By J,K. Barlow | TV | December 3, 2009 |
By J,K. Barlow | TV | December 3, 2009 |
I don’t want you to read anything into this. It’s natural. My age and gender are irrelevant. You don’t need to buy into stereotypes — you’re above them. The fact of the matter is, baby Harrison is at the doctor’s office getting some booster shots and he’s crying and he has little pudgy knees and it’s the cutest thing on the goddamned planet. What are you, a monster? Even Dexter looks concerned. Rita is far beyond concerned and looks as much a wreck as the baby. Dex explains his apparent calm by saying “a little pain now means a lot less later on.” This of course is actually a reference to how he should have freaking killed Trinity by now already.
Dexter has moved his secret space to a shipping container, which is smart. “After all,” he says, “it’s where my dark passenger was born.” Is it the same shipping container? That would be a little too good to be true, I think. He packs up his knives and leaves, on his way to stalk Arthur, which I guess he’s been doing for a while, because he knows Arthur’s schedule by heart. Dex is expecting him to go to choir practice, where he’ll stick him in the empty parking lot — but that’s not where Arthur goes. He pulls into a parking garage and watches a babysitter lead two kids, a boy and a girl, from the family van into an arcade. Arthur stalks the four through the arcade; the babysitter must be his next victim. The place is crowded, and Dexter soon loses sight of Arthur, but not the woman and the little girl. He looks around in a panic.
Arthur isn’t after the woman after all. He’s after the little boy, whose name he knows because it’s printed on the side of the van, along with the rest of his family’s names. A mistake — these details add a lot more credence to Arthur’s story. Scott is shooting some virtual bad guys when Arthur walks up to him, flashes a badge, and says his parents have been in a car accident, and Scott needs to come with him. His partner already has Scott’s sister. They must go quickly. The poor kid believes him.
Dexter finally locates Arthur in the parking garage just as he’s leading Scott to the van. Scott balks at getting into the van, which is clearly not a patrol car, so Arthur chloroforms him. Dexter throws caution to the wind, screams “Arthur!” and sprints after him; Arthur jumps into the van and squeals out of the garage. Not losing a second, Dexter turns around and runs back to his car. He jumps in to find his phone ringing. It’s Trinity, who doesn’t like being followed. He tells “Kyle” three things: that he will preserve Scott’s innocence; that he will kill Scott if he so much as sees a police car; and that as long as his process is followed, he’ll set the boy free. Suddenly Harry is in the passenger seat, telling Dexter that Arthur is going to kill that boy. Arthur’s never done this before, that they know of; has Dexter started something new? If so, it’s his responsibility and he’s got to stop it.
He can’t follow Arthur, so he goes to the Mitchells’ house where Jonah is home alone (lucky, that). According to Jonah, his father is “at some teaching thing up in Naples” and will be there for a couple of days — that buys Dex some time. Creepily, Vera’s urn has been restored, but Jonah’s finger hasn’t, and Dex knows he can lean on the kid to help him out, “to stop him (Arthur) from doing something really wrong.” It doesn’t take much to convince Jonah that his dad is capable of that. Dex wants Jonah to look through Arthur’s desk and computer for him, to help put an end to “the sins of your father,” as he says taking Jonah’s face in his hands. In full freak-out mode, he’s gone like the wind as Sally’s car pulls up the drive. Jonah stands pensively in the darkened room.
Little Scott comes to in a dim basement, cement-floored, furnished with bunk beds, shelves, and not much else. Arthur is setting up a model train set on the floor. He wants to know if Scott likes trains — except he doesn’t call him Scott. He calls him Arthur. Real Arthur starts the train and watches it with childish glee, making sound effects as he follows it around the loop. Scott retreats into the gloom of the bottom bunk.
