‘Dexter’ Recap: Of Mannequins and Monsters


Dexter, recap

Debra Morgan’s life is currently run by monsters. Monsters of all shapes and sizes—though the scariest ones are most certainly the ones that manifest themselves within humanity. Her entire life has been a series of mistakes that have lead her into the path of these monsters. And it seems that Deb’s biggest problem is figuring out which monster she should be the most terrified of: Dexter or the out-in-the-open murderous monsters that make up her job. Like Speltzer.

This episode is all about Deb’s monster problem: which is the lesser of two evils, essentially. Who can she trust, and who should she trust? And why hasn’t she made up her mind about Dexter? How is she still not sure what to do? Call me old-fashioned, but the “serial killer” title trumps pretty much everything: even “family.” (So my entire family should know right now that if they one day decide to become a serial killer, I will have no qualms about calling the police and ratting you out. Murder is scary and weird!)

Deb essentially sees herself as unwittingly married to Dexter and his ~dark passenger~, as witnessed by her bathtub hallucination. Beer and a bathtub: Debra Morgan knows how to unwind! Too bad her momentary place of zen turns into a the bloodbath of her dreams: literally. While dozing, Deb finds that the water in her tub isn’t water at all, but lots and lots of blood that she can’t stop the flow of—no matter how hard she tries. And she sees she’s married! But to whom? Why, her brother of course! Because that awkward story line is apparently not going anywhere, but will constantly be alluded to in order to ensure everyone is uncomfortable all the time.

So Deb is looking up at Dexter, who also has a wedding ring on saying “Deb, will you…?” complete with ominous baby giggles (nothing ups the creep ante like disembodied, maniacal baby giggles) and a giant rusty, bloody machete. So naturally she tries to stop the flow of blood the only logical way she imagines she can, but it won’t stop flowing. Her cup runeth over: with psychos! The blood running of the side of the tub splashes with impressive force, considering blood doesn’t really splash—it spatters (not splatters: very important!)—and she wakes up. Oh it’s just her tub water, running over the edge. Turn off the water, everything’s fine! Silly Deb! Real life!

MAN these metaphors, am I right?

Before we get back to Deb’s slow mental unraveling, we see that Speltzer is a meticulous murderperson. There’s no DNA anywhere that can tie him to the murders. Luckily, someone spots him at a metal scrapyard and four cops take him down. Justice! …Only not really (but we’ll get to that shortly). Sidenote: nice subliminal dig at Dexter with the “had the good sense to not try and be a hero” line, writers.

Deb’s slow but surely starting to realize (but why oh why is this taking her so long?!) that Dexter’s own involvement and hunting of Trinity essentially caused Rita’s death. How can Dex say he’s a loving husband (“are you even capable of love?”) when his own desire to control and fix everything is what ultimately brought upon Rita’s death. (Also: Dexter declaring “I love you” was AWKCITY.)

Isaak Sirko’s desire to control and fix everything has got him into quite a pickle, too. He knows, thanks to Creepy Louis, that Dexter murdered Viktor, but he’s not sure the extent to which everyone else knows. Was it an inside job by the police? Is it drug-related? Were Louis and Dexter working together? Not all the pieces fit quite right yet for Isaak, and time is running out. Realizing that the cops are not going to stop showing up anytime soon, and Viktor’s body isn’t going to manifest itself with a note that says “I was killed by Dexter Morgan for murdering your cop friend Mike Anderson,” Isaak decides they need a fall guy. Because until the cops get out of The Fox Hole, the Brotherhood cannot do their job of ensuring that the Colombians don’t take over the entire Miami drug trade. Fair trade between the Ukrainians and Colombians apparently does not exist. Viktor was in charge of this prior to his death (which Isaak is oh-so worked up about, gee wilikers wonder why), and can only be properly handled when the cops aren’t constantly sniffing around. George tries to buy Quinn off with cash and blow—just like old times when he was a dirty narcotics cop!—but it doesn’t work. (At least not yet?) Enter: quiet, unassuming bartender Alex. He has a family back in Kursk that he was sending money to—$750 a month. Not much, thinks Isaak. So The Brotherhood of the Traveling Death head over to Alex’s home and force him to kill himself. Isaak promises Alex that his family will “never want for anything,” and that either way, Alex is dying and taking the fall for Viktor murdering Mike Anderson. Cut and dry. Or cockamamie and doomed-to-fail. Either or, I guess.

