Dexter and Trinity face off in the final episode of season four. Everything is at stake for Dexter – from his reputation, to his secret, to his family – since Arthur Mitchell has discovered who he truly is: Dexter Morgan, family man, blood spatter analyst, brother, husband, and father. Once Miami Metro discovers that “Trinity framed Stan Beaudry,” the FBI comes in to take down Trinity, who appears to have “skipped town.” Even when Dexter believes he has triumphed, for he is different than Trinity, he has actually failed. R.I.P. Rita Bennett Morgan, survived by Astor and Cody Bennett and Dexter and Harrison Morgan, the duo “born in blood.” What could this mean for little Harrison? Have Harry’s sins come full-circle to Dexter damaging Harrison the way his father “damaged” him?
“What Have I Done?”: Dexter’s Folly
“If I were you, I would give up vigilantism. You’re not very good at it.” – Arthur Mitchell to Dexter
Dexter’s struggle to understand and master human emotion is no secret; however, we can see the fear in Dexter’s being once Arthur Mitchell steps into Miami Metro. Similarly, Dexter feels no remorse when killing; however, “disappointing Rita makes me feel like the scum of the Earth.” In trying to explain himself to Rita, he admits that a “darkness creeps in and takes over,” which “makes [him] sound crazy.” Although Rita “[doesn’t] believe that,” we know better. Rita tells Dexter: “You’re the most important person in our lives. You have your demons. I accept that because I know that you don’t have to be a slave to them.” Although Dexter “wish[es] that were true,” Rita says she “know[s] you. Better than you know yourself. You can conquer whatever darkness there is in your. I know you can.” As much as Dexter “want[s] to be that man,” we question whether he actually can.
“You can’t think clearly because of [your family]. They’ve done this to you.” – Harry to Dexter
Harry told Dexter back in season two that he should “never makes things personal. Clouds your judgment” (205). Of course, we know Trinity’s kill is very personal for Dexter, given the fact that it was his daughter that put Debra in danger. Knowing that his family is in trouble, he is more than happy to send Astor and Cody with Paul’s parents to Disney World and to send Rita and Harrison down to the Keys a day ahead of them for their honeymoon. He is still adamant about keeping him safe, despite his frightening visions of Rita and the children being escorted out of their house the way the Mitchells are. Harry insists that “this is their future, Dexter.” Harry says, “Long after you’re executed, they’ll still have to go through life with your name branded across their foreheads,” warning that Dexter must now consider his family first before he continues living life the way he is, for fear of damaging his family like Arthur did.
“Can you believe that fucking monster had a family? And he abandoned them?” – Debra Morgan
“The messes [keep] piling up” as Dexter continues to put off taking down Trinity. In his scramble to follow Arthur, Quinn gets in Dexter’s way again. He is so distracted and sloppy that he has to hit Quinn in order to get him to back off, which can only mean more trouble between Quinn and Dexter in season five. Chasing Arthur by car leads to him taking a guy’s mirror off and getting the sheriffs to track him down. Rather than affording him professional courtesy, they insist that the other driver is right, who barks: “No one’s above the law, pal.” Despite what they know about him (being with Homicide and all), they take Dexter down to the precinct after he snaps and knocks the driver’s phone out of his hand, who was recording him being aggressive. It is because of his sloppy driving that he leaves Arthur in his van to escape and to do what he ultimately does. Lucky for Dexter, Miami Metro doesn’t catch onto the planted evidence in Stan Beaudry’s boudoir until Dexter has taken care of Trinity.
The Trinity Case
“I have to be the one to kill him.”
In matching Christine Hill’s postcard collection from her semi-estranged father to the cycles of three in the conference room, Deb discovers that there are three cities that don’t match to any of the kills that Lundy had in his book, leading Angel to call the cities and discover the true pattern: the abduction of a ten-year-old boy, followed by the cycle of three kills. In talking to Scott, the kidnapping victim, they get the logo for the Four Walls build, which leads them straight to Trinity, and to one of the boys encased in cement.
“You think you’re better than me?”
“No, but I want to be.”
Dexter and Arthur’s exchange while he is on the kill table is telling of their relationship and the way in which Dexter once regarded him. He admits that he’s ashamed he ever thought he could learn something from Arthur; however, we know just how dangerous they both are. Usually Dexter has an edge on everyone he hunts, but he got just a little bit too close this time. Fittingly, Dexter runs the Lionel train set around Arthur’s kill table and plays Vera’s favorite song as he kills Arthur with the framing hammer used in his latest cycle.
“You can’t control the demon inside of you anymore than I can control mine.” – Arthur Mitchell to Dexter
When the SWAT team breaks into Arthur Mitchell’s home, the family drops to the floor, whereas Dexter cannot risk being seen there; he hides in the coffin Arthur built inside of his garage and re-emerges in time for Deb and Angel to open the garage. Debra is suspicious of Dexter and how he got there “so fast,” the way she was suspicious of Christine Hill arriving to her own crime scene the night Lundy was shot. Just when we think that Dexter himself is about to be apprehended, we discover that Debra is too hung up on her recently discovered news about Dexter’s origins.