Dexter is back at home, searching (on a phony search engine called “Netscope”) for more missing boys in the cities where Arthur has sinned. Disturbingly, a 9-year-old boy disappeared in New Orleans five days before a young New Orleans woman was found dead in her bathtub. That means the kidnapping starts the cycle. It means that Trinity’s starting again. Harry’s there, ruminating that kids remind Dexter of his lost innocence, and that’s why he has a soft spot for them. But innocence is important to Arthur too. He promised he’d preserve Scott’s innocence. We should have seen this coming: the woman in the bathtub is Vera; the jumper is his mother; the bludgeoning, his father; so the boy must be Arthur himself. He was ten years old when his sister died and his own innocence was destroyed, but it looks like he’s trying to bring it back.
Dexter finds more missing boys of the right age, gone missing in Omaha, St. Paul, Denver, always five days before a bathtub murder in the same city. Missing children, if they’re never found, are never reported as homicides — that’s how Lundy missed them. As if we needed further proof, at Harry’s prompting, Dexter finds that another ten-year-old boy went missing in Miami five days before Lisa Bell’s murder. Rita turns on the light just then, and Dexter explains that he’s working late — as Rita says, like always. She says Harrison can’t sleep, so she’ll be keeping him in their bed tonight. Dexter promises he’ll be there soon.
Whenever Dexter did go to bed, it wasn’t early, or else he couldn’t sleep when he got there. At work the next day, his hair is a mess and he’s pounding back coffee as he contemplates today’s blaring headline: that Scott has gone missing. A knock at the door, and a patrol cop named Gordie comes into the lab. Ingenious Dexter explains that he dinged a van with his car yesterday and, after his big accident, doesn’t want his insurance rates to go up. He left the guy a note but hasn’t heard back; could Gordie keep an eye out for the guy so Dexter can just pay him off in cash? For you, Dex? Anything!
Outside the lab, Vince blocks Deb as she walks up to the door. He says he’s next. He needs to talk to Dexter about something that’s difficult to say — something about Thanksgiving. Is it something about Good Old Elliott? Deb predictably will have none of this, and as soon as Gordie’s out, Deb muscles her way in. She wants to talk to him because her interview with Christine is today, and she’s got a few pertinent questions of her own for Ms. Hill. Does Dexter think she should give Quinn a heads-up? No, Dexter does not. Who knows where Quinn’s loyalties lie? Dexter wants Deb to get out of the lab — he’s got field work to do — but Deb ignores this vibe and says, with some frustration, that she has a briefing on Trinity in two minutes and has need of Dexter’s “big brain.”
Stubbornness wins, but Dex is no help at the briefing, throwing doubt on Deb’s theory that Trinity is in the school system. Because, of course, he knows it’s true. Nevertheless, LaGuerta okays mouth swabs at a few private schools, who have been more cooperative. She also wants Dexter’s blood work on some bar stabbing. Could it be that ruse from last week was the real deal? Finally, Angel has had no significant developments on the shooting case.
When the briefing is over Dexter almost runs to the elevator. He is so eager to avoid Vince that when the elevator doesn’t come two seconds ago, he takes the stairs. Poor Vince — the man’s trying his best. Angel and LaGuerta walk out together, and Angel wants her to authorize a Thai menu, as a cover for asking her to run away with him to a tropical island. The fool says no. Quinn and Deb exit the briefing room discussing mouth swabs and Christine interrupts them, ready for the interview. Deb asks Quinn to lead Christine to “the box” because she’s forgotten to run something by Angel — which is true. She wants him to watch the interview — good call having it in the interrogation room. She tells him it might have something to do with the Lundy shooting. Given his “no significant developments,” Angel agrees.
In the basement, Arthur is still calling Scott Arthur and still playing with his model train. Scott is hungry, but Arthur won’t feed him until he puts on a pair of cowboy pajamas that are on the bed. Scott angrily refuses. Arthur crouches next to him, holding a tiny plastic model of a man and woman. “Don’t you understand?” he says. “Father drinks, and mother pays the price.” He says, “I’m just trying to protect you, Arthur.” Scott protests that he’s Scott. Arthur walks up the basement stairs, opening a door at the top and letting in a lot of sunshine.
