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Never Bump Into a Serial Killer with Your Ice Cream Cone

By J.K. Barlow | TV | October 8, 2009 |

By J.K. Barlow | TV | October 8, 2009 |

The title of this episode is a terrible pun and we won’t be repeating it here. After way too much “previously on Dexter” (give us some credit, Showtime; we don’t have the attention span of a gnat), we start, naturally enough, with Dexter in his wrecked car, surrounded by police and paramedics shining flashlights into his face. It’s oddly jarring to see Dexter like this, upside-down in a totaled car, and then strapped to a gurney wearing a neck brace, I suppose because it accentuates the loss of control Dexter’s experienced throughout the last three seasons. That’s why the title sequence Dexter hasn’t changed — we need to remember him like that, the way he was supposed to be. In the ambulance, Dexter knows where he is, so he can’t be too badly hurt. But through flashbacks of the crash he starts to remember what he was up to last night and is feeling a little panicky — he reaches out to the car, calling for “Benny”. Uh, best to pretend those were in the car when you got there, Dex. A cop walks toward him, saying, “Sir, we found this bag… of pediatric medicine. Thought you might want it.” Dexter manages not to wet himself.

At the hospital, Dexter correctly recites his name and that of the President (who is Barack Obama — perhaps you’ve heard?). Dexter has a concussion, and he says he doesn’t remember anything after working late. He remembers picking up the medicine, but does not remember the accident or even getting in the car. Not surprising, says the doctor, since concussions can affect your short-term memory and judgment, and cause confusion and disorientation. Doc wants to keep him in the hospital for the next 12 hours to make sure he doesn’t sleep, and walks off for the admission paperwork, but when Rita shows up Dexter tells her that he was just in a fender-bender and that he’s good to go. Rita is a wreck. She’s wearing two different shoes. Dexter pretends to care but is eager to leave, obviously, and though Rita keeps delaying him with hugs, they make it out the door before the doctor gets back.

At home that morning, Dex monologues that he will do whatever it takes to stay awake — not for his health, but to give him more time to find the remnants of Benito Gomez. Rita urges him to take a personal day, but of course he says no. Cody runs in for a hug, practically body-checking him, and Dexter recoils in pain; the kids didn’t know there was an accident — “Did anybody die?” — but Dex reiterates that it was just a fender-bender. His cab is at the door, and he goes, under protests from Rita. He’s wishing for just one day without a murder in Miami.

Angel and LaGuerta are in her bedroom. It occurred to me last episode that, as Cuban-Americans both, they would probably be speaking Spanish together in private, right? I guess Showtime doesn’t want to subtitle, because they sidestep the problem with lines like “Hay cafe con leche in the kitchen.” Their private dialogue is like this for the rest of the episode, peppered with enough Spanish to remind people that they have it in common, but if you ask me I think they should pick a language and stick with it. The two of them are making sure to arrive at work at different times because, as LaGuerta says, they “don’t want to arouse suspicion,” Angel responds “Speaking of arousing,” and starts nibbling on her neck. Ew. Looks like groaners don’t stop with the title. He wonders what could be the worst that would happen if they showed up together, knowing full well the answer could be “disciplinary action.” He leaves, telling LaGuerta to wear her hair down.

Dex gets out of the cab in the station parking lot and successfully avoids Deb. Unfortunately he’s no match for sneaky Lundy, who wants a minute of his time. When Lundy proves unshakeable, Dex agrees to give him one. It’s about the Trinity killer, and for a moment, Dexter forgets who Lisa Bell is; Lundy, ever keen, can tell something is up with Dexter, but since Dexter keeps telling him it’s nothing he lets it go. For Dex, this conversation can’t be over fast enough, but Lundy is persistent, if nothing else. There are no new developments, and even as Dexter turns around and tries to walk away, Lundy can’t help pontificating. He babbles on about kismet: he thinks it’s fate that Trinity has struck in Miami — and not, say, Buffalo — so that Lundy has recourse to Dexter’s exceptional abilities. Does anyone else think Lundy compliments Dex too much? Dex says Lundy should really be talking to Deb, who is lead detective on the case, and runs off to find his car and take a look in the back. The switch from pleasant to angry face as he turns is not our typical cool Dexter.

At a café near the beach the Trinity Killer, whose name is Arthur Mitchell, is doing a crossword. Here are the words we can see: Id, Deny, Ray, and what looks like it’s going to be Severed, but turns out to be Several. Whew! After so much naked time, you’ll be interested to know that Arthur does indeed dress like a serial killer, in a short-sleeved blue shirt tucked into khakis. He’s adding sugar to his coffee when a perfectly ordinary middle-aged woman walking down the boardwalk catches his attention. He gets up, throws out his coffee, and follows her.

