402: “Remains to Be Seen” & 403: “Blinded by the Light”

Murder Map

According to Harry Morgan, Dexter is “spinning too many plates,” but that doesn’t stop our favorite serial killer. Despite Harry’s warning, Dexter goes on to kill Beni Gomez just to fall asleep at the wheel in the middle of the disposal and forget whether or not it was taken care of.  The back story of the Trinity killer has begun to develop, involving some serious Freudian implications regarding Trinity’s mother and father. Now retired Special Agent Frank Lundy is busy putting together one of the biggest cases in American history, with Dexter’s help of course.  Settling into suburbia, Dexter is pinpointed by the “neighborhood terror,” who Dexter scares to a stop. Can Dexter handle all there is to handle?

“You’re Spinning Too Many Plates, Dexter”: The Accident

America’s favorite sleep-deprived serial killer causes the mess that could have led straight back to Dexter and his guilt. Harry insinuates that Rita and Harrison are indirect causes of this slip-up. Harrison’s teddy bear, thrown from the  back of the now-totaled SUV, reminds us that Harrison is subject to  the sins of his own father, Dexter.  Of course Dexter did not intentionally or carelessly mess up; Dexter is running on auto-pilot when sleep and unconsciousness threatens his well-being. With “miles to go before I sleep” (which is a lovely allusion to “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost), Dexter is determined to do as he promised Rita and get Harrison’s prescription (“But I have promises to keep”). Dexter’s exhaustion mirrors that of the speaker’s in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” in the fact that his condition is much like the exhaustion that overcomes one in the cold and on a long journey. His exhaustion is a comforter (“the woods are lovely, dark and deep,”), which eventually leads to the accident.

The accident leaves his memory in “bits and pieces [or] memory fragments,” much like how he leaves his victims. Dexter’s manner of going about his responsibilities, while neat and nearly covering all of his bases, is sloppy. His performance suffers when stretched too thin. We discover just how neat of a monster Dexter is when he has to investigate his own crime scene for clues as to what he did with Beni Gomez’s body. Not only is Dexter’s memory relevant as far as the fragmentation parallel between what he remembers and the bodies he dismembers, but Harry  highlights that “not remembering [once] saved [him],” “and now if you want to save yourself you have to remember.” The lack of recognition for even the most basic things, like Dexter’s work computer password (which is “Harry,” who incidentally is the key to Dexter’s past, behaviors, and life as it is now).

Although Dexter evades the consequences of misplacing Beni Gomez’s body (and not remembering where he hid him), Harry warns: “Finding Gomez was a band-aid. You’re juggling family, work, and a Dark Passenger who’s always got one hand on the steering wheel.” Despite the fact that Dexter insists he “can do it,” we feel like we should know otherwise. Dexter can do it “until [he] can’t. And then what?” Much of what we have seen between Dexter and Harry is a competition of ‘yes, I can’s and ‘no, you can’t’s. Even though Dexter has triumphed in the fact that he has created a facade believable to even cops and detectives, Harry can say “I told you so” in moments like these when Dexter is stretched too thin and the truth almost comes pouring out for all to gawk at.

“You’re spinning too many plates, Dexter.” – Harry Morgan

Dexter realizes that he has not “been the most present father and husband,” and he knows he has to change his  behavior to satisfy Rita and to keep up the facade. Furthermore, he is having more difficulty camouflaging in front of Astor, a preteen who is growing up and becoming a “whole person,” according to Rita. Dexter feels like he is “something less” in the face of this reality and struggles to figure out how he can stay in everyone’s favor.

“You can’t be taking this seriously. It’s great camouflage. That’s all it is.” – Harry Morgan

The Neighborhood [T]error

Despite the picture-perfect neighborhood Dexter and Rita have moved into, there is some trouble brewing. An unknown vandal has been destroying birdbaths, defacing fences and houses, and causing other mischief around the neighborhood. To return to the discussion of the American Dream in the 401 treatment, the vandal is defacing that idea and disrupting the perfection of suburbia. The close-up of the neighborhood’s Lexus reminds us of that American Dream commentary.