Dexter is at Scott’s house, offering his unofficial services to help find the boy. The father tells him they’ve made up some fliers, and as Dexter waits, he surveys the devastation: the babysitter crying; the mother comforting her frightened daughter. The father hands Dexter a stack of fliers and tells him they have received no tips and found no leads. As Dexter leaves a man by the door asks him if he can imagine the torture of not knowing where his child is. Dexter can’t. In the car with Harry, Dexter realizes that the Four Walls builds provide the perfect place to hide a child’s body where it will never be found. Does Arthur also hold the boys captive there?
Christine and Deb are in the box, and Christine is asking her why she got into Homicide. Deb tells her that Harry was in Homicide too, but that police work was a different game back then: less science, more reliance on gut feeling. Watching the live feed, Angel gives an amen. Deb whips out some photos of a dead Lundy. Forensics have gone nowhere with this, she says, and now all she can do is stare at the photos and look for answers. On the screen, Angel sees Christine getting nervous. She ends the interview, saying she has enough background. Sure, says Deb — but there’s something in her face. She starts talking about how Christine lives in The Gables, “so far from all that touristy stuff”. But The Gables is a sixty-minute drive from Lundy’s hotel. How’d she get to the crime scene so fast? The call went out at 5:05, and Christine was there by 5:20. I was on my way to the gym, Christine says; I like to get there early. Angel doesn’t buy that. Neither does Deb. Standing at the door to the interrogation room, Christine asks, “How do I get out of here?” Deb gives her the directions with a wolfish smile.
Deb and Angel meet behind closed doors and agree that they must tread carefully. Angel says that at the scene of the shooting, Christine showed up with her hair and makeup fully done, casting doubt on her gym story. Deb asks why a “hard-boiled crime-scene reporter” was so affected by Lundy’s photos … and then lets Angel in on the weird conversation that first tripped her radar. Quinn opens the door suddenly with a DNA-sweep update. They awkwardly tell him they’ll be right there, and then resolve never to talk about this with Quinn around.
Dexter is at the Four Walls build in his killin’ clothes. He paces through the almost-finished house and, finding nothing, curses loudly. Then he gets a call from Jonah, who has found nothing of interest at his dad’s desk. Dex wants to hear all about it anyway. In the search history, there are real estate listings, homes for sale. Jonah offers to e-mail him the listings, but Kyle Butler doesn’t have e-mail — “Who doesn’t have e-mail?” Jonah asks — so he’ll fax them instead. Before he lets Mr. Butler go, Jonah asks why he can see Arthur for what he really is. Dexter allows that they have a few things in common.
Rita is waiting outside Cody’s school when there is a commotion among the children. They’re chanting “Fight! Fight!” as children will. Rita runs toward the brawl and finds that the two participants in the fight are Cody and another boy. The other kid’s mother pulls them apart; Rita grabs Cody and asks what he was thinking. The other kid says he saw Dexter leave the Young sailors campout “because he was scared.” Or … something. Rita tries to smooth things over, but Other Mother is sticking to her son’s story.
Ominously enough, Arthur is loading bags of cement mix into the back of his van. Christine calls. She wants to see him. Arthur says she just got to see him on Thanksgiving, but she says she can’t wait four months until her birthday (ouch) and must see him again, in between their scheduled visits. On the verge of tears, she pleads, “I’m your family too. I need you.” But Arthur says it will have to wait. After he hangs up, she breathes, “I think I’m in trouble,” and starts to cry.
Arthur re-enters the basement with burgers, fries, and sodas in a cardboard tray, and kicks the dust off his shoes. Scott has changed his tactics from anger to negotiation and neutrally asks if he can go now. “In due time, Arthur,” says Arthur, and puts a record on the ancient record player, an old 1950s torch song. He tells Scott that he can eat once he puts on his pajamas, and takes a big bite out of one of the burgers, remarking that it’s delicious. It actually does look delicious. This wears down Scott’s resistance and he slips on the cowboy pajamas over his t-shirt and shorts.
