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"Relieved By His Epiphany, He Stabs Her in the Abdomen"

By J.K. Barlow | TV | October 22, 2009 |

By J.K. Barlow | TV | October 22, 2009 |

“Dexter Takes a Holiday” is a triumphant return to the Dexter and the “Dexter” we’ve been missing. Dexter hunts a worthy foe! Angel is sweet and funny again! Quinn gets yelled at! Of course, Vince Masuka isn’t in it, but one can’t have everything. Oh, and each of the Morgan siblings has an epiphany. One turns out well; the other, not so much.

Rita and the kids are taking a family trip — without Dexter. His surprisingly legitimate excuse is that things are too busy at the station. Well, and you can’t blame him for wanting to skip out on “stuffing Cousin Marlene into some Spanx on her wedding day.” Oh, Cousin Marlene. Couldn’t you have dieted? We glean from the farewell conversation that Dexter has blamed the light-smashing incident of last episode on getting to his “boiling point.” Well, so much for last week’s cliffhanger. It’s pretty much true, and Rita’s bought it, telling him to cut loose and not work so much. Hey, what’s with all the truth around here? Rita and the kids pull out of the driveway while everyone waves goodbye. It’s quite cute. Dex goes inside to find a present from the kids — an “I Love Dad” mug complete with signatures and baby handprint (in red!) - and quietly crows, “Let the good times roll.”

He tries to slide across the floor in his socks in homage to Risky Business — which I can’t really imagine is his kind of movie — but only succeeds in spilling coffee all over a side table, nearly breaking a framed family portrait. He’s free for seventy-two hours, and will be spending that time stalking and killing Officer Zoe Kruger of Pembroke Pines Patrol, a murderous cop who, eight months ago, shot and killed her husband and young daughter, then successfully blamed it on a home invasion — or so the theory goes. To bolster it, Dex goes to talk with the local blood guy, the only one in Pembroke Pines who doubted Zoe’s innocence. Under the ruse that he’s writing a paper on feathering in blood swipes (please; that topic is so tired), he brings up the Zoe case, which makes his colleague pretty nervous. Yeah, it’s gotta be tense when they’re both in the break room. This guy’s theory, which is supported by the evidence, is that Zoe planted a blood sample at the crime scene, the blood of a gangster she had roughed up one day earlier. Furthermore, she roughed up that gangster solely to provide a “motive” for the crime. Sounds pretty dastardly, especially when you hear that Darius Rae, the gangster in question, was shot down in a “gang-related incident” before he could be brought to justice.

Back in Miami, Dexter enters his lab to find Deb and Lundy crouched on the floor, going through thirty-year-old bludgeoning cases. Vince is on vacation; Deb thinks he’s in Mexico, taking in a donkey show, but after last week I prefer to think he’s at a rodeo, writing advice columns. To Dexter’s sarcastic remark that he thought this was his lab, Lundy responds that they’re hiding from LaGuerta. I bet Dexter still feels pretty sarcastic. Lundy is hiding because, of course, Quinn’s reporter girlfriend spilled the beans on Lundy, and there’s a very large picture of him on the front page of the paper. But Deb and Lundy, in their thirst to catch the Trinity Killer, will not rest. By this time Dexter’s crouched on the floor next to them, so that when LaGuerta comes in to tell them there’s a briefing in five, they all look like idiots. She also confirms that Lundy is no longer welcome at the Miami PD. This moves all Trinity work to Deb’s off time, but she refuses Lundy’s offer of an out and says she’s committed. Figures. On his way out, Lundy confides in Dex that he feels he’s thisclose to catching the killer.

I’ve spent a lot of time in public libraries and it does not surprise me at all that Arthur “Trinity” Mitchell would be in there using the public computers. All the wackos use the public library. Actually, a reasonable number of wackos work in public libraries too. Note to Lundy: check American Library Association memberships, Miami chapter. Arthur is scoping out photographs and floor plans of a white, modern building. While leaning over to shush some giggling teenage girls, he catches sight of that big color photo of Lundy on the front page of the newspaper. He picks it up and studies it curiously.

