hello-dexter-morgan.jpg

Catch as Catch Can

By J.K. Barlow | TV | December 10, 2009 | Comments ()

By J.K. Barlow | TV | December 10, 2009 |


hello-dexter-morgan.jpg

"Hello, Dexter Morgan" delivers some shockers, all right, but it's a little too sloppy to be really good. The episode sets us up nicely for a chilling conclusion but there were far too many improbable, and in one case impossible, developments. I guess I'll point them out as I go along. For now, let's just get to it.

Angel's got Christine in the interrogation room and he's masterful, just as I always imagined he would be. She's withholding, and maintains she has no idea how she might be related to Trinity. Deb and Quinn are watching on one monitor, and Dex and Harry on another. Dex muses on public and private personas. Pay attention: this will be important later. Christine says she was the product of an accidental pregnancy, and that she never met her father. Angel thinks she's lying, and Dex agrees; Dex knows in his dark little soul that she's Arthur's daughter. Angel warns her that if she doesn't cooperate, they can whip off the kid gloves any old time. Dex prays she won't give a name. She doesn't. And Dex is going to set up a decoy.

Arthur is sitting in a hotel room, calling Christine and getting no answer. He hangs up and turns his attention to the television, where a news story about Scott Smith's safe return home is sounding a little suspicious -- police don't know who abducted him or how he was returned home. "Interesting," Arthur mutters.

Dex, meanwhile, is scrolling through all the old-man baddies that Deb's DNA sweep turned up, but doesn't find any suitable impostors. Arthur calls, wanting to know what kind of man wouldn't turn him in after finding him red-handed about to immerse a kidnapped boy in cement. Dex pretends like it's all about money -- fifty thousand dollars, to be exact. Arthur finds that a little crass. Fifty grand or he tells everyone Arthur Mitchell is a pedophile, and that word pisses Arthur off even more. He says he can't give "Kyle" any money because he's not in Miami, just as he opens the hotel desk drawer and takes out a phone book labeled "Greater Miami." Tricky Trinity! Dex says geography will not stand in their way. Arthur says he'll be in touch. Then he finds Kyle Butler in the phone book.

Christine is still in the interrogation room and sticking to her guns. Angel wonders how she knows so much about Deb and Lundy's shooting, but she looks at him sullenly and doesn't say a word. She thinks they can't hold her longer than forty-eight hours, but that's only true for suspects. She's being held as a material witness. That means they can hold her as long as they want, and she knows it.

Out in the briefing room, Deb and Quinn have a little face-off when Deb calls Christine a bitch. Quinn reminds Deb that she doesn't have any proof, beyond her gut. Deb says the only reason Quinn's gut isn't saying the same thing is because he's too close to the case; Quinn's rebuttal is to point at Lundy's name on the whiteboard. Yeah ... this department is getting a little incestuous. Dex strides in and anxiously inquires if Christine has said anything yet. Quinn doesn't think she will, and Dex says, "Let's hope not." That gets him a dirty look from Deb. "For Quinn's sake," he says. Quinn responds with a "fuck you," which Dex politely deflects. Dex has to go -- lunch with Rita -- but Quinn blatantly disbelieves him. Deb excuses him, and blames the psycho girlfriend.

Dex walks out as LaGuerta walks in with a warrant to search Christine's apartment. For obvious reasons, Quinn isn't allowed to go. She tells Deb to go with Angel, and that's when Detective Inspector Matthews comes in -- the briefing room is just a hub of activity today -- and says he needs to see Angel first, and LaGuerta too.

Well, it looks like Angel and LaGuerta had the bad luck to buy wine and make out in a liquor store half an hour before a robbery went down there. The footage was passed on to Matthews by some ratty cops -- whatever happened to solidarity? -- and Matthews is very pissed. He accuses them of perjury and tells them their board of review hearing is the day after tomorrow. LaGuerta is all, "What's your beef with me? My gender? My race?" And Matthews says, "Your arrogance." That, and lying to his face. Well, I guess that's part of the arrogance thing.

