Religious Themes in 202: “Waiting to Exhale” & 203: “An Inconvenient Lie”

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Dexter gets his thirst to kill back up; in the wake of Dexter’s watery graveyard being uncovered, Special Agent Frank Lundy from the FBI is called into Miami Metro to lead the investigation. He assembles a task force, denying Sergeant Doakes, but taking on Deb and Batista. Meanwhile, Rita confronts Dexter about Paul’s accusations and uncovers that Dexter has “an addiction.” While going to Narcotics Anonymous, Lila Tournay is introduced and becomes Dexter’s sponsor; we discover that she is a great match for Dexter for several reasons. She can sniff out Dexter like the “dog” he is. Little Chino and Roger Hicks are put to rest, causing Dexter to question yet again: “Am I human?”

Shadows of the Past

Dexter’s issue performing when it comes to the kill room stems from his remorse for killing his late brother, Brian Moser (alias Rudy Cooper). He keeps the Barbie doll head on his key chain to remind him that he was not alone in this world. Amongst images of his brother are flashbacks to his past, mainly those of Harry carrying him away from the crime scene, leaving Brian to fend for himself. Eva Arenas, the mother of the victim in 201 who wanted to testify against Little Chino, is “whacked” at the start of 202 and we once again get the image of her daughter and young Dexter juxtaposed. He feels morally and ethically obliged to avenge her brother’s and mother’s deaths. In killing Little Chino, he is enacting karma within the universe: he is righting the wrongs in the little girl’s life, or what Harry did for him. Of course nobody can empathize with her the way Dexter can. “Can you imagine that?” Batista asks. (This is Dexter’s own form of PTSD: sociopathy). Little Chino’s death re-instills Dexter’s “surgeon-like” steady hand and fortifies his killing mechanisms.

[Credit: Google Images]

It is only now that Dexter realizes he must let Brian’s memory go in peace if he is to move on and continue to protect himself and live. Tossing the Barbie doll head into the ocean, much like how Rose sends off the heart of the ocean into the Atlantic at the end of Titanic. Brian’s body emerges from the water to grab hold of him before sinking into his own watery abyss. This allows Dexter to reconnect with what’s “really important.”

Debra Morgan: The Woman Who Lived

These shadows from the past assault not only Dexter, but Debra as well. Any mention of the Ice Truck Killer, who is an “amateur compared to [the Bay Harbor Butcher],” revitalizes and withdraws her PTSD symptoms. Although she claims to be “so over that,” and gets mad when Maria LaGuerta tells Pascal that she is not yet ready to be back in the field, it is clear, as is evident with her run-in with the friendly interested gentleman at the gym, that she is not yet healed or fully ready (recall the sequence where the gym pal begins to tape up her hands to box and she has a flash back to Rudy binding her on the yacht). Her inability to cope on her own with the PTSD shows its face once again when she chases after a kid while trying to get information on Eva Arena’s murder and holds him at gunpoint.

When it seems as though Deb is ready to throw in the towel after being placed on Lundy’s task force, he reminds us that she has had a “firsthand look into the heart and into the mind of a killer, and [she’s] still here.” She must accept it, for she is a valuable resource to Lundy’s team to track down the Bay Harbor Butcher. After so many interviews, Deb makes the connection that two of the BHB victims have criminal records, which will might be the “pattern” they are looking for – which is the pattern they should be looking for.

Special Agent Frank Lundy

Lundy is brought into Miami Metro because he is a renowned and keen detective in the FBI. He is referred to as “Special Agent Rockstar,” for he solves impossible cases. Dexter defines him as being “between me and death row.” Upon assembling a task force, Detective Angel Batista and Deb are selected to start identifying the bodies excavated from the watery graveyard. There is quite a bit of interaction between him and Debra, which foreshadows their future entanglements – literally and figuratively. And so begins Debra’s daddy issues coming out into the limelight.

Cutting Courtroom and Humanity of Dexter Morgan

To return to the previous treatment’s assertion that the title of 201, “It’s Alive,” refers to Little Chino, we see the “beef bus” with stitches across his cheek from Dexter’s failed attempt at slaying him. The fact that there is an impending thunder and lightning storm as Dexter goes to attack Little Chino at one of his own parties is yet another connection to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

For a while, it is uncertain whether Dexter can get him onto his table; however, once Eva Arenas shows up dead and is thus unable to testify against him, Miami Metro cannot go after him, leaving him to Dexter’s design. To remind you, Dexter tranquilizes Little Chino effectively while in the caged elevator as he is on his way to whack the little boy who Debra scared shitless … well, pissless. At least it was worth it. When Dexter puts Little Chino’s slide into his collection, he comments on “death, the great equalizier:” he’s just the same size as everyone else.

