Family, Real and Made in 508: “Take It!” & 509: “Teenage Wasteland”

DEXTER (Season 5)

Dexter’s two separate worlds collide when Astor and a friend break into the family house where Dexter is keeping Lumen; on top of that, Miami Metro knows Dexter is seeing Jordan Chase in search of ways to cope with Rita’s death. When Dexter steps up as a father to protect Astor and her friend, Harry admits that perhaps he overlooked the humanity within him, begging the question . . . was Dexter born to be a serial killer, or made into one?

Risk, Desire, Instinct: Jordan Chase and the Jungle Metaphor

“We are born primal.”

Jordan Chase’s seminar appears as a cult gathering, in which even Dexter seems normal compared to the rest of them. In teaching these people to “seize the power of instinct,” Chase is inviting us to see how he acts only on impulse and without regard to consequence. In preaching, Dexter cannot help but notice how familiar Chase’s mentality is; the fact that Dexter’s thoughts echo Chase’s words signify to us that Chase is a monster, too. Of course, it doesn’t help that Chase admits to following the Trinity Killer case closely. He even reveals how much he knows about Dexter, proving that he’s done some research of his own and is keeping tabs on Miami Metro’s every move, much like Dexter, so he can act accordingly and not get caught.

At first, he seems to be interested in helping Dexter; after inviting him on stage and revealing that he acts the way he does  because he is “shattered” and is searching for something that will make him “whole again,” Dexter gains some clarity about his relationship with Lumen. Although Dexter only attends the seminar to get Cole Harmon and take him down, he only invites a bigger problem: Jordan Chase himself. He knows who Dexter is, and it is only because of Chase and his intense interest in Dexter that he knows he’s one of the main players in the barrel girl killer case.

Dexter starts seeing Jordan Chase for sessions; his philosophy is rooted in intense exercise, as well as Plato’s Symposium. Chase believes that we’re all just “fractured creatures trying to become whole.” While Dexter prefers therapy on a couch, he still needs to get in close with Chase, given the fact that he revealed, indirectly, to Dexter that he is the “watch guy” Lumen spoke of.

“Tick, tick, tick. That’s the sound of your life running out.”

It is not until he notices his blood vial necklace leaking (and his locker slightly ajar) that he become suspicious of Dexter as another potential threat. Of course, this will eventually lead Dexter to Emily Birch, a woman who is still alive to tell tales of Jordan Chase. He is “beefing things up” when he gets more security guards once his friends start disappearing – first Boyd Fowler, and now Cole Harmon, head of security. Of course Harmon didn’t go down without a fight; he nearly choked out Lumen before Dexter could take care of him.

Blood Vial

Not only is Chase privy to Dexter’s intentions, he also knows that he is working with Lumen. After calling his house to remind him to make another appointment, he calls Lumen by name when wishing her “goodbye.”

Jordan Chase suggests that “trauma is also opportunity” to “reinvent yourself any way you want.” Given the fact that Harry admits to not seeing Dexter’s underlying humanity, perhaps his trauma and training were inflicted upon him, rather than him being a natural-born killer.

“If only I had seen that, maybe I wouldn’t have led you down this path.”

Chase’s seminars take place in a blue-staged hall. Blue is a frequent color on Dexter, the main times I can recall being when Doakes went into Dexter’s apartment to discover all of his secrets and, more recently, when Dexter and Deb shared a beer in front of his apartment on the balcony. Perhaps blue signifies revelation, or perhaps deeper insight into the self.


Guilt and Remorse: The Serial Killer Inside and Other Parallels

Debra cannot believe how she doesn’t feel guilt or remorse for shooting and killing Carlos Fuentes. Whereas we know Dexter doesn’t dwell on the emptiness that follows a kill, Deb is troubled by the fact that she feels even more violence and ill-will when she thinks of the Fuentes brothers. Although Carlos is the “scumbag who I shot and killed,” Debra still feels like she should feel different. She is required to attend six mandatory shrink sessions following the shooting, but she doesn’t need to:

“I always thought that if I landed a bullet, that it would bother me . . . it would be a burden to take another life. I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel anything.”

In trying to comfort Deb, Dexter tells her that Harry once said: “Some people deserve to die.” Although Deb doesn’t quite buy it, it does provide some comfort. Strangely, her observations sound much like Dexter’s.

DEXTER (Season 5)

Dexter comments how running clears his mind; I couldn’t help but remember how Debra was constantly on the treadmill after being abducted by her serial killing fiancee and nearly killed. It’s a strange parallel between the Morgan siblings; perhaps running is a healthy way to clear anyone’s mind, but it only reinforces the bond they share, as halves of a whole. It also reminds us that Dexter is going through a difficult time and period of adjustment following Rita’s death, whether or not he admits that he’s struggling.

Lumen Ann Pierce

Although Dexter somewhat recognizes his bond with Lumen as a way to make himself feel better about Rita’s death, Astor brings his behavior into focus:

“Does that make you feel better about what happened to mom?”

Dexter has been reluctant to let Lumen in on the ritual; however, following the break-in at Cole Harmon’s, Lumen proved to be quite the partner in crime. When she admits to Dexter that Owen, her ex-fiancee, is in town and that he has offered to travel the world with her in hopes of getting her back, Dexter seems to express a bit of fear and apprehension about her leaving. Although he was torn in sharing his deepest, darkest secrets with her, following  Harmon’s kill, Dexter tells her everything – from Laura Moser to the blood slides. Of course it was only brought on by Lumen confronting him about it:

“What do you get out of this?”

