Dexter creates a tableau of his own; Travis attempts to put Dexter into one of his own; Debra discovers her love for Dexter in therapy.
“Delusional” Creatures: A Study
Episode 10 picks up immediately where episode 9 leaves off: Dexter witnesses Travis talking to himself, which accounts for why his act was so convincing this entire time, and also reveals that he is a diagnosed psychotic, who experiences frequent breaks from reality, delusions of grandeur, a lack of empathy, and who is also suspected of killing his parents. We do learn in this exchange that Gellar is not the apocalypse nut; it is Travis. Travis, we learn, was the kind of threat to Gellar that Dexter warned Dr. Casey (the atheistic professor) about.
“It’s time to face the truth about yourself, Travis.”
Dexter has donned an air of invincibility ever since he dodged Doakes’ suspicions and the Bay Harbor Butcher investigation. After Rita was found murdered in her bathtub, Dexter abandoned his illusions of grandeur, but not for long, for his cat-and-mouse game with Travis Marshall nearly got Debra killed. Travis holds the similar notion of invincibility, as is evidenced by telling Gellar that the ancient sword he stole (not Gellar) could not hurt him. Travis’ belief that God will permit their acts, for they are carrying out his will, falls into the same category: disillusioned and insane.
Dexter renounces Brother Sam by deeming his teachings “bullshit” (guess Dexter thinks that’s what his initials stand for; BS: bullshit). In trusting in Travis’ ability to change, Dexter ignores the fact that one’s Dark Passenger is an integral part of who one is. Both Dexter’s and Brother Sam’s blood might be on his Bible, but Dexter cannot seem to hold the idea of religion, nor the idea of “changing,” as close to his heart as Brother Sam did. The only way to end the Dark Passenger’s hold is to end one’s life by “taking out the driver.” We saw how Dexter’s faith in himself reduced him to seeing himself as an animal; this idea is brought forth again when Dexter chooses to be the lion (“king of the beasts”) in Harrison’s preschool reenactment of Noah’s Ark.
“Maybe it takes a beast to catch a beast.”
Wormwood, the next attempted tableau, as well as the Lake of Fire, are both direct hits on both Debra and Dexter. What continues to baffle me, time after time, was that Dexter should have changed his habits after Rita’s death, and yet here we see him risking the lives of everyone he loves. Angel and Deb nearly died in these two episodes due to his indiscretions; although he did save everyone’s lives by throwing Beth Dorsey into the interrogation room, this does not atone for previous shortcomings. We see Dexter sending Harrison away with Jamie for two days to keep him safe, but high-caliber killers like Trinity and Travis Marshal can easily see through these plans and kill anyone they please.
I would like to point out Travis’ hazmat suit and how it nearly parallels Dexter’s suit when he entered the blood-filled hotel room in season one. This serves to further the parallel between the protagonist and antagonist this season.
“Disciples” of Serial Killers: A Legacy
Any time Dexter has made a kill personal, someone in his life has either gotten killed or was nearly killed: Dexter’s judgment call (or Harry’s, depending on how you look at it,) to call in an anonymous tip to the police about the yacht saved a lot of lives. An interesting parallel that emerges is that the Ice Truck Killer was a deeply personal kill, which also involved Deb. Perhaps she’s always had a target drawn on her back from the start. What’s sad is that we’ve felt this all along, too.
“I will make new disciples that will help me.”
Jeremy Downs, Miguel Prado, and Jonah Mitchell were all candidates to become Dexter’s disciples, and yet each attempt ended in chaos and death (except for Mitchell). Much like Travis, Dexter attempted to bestow Brother Sam’s light onto them in believing, for a short while, that genuine change was possible. However, this desire to eliminate Dark Passengers is proving to be deadly. Dexter does not want to expose Harrison to the violence that Jonah Mitchell endured; although Harrison did sit in a pool of his mother’s blood, the therapist deemed him too young for his innocence to be mauled by it.
“Your Father Would Be So Disappointed in You”: Fathers, Father-Figures, and Loss
“You were wrong, old man. I am in control now.”
