Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Dexter" - Episodes 4.4 and 4.5 - "Dex Takes a Holiday" and "Dirty Harry"

What separates "Dexter" from virtually every story about serial killers is his earnestness. Dex is a man with a sense of his own needs, yet -- for the most part -- sensitivity for the needs of others. He isn't just a "neat"monster; he's a caring one, too.

Episodes four and five of this fourth season of Dexter are easily the best of the season, and both find Dexter facing the wall of denial he has built over his feelings for those around him. In episode four, the focus is directed at Rita and the kids. In the fifth episode, the focus is shifted towards Deb, who finds herself in the hospital after having been shot in front of Lundy's motel.

Here's a basic recap:

1. After Dex is caught breaking the neighbor's annoying security light, Rita chalks it up to excess pressure (and the concussion) and takes the kids by herself for a family wedding. Dex sees this as an opportunity to satisfy his dark passenger. He sets his sights on a cop from another department who murdered her family.

2. Lundy bumps into the Trinity Killer outside a business complex while researching one of Trinity's kills 30 years ago. Trinity recognizes Lundy from a picture in the newspaper and bumps into him for signs of recognition.

3. Deb realizes that she is still in love with Lundy, and decides to sleep with him despite her relationship with Anton.

4. LaGuerta and Angel debate over revealing their inner office relationship to the upper brass. LaGuerta ignores Angel's call for secrecy and tells Captain Matthews anyway.

5. Quinn and the reporter chick have hot sex. She learns stuff about the Vacation Murders and Lundy's investigation from him, which she publishes in the morning edition. Quinn gets mad, but not for long. She's THAT hot.

6. Deb and Lundy are shot outside Lundy's motel. Lundy dies.

7. Dex suspects Trinity is responsible for the shooting even though the rest of the department is calling for the Vacation Killers. He takes Lundy's research before it can be bagged as evidence and uses it to profile Trinity.

8. Deb breaks down in front of Dex and calls herself "broken."

9. Rita discovers Dex still has his apartment. She gets really pissed and almost discovers Dex's stash of knives and syringes.

10. LaGuerta, because of her disclosure, is asked by Captain Matthews to inform Angel of his reassignment out of Homicide.

11. Trinity kills his third person. Dex is too late to stop him.

12. Dex discovers that Trinity is a family man.

That's a lot of stuff in two episodes...

But what does it all mean? What's the purpose? What are we seeing in this season?

Obviously, the first part of the season dealt with Dexter's assimilation into domestic, suburban living. But these last two episodes have taken him into a different direction. Acceptance.

In "Dex Takes a Holiday," the most important scene came during Dex's kill of Zoey, the family killing cop. He has her on his kill table, the photos of her dead family around her, and she tells him that he's no different than she is. He'll need his space. He'll kill his family, too.

But Dex realizes something key in this moment, as is typical in most of kill scenes. He says, "I'd rather they know who I am than kill them." He looks shocked as the words come across his lips, as if they were spoken by someone different. For the first time he understands just how much he loves Rita and his family. He'd rather risk his double-life than see them injured. As the episode ends, Rita comes home and Dexter joins the family on the couch, filling in the space left just for him. He has accepted his place in this new world.

"Dirty Harry" takes this to the next level. After seeing Deb on a stretcher and realizing she could have been killed, Dex takes a profound interest in the Trinity Killer. No longer is his research of a killer a cold, calculated experience. The typical routines that get him off are upset by a new barrage of feelings. Revenge. Dex wants revenge. He doesn't care so much that Lundy died. After all, Lundy was an adversary if you think about it. He was afraid for his sister. He needs to protect his world.

But then a strange thing happens. Dex learns that the Trinity Killer is A family man -- married with kids. Uh oh. And based upon the way Trinity greeted, and was greeted by, his family, he has accepted and enjoyed his dual life for a very long time. How will Dexter interpret this? What will he say? Will his feelings for Trinity change? Maybe more so than the Ice Truck Killer, Lyla, and Miguel Prado, this man is a kindred spirit. Quite possibly a mentor.

Next week: Dex researches the life of Trinity. Deb seeks meaning. Rita probes deeper into Dex's secret life. And LaGuerta and Angel's situation stops being so arbitrary (keep fingers crossed).

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