Illustrating The Difference Between the Inspired, Intelligent Writing of "Breaking Bad" and the Boneheaded, Moronic Writing of "Dexter"
Spoilers for This Week’s “Breaking Bad” and “Dexter” Below
There was something of a minor, though somewhat unnecessary controversy in this weekend’s “Breaking Bad” over Jesse Pinkman’s epiphany near the end of the episode when he mentally makes the connection between Huell lifting his pot in this episode, and Huell lifting the Ricin cigarette in the fourth season. Some people were somewhat confused as to how he made that connection, and the always helpful Internet came to the rescue yesterday with several pieces explaining exactly how Pinkman drew the conclusion, including Margaret Lyon’s post over on Vulture, and Alan Sepinwall’s recap on Hitflix.
I thought the explanations were helpful, but not particularly necessary because the steps that Jesse Pinkman went through to arrive at the conclusion that Walt had poisoned Brock weren’t as important as knowing that Jesse had arrived at that conclusion. I was thankful, in fact, that Gilligan trusted his audience’s intelligence enough to allow us to get there along with Jesse, rather than have it completely spelled out in an exposition dump or a voiceover or something else overly obvious and dumb.
In fact, that’s the complete opposite of how “Dexter” works, especially this season, when everything needs to be explained by the characters to each other, and then explained again through Dexter’s voiceover, and then confirmed again by the ghost of Harry. In fact, yesterday while the Twitterati were debating whether more explanation should’ve been provided in “Breaking Bad” to connect the dots, I tweeted:
Some poor suffering fool over on Reddit who is also probably watching both “Breaking Bad” and “Dexter” had the same idea last night, and provided a helpful graphic.
That, in a nutsell, tells you the striking difference between the writing on “Breaking Bad” and the writing on “Dexter.” Vince Gilligan respects his audience; the folks over on “Dexter” clearly hate their audience, judging by the events of this final season. I don’t think any show has fallen as far as “Dexter” has from its fourth season until this season. It’s honestly as though Harrison Morgan has been writing the episodes. It’s been a season of anticlimactic obvious reveals, and anticlimactic reveals so dumb as to defy logic.
The scene at the end of this week’s “Dexter” is the perfect illustration of how horrible the writing has become. Let me break down that final scene to illustrate my point. In it, a serial killer, Oliver Saxon, decides he wants to meet his mother, Dr. Vogel, who believed until recently that Saxon died in a mental hospital where he’d been locked away for killing his little brother nearly 25 years before.
Saxon thinks his mother is going to arrive at a diner at a particular time because he’s been reading her computer diaries, and his mother — knowing this — left a note in her journal suggesting she’d be at the diner. Nevermind that the two have been living in the same city for a long period of time, and that the Saxon has been aware of his mother’s whereabouts at all times, including her place of residence, and that he could have approached her at any point. Saxon chose this moment after his mother left an entry in her journal, to reunite with her.
So, he goes to the diner. However, Dexter has slipped something into the mother’s coffee to knock her out so that Dexter — who the serial killer already knows — can sneak over to the diner and kill Oliver Saxon as he leaves. Saxon enters the diner, and plays a Mama Cass’s “Your Own Kind of Music” on the jukebox because it has special meaning between Saxon and his mother (and yes, I know: It’s also the iconic “Lost” song. That’s how bad “Dexter” has become; it’s lifting iconic songs from better shows).
Dr. Vogel doesn’t show up. We see Oliver Saxon play the same song on the jukebox three times. Then, Dexter — who is standing outside — says in voice over, “He’s played that song three times.”
Then there is a shot of the clock to show how much time has passed (because presumably, the writers don’t trust us to know it takes 20 minutes to play the same song three times).
Now, remember, Saxon knows who Dexter is. Dexter has also been standing outside the entire time. He’s really hard to miss. She him. In the BRIGHTLY COLORED TURQUOISE SHIRT STANDING OUTSIDE THE HUGE GLASS WINDOW?
In voiceover, Dexter then informs us, “I’ll follow him until I find a quiet place to grab him.” Then, we watch Dexter follow him.
When Dexter turns the corner, he sees Saxon driving away, clearly staring right at Dexter.
Dexter walks over to his car, which was parked right next to Saxon’s and notices that the tires have been slashed. Because it apparently needed explaining, the Ghost of Harry Morgan eyes the slashed tires, looks up at Dexter and says, “Saxon must have spotted you.”
Dexter replies, “He’s good at this.
Really, Dexter? How good do you have to be to spot someone that you recognize who has been standing outside of a HUGE window for 20 MINUTES wearing a LOUD, BRIGHTLY COLORED TURQUOISE SHIRT?
That was a two-minute scene. There are 55 minutes in most episode of “Dexter,” which means 55 minutes of being spoonfed every single moment of the series three f*cking times.