Dexter kicked his Harry-alter-ego into check in season three when he figuratively killed off his father to follow the Code in his own way; and now here we see Travis “killing off” Gellar similarly. Both Harry and Gellar are spirits, yes, but that does not mean they should hold any less weight in pressuring their respective serial killers to do good or evil. Whereas Batista “doesn’t enforce God’s law,” neither does Dexter reinforce God’s nor his father’s Code at times. It is safe to say that both Dexter and Travis disappoint their father(-figures) from time to time.
Dexter’s main concern now with Harry is whether or not he ever had a choice in his path to becoming a serial killer; whereas Louis Greene’s video game, in which you ARE the serial killer, questions why anyone would want to be a serial killer. Dexter suggests that they will never know how Dexter would have turned out if Harry never taught him how to kill.
“I guess we’ll never know.”
A similar question arose today while I was re-watching season one with my mother when she asked me “Why would Neil Perry want to pretend to be a serial killer?”. My answer was that perhaps Perry is even more demented than our dear Dexter, as is Harry. It’s one thing to go through tragedy and then have to deal with “urges;” it’s another to guide a young boy to kill cleanly without being detected.
“You cried in my arms the night your father died.”
Deb’s panic attack in the abandoned church, Dexter reminds us, is like Dexter’s panic attack when he entered the bloody hotel room. These crime scene triggered memories of loss for both the Morgan siblings. Whereas Deb associates churches with funerals and the losses of her mother, Harry, Lundy, and Rita, Dexter was fixated on his mother. What adds to Deb’s clusterfuck of losses, disappointments, and strained relationships is the fact that Matthews assumes she ratted him out: “Your father would be disappointed in you.” Other daddy issues arise when Dexter goes looking for Peter Grant and his daughter expresses disgust with her father’s choice in girlfriends, suggesting issues similar to Deb’s.
Bromance and Disillusionment: Why We Should Have All Seen This Coming
“It’s so weird. [Travis’] sister seemed so convinced he was a good guy.”
Debra’s inability to see that her brother is a shady figure makes it more believable that she is just as ignorant to her feelings for him. Her sudden anger toward her therapist’s suggestion of her “complex feelings” for Dexter furthers the idea that she is in love with Dexter. What is interesting is that Dexter, too, exhibits some evidence of having feelings or a certain lust for Debra. Although many comments and glances can be chalked up to his socially awkward manner, and his inability to realize when certain observations are inappropriate.
“Your brother holds a very important place in your life.”
“He’s really all I have.”
“I love my brother, but I’m sure as shit not in love with my brother if that’s what you’re getting at.”
I will begin with hints of Debra’s feelings for Dexter first:
- Debra inquired about Dexter and LaGuerta’s possible sexual relationship (101)
- Debra’s comment that Dexter’s tie brings out his eyes (102)
- While in bed with Rudy Cooper, she covers his eyes. Perhaps this is Spider-Man-esque and she sees half of Dexter’s face, or the familial resemblance. She gets emotional immediately after (108)
- Deb stops Rudy from talking about Dexter while they are in bed (110)
- Deb jokes about sexual tension between Dexter and Doakes, as if to defer that between her and her brother
- Deb strokes Dexter’s hair (111)
- Deb walks in on Dexter and Lila having sex
- Deb is pictured in Dexter’s bed wearing boxers, but it is unclear whose they are (Dexter’s or Gabriel’s) (206)
- Deb gets jealous when Frank Lundy picks Dexter over her.
- Asks about his sex life with Rita and assumes they “fuck quiet , too!”
- Deb tries to figure out why Lila is so crazy over him, asking him “Does your dick dance?” (212)
- Deb feeds Dexter steak (211), very couple-esque.
- She compliments his High School Reunion suit, but then accuses him of wanting to get laid (601)
And now Dexter’s:
- Dexter tells Deb that he likes “[her] other outfit better,” that is her “sex suit” from when she worked vice (101)
- Dexter used “Sean” as a pseudonym twice, which is the name of two of Deb’s early boyfriends. (108)
- Dexter dreams of Deb in her”sex suit” (106)
- Dexter was teased in school about “fucking [his] sister” (108)
- Dexter’s alpha-male response to Rudy for hurting Debra
- He chooses Deb over Rita (112)
- As he looks at Deb, naked on a kill table, he thinks “I’m very . . . fond of her.”