Dexter, in whatever you call the place where they keep wrecked cars, notes that there are no police or crime-scene tape around his personal wreck, which bodes well. Opening the back, he finds a bag, but not the bag, “not the six it takes to hold a body.” What’s that — head, torso, arms, legs? What he’s found are his kill tools. Dexter can only imagine that Benny must have been thrown from the car. His cell phone rings and he curses when he sees it’s Angel, calling him to another crime scene — another vacation murder. Looks like he didn’t get his murder-free day. Angel wants him at this hotel ASAP, but Dexter knows he’ll be making another stop.

Quinn shows up late as Angel is delegating work on the vacation murder. He tells Deb to keep on with the Lisa Bell case, but that they may need her to switch cases at any time. Quinn: “You came up with something on our case?” Deb: “Yeah. Yeah, while you were looking for your panties on some chickie-doo’s floor.” Quinn says nothing, which of course means that Quinn does in fact wear panties. Deb calls her BFF Francis — that’s the chick from the police archives — and asks her to bring up some files from a thirty-year-old murder case involving a guy named Eddie Noonan. Masuka comes up to Deb’s desk and smells her, theorizing that her new perfume might be a result of the return of one Special Agent Frank Lundy. Deb says she already has a boyfriend and threatens Masuka with a throat punch if he smells her again. Masuka must get off on this. Why else would he keep trying?

LaGuerta marches in with this morning’s paper, which contains an article on the Vacation Murder. LaGuerta is pissed. “Does anyone know this Christine Hill?” Eep! Quinn allows that they might have met a few times. LaGuerta says to tell her to tone down the “creative writing.” LaGuerta is putting the pressure on, and says she promised the mayor she’d take the lead on this case, pulling it out from under Angel’s feet. Masuka declares that Quinn is so boning that reporter. They all rush out.

Dex pulls up at last night’s crash scene. Harry is there, natch. Dex knows where the pieces of Benny should be, due to velocity and trajectory, but they’re not. What he does find is Harrison’s teddy bear. Harry (oh! The kid is named after Harry!) chides Dexter, saying that if Harrison hadn’t been born, none of this would have happened. Dexter takes swift offense to the suggestion that Harrison is to blame for this. Harry says that he — meaning the code — is not to blame, at least. A bright light is coming from behind him, and it makes Dex dizzy for a moment. He tries again to remember what he did last night, but can’t. Then his phone rings again. “Fucking dead people.”

Back at the station, Fran the Archives Girl has brought up all the files related to Noonan’s 1979 murder conviction. Deb would kiss her but she already went through that phase in college. She reveals that Eddie Noonan was convicted for the 1979 murder of his wife, Vicky Noonan — the one that’s just been replicated with Lisa Bell. Cool, says Fran, but what’s up on the CI front? Deb’s still waiting for a few call-backs but so far hasn’t found anything untoward, and is starting to doubt that there’s anything to find.

At the crime scene Dexter’s doing his best to do his job and get the hell out. Christine is there and jumps the tape to talk to Quinn. Quinn orders her back but she doesn’t go immediately; she keeps flirting and pumping for details, as though the rules don’t apply to her. Seems neither one wants to end their nascent relationship, whatever it is, but Quinn says they need some ground rules, and one of those rules should be get your ass back on the other side of the crime scene tape. She goes just in time, as LaGuerta walks up and asks Quinn to run inventory on the victim’s personal effects.

The deal at the crime scene is that the victim was shot in the back of the head as he entered the room, and his watch was stolen and his wallet cleaned out. Dexter says a directional swipe on the guy’s shoe print shows he went out the patio door. LaGuerta shoulders the task of notifying the next of kin, another thing that Angel was going to do. There’s some tension there, but when Masuka gets critical, Angel snipes that the chain of command is there for a reason. Suddenly Dexter’s not feeling too well; Masuka tells him he looks a little green, and Dex goes out to the patio to get some air. That’s where he sees some blood on the spine of a cactus.

