Watching the end of tonight’s episode of Dexter reminded me of the back cover of those Highlights magazines from when I was a kid. Specifically, the “What’s Wrong With This Picture” Challenge where you’re supposed to find the things that are wrong, like a missing table leg or a banana where the phone should be. The episode was titled Practically Perfect, which may be a good description for Harrison’s new nanny, but it doesn’t apply to anything else that happened tonight.

It seems highly unlikely that Highlights Magazine will be trying to find fun with a purpose out of one of Dexter’s kill rooms, however I was unable to help but point out what was wrong-wrong-wrong with Dexter’s return to routine tonight. While “doing something for Dexter” was a good plan, the execution hit a few speed bumps that don’t bode well for our anti-hero at all.

Dexter’s plan was a sound one. Make a fake call about a dead animal, get Boyd to a specific location, and kill him there. The end. However, none of it happened that way as it took all day for the gator-call to come through and that’s when disaster struck. I could have laughed out-loud at the sight of Dexter taking a tranquilizer dart to the chest if the whole thing didn’t cast an ominous shadow over this important kill. Killing Boyd was his attempt at a return to normalcy. It was to be the first kill after the grief-stabbing at the gas station. This was his chance to get things back on track. So, how did he not anticipate the tranquilizer gun?!

The tension was palpable in the ambulance when Dexter woke up next to Boyd and both of them lied their way through the explanation as to how they ended up tranq’ed and passed out on the side of the road. There were a lot of “I know what you know and you know what I know” looks until they were split up at the hospital. The pursuit was on after that but Dexter managed to get back to Boyd’s house before Boyd did. And while his prepared kill room sat empty at the Tourist Center, with photos of girls soaking in barrels of formaldehyde neatly arranged and surrounded by plastic, Dexter killed Boyd on his dining room table, strapped down with duct tape and surrounded by newspaper. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! To make matters worse, Dexter didn’t have his slides, so he had to use a plastic storage container to scoop up some of Boyd’s blood.

Am I reading too much into this in saying that Dexter not anticipating the tranquilizer gun was a mark of how things have changed for him or that his head’s not in the game? Or was this just a fluke? Perhaps his rhythm’s just off. Maybe the fact that Dexter wasn’t shot by the real gun Boyd had during the second go-round was a sign that he’s going to be more careful. After all, things didn’t start out so great back during Season 4 when Dexter was falling asleep at the wheel and losing bodies. He adjusts. He’ll adjust! Right?

Had the kill given Dexter that sense of relief he usually gets when the deed is done, maybe the effort it took to get him there would’ve been worth it but he admitted he felt emptier than ever.

The cherry on the cake of Dexter’s mess of a kill was that he had a witness to the murder of Boyd. Enter Julia Stiles, the final victim of Boyd’s killing spree. She managed to survive, though she was a bit worse for wear as Dexter kept her from running away after he found her spying on his stabbing. So who is she? Well, Boyd said his victims were all suffering and he was putting them out of their misery, so unless that was all in his head, we might speculate that Stiles’ issues are going to extend beyond whatever Boyd put her through for however long he had her locked up. As for how she’ll affect Dexter, it’s way too soon to tell but this is definitely the start of something. He can’t very well kill her. She’s the victim, not the bad guy. Stabbing her would be very non-code.

As for the kids, a conversation between Deb and Dexter revealed that Cody and Astor are doing ok. Astor won’t talk to Dexter on the phone but Deb’s sure she’ll come around. Maybe Deb can identify with Astor’s closed-offness and unwillingness to hug and pretend things are ok when they’re not.

On the bright side, Harrison might be ok. Alright, he’s pulling Ken’s head off but his counselor thinks he’s just letting off energy and that he’s too young to have been able to mentally process what he saw when his mother was killed. Dexter’s emotional reaction to that news was genuine and a reminder that he does feel. There are things about him that are closed off but he genuinely loves Harrison and fears for his son’s wellbeing. That came through beautifully in the look on his face when the counselor assured him that, while they’ll be monitoring Harrison’s behavior, he’s probably going to be fine.

Speaking of Harrison, tonight Dexter hired a nanny. With the help of Deb, who apparently thinks the words interrogating and interviewing are interchangeable, he managed to find a younger Mrs. Doubtfire-type who really seems too good to be true. Even after Dexter panicked when he came home to find the nanny and Harrison gone, it turned out he neglected to check the fridge for the note she left. Loved the Season 1 nod as Dexter remembered the notes the Ice Truck Killer used to leave him. Also, Harrison’s cuteness needs to get a mention here as the kid revealed the full extent of his charm tonight with a simple, dimply, toothy smile.

And on the milestone front, Harrison took his first step tonight. So maybe that’s another indication that things are headed in the right direction. Harrison’s walking and Dexter’s stumbling back toward normalcy.

Is Quinn the next Doakes?

Quinn’s still pursuing the Kyle Butler angle of the Trinity case. After staring at his patched together version of the police sketches (which Masuka thinks looks like Justin Bieber), he glanced up to look at Deb. And once again, I think this is what is setting this pursuit apart from that of Doakes’ suspicion of Dexter, which inevitably led to his death.

Quinn may be somewhat Doakes-like in his refusal to let the issue drop, however there’s one major thing that sets Quinn apart from Doakes: Quinn cares about Deb (and Deb loves Dexter).

Regardless of the fact that she says things like "Shit on my face – you ever use words like ‘we’ and ‘married’ in the same fucking sentence again” to him, he has feelings for her. He’s counting the days from the day they had floor-sex, which clearly means more to him than Deb’s willing to allow it to mean to her. So while he may be talking to the FBI about this Kyle Butler/Dexter connection, I think in the end, Deb is going to be standing in the way of the investigation. At the very least, I think it’ll be Deb that keeps Quinn alive, regardless of how or when his interest in Dexter and Trinity ends.

Santa Mierda

That’s Santa Muerte. Not Saint Shit. Deb continued to work on the case that involved a Venezuelan community and possible gang-related activity. Another beheading took place and we got to see the lovely sight of a cat lapping up the blood of a headless corpse. Masuka’s still filling in for Dexter which means we get to hear amusingly inappropriate head-case jokes as Masuka examines an eyeless, tongueless, bodiless head.

Deb’s been taking advice from a street cop named Officer Manson, who now has guilt over involving a religious shop-keeper who ended up being some cat’s dinner. Where this is going, I have no idea other than it could eventually put Deb in some danger as she seems relatively clueless about the religious customs that tie in to these murders.

“This man is a knight in shining armor. You should be polishing his lance.”

I love Masuka. His talk of getting “ghetto” with the people at the bar came just before it was revealed that he was seen fleeing the fight, which now has Batista in hot water. As it turned out, Lopez, the man that mouthed off to Batista during last week’s episode, also happened to bring up his opinions on LaGuerta’s skill at oral activities, which was ultimately what caused Batista to fight him. LaGuerta wasn’t happy to learn about that and reminded Batista that because she’s his superior and they’re both cops, these kinds of things are going to come up. That seemed to end the matter until it came out that Lopez has internal bleeding and is filing charges. I don’t think we’re supposed to believe that Batista’s responsible for the man’s injuries but since it could land him on the unemployment line, or worse, in jail, its evident that the issue is very much unresolved.

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