'Dexter' Recap: Smokey and the Bandit

Oct 16, 2011 | 4:35pm EDT

dexterS6:E3 This episode of Dexter asked the question of just how long Dexter can expect to keep killing by presenting to us an elderly serial killer, whose life and attitude are horrible because he’s physically incapable of murdering anyone anymore. It made Dexter consider the reality that one day his body will also betray him, and that one day he will be unable to do what he loves.

“Why are you doing this to me?” – Nathan

We open on Travis telling Nathan -- the man he kidnapped at the end of last week’s episode -- that he would be freed when he sincerely repented for his sins. Nathan (who is chained to the floor) cries and begs for forgiveness from God, and when Travis leaves the room he tells Professor Gellar that Nathan is just telling them what they want to hear so he can convince them to let him live. Travis says he is uncomfortable with letting Nathan believe he was going to be released, and Professor Gellar appreciates that Travis has a good heart and doesn’t want to prolong Nathan’s suffering. After what is probably several days worth of tugging at his chains, Nathan finally manages to unhook himself from the floor and wanders until he finds himself in an empty church that had been converted into a workspace full of wood and paints. He walks towards the front door but a horse startles him and knocks him on the ground. Travis grabs Nathan and tosses him back into the room he just emerged from and makes him beg for his life.

“Tooth is chipped.” – Dexter

We met Dexter at a crime scene where the victim was a prostitute who was strangled and hit in the head with a blunt object. As he is inspecting the victim’s face, Dexter notices her lateral incisor is chipped, and this reminds him of a serial killer he was obsessed with as a child. And so after he tucks Harrison into bed that night, Dexter opens up an old journal that’s filled with newspaper clippings of serial killers he admired. He stumbles upon several articles that profile The Tooth Fairy, who was known in the 80s in Oregon for killing prostitutes and then ripping out their lateral incisors to keep as souvenirs. After skimming through the clippings and confirming The Tooth Fairy was never caught, Dexter realizes The Tooth Fairy probably murdered the woman with the cracked tooth from that morning’s crime scene, too. Since the murders took place around 30 years ago, Dexter assumes Tooth Fairy is in his 70s now, and so he goes to a retirement home and checks some computer records and narrows in on a man in his 70s named Walter Kenny, who came to Florida from Oregon five years ago. But instead of immediately striking up a relationship with Walter, Dexter goes back to the station so he can attend Deb’s first briefing as Lieutenant. The case under discussion is the murder of the prostitute with the chipped tooth, and Dexter is relieved when Deb steers the investigation towards pimps who the woman could have owed money to, or any disgruntled Johns she may have serviced (because it means he can go find the real killer).

“Worst mistake I ever made was moving down to this piss fuck corner of the country.” – Walter Kenny

Later that day, Dexter grabs his golf clubs and inserts himself into Walter’s life by offering to be Walter’s golf partner. Walter complains all through the course about how terrible Florida is and how awful it is to get old until the game is cut short when Walter throws his back out. The partners go to the bar for some beers and Dexter catches Walter using his tongue to play with his loose lateral incisor as he enjoys the rear view of a waitress. When Sam from the auto shop calls Dexter and tells him his car is ready, Walter asks him if he can come back tomorrow and help him run some errands. Dexter agrees, and goes back to his office and learns that Walter’s mother used to beat him in public – she even once hit him so hard that she knocked his tooth out.

“Here’s my prescription. Can you just pick it up for me? Oh, and a six pack of beer from the liquor store, and the latest Teen Ass, Nipple Parade, and Spanked.” – Walter

The next day Dexter drives Walter to the pharmacy to get his prescription (and some other things, naturally). The next stop they make is to a storage facility, where Walter quickly gets out of Dexter’s car with his porn and then scurries down towards one of the units. Back at the office, Deb is completely overwhelmed with all her new responsibilities as Lieutenant, and is unhappy that Quinn is making it really hard to work with him (now that they are no longer together) by showing up to crime scenes with hot blonds on his arms and by hitting on Vince’s forensics intern. So Deb pulls him aside and asks him if he’s uncomfortable with her as his boss. Quinn says there’s no problem and that he finished packing up all of her stuff and putting it in the local dumpster. Quinn indicates he believes Deb chose her promotion over being with him, and Deb could do nothing but let him turn around and walk away from her.

“Two hours in that storage facility. I’m guessing he wasn’t organizing his Penthouse collection.” – Dexter

Dexter waits until Walter came out of the storage unit and watches as he gets on the bus. Then he wanders over to Walter’s unit and breaks in, only to find a box full of teeth and Dexter officially confirms Walter is The Tooth Fairy. Later that night, Dexter is in his car driving to where he’s preparing to kill Walter when Walter calls him and asks if he can come pick him up because he’s lost. Dexter agrees and drives to Walter’s location with a smile on his face because of how easy he believes this kill is going to be. But the second Walter climbs into the car he pulls a gun on Dexter and instructs him to drive until he says to stop. On the way, Walter confesses he knows Dexter works with the police and he knows Dexter knows he’s The Tooth Fairy, and because Dexter figured out his real identity, Walter says he has to kill him. Dexter drives as he’s told but purposefully crashes into a fence and knocks Walter unconscious, which makes it easy for Dexter to strap him down to a table and wrap cellophane around him and regain control of the situation again. Dexter then whips out his phone and shows Walter a picture of the woman he most recently killed and asks why he did it. Walter replies that he was tired of starring at his collection of teeth and wanted to see if he could still kill – but expresses disappointment in how it took him 10 minutes to kill her and 20 minutes to try and take her tooth. Dexter praises Walter for eluding the police for so long, especially when he even dumped one body on a deputy sheriff’s lawn. In his head, Dexter pictured the act of leaving his victim on an officer’s property as an exclamation of The Tooth Fairy’s prowess, but Walter said he only dumped her there because he got too drunk and didn’t feel like driving her body all the way to the highway to get rid of her. Dexter is disappointed with himself for admiring Walter for so long, and then Walter says Dexter is going to end up like him one day. Dexter promises himself out loud that he won’t, but then Walter asks what he’s going to do when he physically cannot kill anymore because he’s too old. Dexter can’t take where the conversation has gone and so he finally smothers him with a pillow because he says he wants Walter to die “a sad, old, man.”

The episode closes on a truly epic scene of two horses galloping down the street with a combination of human limbs sewn together with mannequin body parts, and blood dripping down from Nathan’s head (which is mounted on a mannequin’s body).

I was pretty pleased with this episode because it indicates the writers are beginning to have Dexter contemplate what his future looks like. It also signifies they are planning to answer some of the questions we’ve had for a long time, which are “how is Dexter going to be a good father to Harrison when he goes out and kills people at night?” and “is Dexter really planning on killing people for the rest of his life?” and “is there anything that will make Dexter stop killing?” It shows that the series could start evaluating the more practical aspects of Dexter’s life, and might even finally have Deb finally realize that her brother is a serial killer.

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