“Born in Blood, Both of Us. Harry Was Right.”
“My dark passenger is ruining my life.”
“It is your life.”
“I don’t want it to be.”
“Dad, who the hell are you?”
Dexter plays dumb when she relays his own origins to him; the only thing he admits to knowing (without actually telling Debra he knew this connection all along) is that Brian Moser, his blood brother, used her to get to Dexter. Dexter ponders, as he did when he connected the dots for himself, “If I’d never been in your life . . . ” but Debra stops him: “If you hadn’t been in my life, I wouldn’t be who I am. You’ve given me confidence and support. You’ve been the one constantly good thing in my life.” Dexter justifies staying in his family’s life, despite Harry’s warnings, for Rita claims the same thing. Because “no one would ever say that about Arthur,” Dexter thinks that “maybe Harry’s wrong. Maybe things could turn out differently for me.”
As Debra relays this information, the camera sways and spins, as if they were on a boat, rolling on the waves. (I previously stated that Debra doesn’t know Rudy’s real name was Brian Moser; I just discovered that I was wrong via this episode.) Of course, all of this is validated by Captain Tom Matthews, who knows that Harry never wanted either of his children to discover this truth. Matthews warns Debra to “keep it to yourself.”
Cap. Matthews: “The other boy was too damaged . . . ”
Deb: “No shit. He grew up to be the Ice-Truck Killer. You knew . . . “
Although I continue to bring up Debra’s father issues and deep-seeded love for Dexter, it is in this very moment where the seed is planted in the back of Debra’s mind about Dexter and Brian’s relation. If she fell in love so easily with Dexter’s biological brother, it is just as easy to admit the same feelings she has for Dexter. In this conversation, Dexter is both shocked that Debra has not stepped to the next conclusion that Dexter, too, is damaged, and also frightened that she eventually will, given that she is so close to the truth.
“Marriage, children. You never expect it to end in tragedy. Unless you’re me.” – Dexter, 307
Just when Dexter believes he has triumphed, the absolute worst possible thing happens: Trinity has pulled one over on him. He discovers that Rita had to return to the house to get her ID before the flight, which was when Trinity got her and killed her in the bath tub like the rest of his victims. Unlike other crime scenes, this one was not wiped clean and meticulously. Blood. Is. Everywhere.
Strikingly, Harrison is left in a puddle of his own mother’s blood, the way Dexter came to be at three years old. What is so heart-breaking is the fact that Dexter tried so hard to protect his son from the damage he was exposed to – the event that made him into who he is today. Furthermore, what Dexter walks into is maddening, for, as Lisa Firestone points out, “Dexter struggled to forgive the man [Harry] whose selfishness resulted in the horrifying and bloody scene that traumatized him as a young boy. The last episode of season four was chillingly familiar, as Dexter’s selfish desire to be the one to bring the Trinity Killer to justice resulted in the death of his own wife, Rita” (28). Rita even warned him in the season two finale to “keep [who he was] straight, or I won’t be here next time.” Because he failed to keep his priorities straight, he let all of his spinning plates slow to a halt before they all came crashing down around him uncontrollably.
Although he promised to protect Harrison, there was obviously nothing he could have done about the events that transpired in his very own house due to his very own indiscretions. This incident will raise several questions; although it is unclear with Dexter himself whether he was born with the genes that led him to psychopathic tendencies, or if it was solely the events in his life that led to his serial killing, it is truly meddled now, given the fact that Harrison has both a father with psychopathic tendencies and a traumatic childhood experience that could each lead to different violent outcomes later in life. Of course, we will never know the root cause – or if Harrison is actually damaged.
“Born in blood, both of us. Harry was right . . . But it doesn’t matter what I do, what I choose. I am what’s wrong. This is fate.”
Dexter’s remorse, although he quotes Debra’s words directly from the day when she broke down about Lundy’s death, is very very real. There is nobody to put on a show for, and Dexter is clearly devastated. What is even more unbearable for Dexter is the fact that Dexter lost Rita, which was like losing his mother all over again (and Lundy’s death, for Debra, was like losing her father, Harry, all over again as well). Michele Byers asserts that Rita, “is, in her unambiguous white blondeness, the innocence Dexter has the moral obligation to protect from the moral failings of the state and from the incursion of Others” (154). In letting Trinity escape far too many times, he has failed Rita, her children, and his only son.
Dexter: A Comedy
Arthur Mitchell: [Searching Dexter’s bachelor pad, now Debra’s] “You’re a little piggy, Dexter 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.
Byers, Michele. “Neoliberal Dexter.” Dexter Investigating Cutting Edge Television. Ed. Douglas L. Howard. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2010. 143-56. Print.
Firestone, Lisa. “Rethinking Dexter.” The Psychology of Dexter. Ed. Bella DePaulo. Dallas: Smart Pop, 2010. 17-32. Print.