Dexter becomes further involved with Arthur Mitchell’s family and lets Jonah know that he’s tracking them down; whereas Jonah suspects Arthur’s (and Kyle Butler’s) demons, others don’t. Deb suspects Christine Hill of shooting Frank Lundy. Her exchanges with Hill only serve to accentuate that the two of them are no different; they act just as their fathers have in order to gain approval, attention, and acceptance. Dexter juggles far too many things, as he seems to do this season, and that leads to Trinity following him right into the heart of Miami Metro.
“The Sins of Your Father”
“How come you’re the only one who can see my dad for what he really is?” – Jonah Mitchell
To everyone else, Arthur Mitchell is a family man and a good guy; to Jonah, his family, and Dexter, he is evil and destructive. Why is it that Arthur’s family is so attuned to his darkness and Dexter’s isn’t? Cody gets into a fight at school to defend Dexter’s honor (because someone saw him leave the Young Sailors camp out); Rita even let Paul rot and be killed in jail because she refused to believe any of the accusations Paul threw out there. There is a different dynamic in Dexter’s family than there is in Trinity’s. Whereas Trinity is far more volatile with his family and relationships, Dexter is a bit too reserved and calm. Bella DePaulo posits that Dexter, “as a guy, can get away with seeming like the stereotypical unemotional and unexpressive type” (69). We see this when Rita tells him about her and Elliott’s kiss and he doesn’t react much. He seems like he is ready to forgive and move on; however, we do see him decking Elliott outside on his front stoop. Show or not, Dexter is far better at covering his lies and emotional shortcomings than Trinity is. The difference is that Dexter’s family is not afraid of him. Although Harry points out that in thirty years’ time, perhaps his family will resemble Trinity’s; however, I do not think this is the case.
“Harry’s past is a minefield, but I’ve got my own ticking bomb to diffuse.” – Dexter Morgan
Quinn beats himself up over not knowing how he overlooked all of the signs that Christine was guilty; similarly, Debra reminds him that she was engaged to the Ice Truck Killer, Brian Moser, alias Rudy Cooper (of course, she still doesn’t know Rudy’s real name, nor his relation to Dexter). Much like previous arguments I have made for Rita’s willing/loving blindness in Dexter’s favor, these two have experienced first-hand what it is like to dance with (or kiss) the devil and they didn’t even know it. In Christine’s case, she was defending her father; all of these years she refused to see Trinity’s darkness until she noticed that the bath tub murder took place in the same house that she accidentally saw her father kill a woman in a blood-filled bathtub. Deb admits that she would have “done the same thing” and defended her father; however, she doesn’t know that she defends and enables her brother every single day to do just what Arthur does (albeit under different circumstances),
“I [don’t] think that much of him anymore either.” – Debra about idolizing Harry, to Christine Hill about her own father
We know how Dexter is never all too thrilled when someone threatens with his vocational time, but Arthur is down-right disturbed when someone imposes upon him. We see this when Christine wants to see her father sooner than one of their “scheduled” visits. We discover that, despite what Christine claims about her relationship with her father, she is much like Debra and Harry. In order to get his approval, she became a killer, just like Arthur.
“I’ll be a cop, too. Maybe then he’ll love me.”
These two episodes uncover something previously undetected by Frank Lundy; a boy is abducted just before the cycle of three killings begin. We see Arthur use the stick family on the back of the van to construct a solid story to sell to the young boy, Scott. Despite the fact that this is a critique of the “perfectly happy, American family” that everyone loves to display on their cars, we get a closer look into just how Trinity was damaged. Both serial killers act and revisit the source of their darkness, where their “dark passenger[s] [were] born.”
Dexter cuts killers up into pieces with a bone saw, the way his mother was dismembered, to avenge his mother and to try to search for meaning in his own life by blood; Trinity acts similarly in the fact that he repeats the events of his life to try to make sense of what happened and perhaps to even lessen his own guilt about his sister, Vera’s, death.