- His incessant need to remind himself that she’s his sister: “Goodnight, sister.”
- He walks in on Deb and Gabriel having sex, then later jokes about her tying Gabriel up (205)
- He says that her hair cut is “beautiful” (301)
- Dexter says that he would never do anything to hurt Deb (611)
And clues that point to a “complex” closeness:
- Dexter and Deb double-date with Rita and the cable guy.
- After being abducted by ITK, Deb lives with Dexter for a while; this also happens after her break-up with Quinn.
- Dexter insists that he doesn’t want Deb getting hurt (306), and Deb is flattered: “Aw. You do care about me.”
Michelle Ross’ observation about their traumatic experiences bringing them super close ring true with Jordan Chase’s antagonistic claims about Dexter’s relationship with Lumen:
“Two broken people, going through intense shared experiences against a common enemy. It produces a sense of deep, deep bonding. I’m sure you feel like you actually have something, even love.”
Their common enemy is Harry, no matter how much they claim to love him or hate him at any given time. Although Fionna Boyle contends that Dexter wants nothing to do with knowledge of Deb’s sexual adventures, here we have evidence of a slight curiosity, or at least a lacking of strong aversion to it. While their relationship is complicated, despite Dexter’s “lack of feelings,” Dexter clearly has complications with their relationship as well. I’m not prepared to discuss the finale just yet, but that finale plays into why I do feel that Dexter did genuinely love Debra; however, I refuse to label his kind of love (incest or sibling) for lack of evidence.
Breaking Down Debra’s Dream
Dexter is being his usual, understanding self. His arm is around her, which his habit of keeping distance between the two of them. Deb’s attention to his lips and his eyes suggest her desire to kiss him, as does her move to wipe the noodle juice off of his face, and then licking it off of her own finger. When he takes her hand in his to learn how to hold chopsticks, Dexter reports that she’s shaking.
Just before this dream, we see Deb and Matthews at dinner; Deb focuses on dinner when he brings up the Jessica Morris case, which conveys her timidity with which she approaches uncomfortable and intimidating situations.
Dexter’s lighter blue suggests that Debra’s darker side is coming out to play; we saw a similar idea when the two hug outside Miami Metro. This has also happened when Quinn thanked Dexter for his neat blood work that helped him out of the Stan Liddy issue; Quinn donned a slightly darker purple than Dexter.
It’s interesting that they’re eating Chinese, rather than their usual steaks and beer, for Quinn attempted to talk to her about his marriage proposal over Chinese from her “favorite place,” so elements of her relationship with Quinn, and her complex feelings about him, enter into this dream, too. Given the fact that Quinn lit candles around the food in a heart-shape suggests that this is a more romantic setting than Dex and Deb usually have for dinner.
In expressing her fears to Dexter leaving suddenly, she elicits a kiss from Dexter. He reassures her, as he always does, that he’s here for her. And here is when their closeness forces Deb to realize that her therapist pulled a hidden truth out of her psyche.
Breaking Down Dexter’s Dream
Dexter’s Ice-Truck Killer-induced dream is similar to Deb’s in that it elicits things that Dexter is uncomfortable with. The fact that Valerie Castillo’s body was drawn up from the ocean and re-displayed for Miami Metro to find is shocking in that Dexter’s world is turned upside down with ITK’s entrance into his life. Castillo is extracted from the ocean and brought back to life, which incriminates Dexter and reveals him to everyone for what he truly is. The only people present in that room are people who know who he is: Harry, Deb, and Rudy.
The bloody storm, for me, is more of a foreshadowing for the series finale more than anything. The “storm” that’s coming is more of a foreshadowing of the truth that Dexter will someday have to face telling to Deb.
