”