Quinn’s storming out of LaGuerta’s office, saying that he knows his dick has been making some bad decisions. Angel watches him, amused, then walks in. LaGuerta’s raving about Quinn’s bean-spilling in general, not just about Lundy; another of Christine’s articles claims the Vacation Murders are costing Miami $900,000 tourist dollars a day. That’s a lot of tourists. On the bright side, Angel notes, the article got their tip line ringing, and Johnny and Nikki should be flushed out any day now. But that’s not what LaGuerta really wants to talk about: she wants to inform the higher-ups of their relationship. Angel is resistant. His position is that it’s no one else’s business what they do, and that they should just let it be, not define it. LaGuerta’s very rational points are that they’d be following department policy, and furthermore, a secret relationship, if found out, could be used against them in the Vacation Murders case should it ever come to trial. Apart from her professional concerns, LaGuerta’s clearly fishing for a definition, but Angel doesn’t want to give one. By the end of the conversation LaGuerta is frosty, and Angel incredulous.

Back at his old apartment, Dexter goes through the Kruger photos on his laptop, reflecting on Kruger’s ability to fake a crime; by considering the supposed chain of events and zooming in on a few photos, he realizes she must have been wearing gloves when she planted Rae’s blood, and that she didn’t take them off until after she’d injured herself, too. Dexter’s going to find those gloves. Dex is lit in that blurry, glowy, Harry-light. Yes, Harry’s there. “It’s easier to think here, isn’t it?” he says, emphasizing that he’s only in the dark side of Dexter’s brain, the devil on his shoulder, and no one should be getting excited about any spectral visitations. He’s involved in some unwelcome speculation on Dexter’s choice of victim: a woman who shot her family to death. Murder was her only way to freedom, her only way out of the ties the bound her, while keeping her job and home. Dexter believes that there are always alternatives to murder, but admits that having no family has been crucial to Trinity’s success. Dexter doesn’t miss his family yet, and Harry knows it.

Deb’s at home, yakking away on the phone about Trinity when Anton comes in. She looks annoyed, makes a date for the next day and hangs up. She doesn’t say she’s talking to Lundy, but Anton’s on to her; according to him, her voice goes up a notch when she talks to Lundy, and she plays with her hair. Pretty damning evidence, Deb. Anton gets a new job to spend more time with her and she spends all her time skulking around with the ex. Deb protests — who wouldn’t? — but Anton’s no fool.

Dex is parked outside Zoe’s house, where she’s playing poker with a bunch of cops. What with her well-armed friends and her security system, it would be hard to get into the place to do some recon — that is, if she weren’t selling it and having an open house tomorrow. Do you think there will be snacks?

Behind what I think we can safely assume is a dive called the Seaside Tavern, Arthur is slouched in the shadows, up to no good. A man exits and Arthur gets ready to pop out of the shadows, when a woman joins him. He retreats. A few seconds later a muscular guy belches as he walks out into the alleyway. Arthur steps out and … calls him a cunt? Muscle guy is similarly incredulous. “What the hell did you just say?” Arthur repeats it. The guy dismisses the old man and walks away, but Arthur follows up with “fucking pussy” and gets more of a reaction — the guy pushes him into the dumpster, asking if he’s looking to get the shit kicked out of him. He turns away once more, but Arthur won’t let it go. “Faggot!” he screams, and the guy pushes him to the ground, kicking him a few times in the stomach for good measure. As the victim/assailant turns away for the final time, Arthur gasps “It’s all your fault … all your fault.” Well, looks like there won’t be any bludgeoning here tonight. What’s more, it looks like there are more than three assaults in Trinity’s ritual. Through the whole scene his face, his voice, his whole demeanor has screamed fear, even terror. But as he stands up again, energized, he looks perfectly maniacal.

Speaking of maniacal, meet Zoe Kruger’s frighteningly perky real estate agent. She welcomes Dexter into the open house, but he turns on the charm and gets her off his back so he can check things out by himself. I know I prefer to plan my murders solo. He clicks through the crime-scene photos on his phone as he walks through Zoe’s house. She’s still got her family portrait on the mantelpiece. While Dexter’s checking the bottom of the fake fireplace for silicon glove residue, the recently widowed Ms. Kruger walks up, introduces herself, and offers him a tour in a smoky, flirty voice. She tells him that she’s separated, and her husband has custody of the kid. They’re standing in her daughter’s dream pink bedroom/death trap when Zoe gets called away with a question about the hot tub. “To be continued,” she purrs, and saunters off. Dex looks at the photo of her daughter lying dead on the same pink carpet. The bed obscures everything but her legs - thank heaven for that.

Dex follows the blood all the way to the kitchen and sees that, if Zoe pulled herself up by the sink to get to the telephone, she would have been able to dispose of the gloves in the garbage disposal. Dexter discreetly jams the disposal with a wooden spoon, offers to fix it like a gentleman, and then, sure enough, finds a scrap of blue nitrele from a protective glove. He drops it into a plastic baggie and pockets it just before Zoe and the agent walk in to admire his work.