She can tell that Dexter isn’t quite doing everything for Lumen; rather, he’s operating for himself, although, after Rita died, “none of this made sense anymore.” Dexter reminds us that neither Harry nor Miguel Prado could handle Dexter’s truth, and he wonders whether Lumen will be able to handle it, either.

“Is Lumen what will make me whole again?”


Dexter’s habit of compartmentalizing his hobby from his real life seems to fail with Lumen; she is a person, after all, and one who knows much about Dexter and who is bound to be someone Dexter trusts. We see this when he leaves Harrison with Lumen; even Deb has to question why he’d leave the baby with a “stranger.” (We saw just how badly Astor reacted when Harrison said “Mama” toward Lumen, although he did mean the stuffed toy). Despite allegations, Dexter and Lumen are not romantically involved (yet). While Deb and Astor’s suspicions grow about Lumen, Dexter seems to be healing from Rita’s death quite nicely. In avenging Lumen’s assailants and attackers, Dexter feels better about his mistakes. Helping Lumen heal is part of his own healing process.

Even so, having Lumen around is further complicating his life. As Harry points out,

“Dexter, there’s a reason serial killers don’t have children. You can’t be killer and dad. Haven’t you learned anything? [Astor’s] mother is dead because of you.”

Of course, Harry is only referring to Rita’s children; he is, in no way, suggesting that Dexter ditch Harrison. Rather, he is encouraging Dexter to simplify in an ever-complicating situation. Despite Harry’s original  belief on Dexter’s ability to care for others, the way in which he handles the situation with Astor and her friend (and the friend’s mother’s abusive boyfriend) shows Harry that he has the ability to step outside himself and help others.


A quick aside about Dexter’s mocking: We’ve heard Dexter mock several people before, which, on the surface, is usually construed as Dexter’s inability to feel and think for himself; however, don’t we all mock and repeat others’ opinions? Nothing is 100% genuine, and Dexter helps to illuminate this fact for us. The fact that Dexter repeats Harry’s speech of pride to Astor is slightly different, however. Harry isn’t physically present, so we should treat the ghost of Harry as Dexter’s projection of him, an internalized parent (which we all have as well).

“I had no idea you had that in you. I’m proud of you, Dexter.”

We never really saw Dexter communicate with Astor and Cody beyond the first few seasons; Dexter became the shadowy father figure who appeared now and then for a meal and sleep; Astor was the first and only person (other than Elliott, but screw him) to tell Dexter that he never made the effort to make the family feel like he cared about them. A parallel can be drawn here between Astor and Deb and Dexter and Harry; Dexter was so consumed in his hobby and career that he never really connected with Rita’s children the way Astor would have liked him to. Has that ship sailed? Most likely, given the fact that their grandparents are raising the Bennett children now.


Debra cannot get past the fact that Dexter won’t be open and honest about Lumen; although Deb could be confused and upset, given the fact that Dexter has “shacked up” with a girl so soon after Rita’s death, there is an underlying jealousy about Dexter’s love life. Although she’s “got a boyfriend who loves [her],” Deb is still too caught up in her past life, when it was just her and Dexter and Harry. Dexter may be her brother, but there are deeper feelings there.

Speaking of family (real and made), Batista tells Deb that she is “flesh and blood to me, like my kid sister. But better, because I actually like you.” An interesting parallel will emerge later, especially when we discover Batista does have a kid sister, Jamie, who will also date Quinn. That won’t happen until season seven or eight, however.

Put a Lid on It, Liddy

Liddy is a can of worms Quinn wishes he never opened. While Liddy discovers Lumen’s past, and draws an incorrect conclusion about Lumen arriving in Miami a week before Rita’s death, he gets on an awfully dangerous track to apprehending Dexter. Whereas this project began as a way to get back at LaGuerta and Dexter (Quinn) and make some cash (Liddy), Liddy has discovered this operation could be the difference between remaining unemployed and getting his career back. He’s got Quinn by the horns, too, milking him for cash as he threatens to tell Debra if Quinn doesn’t continue to pay him and show interest in the case he’s just uncovered.

Stan Pics

“Whatever they’re hiding, it’s something big.”

Once Deb hears from LaGuerta that he wasn’t on forced vacation, rather suspension, she discovers that Quinn was investigating Dexter, despite his wishes. Quinn precisely stopped investigating and lost interest in pursuing Dexter, for it would hurt Deb, and love is protecting her from any further harm. Although he had the best intentions (which bloomed too late), Quinn still managed to hurt Deb.

Quinn Deb

As we’ve discovered with Dexter’s past “friends,” only those with a Dark Passenger can apprehend others with a Dark Passenger. Perhaps Quinn has some things we don’t know about going on inside of him.

Dexter: A Comedy

Dexter: [At a Jordan Chase Seminar] “I’ve never been around so many people who made me feel normal.”

Stan Liddy: “Name – Lumen Pierce. Lumen – stupid fuckin’ name.”

  • Astor: “Who the fuck are you?”
  • Lumen: “Who the fuck are you?”
  • Astor: [to Dexter] “Who the fuck is she?”

[Reminds me of YouTube’s Most Popular Girls in School]

  • Lumen: “Share with her. Something you did at her age.”
  • Dexter: “I killed the neighbor’s dog.”
  • Lumen: “Well, don’t tell her that.”

Dexter as he explains his strategic hits to Barry while beating him up.


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: 9
Xtremity:  9
DEX-Factor: 8.66


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