Dexter makes a pit stop at the shipping container to pick a decoy from Lundy's list of Trinity suspects. Together, he and Harry choose Stan Beaudry, a long-distance trucker who once killed a prostitute with a crowbar and then didn't go to jail for it. Yeah, no one's going to shed a tear for that guy, plus he's evil, so Dex can kill him. Then Dex remembers his wife and everything and runs out the door.

Arthur, whose hours must be even more flexible than Dexter's, is busily breaking into someone's house. A youngish guy -- who is wearing a fedora, which only Angel is allowed to do -- pulls up in a cute red convertible and says, "What the fuck?" Naturally, he thinks Arthur is about to rob him. Arthur just chuckles in an avuncular fashion and says he thought it was his friend's house. This claim would appear more substantial if he went over to the house next door and started breaking into that one, but instead he scoots back to his van. Not-Angel isn't buying it. He is loudly angry in the classic arrogant-young-male way, and threatens to call the cops. Arthur drops the avuncular shtick and looks at him menacingly.

Rita is waiting for Dexter at the therapist's office. He's late because he was picking a murderer to murder and then frame for murder, but she says it's okay. Just as they're about to talk about some serious feelings, work calls and Dexter's gotta go. Rita says they need this session. Dexter says what for, and Rita says, "I kissed Elliott," then backpedals and says Elliott mostly kissed her. Though he appears disturbed by this news in a way he likely doesn't understand, Dex insists he has to go to the crime scene.

It's Not-Angel, lying on the floor of his house in distressed jeans, purple t-shirt, plaid scarf (in Miami) and a pool of blood. His eye is swollen. According to Vince, the guy was choked. "How was lunch-slash-therapy with Rita?" he asks. Dexter says "Fine. Vince, stop reading my desktop calendar," then gets back down to business, which includes noting multiple, bloody impact marks on the floor. Vince keeps laying out awkward invitations to chat, but Dex isn't taking the bait, so finally Vince bursts out with, "I saw Rita kissing another dude at Thanksgiving, okay?" Dex says he knows, and Vince is relieved. Well, so much for that sub-plot. But the day isn't out of surprises for Dexter yet: according to the neighbor, Not-Angel's real name is Kyle Butler. That's another innocent, if douche-y, life on Dexter's head. Even worse, now he knows Trinity's after him.

Deb and Angel are finding a shitload of shoes under Christine's pastel, overly-pillowed bed. Then Angel finds the packet of postcards from Daddy. Their places of origin aren't lost on Deb, and even worse, they're signed "Daddy." Christine, have you no sense? These may not lead them to Trinity, but as Deb says, it gives them something to "make the bitch talk."

A black-gloved hand rings the bell at an apartment marked "K. Butler". A harmless-looking guy in a Hawaiian shirt opens the door, but no one is there. When he steps out to investigate, the black-gloved hand jabs him in the neck with a syringe. It's Dexter, who then drags him into the apartment to wait for Trinity. He waits for quite a while -- must have put some extra tranquilizer in the syringe -- but finally Arthur arrives. Dexter spots him through the window then stands against the wall, syringe at the ready. The door swings open; we see Arthur silhouetted in the frame; but when the door closes, he's gone. Dex tries to pursue but some partygoers stop him in the hall, so he turns back to the apartment to see what could have warned Arthur away. Turns out this Kyle Butler has some Christmas-card photos of him and his dog sitting by the door, and he looks nothing like Dex. There are only two Kyle Butlers in the Miami phone book. That's good, and also bad.

Angel is back with Christine in the interrogation room. She's not sure how to react to the postcards, her treasured evidence of fatherly love spread clinically out in front of her. She accuses Angel of planting them. Angel accuses her of cozying up to Quinn "to keep tabs on Daddy," but she sticks to her story, and Angel gets mad. She must know who her father is -- he's been sending her "postcards from hell". He's figured out exactly what happened, why Christine shot Lundy. She looks him in the eye and says, "I want to talk to my lawyer."

Out in the briefing room, Deb and Quinn both know she's lying. Quinn realizes what his budding relationship was really about, and that he fell for it. Now he calls himself a "fucking asshole", which of course we all already knew. Deb, as you might imagine, has some insight on this particular situation, and really her psycho experience was a helluva lot worse. Calling yourself an asshole won't help, she says, and then she calls herself a bigger asshole. It's confusing, but Quinn seems to feel better. When Angel says he's keeping Christine overnight, Quinn says "Let her fuckin' rot."

