Life sucks hard, and will continue sucking to a greater degree the longer it drones on. This is clearly the message we, the audience, were supposed to glean from this week’s Dexter episode, which is all about how aging ruins everything. Your body breaks down, limiting your favorite activities. Your responsibilities pile up, changing your routine and forcing you to lay aside your hobbies and dreams. Your friends and family die, or abandon you, or change into unlikable people. You are left alone, with only your memories, a stack of porno magazines, and a rented storage shed to while away your few remaining days. Wow. That was so depressing I committed suicide twice while typing it. Let’s get to the dead hookers, shall we?
Deb is preparing for the first day on her new job, taking a dog’s year to choose the perfect jacket to add to her regular outfit. Nice one, Deb, way to spruce up the duds. She’s effortlessly transitioned from “soft butch” to “professional soft butch,” all in the space of an hour. Who says she’s not leader material? Right away, though, she has to make a big adjustment: instead of rushing out into the field to investigate that morning’s fresh murder scene, she has to mosey into her new office and start juggling paperwork and politics. It’s a big step up, but not what she lives for. Deb is all about the gritty details.
Fuckshitballs, is this jacket appropriate?
Travis has the Good Samaritan jogger chained to the floor of the abandoned church, Saw-style. He calmly informs the sobbing, terrified man that he can’t be released until he repents for his sins. All of them? Also, Travis might want to clue us in on his definition of the word “sin;” are we talking minutiae like masturbation and unpaid parking tickets, or just the biggies? Premeditated incidents of ritual disembowelment spring to mind, if you want to get all technical. I guess it doesn’t count as a mortal sin if you do it for Jesus, though, right Travis?
“Man, you’d better not even try to drag me into this. I’m totally not kidding.” –Jesus
Dexter arrives at a crime scene that must be routine to the point of boring in Miami: a dead hooker under a bridge. Everything looks pretty much in line with the usual dead hooker tableau, but they discover one of her teeth, the lateral incisor, is chipped. Though that could very well be a result of her rough lifestyle, it sparks a memory in Dexter’s mind. Something is familiar, but the details are off. Further investigation into this case will be necessary. Off the clock, of course, because why try to solve a case officially when you could add it to your own hobby box?
Quinn rolls in late to the scene, having miraculously recovered from his heartbreak by tapping the first hot piece of ass that happened to meander his way. So much for the candle-lighting, pancake-burning, proponent for serious commitment from last week–THIS is the Quinn we all know and lust after! Angel confronts him, wondering what the hell he’s doing cheating on Deb out in the open. Quinn informs him that he was summarily cast aside so Deb could take her promotion. Keep telling yourself that, Quinn. Angel, who has a bit of experience in this particular scenario, can’t believe his buddy Deb would be such a cold, heartless, ice queen bitch. That sort of behavior is normal coming from LaGuerta, but Angel thought Deb was more loyal than that. Quinn doesn’t realize it, but that assessment is actually right on. She wasn’t going to marry him regardless; the promotion offer was a true coincidence. It’s a convenient motive, however, and Quinn nearly gets himself a fist to the jaw when he tells Angel to wise up and quit letting Deb and LaGuerta walk all over him. He does have a point, Angel. I’m pretty sure the main reason LaGuerta was pushing so hard for his promotion is because he’s so easy to control. She says jump, he doesn’t even ask how high–he’s already jumped, rolled over, and fetched her slippers before her mouth has even finished forming the “p” sound in “jump.”
Speaking of LaGuerta walking on people, our favorite new captain is weaseling into Deb’s business already, trying to influence her and play politics as much as she can. Deb is getting aggravated fast, but cant exactly tell LaGuerta to bug off. Her phone rings and it’s Angel, calling her from his desk to tell her to smile, nod, and essentially ignore the blahs spilling from LaGuerta’s fake supportive smile. He’s never been able to bring himself to do it, but maybe Deb can benefit from the wisdom of his experience.