Dexter is spending his evening checking out the houses on Jonah’s list; wandering into one backyard, he looks through a window and sees a naked woman who’s not Christine moaning in pleasure (I’m as shocked as you). That house: not so empty. Just then — what did screenwriters do before this device? — his phone rings and it’s Rita, reporting that Harrison has a fever. Dexter says he can be right there, but stops to check another house on the way home. Stalking through the empty rooms he sees that the basement door is open, and the light on. There’s a boy standing at the foot of the stairs. “Scott Smith?” he breathes, not daring to believe it — and he shouldn’t. It’s not him. There’s a family squatting down there, a family with “nowhere else to be”, a mother just trying to keep her kids safe at night. Dexter promises not to tell.
At home, the baby — who, as always, looks pretty chill — is running a high fever. Dexter explains his lateness by saying he was “helping out with that missing boy,” which isn’t even a lie. “Those poor parents,” Rita sighs, segueing into the revelation that Paul’s parents want to take Astor and Cody to Disneyland. She claims they’re nothing like Paul. Dex notices Cody’s black eye, and Rita explains what happened at school; looking a little startled, Dex says “the only time I left my tent that night was to find a tree.” But Cody no longer wants to be a Young Sailor. The thermometer beeps and reads 101.2 degrees — time to give baby a sponge bath.
To avoid Quinn, Deb and Angel are discussing the shooting at Deb’s apartment. Deb is so frustrated, she’s stolen Angel’s hat. Angel wonders, could Christine have just been covering for a source? Maybe, but thinking outside the box, Christine is the same height as the shooter. Why would Christine shoot Lundy? Deb has no idea. She ran Christine’s prints and found no record, but as Angel points out, it may just be that she’s never been caught. They’ll have to get her DNA somehow.
Dexter is bathing his son in a little blue plastic tub, under a spotlight, in a gorgeous tableau. Harrison splashes while Dexter ponders his situation; with Cody’s friend’s revelation, Rita and Cody are now defending Dexter’s lie. Dexter’s family, too, is now a human shield.
Deb is at Quinn’s apartment and Quinn is very angry. He yells that there’s no way Christine is connected to the shooting, and accuses Deb of a “Morgan vendetta” against him. Deb begs him; she has a hunch, and he should know what that’s like. She reassures him that only Angel knows about this. All Quinn has to do is give over Christine’s toothbrush. “If the results come back clean,” she says, “you can shove this up my ass anytime you want.” It’s important to note that she’s speaking metaphorically.
Deb gets the toothbrush and hands it over to Vince, who’s working late and would rather be watching “Project Runway.” He agrees to run the DNA, but Deb won’t tell him who it belongs to.
Early next morning, Dex is still surveying houses — six down and eight to go. LaGuerta calls to ask where the hell he is, because she needs the blood work on the bar shooting, like, yesterday. Dexter blames traffic and says he’s on his way.
Quinn and Christine stand together at Quinn’s bathroom mirror. There are some weird camera angles going on, and I like it. They start talking about Christmas, and unsurprisingly, she wants to spend it with him. She isn’t close with her family, she says, and Quinn remarks that she never talks about them. Instead of responding to that she asks what happened to her toothbrush. He blames it on the cleaning lady. She wants to know if Quinn’s okay — he is acting kind of weird. She starts untying his bathrobe, I suppose as another distraction tactic, but he tells her now’s not a good time, and she gets pissed for the first time I can remember. “Well maybe it is a good time for me,” she says. “You ever consider that?” Christine, honey, every time’s a good time for you. Christine wants to know if Deb has said anything about her. She’s ditching the article because of a “shitty interview,” but won’t say more. She leaves, on the pretext that she’s late for work. In her car, Christine’s on the phone to Daddy again, saying they might be in trouble about “that woman in the bathtub that night when I was little.” Oh, dear. Yes, indeed, you might be.