Dex has driven out to Stan Beaudry's shack in the middle of nowhere to do some recon. Hearing voices, Dex walks cautiously into a galvanized tin shed to find a babbling CB radio. Do truckers still use those things? A titty calendar on the wall shows that Stan is making a delivery in Jacksonville and due back tomorrow. How convenient. Dexter's about to make a dash to Jacksonville -- he can be there by midnight -- but Harry reminds him he has to get home to his family.

Now I don't know a whole lot about Florida, but I did once travel by car from Jacksonville to Miami, and I remember it taking a while. As a matter of fact, driving from Miami to Jacksonville takes about five and a half hours, as per Google Maps. If Dexter thought he could make it to Jacksonville by midnight, it must have been about six-thirty, seven at the latest, right? So why, when he returns home, is he surprised to see that Rita is still up? Improbable, writers. Anyway, she stayed up to talk to him about the kissing thing. She clarifies that she and Elliott aren't doing it, that's she's sorry, and that it will never happen again. That's enough for Dex. He just wants to go to sleep, but Rita wants more. She tells him that she would be (and, I guess, once was) hurt, angry, and disgusted with Dex if he did something similar. "Is that how you want me to feel?" he asks. Rita says no, but it's not very convincing. She looks pretty unsatisfied as she turns out the light.

Curious at Christine's failure to answer her phone, Arthur decides to swing by her apartment. Exiting the elevator, he sees the police tape on number ten and just walks on by.

Dexter has broken into the Mitchells' house to collect some DNA: a toothbrush here, a hairbrush there, a razor for good measure. He's going to plant it in Stan Beaudry's house, in the hopes that it will distract them from Arthur Mitchell long enough for Dex to kill him. Because he's busy doing something, his phone rings. Angel needs him at the station. Harry tells Dexter that he's juggling too many people. "Dexter Morgan: blood tech, husband, father, serial killer, and now Kyle Butler, extortionist? Which one are you?" Dex considers his four reflections in the Mitchells' paneled mirror. "All of them."

With Angel's permission, Deb takes a crack at interrogating Christine before her lawyers show up. She's brought a big, thick breakfast burrito for herself and a tiny delicate fruit cup for Christine. The exchange is a perfect example of feminine cattiness. What better way for one woman to subtly criticize another than disrespecting what she eats? Anyway, the interview doesn't go well. After verifying that the fruit cup is not injected with truth serum -- "You watch way too much TV," she says -- Deb tries to empathize with Christine over her own daddy issues. She admits she became a cop to try and gain Harry's approval. She thinks Christine is trying to do the same thing, but urges her to do the right thing by realizing her dad is a human being, and not a great one at that, like Deb did. Christine tells her that if Deb thinks sharing her pain is going to work, she watches too much TV. Oh, snap.

Deb leaves without the breakfast burrito -- what a waste -- and walks right into Angel and Quinn. The three of them decide they're going to let Christine go, in the hope that she will then lead them straight to Trinity. Angel asks them to take care of it. He's got a meeting.

The purpose of his meeting is to marry LaGuerta. No, really -- LaGuerta's even changed into a white blazer (oh ... honey) special for the occasion. What I find a little odd is that the officiating judge has Dexter sign as a witness just after Dex runs breathlessly in the door, without telling him what's going on. Is that legal? Don't you have to know what you're witnessing? Anyway, as soon as Dexter signs, the judge gives Angel permission to kiss the bride. They look a little stunned. Dex looks relieved that that's all he got called in for. Then he looks awkward. Then some nameless cop comes in to tell them that surveillance is up on Christine Hill's apartment, and Dexter is back to his dark doings.