Deb and Lundy are in a diner, considering the question that’s on everybody’s mind: cannery bludgeoning or bar beating? Under Lundy’s expert, fatherly guidance, Deb sees it must be the bar beating. This is good, because now they know where Trinity’s going to strike next. Deb spills a glass of water on Lundy and reacts like she’s just hit a pedestrian with her car. Of course, it all turns out for the best because now Lundy has to sit on the other side of the table, next to her. Lundy asks if Anton (he calls him Ashton) won’t mind her spending all night at a stakeout, to which Deb replies that Anton “gets jealous for no reason.” Lundy thinks he has a pretty good reason, and then stares at her creepily until Deb demands that he just say what he’s thinking, which is the kind of thing you never say unless you’re looking for trouble. Apparently Lundy can no longer ignore his feelings for Deb. But he knows she’s in a committed relationship, and he would hate to … Deb comes totally undone and hurries out of the restaurant.

When Dex enters his lab, Angel is just standing there, looking vulnerable. Dex assumes it’s about the Vacation Murders case, but no — “I’m having intimate relations with LaGuerta,” he blurts. Dex looks terrified, then like he’s about to puke. I mean literally, he looks like this revelation has caused him to gag, and then force the vomit back down his throat. He offers his congratulations, but Angel needs advice, and he doesn’t trust anyone but Dexter with the secret. Isn’t it funny how everyone in the office finds Dexter so trustworthy? Furthermore, remember when Angel and Dex used to be buddies? What happened to that? Sure, Angel’s a divorced dad and Dexter is a married father of three, so their lives might be a little incompatible, but you’d think there would still be some banter in the break room or something.

Anyway, it gets worse: “Maria has awakened mi passion,” he says. She makes him feel like a man, but he doesn’t want to reveal their relationship to the higher-ups. Dexter grins knowingly. “Because you’re embarrassed,” he says, thinking he’s finally on track. That’d be my guess too, but no: Angel just doesn’t want it to be “officially official.” Dexter warns of the inevitable “kids and neighbors and painted mugs.” Angel is confused by the painted mugs, but moving on — if you want out, get out. Angel doesn’t want out. He wants to “protect it by keeping it private.” Aw, that’s actually kind of sweet. There’s my boy! He seems to think his friend has helped him, leaving Dexter to consider his telltale shred of blue plastic.

Deb walks up to Quinn’s desk to bitch him out about the Lundy article. I bet that feels damn good. Quinn’s usually such an arrogant, moralistic prick, I bet everybody waits for him to screw up somehow just so they can bitch him out some more. They’re secretly thanking Christine and her boobies and massages. Quinn insists he’s not seeing her anymore but just then the elevator doors open, and Christine’s standing right there. She walks over to him, but Quinn escorts her right back to the elevator and dumps her, telling her to “find another source.” She looks heartbroken. Something tells me this won’t end well.

In the lab, Dexter examines the shred of nitrele glove from Zoe Kruger’s garbage disposal. It’s got gunshot residue and blood, preserved in the rolled cuff - the blood of Darius Rae. It’s proof. Dexter plans to head over to Pembroke Pines and follow Ms. Kruger home.

In the square outside Trinity’s supposed next kill site, Lundy is making more notes in his little black tape recorder. Arthur Mitchell walks out the door and sees him, but is at enough of a distance that he can stop, turn, and hide himself behind a pillar. “I am found.” Forsooth! Gathering his courage, he walks in Lundy’s direction; Lundy’s absorbed in his observations and wouldn’t have noticed Arthur at all if Arthur hadn’t practically body-checked him, dropping a big ring of keys in the process. He apologizes and stares at Lundy a moment, hesitant and panting, and then walks off, leaving his keys behind. That can’t have been an accident. Lundy grabs them and chases after him. Arthur’s a deer in the headlights, but then he smiles, says thanks for the keys, and catches a bus. Lundy notes the number of the bus, and makes a brief physical description of Arthur, making a special note of his eyes, which are blue and “have something in them.” I would have thought the Trinity Killer would be a little more suave.