Deb’s question of why he didn’t tell her he was a serial killer is not so far-fetched, given how often she’s expressed her desire to communicate with her brother. But when they switch roles, and Deb, donning blood-red lipstick, slices his cheek and draws his blood, perhaps we are meant to understand that we all have secrets, and Deb could also be hiding a secret like Dexter’s, which we now know to be true. At the time this was aired, perhaps we would have thought that Deb was also a serial killer; however, we know her cop instincts would prevent her from doing as such.
Deb’s figure seems cartoonish: the lighting makes her appear airbrushed, as if she is not real, just as he cannot fathom the idea of telling his sister about his Dark Passenger. The fact that she’s in her “sex suit” might be telling of some deeply Freudian inclinations.
The Ice-Truck Killer’s shadow emerges and drops Barbie’s key chain head upside down, which is immediately followed by Debra’s face, also viewed upside down. In retrospect, this was a very clear indicator that Debra would be one of the Ice-Truck Killer’s victims; however, how could we know?
“Any last words? Figures.”
Dexter is at a loss for words, which is also characteristic of Dexter. He does not always know what to say, and sometimes his excuses fall short, for nobody is perfect. Not even Dexter Morgan. Debra’s act to kill him foils our series finale in a rather morbid fashion.
The Louis Greene Problem: Sniffing out Serial Killers
It is no secret that Louis Greene is hurt by Dexter’s put-down of his video game of a serial killer in Miami Metro Homicide. Dexter is brainy and reserved, which is why he’s interesting (Maria and Deb find him fascinating for his economy of words). Louis has been trying to follow Dexter around like a puppy dog, and he clearly recognizes Dexter’s talent, which is why he wishes to learn from him. Knowing how tech-savvy Louis is, Dexter should not do anything to annoy him, for it seems as though he is just as deft in the databases as Dexter is. Given the fact that he packages up the Ice-Truck Killer prop, paints the nails on the prosthetic, and draws lifelines on the arm and sends it right to Dexter suggests that he knows Dexter’s truth. Of course, it doesn’t help that Dexter reacted so personally to the video game.
“Who would choose to be a serial killer?”
What is peculiar to me is that this story line is dropped, and nothing ever pans out with Louis Greene.
This is not the first time we have seen Dexter’s face painted larger-than-life on a wall. Recall that Lila also did so when she plotted her revenge against the Dark Defender.
It’s interesting that the show repeatedly returns to artists as the scariest source of serial killers. Dexter is even converted into art when Travis makes him a part of the Lake of Fire tableau.
Dexter: A Comedy
Harry [as Dexter cuts off Gellar’s hand]: “This is ghoulish, even for you.”
Deb: “Holy Christ on a stick . . . [glances at crucifix on wall of abandoned church] sorry.”
Dexter: “Maybe you’re pregnant.”
Debra: “First of all, fuck you. And second of all, that would be the immaculate fucking conception, since I haven’t been with anyone since Quinn. And lastly, fuck you.”
Louis Greene: “I mean, he’s kind of intense.”
Jamie: “Babe, I don’t know what he’s like at work, but once you’ve seen him reading Everybody Poops to Harrison, you realize he’s a big softie.”
Dexter: “C’mon, Holly, give me something I can use [opens drawer; sees vibrator and lube] . . . something else.”
Dexter: “Time to play find the fuck-pad.”
The security guard’s online conversation.
Dexter: “What did stalkers do before the internet?”
Deb: “How did you know that crazy bitch was a threat?”
Dexter: “Just luck I guess.”
Deb: “Fuck luck, I’ll take you.”
Louis: “You sure it’s safe to be here?”
Masuka: “Relax, sidekick. Hazmat gave brass the all-clear.”
Louis: “I think I prefer ‘intern.'”
Masuka: “Bukkaki, Bukkake.”
Masuka: “The hand [smells] bad. I’ve had my tongue in places that’ve smelled better.”
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.
Boyle, Fionna. “Blood Brothers: Brian + Dexter + Miguel.” Dexter: Investigating Cutting Edge Television. Ed. Douglas L. Howard. New York: I.B. Taurus, 2010. 96-113. Print. Investigating Cult TV.