Good news is that Speltzer’s been detained for questioning, and it’s time to pull out ALL of the stops to get him to confess. The biggest question of the evening is, of course: could Speltzer really fall for Batista’s terrible excuse for a wind-up and then Deb’s attempts at authority and cage-rattling? How does this questioning work with a meticulous psychopath, as we’ve established Speltzer to be? Someone who knows very, very well how to hide his true self from the cops. I don’t understand. According to the writers, this buffoonery works because: oh, mommy issues! That just explains everything. “There are many ways to break a body down,” Dexter’s voiceover coos. It’s so ~deep~, you guys; we’ve got an Oedipus Complex for the win! Freud is sitting somewhere, muggin’ for a camera sayin’ “I toldja so!”

(Sidenote: Anyone else notice Detective Simms? He of the first season’s Ice Truck Killer investigation? Something tells me his knowledge base is going to further f**k things up for Dexter. Just a hypothesis I have.)

After her mommy-baiting, Dexter assumes Deb would want to celebrate her “big win” against Speltzer. However, logical thought takes over and she’s all ‘no way man, he’s still a murderer that murdered someone, what is there to be happy about? Oh and also Rita’s death IS YOUR FAULT AND YOUR SON IS GONNA BE A MONSTER BECAUSE OF YOU!’ (Sick burn, Deb) Dexter is all ‘whoa, slow your roll,’ but Deb fires back with a big ole ‘YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE: DAD OR SERIAL KILLER.’ Deb’s assertion that Dexter cannot control the universe causes him to snap (like an animal pushed into a corner, right? eh? eh?) and get to the heart of what’s wrong with Dexter Morgan’s lizard brain when he yells “I don’t make mistakes!” and “Everything is in my control!” OK—woo! Hello, loose gasket. Hello completely irrational line of thought, thy name is Dexter Morgan. Dexter’s biggest problem is that he feels like he can fix and control everything. Which, ha! Welcome to real life. You cannot control everything, even if you are a serial killer. Pretty soon there’s going to be too many plates to keep spinning and they’re all going to crash down around you, Dexter. Hid own unhinging is coming closer and closer into view. Dexter’s downfall will ultimately stem from his need to control every single thing around him. Not going to happen.

NEXT: Hannah McKay and a Minotaur

Dexter, recap

But for now, the soon-to-be-it-is-so-obvious future girlfriend of Dexter’s dreams, Hannah McKay, stops by Miami Metro. She’s going to help them uncover Wayne Randall’s final victim’s bodies. But let’s first talk about the fact that Hannah is so clearly also a serial killer? Or at least, she was (can people really change? Is this going to point to some sort of absolution for future Dexter?) and is seemingly nostalgic about it. Their conversation feels like a for-sure nod to something that will happen in the future, I just can’t figure it out quite yet. Either way, these two are going to totally bone and also have murder in common.

Dexter’s spidey-murder-sense isn’t the only one tingling: at the crime scene for Alex the Bartender’s set-up suicide, Batista thinks the puzzle pieces just don’t fit: Alex had no priors in Kursk and wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Sure, there’s a suicide note that Quinn calls “sweet” (yeah, too sweet), and we know this means Batista’s not going to quit. It was at this moment that Masuka had his token pop culture commentary moment of the episode with a joke about Twitter followings and turds. You work here is done, Masuka. Thanks for being totally worthless.

You know who else are worthless, apparently? Miami PD! The jerk cops were on patrol when the scrap metal guy called in Speltzer’s whereabouts, and in the most pathetic attempt to twist the plot, we find out that the cops never got a verbal confirmation of Speltzer’s understanding of his Miranda Rights, so a judge has thrown his confession out of court. Because apparently Miami is run by a governmental and law system pieced together by idiots. Naturally, Speltzer is going to sue for excessive force (thanks, random detective lady who’s now shown up twice in this episode to simply state the obvious. Who are you and why are you here? Your purpose is so pointless an annoying). Deb is totally bugging out because Speltzer is back on the streets.

Obviously this means it’s time for Dexter to do what he does best: murder people dead. He heads to the little RV abode by the cemetery that America’s favorite Minotaur crashes in, and is totally a normal place to live that isn’t creepy, and woops! Speltzy comes home early. Dexter gets knocked out and put into another, building-wide (this time) mega-maze of death and creepiness. On a note left above Dexter’s head is the words “Run.” Dexter, in his best Walter White impression says “I don’t run, I make people run.” (The whole one-who-knocks thing isn’t really your style, Dexter. But I appreciate that you appreciate Breaking Bad.)