The model train is still looping around and around its miniature track while Arthur asks Scott what they should call the station, and Scott asks when he can go home. Arthur ignores him and Scott kicks the train off the track in frustration. Arthur looks up, and I smell trouble, until a new song comes on the record player. Arthur starts to sing along, sadly. He says it was Vera’s favorite song, and cries that wasn’t his fault that she died. Sensing an opportunity, Scott moves closer to Arthur and says that if it makes him feel better, he can call him Arthur. Real Arthur appears touched. In a conciliatory tone, Scott says they can play trains a little more, and then Arthur can take him home. “You’re a dear boy, Arthur,” says Arthur. “So innocent. Kind-hearted. Promise me you’ll always stay that way.” “Sure,” says Scott. Then Arthur offers him some ice cream. Taking a small plastic cup of vanilla from the deep freeze, Arthur empties a capsule of white powder into it, mixes it, and says once he’s finished, they can go home. Arthur’s crazy-yet-harmless old man act has been convincing. Scott takes the ice cream and smiles.
At the station, Dexter is doing what he should have done from the beginning — calling the real estate agent to find out which homes are empty. He gives LaGuerta the long-awaited blood report. Gordie tells him that the van has been spotted at a diner on Flagler and Fourth. It’s good news for Dex — it’ll narrow down his search considerably. On Google Maps — or is that Netscope Maps? — he finds that there are four listings in the area, and two within a mile. He grabs his bag and he’s outta there.
On his way out, both Vince and Deb try to flag him down. He ignores Vince completely, which seems to be effective, but Deb follows him to the elevator. He explains that he needs to be in two places at once. Quinn rounds a corner and throws Deb a dirty look, and Deb says she’s half out of her mind with the Trinity case. “Debra Morgan!” calls a perky voice from down the hall. It’s Valerie Hodges, Harry’s old CI and shag. She waves ecstatically. As Dex ducks into the elevator, Deb reluctantly walks toward Valerie to see what’s up. I’d guess she’s still after a paid CI gig, but she tells Deb she just wants to apologize for the things she said. She’s still hurt that Harry dumped her for another CI. She doesn’t remember the woman’s name, but thinks the woman will remember her, because when all this went down Valerie stormed over to this lady’s house all crazy-like. Uh oh. That could lead all kinds of places, but it isn’t going anywhere yet. Vince slams his fist on the glass partition, holding some papers in his hand and looking like the cat that swallowed the canary. “I’ll call you,” says Deb, and goes to see what’s up.
Angel and LaGuerta walk to the elevator, LaGuerta in a rather short fuchsia skirt. They’re subtly flirting, as always. Angel wants to make a date with LaGuerta and a bottle of wine, because they’re in love. But the warm fuzzies will have to wait until later, because here come Deb and Vince with some truly jaw-dropping news: Christine and Trinity? Related! Yeah, we already knew that. But what were we gonna do about it?
Where does Dexter change his clothes? In a phone booth? Because he’s in his law-breaking outfit as he barges into yet another empty house, and fails to find a basement or any secret hiding place. In the backyard he has a little more luck — a bomb shelter. Really? He’s found Arthur’s hiding place; the model train is still set up on the floor. Harry’s standing next to it, pointing out the irony that these bomb shelters were build during the Cuban Missile Crisis to keep people safe. Dexter hates irony. He finds the empty ice cream cup and knows that he just missed them.
Wherever Scott may be, Arthur is in a parking garage meeting with his panicked eldest daughter. She tells him that, as a child, she saw him kill a woman in a bathtub (she was supposed to be waiting in the car). She thought it was a dream until it happened again in the same house, Lisa Bell’s house, thirty years later.
Dexter ransacks the bomb shelter looking for clues, wishing he’d figured this out in time. Harry reassures him that he’ll have another shot at Arthur, but Dexter can’t help imagining — what if it was Harrison or Cody? He’s a father. His priorities have changed.