On the road somewhere — Pembroke Pines? — Dexter dials up Rita, to see if he misses her, but she’s in the midst of bed-jumping, baby-screaming, cartoon chaos and can’t hear a word he’s saying. They’ve got to go to the rehearsal dinner; she hangs up on him. Miss them yet, Dex? A police cruiser, lights flashing, pulls him over; it’s Zoe, looking vicious. She orders him out of the car, and as she pats him down, tells him she knows he’s got her file, she knows who he is, and that he’d be well-advised to leave a grieving mother in peace. She hopes he’s not getting off on her pain; Dex reassures her that he’s “not that kind of sicko” and subtly lets her know that he’s not buying her agony. She’s making him nervous, though. Zoe gives him some advice on avoiding the traffic on the way home — she knows where he lives, too — and lets him off with a warning.

Back at home in the glowy light, Dexter tells Harry he’s calling it off. Harry says he can’t — not now that a murderous cop knows where he and his family live. Dex ignores him and listens to a message from Lundy, who’s looking for Deb. Lundy starts mentioning an “interesting encounter” when Dex stops the playback, muttering “Me too.” He returns to the table, where he’s got the crime scene photos all laid out, and Harry starts in again on how much Zoe and Dex are alike. This provides just the insight Dexter needs — she is like him, and like him, she needs to feel like she’s in control. “If she thinks she is, she won’t see me coming.”

At work the next day, Dexter calls up the Pembroke Pines police records department and, badly disguising his voice, requests Darius Rae’s file, claiming it’s in regards to the Vacation Murders case. He doesn’t leave his name, telling the guy just to send it to “Forensics.” Sure enough, the records guy picks up the phone immediately afterward, presumably to call Zoe, and Dexter’s been smart: if he’d used his name and a normal voice, she would have known he was intentionally provoking her. Now she just thinks he’s a loser, and a bad liar.

Maria calls Dexter into her office and tells him she knows everything. Dex monologues “I’m gonna choose not to misinterpret that.” She’s talking about Angel, and wants to get in on that magical advice Dexter’s been giving. He tries to weasel out of it by saying he’s going to lunch, but when she takes that as an invitation, he decides to just sit down and get on with it. Maria wants to know what to do about “our relationship … or fling … or whatever it is we’re doing naked.” Poor Dexter. She says Angel doesn’t understand the politics in the police department, and if they mismanage this they could put their jobs at risk. They can’t take that chance. She stares at Dexter, waiting for a response, and he stammers out, “I … never leave anything to chance.” Maria sighs with relief — Dex to the rescue! Except the advice he’s given her is directly contradictory to what he told Angel. She picks up the phone and starts dialing. While he’s at it Dex decides to mess up Deb’s love life too, by stopping by her desk and telling her Lundy called the house looking for her. She stutters that that’s just great — boy, these Morgan kids sure are mealy-mouthed — and you can’t tell whether she means it or not. Dex can’t tell either, nor does he care. He’s got a cop to stalk.

Driving down the highway, Dex sees Zoe’s patrol car in his rear view mirror, just as he expected. He pulls in to a gas station and, pretending not to see her, saunters into the men’s bathroom and waits. She shows up five seconds later, locks the door, and hands him the Darius Rae file. She’s pissed. They’re both acting — him as the nervous lab geek and her as the grieving, vengeful wife and mother — but after a few of her threats Dexter drops his cover and tells her he knows what she did. She bluffs, but he shakes her confidence with the nitrele glove, and fibs that he’s discussing it with his bosses tomorrow. If that were true, she knows she’d be fucked. She pushes Dexter up against the sink, puts a gun to his head. “Oh, you’re raping me,” she says innocently. The real estate agent will back her up. He stalked her, assaulted her. Dex dissuades her with some blood-spatter lingo; the entry wound would be all wrong. Undeterred, she points the piece at his abdomen. Still a no-go, says Dex; not compatible with her story. Despite not knowing whether or not this is bullshit, she relents for now, and says Dex should go ahead and tell whoever he wants, because no one will believe him over her. She leaves, and Dex sags with relief. He knows she’ll be back.

Deb knocks on Lundy’s door. He answers and starts explaining why he called; she tells him to shut up, kisses him, and pushes him back into the room. Goddamn it.

Now Dex is hiding in his darkened house, waiting for Zoe, syringe at the ready. He surveys his props, “the camouflage of a family man,” and muses that she has no idea who he is. And sure enough, here’s Zoe; she picks the lock, opens the door. She’s going to make it look like a botched home invasion. She moves calmly through the house, picking up kids’ toys and books, then discarding them; Dex makes his move as she’s looking at the family portrait, but she catches his reflection in the glass. A skirmish ensues, and just before he sticks her with the needle, she throws his “I Love Dad” mug at him and misses. As she falls, Dex looks at the little baby handprint and is not unmoved.