He decides to make a quick six-hour trip up to Jacksonville. Naturally, he's got a CB radio in the car, and rather hilariously tries to find Beaudry's whereabouts in a southern twang and what I can only assume is legitimate trucker lingo. Some helpful driver tells him that Beaudry has just pulled in to a truck stop. Hopefully, he'll be hanging around there for quite some time. Arthur calls again, to say he's standing in front of Kyle Butler's house ... or rather, the address Dexter gave Four Walls when he was pretending to be Kyle Butler, which is actually Johnny's Jet Skis. Arthur now knows that "Kyle" has been lying all along. Dex knows how to get Arthur's goat, and calls him a pedophile again. There's some more extortion talk, and Arthur promises to come up with the money by tomorrow.

Dexter, meanwhile, has jumped through a hole in the space-time continuum in order to arrive in fifteen minutes at the Jacksonville truck stop where Stan Beaudry is enjoying a coffee. Beaudry gets up, bins the cup, and oozes over to the cab of his semi. Everything he owns is decorated with that silhouette mudflap girl. The moment he sits down, Dex slips a cable around his neck and chokes him, and the next thing you know the inside of Beaudry's trailer is getting swathed in plastic sheeting. Beaudry angrily threatens to fuck him up as Dexter hurriedly goes through the killing ritual. As with Jonathan Farrow, the method is a speedy decapitation, as opposed to the cleaner and surely more satisfying thrust to the heart.

Those of you who assumed that Dexter had made Beaudry drive to some secluded location before murdering him were likely as shocked as I was to see him hop out of the back of the trailer, still in the middle of the truck stop parking lot. He shoves Beaudry's remains into the back of the car. In the cab -- again, in plain sight -- he plants some of Arthur's hair, a photo of Christine, and Lundy's Trinity books, like that's really what Beaudry would be perusing in his free time. Oddly enough, Harry is there but doesn't say a word.

Christine is back in her apartment. She borrows a neighbor's cell phone on the pretext that hers is dead and quickly calls Daddy. This is probably more than they usually talk in a whole year. But he doesn't want to talk. He knows where she's been, and doesn't want her to call him. She pleads, "Daddy, I just..." but he hangs up on her. Oh Christine. You're protecting the wrong man.

Dexter goes to Beaudry's shack to plant the evidence: the razor, the comb, the toothbrush. As a final touch, he places Arthur's hammer in Beaudry's tool drawer and considers his job complete.

Dexter pulls up to his house and sees Elliott sitting on his front step. Elliott, who can't know that Dexter knows, waves awkwardly. Dex waves back, thinking, "Love thy neighbor. Bullshit." To be fair, that one's tempered with "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife." As Rita watches, Dex pauses at his own step, then walks over to Elliott's. "Stay the hell away from my wife," he says, then punches Elliott so hard he falls over. Raise your hands: who laughed when that happened? Elliott makes some lame excuse about being "caught up in a moment" and how Rita is amazing. Dexter just growls, "Stay away from my wife," and stalks away.

In the kitchen, Rita is ready with a bag of ice for Dexter's hand. Of course, she's glad that Dex "cared that much." What a silly bitch. They both express amazement that Dex hit Elliott. As they walk away we see the refrigerator door, which is plastered with family photos.

LaGuerta and Angel walk into Matthews' office and smugly inform him that they are married. "As in man and wife," LaGuerta helpfully clarifies. Oh, THAT kind of married. (I know, I know. But this is Florida, after all.) It seems their motives for getting married were not entirely pure. In Catholic, Latino Miami, persecuting a just-married couple for being in love will make Matthews look like a schmuck. Just to rub it in, they mention that the current chief of police met his wife on the job. Matthews lectures them a little on cynicism, and closes with this beauty: "I hope your life together will not be as empty -- and as amoral -- as your decision to get married was." Seriously. Ouch. Still, they reassure each other that they did the right thing. To break the awkward moment, Angel's phone rings -- they have a lead on Trinity.

Deb, Quinn, Dex and Vince are inspecting Stan Beaudry's shack. Quinn notices the calendar and that Beaudry should have returned today; Deb theorizes that Christine warned him off. Have you ever noticed how Quinn has really bad posture? Vince, meanwhile, gleefully collects the toothbrush and comb that Dex planted last night, and Deb finds the hammer. You can tell that Deb doesn't totally buy it: "It's a little hard to believe that this is the same guy that didn't make a mistake in thirty years." Dex reassures her that they just weren't looking.