Lundy joins Deb eating lunch al fresco. She freaks when she sees that he is eating sushi, and not his usual “cucumber sammy.” He says the cream cheese was doing a number on his cholesterol levels. You know, in my early twenties I was dating an older guy, and one day I found his gout medicine in the fridge. Gout. I took it as a sign. Deb loses her cool, like always, and tells him it’s too weird that they’re sharing a civil lunch, after two years of zero contact. Lundy mans up and admits he should have let her know he was coming, but makes a couple of excuses about his hush-hush project and how Deb must be so busy and all. It’s news to Deb that Lundy knows anything at all about the Lisa Bell case, but she fills him in on the Vicky Noonan murder, and he pretends like he knows nothing about it. Looks like Deb’s going to be talking with Vicky’s husband, who was nabbed for her murder all those years ago. When Lundy hears she’s expecting the guy, he wants to sit in on her interrogation, to watch her in action. Deb needles him that he must be bored of retirement, and takes off on a high note.

Back on the boardwalk, Arthur is stealthily following the dark-haired woman he noticed earlier. She and her kids walk by as he browses at a sunglass stand, and a boy who we’re meant to believe is her son runs by and gets ice-cream all over Arthur’s elbow. He looks pissed, but puts on a friendly-old-man façade when he faces the kid, though he can’t quite hold it when the kid tells him the ice cream is bubblegum gelato, telling him that sounds repulsive. I’m with you, Artie. “You’d better catch up with your mom”, he says, and after the boy has gone, concludes “…you don’t want to lose her.” Arthur can turn his whole demeanour on a dime — kind of makes you think of Dexter’s about-face with Lundy earlier this morning.

Back at the crime scene, Dexter is clipping the blood-ridden cactus spine when Harry shows up again. He’s backlit with the same blinding light as before. “You just had to find blood again,” he says. Um, yep… that’s his job, but Harry reminds him that the longer he does his job, the less time he has to find Benny Gomez. If he doesn’t do it, someone else might.

Right behind him, Quinn guesses the combo to the hotel-room safe and opens it to find what looks like a lot of cash. He discreetly pockets half, and Dexter turns around just in time to see him do it. Lucky for Quinn, Dex has other things to worry about. On his way out of the hotel, Dex tells LaGuerta about the blood on the cactus, and she sends him off to the lab lickety-split. Dex, of course, will be making a pit stop on the way (because Miami is tiny, and it’s so easy for him to do that).

Deb is interrogating Noonan as Lundy looks on. As Deb goes over the details of the murder and the trial the dude already looks like he’s having a pretty bad day, but when he hears that the murder has been duplicated, he can hardly believe it. It seems he pled guilty to his wife’s murder to avoid the electric chair, but now maintains his innocence. He doesn’t know who Lisa Bell is. He tells them that his wife was killed on a muggy night thirty years ago. She was cooling off in the tub while he “went out to score some shit,” and when he came back, she was dead. He cries; Deb smirks. But it turns out Noonan’s got an alibi for the Lisa Bell murder; he was working the night shift at a homeless shelter, and a pretty yucky shift at that. Outside the interrogation room, Deb lists her doubts to Lundy: the guy’s a train wreck, and he’s filthy. Hardly the image of the meticulous killer they’re seeking. He’s also got the shakes, which would make that surgical cut pretty tricky. So what’s up? What’s up is that there’s no way Noonan killed his wife. Now Lundy wants to grab dinner with Deb and discuss a theory with her. Deb stutters an agreement and goes off to wrap it up with Noonan. Lundy says he’ll pick her up at eight. Deb is clearly put off her game by this development, as she walks off muttering, Deb-style.

Arthur’s still on the boardwalk, pretending to play with a dog at an outdoor pet market, while watching his potential victim and her kids. They all pile into a red minivan and drive off. Is Arthur going to follow them?

Dexter’s driving to the boxing arena, but notes he still has miles to go before he sleeps. You know, I remembered “The Road Less Traveled” way differently. Dex stands in the arena and reviews the fragments of his memory of the kill and its aftermath, to no avail. He spots a tiny speck of blood marring the ring’s surface, and gets to work cleaning it up, scolding himself while doing it — cleaning a kill scene should be automatic. He suddenly realizes that he must have known, last night, that he wouldn’t have time to dispose of the body — he must have hidden it. He looks, but it’s not under the ring, not in the lockers. It’s nowhere. He follows his own tracks back to the pharmacy.

Soon he’s sitting on the edge of a dumpster, looking in; but there’s Harry again, reminding him that he surely would only have put the pieces there if he thought he was coming right back. Dex asks why he’s wearing his 1970´s police uniform. Harry says it’s to remind him of the first time they met. After all, the last time Dex’s memory was a blank was when his mother was murdered, because forgetting saved him; but now to save himself he must remember. So Dexter’s memory loss due to trauma was beneficial, and his memory loss due to concussion is not, and Harry showed up in costume just to remind him that these two situations have little to nothing in common? Brilliant. Thanks for the help. For the first time Dexter gets angry at Harry, telling him that he hasn’t screwed up. He just can’t remember. Then he runs off to check the incident reports, to make sure Benny hasn’t already been found.