After (man-) handling Little Chino, Dexter has to lay low, since he has been labeled the Bay Harbor Butcher. He figures he can use this time to research his next victim. Roger Hicks is a car salesman, whose M.O. is to run credit checks on young, single mothers. After realizing that they cannot afford his cars, he sends them across the street to another dealer. By doing this, he gets their information and emancipates himself from suspicion – at least everyone but Dexter’s. In the process of doing research, Dexter ends up with a “Mom van,” which seems to Maria that Dexter is thinking of getting married, but operates as a way to get Doakes off of Dexter’s tail for a little while.

Hicks is a compulsive liar, as we expect all car salesmen to be, says he has a wife, kids, and goes deer hunting. What is interesting is that Dexter uses his real name. Perhaps buying a car was truly his intention after all, and not a product of Roger’s skilled salesmanship. When Dexter returns to get a real sample of DNA (recall that the hair fiber he took off of the stolen comb was synthetic: “Even his hair is a lie”), he happens upon another young mother that fits Roger’s M.O. Although Dexter knows it is imperative to lay low, he discovers that if he does not act soon, her life will be taken. He is thus torn between saving a young woman and risking his own life, or following Harry’s Code and staying concealed. Perhaps he feels deep down that this man hunt for the Bay Harbor Butcher, led by Frank Lundy’s task force, will inevitably take him down anyway. I think this is Dexter’s second glimmer of a conscience, his first being his remorse in killing Brian Moser, his biological brother.

With Roger Hicks on his kill table, Dexter ponders how he is able to lie so thoroughly and so neatly – he’s a “lie hopper,” going from one to the next. He is remorseless, which leaves Dexter perplexed. Perhaps Dexter is not as thorough or oiled of a killing machine that he always believed himself to be. What is notable about this exchange is that Hicks reveals his true misogyny, and when he calls Rita a “cunt,” Dexter stabs him to death out of pure rage. Now, if that isn’t pure emotion, I don’t know what is.

This death of a salesman is no tragedy: Roger Hicks deserves to die. And so Dexter does it, chopping his body into clean pieces and depositing them just above the (I believe) Gulf Stream, which propels his victims up the east coast of the United States. Ever since Miami Metro has been excavating his watery grave, Dexter needed an alternative dumping ground for his victims, which Masuka mindlessly rattles off to Dexter, reminding us that anyone could be just as lethal as Dexter is. This line of work demands specialization and attention to detail, and endless possibilities for dumping grounds. We should also remember that Vince is assigned to the BHB case and he even asks – no, implores – that Dexter help him. Talk about an awkward working situation.

Upon visiting his unearthed victims in the external morgue at Miami Metro, Dexter runs into Lundy, who makes it clear that he is onto the killer and is waiting for the corpses to speak to him as far as commonality. Lundy says that there is no excuse for killing; killing is wrong in all cases, except for one: “To save a life.” This inspires Dexter, as we see, to kill Hicks in order to save the young woman’s life. This is an assertion of empathy and a violation of Harry’s Code. Dexter shows us early on that he plays by the rules, but is not afraid to bend them either. Showing empathy once again disqualifies the idea that he could be a psychopath, as he in flashbacks likes to classify himself as. Running with the idea that Dexter is human also begs the question: For how long will Dexter be invincible? He can only be off the radar for so long. As Lundy says, “there is no such thing as a perfect crime.” Our “orderly, controlled, effective Dexter” has been compromised, and how he is starting to doubt himself. Frank Lundy is certain that Dexter will make mistakes. The fact is that his crimes are the biggest case ever in Miami Metro history is something to make our skin crawl. We are empathizing with a major serial killer. And yet … Dexter’s heart pounds, he cannot sleep, and he is physically affected by his brother’s death and the fact that he is on Miami Metro’s Radar. Conflicting messages, Dexter, conflicting messages … His “dormant conscience” makes it difficult to act. Deb, similarly, has issues with her own conscience in falsely assuring people who came to Miami Metro to help with the BHB case that they will find their loved ones. Perhaps Deb and Dexter are on a parallel path.

Lundy catches onto the fact that the victims are methodically dissected and disposed of, and the killer is operating under “some twisted set of principles.” Lundy says that the “worst killers in history are the ones who think their murders were somehow just – even deserved.” Here, he is drawing comparisons between the mass genocides of the WWII Holocaust and the Native Americans  in North America upon the colonization of North America.

“Hello, Dexter” (Lila Tournay & N.A.)

Rita accuses Dexter of being a heroin addict, which I guess is better than her discovering that he is a serial killer. Calling him “Clark Fucking Kent” clues us into the fact that she has hardened herself since Paul’s bullshit, and she will not take any more from anyone else. She insists that he uses the program or else she will not see him anymore. And here we see Rita Bennett blossom.

