“Nothing stays buried. Perhaps not even me.”
As Dexter’s grisly handiwork continues to surface from the ocean floor, his sense of self is starting to emerge as well, and it’s a destabilizing development for him. In “An Inconvenient Lie,” the best episode of the season so far, he continues to make remarkable progress in understanding and acknowledging that maybe he really does care about the people close to him. “Harry’s Code” is all about making him seem normal and finding the best possible way to channel his homicidal tendencies, but it also functions as a road map to becoming more human. Because at a certain point, when you’ve pretended to be a decent, compassionate person for so long, it starts not being an act anymore. You are what you pretend to be.
Three episodes into Season Two and I’m already prepared to retract my opening statement that Dexter should have killed his sister. I’ve been swayed by many of the cogent arguments made by commenters on this forum, and this episode really sealed the deal. Having our hero stuck in a confusing no man’s land between having a genuine conscience and following the urgings of his inner “dark passenger” has made him a much richer character than he might have been had he merely backslid into a cold, thoughtless killer again. I was worried the show would go soft as Dexter became more human, but that kind of progress is a littered with obstacles, and this season is turning into a very bumpy ride indeed.
Okay, so how awesome is it to have Dexter in a 12-step program for addicts? I’m reminded a little of Fight Club, where Edward Norton’s character would find some solace by scamming his way into various support groups. For Dexter, it’s only half a scam. No support groups exist for serial killers looking to reform—unless the electric chair or the Federal penitentiary counts as a support group—so he cooks up a painfully transparent tale of heroin addiction to get the “newcomer chip” he needs to trick Rita into keeping him around. (Remarkable that a man so accustomed to telling lies could be so unconvincing in this spot, but he’s been known to stumble on occasion.) His act doesn’t fool the mysterious and alluring Lila (Jaime Murray), who sees right through his speech, but assumes that he’s merely covering up another addiction. She’s right about that, of course, but we’ll see how long it takes her to guess just what that addiction might be.
When Lila quite elegantly describes addiction as a “dark passenger,” something clicks in Dexter and he realizes that not only is he an addict like his fellow 12-steppers, but that the process may come as a relief to him. He can never be entirely candid about what he does, but his second speech convinces Lila and the group that he’s the real deal. What’s more, he feels great to be able to talk about his feelings to supportive people who know what he’s going through, even if they can never know exactly what he’s going through. When he talks about moments when he “feels connected” and how “the mask is slipping,” we can see the progress that he’s been making. And we also know that like a lot of addicts, he’s not all the way reformed yet, far from it, and the process is going to take some time.
Meanwhile, he’s being pursued. Agent Lundy, the FBI’s ace manhunter, has assembled a task force that includes his sister, whose erratic behavior and oblivious affair with the Ice Truck Killer has somehow convinced him that she’s the right woman for the job. I’m really starting to like the Lundy character, who appears to be a pretty straight-shooter—a smart, patient, clear-thinking professional who will be difficult for Dexter to fool. In a great scene in the morgue, Lundy puts the lie to Dexter’s code-driven methodology by telling him that the worst killers in history have always felt their reasons were just. The only justification to kill, in Lundy’s eyes, is to save lives. Dexter might feel vindicated by a line like that, but even he acknowledges (via voiceover) that he “didn’t do it to save lives.”
But hey, maybe he’s guilty of false modesty, because he moves quickly in this episode to keep his mark from killing again. If he didn’t care about saving a life, he’d have allowed that used car salesman to murder a third brunette while he planned his attack more meticulously. In a manner of speaking, the salesman allows him to kill two birds with one stone: He’s gets a good deal on a minivan—ostensibly for Rita and the kids, but also for the tinted windows and “ample cargo space”—and he gets to stab the salesman to boot. He’s also impressed by how good his victim is at spinning various fictions, at least to a point. (Salesman: “I don’t lie.” Dexter: “Okay, that one was weak.”)
What else? Personal distractions continue to hamper Esme into doing her job properly and leads to some fairly embarrassing press for Miami Metro. Detective Laguerta, given an opportunity to hang Esme out to dry, decides instead to stick up for her boss, even if it means stunting her own advancement. (My reaction to this subplot: Still zzzzzzzzz.) And then there’s Doakes, who follows Dexter to his 12-step group and thinks he’s discovered his big secret, when of course he doesn’t know the half of it. The silent elation in Michael C. Hall’s face when he realizes that Doakes actually sympathizes with his struggle now is priceless. Does this mean that Doakes is entirely off the scent now? Stay tuned…
• Deb and Lundy have already stumbled on the connection between the victims. Where do you guess that revelation will lead them in terms of likely suspects? Surely someone with access to criminal records, no? Will Dexter then have to take an active role in sabotaging the investigation?
• “You’re lying to yourself if you think you don’t care”: Used-car salesmen really do understand human psychology better than anybody, don’t they?
• The more scenes featuring Masuka, the better: “The pressure’s fucking redonkulous.”