In the parking garage, Christine pulls a bunch of postcards out of her purse. They’re from her father, and every one comes from a place and a time where a woman was murdered in a bathtub. She knew Lundy was getting close; she got in with the homicide department “so I’d know what they knew.” She was following Lundy and saw him bump into Arthur. That’s why she shot him — to protect her father. She made it look like a Vacation Murder, and until recently the police had no idea, but now they’re starting to ask questions. Stricken, Arthur turns away, puts on a loving-father face, and then turns back to his daughter with a smile. Christine whimpers and looks at him fearfully. “You put yourself at risk for me?” he says gently. “I’d do anything for you,” she cries. “More than your other kids. They would never do what I did for you.” Arthur promises to protect her, says she’s always been special to him. It’s like the only thing she’s ever wanted to hear. He kisses her on the forehead, hugs her, and tells her to go home. He says he’ll come over tonight and they’ll figure it out. Getting into his van, he waits until she’s gone before he pounds the steering wheel and screams, “Stupid fucking cunt!”
Dexter is still in the bomb shelter, without a clue, when he sees the dust on the floor where Arthur kicked it off his shoes. He drips a little water on it and understands what it means: Arthur encases the boys in cement — to preserve them forever. Dex runs up the stairs.
At the Four Walls build, Arthur is zipping Scott into a body bag next to a pit of wet cement. Dexter appears. “Burying a child in cement — that’s not very Christian,” he says. No arguments here. Arthur forbids him to come closer, and Dex guesses that Scott is still alive. Arthur pleads — he needs to do this — but Dex can’t walk away. The body bag slides into the cement as the two men do battle with building equipment. Dexter lands a debilitating blow with a shovel to Arthur’s head, and pulls Scott out of the pit. He is, in fact, alive. And Arthur is gone.
Christine paces in her living room. There’s a knock on the door — she reacts with either relief or fright. But it isn’t Daddy. It’s Angel, Deb, Quinn, and a uniformed police officer. As Angel leads her to the elevator, she looks over her shoulder at Quinn, whom she must have trusted. Quinn refuses Deb’s hand, and she watches him go, hurt.
Dexter comes home to a peaceful house. Rita knows Scott’s been found. It’s on the news, but nobody’s saying what happened. The house is completely quiet — they can even hear crickets — until Rita jinxes it by mentioning it. Harrison cries. Dex goes to soothe him, reassuring Rita that he wants to. Harrison, the most good-natured baby in the world, stops crying as soon as Dexter comes in. Dexter promises that no one will ever hurt Harrison again — “Especially me.”
I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I can’t even hate Christine now. I know, I know, it’s a strange feeling. She’s really fucked up, and who wouldn’t be, with that man as a father? She’s probably going to do some serious time for protecting the monster. But it’s only a matter of time until the Miami PD finds out whom that monster is, and after that, it’ll be easy enough for Arthur to put two and two together. Kyle Butler’s days are numbered.
And Valerie Hodges? I knew it the first time - that woman is trouble. Sure, she doesn’t remember the other CI’s name, but what do you bet she remembers where she lived? What do you bet Deb will look up that house’s previous owners and find, not only Brian Moser, Deb’s long-gone psycho fiancé, but Laura Moser too? That’ll practically be a trail of breadcrumbs to Laura’s untimely demise, and maybe even to Dexter himself. He should have shredded that photo. Oh, and speaking of psycho fiancés, these guys need to start up some kind of a club. The I Slept With A Psycho Association (ISWAPA), membership: Deb, Dex, Rita, and Quinn. LaGuerta gets an honorary membership. Doakes was really a law-abiding citizen, but come on — there was something about that guy.
Lastly, I’d like to get your opinions on whether or not it’s a good idea for Vince to tell Dex about what he saw on Thanksgiving. Personally, I’d keep my mouth shut, but Dexter’s probably Vince’s only friend. He seems pretty loyal. How do you folks think Dexter would react?
J. K. Barlow watches Dexter every week but doesn’t own a decent knife. Chide her at i.barlova [at] gmail.com.