Back at Dexter’s place, he’s thumbing through a diary we’ve never seen. It’s a psychotic sort of diary, to be sure: a scrapbook of serial killer-related newspaper clippings from days gone by. Apparently, this is Dexter’s collection of inspirational stories he’s been saving since adolescence. Jeez, Dexter, I know you weren’t exactly the star of the football field or anything, but were you really that much of a sociopath? You couldn’t have channeled some of these impulses into a violent D&D battle, or Civil War reenactment, or something?
Anyway, he dug out his scrapbook looking for a connection to the morning’s dead hooker. The chip on her tooth reminded him of the MO of The Tooth Fairy, a killer who kept lateral incisors as trophies. He terrorized the Pacific Northwest in the 80s, and has never been caught. Dexter suspects him of resurfacing in Miami, though knows that the guy has to be closing in on old age by now. I’m not quite sure how he arrives at that conclusion as a solid fact; the dude could have been in his 20s in the 80s, after all, which would put him solidly in his mid-50s now. Older, to be sure, but not grampy old. For the sake of show’s hour long time limit, though, I’ll allow it. Dexter starts researching retirement communities in the vicinity of the crime scene, on the hunt for someone who matches what few details he has. As a side note, couldn’t the writers have chosen a different moniker for the guy? Thomas Harris used up The Tooth Fairy in Red Dragon, and it’s distracting. Know your fictitious serial killers, folks.
At the station, Masuka is sucking up hardcore to his intern, Ryan, presenting her with a box of Ice Truck Killer evidence. How romantic. What sort of sicko courtship gift is a box of severed hands, for fuck’s sake? I wonder if any of them at the station know Deb was so deeply involved with the ITK? Maybe that was covered in earlier seasons, and I just forgot. More disturbing, though, is Ryan’s reaction: instead of hitting Masuka with the nearest paperweight and booking for the fire exit, she ooohs and ahhhs and caresses the evidence. She then reveals that she was so obsessed with the murders while they was happening, she actually painted her fingernails to match the those of the victims. Wow, she sounds like a keeper. For Dexter, maybe.
Fuck pancakes, this is Masuka’s way of proposing–the ring is actually on the corpse’s finger.
Deb leads her first briefing on the dead hooker and the fruit vendor, and delegates responsibility to the detectives. Quinn starts being ornery on purpose, questioning her priorities and decisions, suggesting they make the snake details public. LaGuerta backs him up because she’s a vindictive ball-buster. Between the two of them, they manage to make Deb look like an idiot. I’m sure there’ll be no repercussions for that whatsoever.
Travis is howling about repentance and redemption, and just seems to be messing with Nathan the jogger at this point. He reports back to EJO, who is painting the mannequin heads up all fancy like. He says Nathan is just saying what Travis wants to hear, and we see that Travis is not digging the whole torture thing; EJO is driving this bitch. He says Travis has a good heart, which is why he chose him to do God’s work. Sure, that dude is nothing but tenderness.
Such a gentle soul. If only it weren’t clothed in a mantle of pure madness.
Dexter has been visiting retirement homes, meanwhile, and has narrowed his search to Walter Kinney, and old fart from Oregon. He shows up for a golf game with the guy, under the guise of checking the place out for his own father. Killer or not, Walter is a crotchety old asshole who hates Florida and everything else, an is not afraid to vocalize it. Having spent my own formative years in Florida, I can’t really judge him too harshly for his strong opinions. Hell, I’ll probably sound exactly like him when I hit the later years.
Walter gripes about life for a while, and we learn he used to be a pipe fitter in Oregon, but now wants nothing more than to play golf until he drops dead. And, coincidentally, he wears a dental implant where his lateral incisor should be. Though you’d never know it from his attitude, he seems to take a shine to Dexter, and enlists him to run errands with him the next day. That’s a sorry way to spend an afternoon, but it will give Dexter a chance to further observe Walter, so he accepts.
My colostomy bag’ll be needin’ a change by then. You can do that, too.