Zoe comes to in her daughter’s dream pink bedroom, where Dexter has attached the crime scene photos to a little mobile above the bed. He’s a little late to the killing because he was buying tickets in Zoe’s name for a boat to the Philippines, where the US has no extradition treaty. Good to know. He’s packed her suitcase, he will drive her car to the port, and he’s put the shred of blue glove back in her garbage disposal. He gloats that he can create a narrative too. She supposes he’s going to rape and kill her. Dex finds this pretty funny. “What is it with you and rape? No one’s raping anyone!” Zoe admits that she killed her family because of their demands on her time — she “couldn’t breathe” — but taunts Dexter. He’s the same as her. He’ll do the same one day. Dexter has been over this with Harry before, but this time it leads to a revelation: he does want his family. He’d rather risk revealing himself than lose them. Relieved by his epiphany, he stabs her in the abdomen.

In his apartment, Dexter places his vacation souvenir — the blood sample — in the tray, while Harry asks him if he wouldn’t rather stay here. Dex tells Harry that he didn’t raise a loner, but Harry wonders if he should have. Rita calls, saying they’re on their way home; remembering the state of the house, Dexter dashes out the door, leaving Harry behind him.

Dex is just sweeping up the last of the mess - the shards of his painted mug - when Rita and the kids come in. They’re exhausted. He explains that the mug just slipped out of his hand, but Rita says the kids will be excited to make him a new one. Astor and Cody have flopped on the couch, and Rita sits down wearily, the baby at her feet, leaving a spot for Dexter. He joins them, putting him arm around Rita. “I missed you so much,” she says; he replies “I missed you too,” and means it. The camera pans out on the happy family tableau, so different from the dark confrontation of last week’s final scene.

Lundy is walking Deb to her car. They are entwined. Soft music plays. As they embrace, Deb whispers “I’m a fuckwad.” Lundy denies this. Deb tells him she knew how she felt about him from the second he came back, but couldn’t admit it. She has an attack of conscience; she should have broken up with Anton first, but she didn’t, because she’s a fuckwad. Yes ma’am. Lundy reassures her she was just confused. They both look so happy. Lundy says, “We’ll set this right. Together.” They kiss. Did anyone just know at this point that Lundy was going to die? I know I did. I thought Trinity was going to come up and bludgeon him as soon as Deb drove away. But that’s not what happens. What happens is, just as Lundy’s about to promise that he won’t disappear again, he’s distracted by something behind Deb; they hear a shot, and Deb looks down to see an exit wound somewhere in the vicinity of her right hip. She falls in slow motion. After two more shots, from Deb’s prone perspective, we see Lundy fall too. His eyes are open wide, his face motionless. Deb watches him. Everything is silent. A black figure walks right up to Lundy, takes something from his back pocket, touches his hand — why does he do that? — and is gone, and Deb sees the blood spreading at Lundy’s neck. She whispers, “Stay with me,” but there’s no way. He’s gone. Deb passes out, and the last thing we see is the two of them curled on the pavement, facing each other.

Is anyone surprised at Lundy’s death? I kind of had a feeling someone was going to go; you could feel it coming in the air. And Frank Lundy wasn’t a bad choice. Sure, he’s brilliant, and lends a certain tension to the scenes he’s in, but he creeps me out. And he’s a shit-disturber, and he’s not helping Deb with her Electra complex. His death, furthermore, highlights Deb’s perpetual bad luck, her star-crossed destiny. And what about Deb? Is she done for, and if not, how badly is she hurt?

But more importantly, who was the perpetrator? Was it Trinity? He’s the obvious choice, but I’m not convinced. He seems a complicated beast, and we don’t know that he’s capable of murder outside of the three he keeps repeating. Look at how nervous he was with Lundy outside the bar. Besides, why would he rob Lundy? Unless that was a tape recorder that was taken from his pocket, I really don’t think Trinity is the kind of criminal that would shoot a guy, then roll him for his cash. You know who is? Johnny Rose. Sure, the Vacation Murderer prefers to work inside the hotels, but I bet hotel security is heightened in Miami these days. And I don’t think Lundy would be staying in a fleabag motel. If it was Rose, then this is the height of irony: the investigators of one series of murders have been struck down by the perpetrator of another. It’s just as interesting to wonder who the Miami PD will pin it on. I’m damned excited about this development, folks, and I can’t wait to see what the fallout will be.

J. K. Barlow lives in Europe, which stresses her out. She doesn’t currently have a blog — not one she wants you to see — but she can be reached at i.barlova at gmail dot com.