Obviously Dexter ends up running, though, because Speltzer is a very large, steroid-raging crazy murderperson in a Minotaur mask. This scene is straight-up Hostel-type s**t, you guys. Yawn. Is everything in this episode just a poorly-veiled reference to something else? It’s all just been done before: and better.

I will say this: the strobe light room with the mannequins was creepy—but only in that “oh man I totally wandered into the really weird corner of this Brooklyn warehouse party” sort of way. Is this real life? I am not on enough drugs for this, you guys. So instead I’m just sort of cringing about how hokey this all is: sure, if you were in this scenario in real life, you’d be peeing yourself in a corner possibly welcoming death. But you also might just be looking for a crack spirit guide, too. Once Dexter begins his epic confrontation with Speltzer in the kooky mannequin room, Dexter puts on his Christian Bale-as-Batman voice and gets to steppin’ (and by that we mean, escaping from Speltzer’s muder maze).

Which is to say: can we talk about how irrational and out-of-character Dexter is being? This is SO not the calm, cool, calculated, and collected serial killer of seasons past. This man is essentially flailing about, wildly hitting at whatever he can, hoping to regain control of his environment. He’s acting super dangerously AND irrational as f**k. Who is this man and what has he done with Dexter Morgan? He’s going to really crash and burn, isn’t he?

Anyway, now Dexter decides he needs to live with “nothing to lose” attitude, so they’re going to ship off poor Harrison into the great unknown—aka Orlando—to live with his grandparents and those old stepkids of his, Astor and Cody, for awhile. Sayonara, Harrison. We’re sure you’ll either be lost and gone forever—forgotten like the other kids—or someone will ultimately try to kill you at some point close to the season finale. Man, Dexter is such a terrible father. Aside from Deb being completely right about Dexter’s unabashed selfishness, he can’t even be bothered to drive his own child to Orlando from Miami. How is Jamie just totally OK with the fact that she’s more a parent to Harrison than Dexter is? Why does she not even find it strange that the man can’t even live in the same apartment as his child. (They’re attached but it clearly doesn’t count; they’re two very separate living spaces.) People are way too forgiving of Dexter’s weirdness. I get that he’s hot, but come on!

To explain why Isaak is totally not OK with letting go of the whole “Viktor is dead” thing, we find out his big gay secret. Namely: that he’s gay! Viktor was his lover! While this is all well-and-good as far as a plot point goes, the way this whole scene is handled is completely ridiculous. Isaak goes into Viktor’s taped-off, crime-scene apartment and sits down to stare at a hidden picture of the two of them and weep. But not only that, he clutches the picture to his chest before declaring “I will avenge your death. Everything I do…is for you!” Someone’s got a first class ticket on the Melodramatic Express, you guys! Way to hit us over the head with the obvious. Just by having him risk going into a closed-off crime scene and touch a bunch of s**t (leaving fingerprints everywhere which is going to look SUPER weird when they go back and realize someone has broken into a crime scene) already signifies oodles about their relationship and Isaak’s motives. Also, here’s another instance where a character is established as one way, and then has a completely off-course reaction to something. I mean, Isaak would have to know that every single action of his at Viktor’s apartment was completely careless. It was all just asking for trouble in a way that seems REALLY out of character for a dude that constantly attempts to remove all traces of anything ever in dangerous situations. Come ON! Dexter, Dexter, Dexter, you were doing so right by us for a few there. This is just sloppy.

Someone not down on that sloppy tip? Batista. He knows the Alex the Bartender death was a set-up. He asks for Quinn’s thoughts, but he just calls the suicide note “sweet.” Which, duh, it was—but in the all-too-convenient and easy way. Quinn’s stuck between a rock and a hard place because he totally knows this doesn’t add up, but he also wants to close this case and keep his girlfriend Nadia out of harm’s way. (Oh that Koshka Brotherhood!) Batista somehow gets this, and gets Quinn to admit that he’s f**king a stripper (“dancer,” sorry). Batista just says he’s jealous (really?), and Quinn explains that Nadia has a lot of friends (ugh), but Batista isn’t into being a stereotype. You just got zinged, Quinn.

Quinn also uses the phrase “Patsy” in reference to Alex, which is hilarious. Suddenly this show is a 1940s detective drama. Well, see, we gotta see if he’s a Patsy, see. For the mob, see! And then everybody put on their fedoras and smoked a bunch of cigarettes in black and white.