He goes to get his car from Brother Sam, who invites him to bring his two year old son to a company “barbecue” with all the convicted felons at the body shop. How appropriate. Turns out it’s a Biscayne Bay baptism for one of the flock. Fun times. Between that and the geriatric shuttle service, Dexter’s life is all about excitement.
While researching Walter in the PD database, Dexter finds he was the victim of felony child abuse; his mom was arrested for giving his face a public beating. A mother who would do that in front of people would damn well do worse behind closed doors, so you know Walter had it rough. But was it bad enough to knock out a lateral incisor and seal the deal on a future hobby ripping out hooker teeth?
Before Dexter can further contemplate this, Deb storms his office, freaking the fuck out about the pressures of lieutenanthood. Deb is a total self-critical perfectionist, which is the main problem, and she’s missing Quinn on top of everything else. Dexter manages to talk her down, but when she leaves, Dead Harry informs Dexter that he doesn’t think Deb is cut out for a leadership position. Good thing she can’t hear him, or she’d probably just kill herself right there in the crime lab.
When Dexter shows up to collect Walter for a fun afternoon of old man errands, he finds him in his underwear, not even attempting to pretend he has a fuck to give. While he condescends to put on pants, Dexter snoops through his stuff. Turns out, Walter has a son, who’s apparently an ungrateful prick. Dexter ferries him around to get prescription pills, beer, and porn. Hey, old age sucks–you’ve gotta have something to keep you going until the next day dawns, so why not a sixer and a copy of Nipple Parade? Walter has Dexter drop him off at a storage facility…because he doesn’t want to beat off in his own home? Weird.
Meanwhile, Sleazy Quinn is back, and better than ever! He hits on Masuka’s intern in front of Deb and Masuka, not even caring that she blows him off. He just did it to be an asshole, but Deb drags him aside for a heart to heart. She can see through his facade, and wants to make peace, but of course he is uninterested, and tells her he packed up her stuff and left it in the garage next to the fertilizer. They argue, which ends in another Quinn flounce. Such drama.
Nathan, determined not to be totally useless, manages to bust his shackle ring out of the floor and escape the room. He is summarily pulled up short by a random horse (which you’d think he’d have smelled–those things ain’t subtle), and returned to his room, where he is chastised by Travis, finally breaking down and repenting of his sins. Then, out of absolutely nowhere, EJO shows up and says “he’s ready.”
OK, this is where things get weird(er) and start begging for some answers. As I mentioned in the minicap, one of our commenters posted a theory last week that’s been floated online: that EJO is Travis’s equivalent of Dead Harry, a companionable but not physically real presence, who justifies Travis’s need to kill. I mean, something is going on with the guy. He doesn’t appear to have a background, home, or outside life; we’ve never seen him interact with anyone except Travis; and in this scene he doesn’t walk in the door, or mosey on up beside Travis–he just straight up appears out of thin air.
And he’s watching you.
I have my own theories about Dead Harry and Dexter and Dexter’s Dark Passenger, which I won’t get into at this time, and I can see the logic in the above EJO theory. However, I think it’s more of a possibility that EJO, assuming he’s not actually a living being, is a bit different from Dead Harry. Harry is a fantastical embodiment of a real person, Dexter’s real life father figure and mentor, who is very clearly established as being a once live person who is now deceased. Dexter knows he’s dead, and knows Dead Harry isn’t actually there. I think that if EJO is in fact a delusion, Travis doesn’t know it. He’s clearly stone cold nuts, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume Travis really believes EJO is real, when he’s actually a schizoid hallucination, or a full-on alternate personality. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’m talking out of my ass. What say you? Anyway, back to the actual show.
After Walter presumably spent two hours jerking off in his storage shed, he left to catch the bus home. Dexter, who’d been waiting around the corner the whole time, broke in. He finds a lawn chair, a stack of stroke mags, and a box of teeth. Ew, fuck! Looks like this is the guy after all, reduced to whacking it over his trophy box in a rented concrete shed. I guess getting down and dirty in the shed makes sense, after all–he needs his hooker teeth to get things moving, and he can’t exactly keep those in his apartment. Dexter has an awful moment when sees shades of his own grim future, I guess picturing himself squatting over his box of slides with his own copy of Nipple Parade.