Rita’s at the car impound lot and is shocked to see that Dexter’s accident wasn’t a fender-bender at all; the car is completely totaled. The guy at the lot tells her everyone got off easy with this one, but something in Rita’s face makes me doubt that.

Outside the station, Dexter can’t find his ID — that’s not like him - and Quinn offers to buzz him in. Quinn’s trying to put himself in the clear with Dexter so he won’t report Quinn’s not-so-petty theft, and apologizes for going off on him the other day. Yeah, who’s unprofessional now? Dexter, who’s getting jumpier every time we see him, doesn’t want to talk about it and practically runs to the elevator. Judging by the look on his face, Quinn misinterprets this behavior. Dex finally gets to his office and, after momentarily forgetting his password (it’s H-A-R-R-Y - aww!), finds with relief that’s there’s nothing in the incident reports regarding body parts in Hefty bags.

In the kitchen Deb’s chowing down on frozen emergency Girl Scout cookies, and it looks like it’s time for another Deb-LaGuerta heart-to-heart - because us girls have got to stick together. Today’s chat is all about Lundy. Deb’s stressed, and questions his motives. LaGuerta’s shockingly original advice is that “closure will set you free,” but her aura of authority is quickly dispelled by asking Deb if her hair looks better up or down.

Dex, trying desperately to get out of the office, tells LaGuerta that there’s no match on the cactus blood. His exit is derailed when LaGuerta announces that everyone who’s working on the vacation murders has to stick around until further notice. Why, have people been slacking off? She also orders Quinn into her office; he looks at Dex, certain he’s squealed about the cash from the safe. He nearly gives himself away before LaGuerta clarifies that her problem is with cutie Christine. He should know there’s no such thing as off-the-record with reporters. He smiles and says that talking isn’t what they do best anyway. Angel looks through her office window just in time to see her pinning up her hair.

Deb shows up at Lundy’s hotel room unannounced, because she owes him “nothing less than complete transparency,” and because she has no idea what’s really going on. She starts in like Lundy has asked her on a date; she says that what she has with Anton is really great and adds, smugly, that they live together. She says she’s happy for the first time in so long. If he wants to start things up again between them, he’s not going to have any luck. Although he starts to object, Deb doesn’t buy that his visit to Miami is work-related; after all, he’s retired. Deb’s on a roll, but Lundy manages to interrupt. He tells her that he’s in Miami because he believes the bathtub murders (as he calls them) are connected to many, many more murders all over the USA. Deb turns and sees what’s been next to her all the time - Lundy’s research, which consists of photos of murdered women, a map of the country decorated with pins and yarn, and a whole bunch of papers. (My guess would be that Lundy opts out of the turn-down service.) She’s stunned. Next to his desk is a list of Trinity murders organized into three categories: MO: laceration; MO: suicide; and MO: bludgeoning. He claims he’s holding onto the case because he doesn’t want to leave something so horrific for his replacement. Deb snaps out of her shock to realize how embarrassed she is, and runs cringing out of the room.

At the station, the elevator doors open to reveal Rita, pushing Harrison in a stroller. It’s strange seeing her here; she looks so pretty, so soft, so maternal. She’s upset. Dexter rushes out and demands to know why she’s here; “You lied to me,” she says. He says he lied so she wouldn’t worry, but he’s just making things worse. She’s distraught, and throws her arms around him. He cops to a headache and a stiff neck, but says he can’t go home — LaGuerta still has them on lockdown. Rita gets a little indignant at that, because she believes that the job is what keeps him from home so late every night. She believes that his job has caused his injuries and fatigue and is now exacerbating them. “So much for my standard alibi,” Dexter thinks, but says he signed on for this job. Yeah, and Harry signed the permission slip. Rita says she didn’t sign on to be a widow (again) and is about to give LaGuerta a piece of her mind, but Dex stops her. This is how I support us, he says, and everyone here works just as hard as me. He fibs that the doctor gave him a clean bill of health, and goes so far as to start calling the guy, before Rita deflates and says it’s okay. I guess this is supposed to be an indication of what it’s like for Rita, at home all the time, waiting for her man. After all, almost every time we see Dexter coming home, he’s getting into bed. Dex says everyone would rather be home with their families - just like him. He walks her out.