“The last thing we need is a dangerous presence in our neighborhood.” – Dexter Morgan

Sometimes it is easier for Dexter to fit in; when he is with the neighbors, it is not easy or natural by any means for Dexter to chime into conversation.  His work environment fosters that morbid sense of humor and people don’t think twice about it (exhibit A: Masuka comes off as far stranger than Dexter in the office, but that’s just “him”). In suburbia, however, it becomes painfully obvious that Dexter is forcing his interactions. His comments don’t sound as neatly rehearsed and well-thought-out as his work comments do. When a neighbor jokingly says: “This [vandalizing] all started to happen the time you moved in,” we shrink in fear, thinking that the neighbors have got him in the cross-hairs; however, we learn that he is kidding. Although this is a faux-close call, Dexter is reminded of his days in high school when he was tagged as the “different kid,” which ultimately raised questions. The graffiti (which cannot be covered up) on Dexter and Rita’s front gate is a sign that he has been tagged again, and he must find the threat and stop it before people start asking questions. Suburbia, despite how tame it sounds, is a jungle. Rita, playfully singing to Harrison “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club, comments on this, pointing out how Dexter’s life is a game of survival, as in the lyrics.

After dressing like a pre-costumed Spider-man (or perhaps the Dark Defender), Dexter chases after the vandal (which ultimately sends the neighborhood watch chasing after him, too), we discover that Andy, the man whose wife died, is furious about his neighbors and their money and flat-screen televisions. His chance at the Dream was killed the second his wife died and the moment he discovered that he never would have enough money to compete with the neighbors’ material things.

Spidey Dex

He is an outcast in the monetary sense, whereas Dexter is an outcast in the social sense. Which is more dangerous? We know the answer to that, obviously, but to Andy, he is in the worse position. Other than this obvious outcast parallel, Dexter’s suspicions about Andy’s son directly connect to Dexter’s relationship with Harry. As much blame as people would want to put on Jesse (Andy’s son)/Dexter, we have to point to Andy and Harry for the fault. Harry created Dexter to be what he is, although the blame seems to be obviously that of the kid’s and serial killer’s.

Frank Lundy: Fitting In

Although we cringe when Dexter lets even the tiniest bit of his own curiosity out in front of Frank Lundy, he reveals quite a bit to us in his exchanges with Dexter as well. The way in which he talks about Trinity is how he “could even be talking about [himself].” It is here that we see that everyone has a Dark Passenger; it is just channeled in different ways.

Lundy admits to Dexter that “the only thing that really got my heart beating was the hunt,” which he comments to Dexter, “I’m sure you can’t relate.” We know that Dexter has been sensitive and aware of how he feels differently than others — if at all. In earlier sequences, we know that Dexter has nearly hung himself over the side of the building in attempts to try to get his heart racing. We know that he feels differently than others, and this exchange is proof that Dexter is not alone. Not entirely, anyway. If there is one thing we learn from Frank, it is that he doesn’t always wish that he was like everyone else. Despite how different Lundy feels, Dexter and Trinity have “a stain so deep, it can’t be erased.” Rita catches a glimpse of it when Dexter  breaks the neighbor’s motion-sensor lights.

“People like us don’t really belong anywhere. We just pass through.” – Frank Lundy

Trinity

Keeping in mind that Dexter is constantly striving to blend in, Trinity’s stalk-and-hunt rituals appear chillingly similar to Dexter’s. The way in which he interacts with his jumping-off-a-building victim (Tarla Grant) comes naturally to him; his interactions and polite offers are well-rehearsed and not suspicious in the least. An uncanny parallel is meant to be drawn the moment that Trinity is pictured in the  backseat of the woman’s car; we are meant to recall how Dexter was the backseat driver for Mike Donovan as he led him to a cabin in the woods to interrogate and dispose of him. Interestingly enough, the Dark Passenger metaphor applies here. Although Mike Donovan clearly had a Dark Passenger akin to Dexter’s, his literal Dark Passenger (Dexter) was sitting in the backseat, driving him to his death. Similarly, Tarla Grant also propelled to do as Trinity told her to. Perhaps her Dark Passenger was the brain cancer that she just discovered that she had.

We should note that there have only been two serial killers to bring Frank Lundy to Miami: the Bay Harbor Butcher and the Trinity Killer. With such a reputation as the “serial killer whisperer,” and the fact that Trinity has yet to be caught (classifying him as a neat monster as well), we now should understand the caliber of killer Trinity is. He may be the best match for Dexter’s abilities to ever step foot on Dexter. Those of you who have seen season four in its entirety can attest to the fact that there is quite the brutal struggle between the two serial killers. Dexter notes just how “impressive” it is that Trinity completed fifteen undetected cycles in his killing, all of which are assumed to have been done in a “solitary,” lone wolf” way of life.

