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Into the Weekend: "Dexter," "Brotherhood"

By admin Published: September 28, 2007

"Dexter" starts anew at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, "Brotherhood" at 10 p.m. Discussion after the jump.

Ethan Embry, Jason Isaacs
Two guys who deserve your attention

I've got a review of "Brotherhood" in Sunday's Channels; I'll post a link here later. But the more I think about what's going on in the show the second season, the more I like it. And that's after seeing just four episodes.

Last season, I kept watching even when I wasn't sure how it worked, because it felt as if something very good was about to happen. It finally did, around the 11th episode, and that was enough to keep me going until the end -- with the cliffhanger about the beating. It was sufficiently violent to make viewers wonder if the criminal Michael Caffee had actually been beaten to death, even though he was one of the two leads on the show. (The other being Jason Clarke, as Michael's politician brother Tommy). When I ran into Ethan Embry, who plays cop Declan, the beater of Michael, last year, I asked him if Michael was really dead. He gave me a Declan-cynical look and just said, "He's the star of the show."

So here we are, season two, and Michael is not dead. But he is very much damaged physically, and it's clear that the damage will be relevant to the series even if Michael is walking around, scheming and killing again. This makes for a more interesting performance for Isaacs, and for more notes to be played by the people around Michael, who are looking at him for signs of weakness. Of course, a tremendous amount of the show is about strength and weakness; Tommy's politicking often depends on understanding his foes, and finding their vulnerabilities, and that will continue this season.

Naturally, Tommy is vulnerable himself, now that he knows what his wife has been up to. What course does that leave Tommy, especially when he needs his wife so much during his current political campaign? And I'm not just talking about needing her for public events, either. "Brotherhood" never views characters that simply.

Still, as I said in my print review, the guy to watch is Declan. This may be Embry's finest performance, and "Brotherhood" has given him a lot to work with in terms of anger, despair, loss. So give him a look.

As much as I love "Brotherhood" now, the new season of "Dexter" makes me no less ambivalent about the show, and its portrait of a deceptively bland serial killer, played by "Six Feet Under's" Michael C. Hall. The show's tone is quite remarkable, but I was bothered by the first season's attempt at moral relativism -- Dexter being a serial killer who only attacks bad people, versus another serial killer who is not so discriminating.

But if you can watch, the second season early on puts Dexter in several jams -- including a mystical one. So there are new directions for Dexter, and new challenges. Still, when it comes to challenges, I can't help but note how many people either know what Dexter is or suspect him of something -- and wonder how long he can get away with his sideline. I could have gone four episodes in to see what happens, but gave up after two. You see, as artistic as it can be, "Dexter" still creeps me out.

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