In his hotel room, Arthur watches Angel state to the press that Beaudry's truck has been found and yielded pertinent evidence. Arthur repeats Beaudry's name in confusion. Christine calls, but he's not having any of it. He tells her she's a stupid girl who's always gotten in the way. She says she did it because she loves him. She wants to meet him, but he says she's on her own. THEN he says he's sorry she was ever born, and says, "Do not call me again. Ever." Christine can hardly breathe from the shock.

Back at the shack, Quinn reports that Beaudry has no electricity or running water, so they can't "track him through his utilities," whatever that means. Then a cop comes up and tells Deb that Christine wants to talk to her and only her. Deb lets Quinn come along, but only because he agrees to wait outside.

Dex watches them go as he slouches in his car and receives a call from Arthur. The man claims he's rounded up fifty grand. They bicker over a drop location but finally settle on a marina entrance. Arthur is at the arcade where he abducted Scott Smith, and Dexter recognizes the music in the background. He figures Arthur is stalking another little boy, and takes off to catch him in the act.

Christine lets Deb into her apartment and bids her take a seat. Christine sits down and they stare at each other. She has something to say about her dad. You mean Stan Beaudry, Deb says, but Christine doesn't confirm or deny. She says she was just trying to make her dad love her. But he's a killer, and she's just like him. She confesses to shooting Lundy and Deb. Deb exhales sharply, like she's been shot again, then gasps. But before she goes to the station, Christine wants to know: can Deb forgive her? "Are you kidding me?" says Deb, which, exactly. She's here to do her job, not forgive. No way. Then Christine pulls a gun from under the cushion, places it under her chin, and pulls the trigger. Quinn hears the shot and races upstairs to find Christine in a pool of blood with the gun still in her hand.

Dex is at the arcade, but can't find Arthur. That damn phone rings. It's Deb. She tells him what happened, and says that she needs him. Dexter decides he's "Dexter Morgan, brother" right now, and heads to the parking lot. Of course, Arthur is waiting for him to do just that, so he can get in his creepy van and follow him.

At the station, Arthur watches Dexter walk into the building. Walking up to reception, Arthur asks if there's a Kyle Butler working there, but the cop at the desk says there isn't. "My mistake," he says cheerfully. Unbelievably, he then meanders over to an old lady who's speaking with a policeman, casually lifts the visitor's pass from her purse, and walks through security RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE COP WHO JUST HELPED HIM. I guess this department's problems don't end with serial killers.

Dexter finds Deb sitting in front of the board of unsolved cases, afraid to erase Lundy's name. She doesn't want it to be over; she says she knew it wouldn't bring Lundy back, but thought it would bring something. Dexter offers to erase the name, but Deb mans up and does it herself. And I cry a little bit. Come on, didn't you?

All this emotion doesn't change the fact that there's a monster walking through the building. Passing a trophy case, Arthur spots a photo of Dex with his bowling team. There are no names, but Arthur can't like the fact that it's labeled "Miami Metro Homicide Bowling Team."

Angel stops by Quinn's desk to tell him to "Hang tough, hermano." (Who is this "Hermano"?) He walks past the elevator just as it pings, and the doors open, revealing Arthur Mitchell himself, looking sinister as all heck. In a scene straight out of Public Enemy, he walks right into the room with the Trinity boards and surveys his victims' photos with bemusement. Then he sees that Stan Beaudry is their main suspect. "Why Mr. Beaudry," he says. "You've done me a kindness." Then he continues on into the main office area, where Dexter sees him through the glass. "No," he whispers, and comes out of his lab in slow motion. He and Arthur walk towards each other, staring the whole way. Dex stops in front of him, looking vulnerable, and Arthur calmly looks at his badge. "Hello, Dexter Morgan."

Chills, right? A passable penultimate episode, if it weren't for all the stupid parts. Also, the baby wasn't in it, and what's an episode of Dexter, season four, without the baby? sailboat, can I get a hell, yeah?


J. K. Barlow watches Dexter every week but doesn't own a decent knife. Chide her at i.barlova [at] gmail.com.



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