But let’s not dwell on that.
As Dexter drives home planning the kill, Walter calls him, lost and freaking out. Dexter goes to pick him up, thinking that things are going his way, and gets a gun pulled on him!! Walter, it turns out, is wise to the whole charade. He ran Dexter’s license plate, knows his name, where he works–everything. One mistake, though: he thinks Dexter is working in an official capacity, and wants to know how the cops discovered his whereabouts. He doesn’t realize that Dexter is one of his own. He’ll find out soon enough, I’m guessing. Sure enough, Dex purposely crashes into a fence, knocking Walter out and fucking up his poor vehicle yet again. Looks like Brother Sam’s got himself a repeat customer.
Maybe he can even skip the baptism. You know, since he doesn’t have a ride now.
Back at the station, Masuka awkwardly asks his intern out on a Pho date, and is shocked when she accepts. As he ponders his good fortune, Deb prepares to meet with a potential candidate for her old detective job. Instead of interviewing the local guy LaGuerta had flat out told her to pick, she’s gone with her gut instinct and brought a guy in from Chicago. LaGuerta is none too happy about this, but the arrival of the guy distracts Deb, especially when she discovers he appears to be an arrogant, misogynistic asshat. The guy tells her to run along and get her boss, since there’s no way his superior could possibly be young and a female, and anyone else might have run of and cried. This is Deb Morgan, though, and she don’t truck with that bullshit. She rips him a new one, totally cowing him, and he backs down like nobody’s business and apologizes. Nice. I hope she does hire him, just so we can see them butt heads and probably screw inappropriately.
Unless LaGuerta gets to him first. This is not at all out of the question.
Dexter has Walter strapped down, and is questioning him about why he picked up his old habits. He had it made down here–he’d gotten away with everything, and no one was web looking for him, so why contribute to his own undoing by starting up the bullshit again? Walter may be inches from death, but he’s a hardcore old psycho, and he recognizes Dexter for who he is. Why do you think? he asks. The body may have gotten older, the location might have changed, but that need was still there, strong as ever. Walter then tells Dexter that he’s basically looking into a crystal ball–how long does Dexter have left before his life becomes Walter’s? It’ll happen eventually. You can’t stop time.
Realizing he’s about to die, Walter just scoffs. He’s old as fuck and doesn’t care about hiding himself anymore. He wants Dexter to tell everyone who he is and what he did, especially his prick of a son. Dexter refuses to give him that glory, though, and smothers him to make it look like a heart attack. He then leaves Walter’s body intact and dumps the hooker teeth off the boat.
Back at his own house, innocent little Harrison tucked in bed, Dexter mulls over his own trophy box, contemplating the future of his serial killing routine. How will he be able to keep it up as his son grows more aware, and as he himself grows older and possibly infirm? Proving that you don’t have to be old to be a butterfingers, Dexter fumbles and drops the box. The slides are everywhere; some are broken, all are out of order. His trophy collection is totally fucked, which is serious, metaphorically catastrophic business. Uh oh.
The next thing we get, in case anyone was wondering about Nathan’s poor repentant ass, is a slow-mo of Travis’s decked out horses, as they clip-clip down the crowded city street. They bear their own gruesome riders: mannequin and corpse frankensteins, one topped with Nathan’s severed head. Nasty.
Since no one needs that image lingering, they give us a nice sight to hold us over until next week, namely Quinn, gratuitously naked and nailing someone from behind. Then, to totally ruin that and further disturb our brains, we end with Ryan stealing the Ice Truck Killer hand out of the evidence box and stuffing it in her purse. Wow, that girl has some seriously creepy issues. I think I’ll pretend the episode ended with naked Quinn, and call it a day.