“I’ll preserve this boy’s innocence.” – Arthur Mitchell to Dexter
Marisa Mauro asserts that “we . . . learned that Trinity’s victims’ characteristics bore a shocking similarity to the psychological traumas he had experienced as a child. In fact, the young boy that began each of his killing cycles represented Trinity’s childhood lost due to the tragic death of his family” (62). We know that Trinity isn’t the only one in a scramble to preserve innocence and purity; Dexter was worried, while Rita was pregnant, about tainting his child or passing on the serial-killing gene (which is not likely, for the events that transpired early on in his life classify him as a sociopath, not a psychopath, which can be genetic to a certain extent). He promises Harrison,
“I promise you, no one’s ever gonna hurt you again. Especially me.”
We know that Arthur has severely damaged his wife and children, as well as Christine. We know that he even took Christine on a kill when she was five, and she witnessed a woman in a blood-filled bathtub. Dexter has never taken one of the kids on a kill; however, that doesn’t mean he never will.
While neither Trinity nor Dexter can regain their innocence or revert to the past, they can try to preserve the purity around them. Trinity takes this a step further and tries to honor “thing[s] of beauty,” a perverted ode to American Culture.
Harry warned Dexter just after the Thanksgiving spat in the Mitchell home that he would need to be careful, given the fact that Trinity now knows that Dexter also has a Dark Passenger lurking inside. Trinity acknowledges this recognition in one of their phone calls,
“What kind of man witnesses a child abduction and doesn’t call the police? Who are you, Kyle?”
Although Dexter quickly covers it up as a ploy to get “money” out of him, threatening to ruin his reputation if he fails to comply, Trinity is already a few steps ahead of him and follows him from the arcade/carnival to Miami Metro and learns that he is not Kyle Butler, but Dexter Morgan. Since Dexter has been half-assing a lot of things since the beginning of this season, rushing the ritual to dispose of Stan Beudry (for he was framing him for the Trinity kills, thus getting Miami Metro off of Trinity’s back and allowing Dexter to take Arthur out himself) is yet another “band-aid,” as Harry called it after the Beni Gomez/car accident incident, on the problem of Dexter spreading himself too thin. We know that Dexter’s spread too thin, as evidenced by his hair, which Debra said looked like a “cat on top of your head.” The crazier his life gets, the crazier Dexter’s hair does. In the arcade/carnival, the spinning ride and the off-kilter camera angles signify that Dexter’s dizzy (or at least has whiplash) from trying to be in too many places at once and keep up a million stories at a time.
Just as Christine Hill was beginning to uncover her father’s truth, Debra is starting to pick up on her own father’s shortcomings and Trinity’s whereabouts. She’s a keener cop than we ever imagined she could be, possibly just as keen as Dexter.
The boy who Arthur abducted’s name is Scott; his nanny’s name is Susan Peterson, which automatically reminds me of the Scott and Laci Peterson case. The abduction makes a great case to eliminate those stick figure families that everyone is so fond of. What’s to stop psychopaths in the real world from using the names on the back of vans to do just as Arthur Mitchell did? Food for thought.
Arthur forces the young boys to play with his Lionel train set and wear cowboy pajamas. At first, I wasn’t sure of the significance of this; however, the phrase “cowboys and Indians” came to mind. The transcontinental railroad displaced millions of native peoples during the nineteenth century, many of which died en route, if not from some other European-brought disease; the “Indians” we know of today are highly fictionalized and are seen as facing cowboys in the wild west. Just as perverse as Arthur’s life (and affiliations with organizations, like the church) is, perhaps we are meant to be reminded of just how warped the American Dream is. America’s founding fathers murdered millions and claimed this land their own, like predators and prey in a survival of the fittest game. Arthur and Dexter are the top dogs, taking out innocent people/”lesser” serial killers.
In addition, within close proximity to the shot of the Lionel trains and the cowboy pajamas is a Dixie cup of ice cream; could the writers be poking at the Mason-Dixon line, and thus yet another one of America’s black marks (no pun intended) on their record of slavery/enslavement and racial inequality.
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.
DePaulo, Bella. “Deception: It’s What Dexter Does Best (Well, Second Best).” The Psychology of Dexter. Ed. DePaulo. Dallas: Smart Pop, 2010. 65-78. Print.
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.