Freudian Themes

“First of all, who the fuck is named Dexter? . . . Didn’t his parents know he was gonna grow up to be a fucking egghead?” – Det. Joey Quinn to Christine Hill

Although Debra and Dexter are the main characters we talk about when he think of Freud, Trinity’s issues come to the forefront this season. In his chilling scenes, we hear him warning a boy: “You better catch up with your Mom. You don’t want to lose her.” Although Trinity’s mother’s greatest fault seems to be that she was a “lifelong Republican,” we know that she must have done something to warp Trinity into the monster he is today, albeit “a very different monster than [Dexter] [is].” Once he encourages Tarla Grant to jump, he returns to her body at ground-level, smears some of his mother’s ashes at the crime scene, and whimpers: “Oh, Mommy.”

In a chilling toast to his mother’s memory, Trinity shares a drink with what seems to be the ghost of his father (according to Lundy, the next murder in the pattern is a man getting bludgeoned). The altar-like set up with his mother’s ashes and her pictures are chilling, for we know this is part of Trinity’s ritual. We can piece together from Miami Metro’s investigation and from what we know about Trinity that he is killing in memory of his loved ones, as if to recreate his scarring past.

The Altar

Trinity’s crossword, as he stalks Tarla Grant, betrays the macabre duplicity in Trinity’s life. Not only do we simultaneously giggle and cringe when he fills in “sever-al,” but we can see that Freud’s “Id-Ego-Superego” theory (a common crossword puzzle answer) surfaces here. For people like Trinity and Dexter, their personalities are compromised by their Dark Passengers or their “ego,” and their superego, or need for survival, comes into play in their facades. The “id,” or primal urges of human beings, is discussed at the neighborhood barbecue. Dexter comments on how the ice age forced people to work together and eat communally if they wanted to survive. The genes of those people passed down from ancestor to ancestor to the people who are living today, and barbecues are the mock-ice-age ritual. The fittest have survived, yet Dexter seems to still be king of the jungle (or at least in this neighborhood).

[Side note: Deny (or denial) also appears in the crossword, which is rather fitting for this section.]

Sever

Debra isn’t left in the dust as far as Freudian themes go: we know that she had a gay phase in college; we also know that she is mad at Frank for not letting her know that he would show up. She lashes out at him and clings to Anton, a sign that she has not forgiven her father (for not paying attention to her and for his affairs). As much as she tries to convince us and herself that she doesn’t want to be in a relationship with Frank, her damaged childhood tells us otherwise. The rejection from Frank, the father-figure, as far as him not coming back to rekindle things with Debra, is enough to send her into Anton’s arms.

Business or Pleasure?

Dexter often views strokes of luck, coincidence, and his triumphs as signs from a Higher Power that he should keep doing what he is doing. Much like his “band-aid” Beni Gomez incident, Trinity has gotten away with killing for thirty years, something he must feel he is justified to do, for the circumstances surrounding Tarla Grant’s apparent suicide cover for him and the fact that it was a homicide. Grant’s brain tumor news may be a sign to him that the universe wants him to keep doing what he is doing. Frank Lundy calls it “fate” or “kismet.” Although Dexter claims his kills are strictly business and are part of a higher Code to clean up the streets, he often wonders (as do others) if he kills for pleasure rather than justice. Miguel Prado certainly asked that of Dexter.

Dexter: A Comedy

One of Trinity’s crossword puzzle answers is “several.” This is ironic given that he severed his first victim’s femoral artery.

Sever

Dexter’s barbecue beverage of choice airs on the idea of cannibalism.

Frozen drinksStrawberries

Debra: “Francis, if I hadn’t already gone through that phase in college, I’d kiss you.”

  • Dexter: “If someone tested positive for an STD, would they have to register with the Miami Health Authorities?”
  • Vince: “And why would you ask me that?”
  • Maria LaGuerta: “Morgan, where do we stand on the Lisa Bell murder?”
  • Deb: “Uh, somewhere in the middle of shit creek.”

Quinn: “Oh, well. If it isn’t Special Agent Grandpa.”

Dexter: “Ah, solitude. Something I won’t enjoy again until I deal with Jesse, the neighborhood shithead.”

Vince Masuka: “I put her [the test dummy] in a short skirt so we can see her in her panties while she’s falling.”

Vince’s souped-up truck.

Masuka's Suped Up Truck

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: 9
Xtremity:  9
DEX-Factor: 9

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