“You’re so easy, like the others,” Speltzer growls at Deb while sitting outside his last victim’s funeral. This man is both nuts and ballsy. And knows exactly what buttons to push to make Deb go nuts. She gets all riled up and mouthy with him (swear words! So many swear words!) before Batista tries to separate the two. Visibly upset (she threw a damned shoe at this looney tune!), Batista sends Dexter over to Deb’s to check in on her. When Deb admits that wanted to kill Speltzer in that moment, she does a good ole’ projecting anger onto Dexter moment and defensively gets angry about her own feelings. She doesn’t want Dexter to think that he’s winning her over, or showing her that somehow he’s serial killer tendencies are understood. Instead, the two go back to rehash how their relationship has changed. Dexter tries to convince her that nothing has changed (which, HAHAHA that is insane, dude) and Deb fights back, saying “what I know about you makes you a completely different person.” Dexter goes all ‘no way, I’m the same!’ about who he is—which is true, but also not. Dexter’s truth is only true for him, because he’s always had all the facts. Deb never has, she’s never known all sides of him. So for her, everything really has changed.

“The question is whether you’ll be there for me,” explains Dexter. Which—SERIOUSLY? If Deb couldn’t recognize his sociopath tendencies before, that statement should’ve solidified it. You cannot save Dexter, Deb. This is not something within your control. This is a man who cannot feel or understand empathy and emotions (how could he? He’s a serial killer). The hardest lesson Deb will have to learn is that she cannot help her brother. Each one has in abundance what the other lacks. Deb has a lock on compassion, while Dexter’s logical reasoning is Rain Man-esque. But Deb’s belief in the greater good of Dexter still leads her to be unsure as to whether or not she can be there for Dexter. It’s certainly a conundrum—one I wish they played out differently, though. Cue the groan-inducing “I do” and “I do, and I don’t do” moment. Allusions to wedding stuff, again! Which, ugh. STOP WITH THAT. IT IS SO CREEPY. Nobody wants this in their television show!

So naturally, Dexter’s last-ditch effort to prove to his sister that he can be relied upon to control everything, he decides to take Speltzer out in his own way. Lizard brains, unite! (Apparently that saying is going to keep happening.) Dexter manages to knock Speltzer out and drags him into…a crematorium! Right on cemetery premises! Convenience, thy name is Miami. The two go back and forth, but we all know how this is going to end. Dexter continues to show us just how unhinged he’s become, actually yelling “f************ck!” in Speltzer’s face like a mimicking nutso. It’s apparently Speltzer’s fault—not at all Dexter’s murderousy murderperson lizard brain and ~dark passenger~—that ruined Deb and Dexter’s relationship. Oh, right. Natural thought progression right there.

The most intriuging part of the whole Speltzer death? Dexter takes his own trophies and throws them in with Speltzer’s body. Is this his way of moving on? Getting rid of his trophies won’t change Dexter, will it? In the end, we all know that Dexter is still going to murder people. It feels almost like another defense move for Deb’s sake. Will it, though? Only time will tell if he really is or isn’t like Speltzer, in the end.

Dexter calls Deb to pick him up from the crime scene (natch) and tells her about the wonderful evening he had, murdering Speltzer in her honor. Even though Dexter denies it to her face. “Did you do this for me?” Deb asks; he says no, even though he really means “yes, obviously.” Dexter is like that cat that kills a bird, brings it proudly to your front steps beaming with pride over what its done for you, while Deb is the owner going “Ew, cat, what did you do that for?”

But Dexter still feels like he’s right on this situation, so he oh-so-eerily asks “how do you feel?” To which Deb replies “glad…what does that make me?” Dexter, feeling like he’s made some sort of ‘kill’ in his hunt to turn Deb to his side, declares that she is “human.” (Because, ugh.) Was Speltzer really the monster that, once gone, would solve all of Deb and Dexter’s problems? Or was he simply a stand-in (some would maybe even say…a mannequin. Oh SNAP look what I did there!) for the real thing? Dexter still doesn’t understand the difference between human and humanity—will he ever?

The two sit in silence, watching the smoke of a burning monster crawl into the night sky. Can Deb and Dexter’s relationship, like a phoenix, rise from these ashes? Could that last sentence have been any cheesier?

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Agree or disagree with our theories? Sound off in the comments!

[Photo Credit: Showtime]

Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes


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