In the aftermath of Trinity’s revenge, Dexter tells the first responders that Rita is dead and “it was me.” He asks Deb to treat Harrison like her own son, and she agrees to help raise him. Dexter decides that his family is better off without them after Astor and Cody take the news of their mother’s death poorly (and understandably so). Believing that Harry has abandoned him, Dexter sets fire to the shipping container with all of his belongings in it and destroys all digital files he once used to track down and kill his victims. Planning to make a break for it and leave, Harry finally reappears to him to tell him that his family – Astor, Cody, Harrison, and Debra – needs him. Meanwhile, Quinn is becoming even more suspicious of Dexter.
“It Was Me”: Dexter’s Guilt
The only two emotions that could describe Dexter’s reaction to Rita’s death are shock and numbness; these reactions are taken for utter emptiness and apathy by Quinn and Astor. We know that Dexter doesn’t feel all too much, but there is something there behind these two show-stopping, derailing feelings: love.
“I’ve watched 67 people die, and at the moment of truth, I looked into their eyes and they knew and I knew they got what they deserved.”
Dexter knows that Rita did not deserve death; of all people in the world, she deserved what Dexter tried to give her, a “white picket fence,” and several children surrounding her; everything essential to the American Dream, which was virtually shattered (or severed, in her case). Dexter’s heart thumps in his chest for the second time in his life; the first time was when his watery graveyard was uncovered. This is all taken to be a show by Quinn, who listens to Dexter’s 911 call, which was precise like “he’s submitting a lab report.” Angel defends that it’s Dexter’s “habit of precision,” but we know better. Quinn’s suspicions are spiked further when Vince tells him about Rita and Elliott’s shared kiss on Thanksgiving, allowing for a possible kill motive if Dexter was to be pinned as the killer. When Quinn pursues it, intimating to LaGuerta that Rita’s killer is likely Dexter, as is the case in 9 out of 10 dead spouses. Quinn isn’t the only one buzzing about the circumstances of Rita’s death, however. The FBI feds are like “vultures,” waiting to catch Dexter when he shows up to Rita’s funeral to get an official statement from him.
Dexter is guilty of many things, but killing his wife is not one of them. He begins to relive their first date and their first few days together; he recalls “how much I lied to her, from the very beginning.” We see that Dexter used his date with Rita as a cover for stalking and hunting one of his victims; he barely paid any attention to her and left abruptly. The guilt for this careless action symbolizes much of their relationship; Rita was – is – a cover for Dexter. But now she has become so much more for Dexter that losing her has him in a tailspin.
“She was innocent.”
“So, Where Are You Harry?”: Abandoning Faith and Family
Dexter considers upping and leaving; of course we know this would make him look guilty of Rita’s death, but Dexter is too adamant about not harming his family anymore to care. When Harry fails to appear to Dexter in his time of need, he goes and torches the shipping container in which he kept his kill tools, materials, and other belongings that he kept his apartment to stash. He even deletes digital files on his computer from each of his stalks, hunts, and ritualistic research. It seems as though Dexter has hit the “restart” button when he caves in and goes to Rita’s funeral. After an ugly purging of whines and shrieks, Dexter has excised his guilt and is ready to move on. At least he thinks he is.
“She had a big heart. Big enough for the both of us. Had to be. I wasn’t even human when we first met. I never expected that to change.”
Dexter considers, for a short while, leaving his family. We see his state of mind is questionable, given the fact that he left Harrison with the crazy cat lady from the downstairs apartments. We know that he was planning to take his things and restart elsewhere, a move that his father had once prepared him for; however, a good and quick kill, in violation of the Code, excises all of the negative energy and he regains some clarity.
Ultimately, Dexter realizes that he cannot abandon his family, for he loved Rita and they need him just as much as he needs them in his life. Dexter’s survival now depends upon his ability to protect his family and continually avenge his wife’s death, for he failed Rita and he cannot bear to fail her children as well. Astor blames Dexter for her mother’s death, and rightfully so. He had several opportunities to take out Trinity, which he squandered or passed up, knowing that the longer he waited, the more dangerous Arthur Mitchell became.
“Where were you when someone was killing her? You should’ve been there to protect her. That was your job.” – Astor to Dexter
Housekeeping and Homecoming
“Never hurt an innocent, and never make a scene.” – the Code
Debra has officially stepped up to the plate to take care of her big brother following Rita’s death. Rather than letting the feds impersonally clean up Dexter’s house like a crime scene, Deb takes it upon herself to clean up Dexter’s bathroom to be sure that it was immaculate – even more immaculate than Dexter and Rita had left it before the great tragedy. Trinity, well he and his daughter Christine Hill, have done more than enough damage to both her and Dexter in this past season and in cleaning up his mess, we see just how hard Rita’s death hit her as well. The kill was deeply personal. From arranging the wake and funeral to taking care of Harrison, Debra is truly the housekeeper in Dexter’s life for the time being when it has always been Dexter watching out for her (following the Ice-Truck Killer incident and Lundy’s death).
As a quick aside, I have suggested that Dexter and Debra are doppelgangers of sorts – male and females halves of the whole Morgan. I’ve mentioned previously that Dexter starred in HBO’s Six Feet Under, which also featured a close (read: nearly incestuous) brother-sister relationship: Brenda and Billy Chenowith (played by Rachel Griffiths and Jeremy Sisto). Perhaps this is a take off on the idea that we all have two sides to ourselves. Each show comments on the public self and the private self, both with the characters’ private lives and issues as well as familial conflicts and public actions.
Playing House: The Freudian Morgan
As Dexter and Debra enter his bachelor pad with Harrison, their homecoming eerily appears as a restart – a reset of what Dexter’s family is, leaving his sister in the mother figure role, and Dexter in the fatherly one. Given the fact that Lundy’s recent death was like losing Harry, a father, all over again, and Rita’s death like losing Laura Moser, Dexter’s mother, all over again, the Morgans cling to one another. Given the argument that I have brought up before about Debra’s denied love for Dexter, she ends up sleeping with Quinn because she cannot pour all of the love and fear onto Dexter for fear that she will “misstep” and break a taboo. Dexter asked Deb to “love [Harrison] as if he were your own,” to which Deb says that Harrison “is my own.” Their intimate hug leaves Deb uncomfortable and itching to ditch the apartment as quickly as possible.
Quinn said earlier in season four something along the lines of “put two people together in a room long enough and they’ll f*ck.” This is exactly what happens following the cleaning of the crime scene.
Dexter: A Black Comedy
Deb: “FBI? Fucking bunch of idiots.”
- Astor: “Hey, Dexter. Can I talk to mom?”
- Dexter: “Not right now.”
- Astor: “Why not?”
- Dexter; “She’s uh . . . she’s in the shower.”
- Rita: “Your sister . . . Debra’s told me so much about you.”
- Dexter: “Uh oh.”
- Rita: “Oh, nothing bad, of course.”
- Dexter: “She omitted the fact that I’m an ax murderer?”
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.