Back in the lab he chugs another Red Bull, tosses it to the trash can and misses, causing it to land right next to Masuka’s chair. Masuka asks him if he’s going to pick that up, and Dex says “No, I am not, Vince. You got a problem with that?” Rarely do we see Dexter being so aggressive. Really, even at kill scenes he’s pretty polite. We’re not alone in our surprise; Vince is freaked out too. Undeterred, Dex zooms in on a blood sample and finds that the blood from the cactus is carrying some manner of STD. Bingo! Dex is on his way out. He’s found the suspect, a man by the name of Johnny Rose, and he did so by checking the STD registry for anyone being treated with heavy-duty meds for drug-resistant syphilis. Apparently there were just a few prostitutes, and this guy. Hey, how do you know it wasn’t one of the prostitutes? Lord knows I’d kill to get out of that job. The cops have to go to a strategy meeting, and Dex has to go to a creepy abandoned boxing arena. Unfortunately Quinn follows him out the door. He’s relieved Dexter didn’t say anything to LaGuerta, and he’s trying to drum up some fun co-worker rapport — he wants to get a beer and talk about Benny Gomez - when Dexter actually turns and yells at the guy, telling him to “just leave it alone.” Dexter has the worst poker face in the history of serial killing. (I hear Countess Bathory’s was aces.)

Angel walks into LaGuerta’s office to talk in Spanglish about their relationship. He closes the blinds, she opens them, he closes them again, as if to say “let them talk!” All of this is observed from without by Masuka, who is taking a break from creeping people out. Angel says he’s not angry about LaGuerta taking lead in the vacation murders case. He’s angry about how she did it. They don’t know how to act around each other. Angel: “Maybe we need a… break.” WHY? Why are you giving Angel all the clunkers? Anyway, LaGuerta thinks that’s probably a good idea. She opens the blinds again so that the whole office can see Angel taking the clip out of her hair to the strains of soft guitar music. Outside LaGuerta’s office, Masuka is intrigued, but Quinn, enraged by his rebuff at Dexter’s hands, couldn’t care less.

Deb’s sitting behind a bead curtain in what we assume is her and Anton’s shared apartment. Anton opens the door and comes in, and Deb’s so glad to see him she’s almost crying; no, she is crying. I love you, I love you, I love you, she says, and she pulls him inside.

Dex is back in the abandoned arena. The phone rings, and it’s Lundy. He wants to talk about Trinity. Like most conversations between Dexter and Lundy so far, this one is interspersed with shots of Arthur tightening his web. Lundy wants to get together and “toss some ideas around.” Tonight’s bad, says Dex. Lundy understands, but tells Dexter that Trinity is about to kill again, an older woman this time. This revelation, plus the different MO’s listed on Lundy’s wall, make me think there’s more to Trinity’s ritual than we know. Clearly he doesn’t just slice young women’s arteries open in bathtubs. And sure enough, there’s Arthur on a dark suburban sidewalk, watching the woman from the boardwalk struggle with her groceries. Lundy: “Somewhere out there is a woman who’s going to die. And she’ll have no idea why.” Arthur’s got a dog on a leash, which he strategically releases just as the woman is passing him. She falls for the ploy. He makes small talk, and offers to carry her groceries in the interest of neighborliness. He introduces himself as Alan. She’s Tarla. She leaves him at her front walk, and the moment she’s inside the house, he sets his dog, “Checkers,” free. It wasn’t his dog at all, nor does he seem to care for it.

Dexter steps back into the ring. Surveying the scene, he sees a drop of blood, in exactly the same place he’d cleaned before. Shielding his eyes, he looks upwards, and realizes why all of Harry’s apparitions today were so blinding: the body’s up there, next to the light. Dexter releases a chain and a punching bag, stuffed with Benny Gomez, drops to the ground. He hugs it with relief. Soon he’s on his boat, dumping the parts into the ocean.

Coming home, he’s exhausted. Harry shows up once more, and Dexter gloats that hiding Benny like that was pretty smart. Harry won’t let him take all the glory, and says he did it because he turned to the code, but warns that difficult times are ahead. Dex is hopeful: “I can do it. I can manage all these moving parts.” But Harry — meaning Dexter — still has his doubts. Dex falls into bed, placing all his hope on a beautiful night’s sleep. He closes his eyes, and the baby cries again. “Fuck.”

Closing thoughts? Well, Angel, who I used to be in love with (just ask my husband), is breaking my heart more every minute with his cheesy lines. Angel, I thought I knew thee! Trinity’s a more complex beast than we had previously imagined. As for Dexter, well, he just needs to give up the night shift with Harrison. Oh, and RIP, Tarla.

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

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