Freudian Themes and Parallelism in 406: “If I Had a Hammer” & 407: “Slack Tide”

See 405 for Identical Image Wall Parallel

Dexter’s fascination with Arthur Mitchell, or Trinity, grows  as he witnesses just how wonderfully camouflaged he is. Debra is back from her sick leave and is determined to take down Trinity to avenge Frank Lundy, which could possibly make her a target. Dexter puts off taking down Trinity, for he wants to learn from him; in the meantime, he focuses his killing energies on Jonathan Farrow, bloody photographer and woman-abuser, only to discover later that Miami Metro has uncovered solid DNA evidence that supports Farrow’s assistant being the true killer. What does this mean for Dexter Morgan? We shall see.

 Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing

Dexter’s fascination with Trinity piques when he discovers how involved he is and just how normal his family is. Arthur himself (named after King Arthur, who might not have even been a real man . . . because he’s a monster) is a Deacon in church who also runs the Four Walls, One Heart charity, which builds homes for the homeless. His wife, Sally, and two children, Jonah and Rebecca, are “polite and well-adjusted.” Although Trinity gave Jonah his Mustang, we are aware that he is “not a big fan of idle hands” (something the devil makes use of).

Despite the show put on by the Mitchells, Dexter sees through this facade of normalcy. Just like Dexter, everything Trinity does is tainted by our knowledge of his Dark Passenger. As the congregation sings: “Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb,” we cringe. As a “man of God,” Trinity is a more perverse foil of Dexter, for at least Dexter, “doing the work of a higher power,” acknowledges that he doesn’t believe. Trinity makes a show of it by holding a position in the church. As if this isn’t disturbing enough, Trinity is also a teacher. We know that Dexter isn’t a negative influence on Astor, Cody, or Harrison’s lives, but we do know that Arthur is a different monster than he. In spite of this, Arthur’s family is “more than just camouflage.”

Bath Tub
We know his wife isn’t a victim, but the way he holds her and uses the mirror to see her face reminds us just how dangerous he is. Sally and Arthur are immersed in a milky white bath, resting on a red towel: Arthur’s truth hasn’t stained the family yet. Or has it?

In juggling his new-found responsibilities, we know that Miami Metro has started to work ahead of Dexter’s schedule. Always wanting to be ahead of the game, Dexter tried taking the ashes from the wall of the bludgeoning crime scene; not only does Masuka take them from Dexter, “the evidence hog,” but he connects the dots into discovering that the saliva used to stick to the wall and the ash are a mitochondrial match. Although Vince is running the DNA against all databases, Dexter knows Trinity’s reputation is “squeaky clean.”

We discover that the Four Walls, One Heart project is a cover for killing all over the country; he keeps his kill tool (a hammer) with him at all times, and even hands it off to Dexter, alias Kyle Butler, at the build and even gifts it to him because he doesn’t have his own tools. As a part of this alias, Dexter claims that he’s separated from his wife and that she “took the kids;” we know this isn’t true, but it prevents Dexter from having to involve his family. It’s all a part of the protection of his family, but also a way of seeing how his life would be without Rita in spending time with Trinity.

Wall Picture 404 See 405 for Identical Image Wall Parallel

Harry always warned Dexter about making kills personal: we know that while Trinity’s kills aren’t personal, they are to avenge the deaths of his mother and sister (especially his sister); Dexter says he will kill Trinity to get vengeance for Debra, which is only a step away from what Trinity’s done for the past thirty years. Dexter observes that Trinity “keeps his family with him all the time.” As previously discussed in the 404/405 treatment, family members and surrounding communities help foster and protect the lies of the guilty. We see how Deb defends Dexter keeping his apartment, saying that “he has a problem with change. He’s very slow to evolve.”

Simply, Trinity is “hiding in plain sight.” Even though everything seems normal, we know just how quick to anger Trinity is, a feat we will eventually learn is associated with psychopathic tendencies. We can also see just how neat and particular Arthur is about everything, needing to be in control of all of the variables of his everyday life. He’s a violent man, but Harry points out that he “can’t kill Bambi,” thus justifying why Dexter needs to put him down as soon as possible. Harry says Dexter is taking “a risk,” but Dexter reminds us: “Isn’t that what life is?”

“Father of the Freakin’ Year”: Freudian Themes

In uncovering Trinity’s haunting truth, Dexter observes that “his history with [his sister] shapes who he is,” just as his history with his mother shapes who he is.

  • Vera Mitchell, 16, sister, suicide in a bathtub in 1959
    • Vera means “faith” and “true,” which could symbolize purity for Arthur.
  • Martha Mitchell, 40, mother, jumped from a building in 1961
    • Martha means “lady, mistress.” It also reminds me of Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus.
  • Henry Mitchell, 45, father, fatal head wound in 1964
    • Henry, meaning “home ruler” or “power” makes sense, given the fact that Trinity bludgeoned him to death. Sounds a lot like Miguel Prado’s father, doesn’t it?