Narcotics Anonymous is where Dexter names his urge to kill as the “Dark Passenger.” What is most alarming to Dexter is the fact that Lila sniffs him out the way he sniffed out Jamie Jaworowski and other serial killers that have graced his table. The fact that she dons red clothing immediately flags my attention. When so closely juxtaposed to Brian Moser, donned in a red dress shirt, we cannot help but draw that connection. She sees right through him (although he’s a rather shitty liar … “Bob?” Really, Dexter?). The fact that she sees him so clearly for what he really is frightens the hell out of Dexter, which makes him leave the program; however, Rita’s official ultimatum drives him right back to where he belongs. By some stroke of fate, Doakes follows him there and chalks up Dexter’s mystery midnight activities to him being a coke head. He tells him to “stay clean and stay out of my way.” Although it seems as though Doakes is off of his tail, we should be wary about this. Of course, he says that he knows that Dexter is connected to the Ice Truck Killer, he cannot put his finger on it. It’s alarming at how right Doakes is.

Doakes’ insistence in following Dexter reminds us that there are slivers of psychopathy and sociopathy in several characters. Not only do we have Masuka who can name a half-dozen ways to dispose of a cadaver, but we also have the man who gives Dexter tranquilizer guns, who looks  a little too satisfied with his choices. People are people, and it’s just a matter of sniffing out the ones who could be possibly hunting Dexter. Perhaps we should even be wary about Frank Lundy. Remember how Deb says Dexter always gets hunches about serial killers? It takes one to know one, and perhaps Lundy has harnessed his sociopathic energy in a good, well better, direction. Better than Dexter even.

Miami Metro Politics

Maria finds herself continually stepping up to the plate to make up for Esme Pascal’s pitfalls. Although Pascal believes that she “owes” Maria, her foul play is already starting to show. When Matthews approaches Maria to ask her honest opinion about Pascal, she automatically defends Pascal’s “erratic” behavior because, in the male world, “erratic is code for non-male.” It is interesting here that she would stand up for Pascal, given how power-hungry she is, but we will later see exactly why Maria spares Pascal’s career … for now.

The reason why Pascal is targeted for unprofessionalism stems  beyond her fiancee’s alleged affair: she tells the press that anyone with any information regarding missing persons should direct their attention to Miami Metro, and thus Lundy’s task force becomes bombarded.

Spirituality

Brian Moser returns to Dexter in visions, as if he were a ghost. Dexter is emerging as a severely warped Christ figure, most evidently in the fact that he is potentially sacrificing his own safety for the young mother, and potential victim of Roger Hicks. While at Paul’s funeral service, Dexter’s kill ritual of cutting the victim’s cheek is paralleled to the wounds in the side of a state of Christ, perhaps comparing Dexter to Pontius Pilate. Brian appearing to him is almost like Dexter’s Holy Spirit – his Eternal Ghost and Dark Passenger – and reminder that he was not alone. When Dexter says “I’m not human,” Brian corrects him: “No, you’re just fucked up.” The fact that Dexter seeks connection with Rita and her children reinforces the fact that he is, indeed, human.

The issues of karma and atheism are brought up; Angel believes in karma, whereas Dexter is an atheist; however, he does have his own system of justice: his cutting courtroom.

Rita’s goodbye to Paul and her life with Paul parallels Dexter’s goodbye to his brother and his memory. The two of them are moving on, and together at that.

As Dexter makes his first, truthful Narcotics Anonymous speech, there is a large water-color painting of Noah’s Ark, clearly labeled, on the chalk board behind him. Perhaps this is meant to direct us to the religious symbolism and warped parallelism between Dexter and Christianity.

Dexter: A Comedy

Dexter’s mantra: “I will not kill my sister; I will not kill my sister; I will not kill my sister; I will not kill my sister.”

Debra: “Who’s the fucking asshole who left this [briefcase] here?”

Lundy: “It’s Special Agent Fucking Asshole.”

The kid that Debra runs after pisses himself.

Dexter’s explanation for his absence when Rita calls: “I was just dropping somebody off.” Yeah, Little Chino. Into the ocean.

When in N/A, a member who speaks is discussing their need for drugs, and Dexter mental composes his own list of needs: “And I need duct tape, three or 4 rolls. I’m running low on heavy-duty trash bags.”

Dexter’s examination of the very stale donuts in N/A. He’s a donut connoisseur, it should be recalled.

Dexter: “I wish my own sister weren’t hunting me. It makes or an awkward family dynamic.”

Masuka: “Who’s your daddy?”

Dexter: “Uh, Harry Morgan?”

Masuka: “Say it.”

Dexter: “You’re my daddy.”

Masuka: “Sounds weird when you say it.”

When Dexter is moving Hicks’ tranquilized body into the back of his van: “You were right about the ample cargo space.”

Overview

And now to put a “number” on this episode. Dexterity (neat-handedness, puns, trickery, clever sayings, placements, etc.) will judge all of the small things that I pick up on. The higher the score, the more fun I had picking apart the episode for hidden clues. Entertainment (how much I laughed and enjoyed the episode) will judge how excited I was on average throughout the episode, as well as after it for the upcoming episodes. Xtremity (how dramatic, but also how believable the episode was, edge-of-the-seat, white knuckles, the “holy shit” factor) will judge just how jaw-dropping the episode was.

Dexterity: 9

Entertainment: 8

Xtremity:  8

DEX-Factor: 8.66

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