Friday, December 9, 2011

OK, let's try this again!

As you might have noticed I have, once again, become massively negligent in my blogging. Fear not -- it's not that I love you any less or that my opinions on the TV landscape have become less fiery or strong. It's just that, well, I have a house now. And houses are kind of like kids -- they demand a lot of attention, and a lot of time, and, apparently, cleaning them is more important than writing about "Boardwalk Empire" (yes, even "Boardwalk Empire" episodes that include incest, murder and desperate flights from town -- all in the last 20 minutes).
But I've worked too hard on this blog to let it totally die, so I'm going to ease my way back into this, writing a blog column (blolumn?) once a week on Fridays. It might be more frequent once I get into a groove, but, for now, this is it.
So, this week, I'm going to do a bit of unpacking on this "Sons of Anarchy" finale and write about my massive disappointment with this season of "Dexter."
Spoilers below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

"Sons of Anarchy" -- the Machete in the Machine
I can't be the only one who was a bit let down by the "Sons of Anarchy" finale that aired on Tuesday. After a heady, violent season during which everyone from Clay to Juice seemed headed for disaster, the twist about Romeo (Danny Trejo) being CIA kind of short-circuited the drama. Look, I get that there are at least three more seasons of this show left (as long as creator Kurt Sutter gets his way -- and given the show's popularity, that's a big possibility) and they couldn't really send Jax to Portland. And yes, marginalizing Clay is a creative way to neutralize a character who has become unrelentingly, cartoonishly evil without killing him.
But it just wasn't as powerful as the rest of the season and there were some big gaps in credibility.

First, though the Romeo twist played somewhat fair (in that nothing we learned about him in the finale directly contradicted anything he'd done in the episodes preceding), it did feel out of left field. True -- my husband (who doesn't even watch the show) called it the minute he saw that Danny Trejo was playing Romeo. "He must be undercover," Mr. I Screen opined. "Machete would NEVER work for the cartel!" Still, it seemed a little easy, and a little false, that he comes clean just in time to ruin not only Jax's plans, but Lincoln Potter's as well. Also, the reveal's fallout -- Juice is no longer beholden to the feds; Clay doesn't die -- undoes a lot of the events of the season.

Even more than the Romeo twist, I totally didn't buy that the Irish deal hinged so much on Clay's survival. You're telling me that Jax -- particularly with the help of his powerful new CIA buddies -- couldn't persuade the Irish to do business with anyone but Clay? That seems a little weak and convenient.

However, there were some things I did like about the finale. For instance, Lincoln Potter carting the sex toys into the meeting on Charming Heights was pretty priceless. In fact, Potter (and Ray McKinnon's performance as him) was one of the best things about the season. I liked that, though he could be manipulative, he was a lot more complicated and decent than that sociopath June Stahl. And his quirky weirdness was a nice counter to the intense, oft-humorless SAMCRO bunch. Also, Tara's transformation into Gemma 2.0 was pretty convincing, and finally gave Maggie Siff some really strong material to play. The cut from Tara and Jax to the old picture of Gemma and JT was a little heavy-handed, but it was still powerful and effective.

Overall, season four was stronger than season three, though I wish the last episode paid it off a little better. Thoughts?

Why this is probably the last season of "Dexter" I'll watch
And now, some quick thoughts on Showtime's "Dexter." When the show first debuted several years ago, "Dexter" seemed like a strong addition to Showtime's stable. It had a main character who wasn't just complicated but openly homicidal, which was something you seldom see. It was suspenseful and well-acted and a pleasure to watch. However, I wondered how long the concept could sustain itself. Well, now I know. Though some past "Dexter" seasons have had weak moments, this is the first season that I've actually found painful to watch. The Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks characters seem like something out of a bad horror film (whereas most of the past villains -- particularly Trinity -- were more complicated and well-drawn). The twist with Hanks's character was particularly eye-rolly and I'm actually finding the show painful to watch. There are just two more episodes left, so I'll slog through the rest of the season, but I don't know if I'll be back.
What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You make it sound like this season is "bad" when it is actually still pretty darn good. Even a sub par season of Dexter is better than pretty much anything else on TV outside of Madmen or Game of Thrones.

And actually, when you get right down it it? It's still probably better.