Mitchell, according to this website, is a derivative of Michael, meaning, “Who is like God?”, a question meant to remind us that nobody is like God. Ironic, considering Trinity is a Deacon and Dexter claims a higher power wants him to keep doing what he’s doing. His cycles of three mimic the deaths of his family; his sister’s death made him who he is. Marisa Mauro asserts that “although Trinity’s victimology was more apparent on the surface than Dexter’s, we can also see a strong link in both serial killers between their psychology and their choice in victims” (63).

“This is my home . . . I can be myself here.” – Arthur Mitchell to Dexter

Vera, Arthur’s sister, is Trinity’s “own Dark Passenger.” Dexter decides to disturb the hive and hold the urn of her ashes when Arthur’s busy looking for supplies to clean Dexter’s self-inflicted wound (which was meant to get him into the house). He yells, “Don’t touch my sister,” pinning Dexter to the wall. We know the event had to be traumatic, but there is an incestuous attachment and fixation on Vera. We know that Dexter is protective over Deb, but not to this extent.

Trophies Out in the Open

“She’s [Vera] a part of me, Kyle. She made me who I am.”

Similarly, Dexter “was born out of primordial ooze. I crawled out of my own mother’s blood, hid among humans hoping not to be seen . . . I had to evolve. It was the only way to survive.” This explanation should remind us of Aphrodite springing forth from the shore, or from her father’s brain or something. I don’t quite remember, but it’s another God reference (in which Dexter is Aphrodite . . . ).

Moving on, Valerie Hodges, one of Harry’s former C.I.s, clues Debra into the fact that Harry had multiple affairs with his C.I.s, seemingly picking them based on “how good we were in the sack.” We know Harry was far from perfect, for it is impossible to be so, but Dexter sure is trying with his family. Seeing that Deb’s next file for investigation is Laura Moser, Dexter freaks. Harry urges him to destroy the file and close that door forever, which he does. When beginning to shred the files, he sends his mother’s picture through the shredder hesitantly. Before she could be destroyed, Dexter saves her.

“I can’t let her be cut up again.”

Just as Trinity acts to preserve his sister’s memory and is propelled by his past, Dexter acts similarly. He tears her from the shredder before she can be destroyed again.


A Padlock on Secrets: Couples’ Counselling

Dexter: “We all have secrets, Deb. Some of them shouldn’t be found out.”
Debra: “I don’t have any secrets like that.”

Dexter begins buying the kids and Rita things, taking the lead from Arthur in giving his Mustang to Jonah. In therapy, he admits that he does not know how to open up and express himself. The therapist learns about Dexter’s mother’s murder and suggests that perhaps Dexter is afraid to get close to Rita for fear that she will leave him, too. Although she reassures him that “Rita is not your mother” (ha,he picked her for how she looked like Laura Moser), Dexter believes that Rita would leave him if he truly opened up.

Everything is eventually solved: Debra moves into Dexter’s bachelor pad and Dexter gets a shed with a padlock in the backyard. He takes the lead from Arthur to try to be himself around his family.

“Please, we have three young children. There’s dangerous stuff in there.” – Rita to Dexter about the contents of his shed/man cave

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Debra: “My father used to say, ‘A good cop does whatever they can do to close a case’.”
Quinn: “Other cops, not you. Okay?”

In contemplating testifying that Nikki Wald shot her and Lundy in order to incriminate those who she believed to be guilty, Quinn gets her to back down. He knows that if any other truth is unearthed that it could destroy her career, and this proves that he does care about Debra, as his partner, but perhaps something more than that.


Quinn encourages her to be honest, whereas we know that he has taken part in some not-so honest behavior lately, beginning with him taking money from a crime scene. He senses that Dexter doesn’t like him after he witnessed Quinn stealing, and so when Dexter gets on his case about stopping Christine Hill from bothering Deb about an interview about the shooting, Quinn gets frustrated — so frustrated that he follows Dexter while he was on the stalk and hunt for Jonathan Farrow. As if Quinn isn’t suspicious enough, he says to Dexter, which angers him,

“What kind of guy does that [lies about keeping his apartment]? What are you hiding, Dexter?”

We know that there is trouble up ahead for Quinn and Dexter.

Dexter: A Comedy

  • Vince Masuka: “[The pattern on the victim’s head] comes from a framing hammer.”
  • Dexter: . . . “How do you know so much about hammers?”
  • Vince: “Not a tool I haven’t played with, my friend.”
  • Rita: “Go easy on him, guys. He’s only one person.”
  • Dexter: [V.O.] “That you know of.”

Debra: “Fat Jesus on a bike, get me out of here.”

Maria LaGuerta: “Let’s all welcome back Detective Fucking Morgan.”


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: 8
Entertainment: 7
Xtremity:  8
DEX-Factor: 7.66

Work Cited

Mauro, Marisa. “The Psychology of Dexter’s Kills an Investigation of Modus Operandi, Signature, and Victimology.” The Psychology of Dexter. Ed. Bella DePaulo. Dallas: Smart Pop, 2010. 49-64. Print.


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