Oddly enough, for some reason it never occurred to me that Dexter, by asking Rita to marry him, would eventually have to move in with her and the kids. And you know what? I’m not sure it occurred to Dexter, either. With Rita pregnant and needing him to step up, he surely felt obligated to do what was expected and pop the question (with a little help from a seriously deranged perp with a talent for compartmentalizing). Granted, I don’t think it’s precisely true to continue seeing Rita as a “cover” for Dexter in order to give him the appearance of normalcy; as I’ll get into a bit later, we’ve seen evidence many times that he has real feelings for her. But when you’re moonlighting as a serial killer, I think it’s fair to say that you need a little “alone time.” And the impending domestication of Dexter—about to be a homeowner, a husband, and essentially a father to three children—seriously threatens his extracurricular activities.
“This is how Custer must have felt,” goes the voiceover. “Surrounded on all sides. Doomed.” One of the things I love about where the writers are taking Dexter this season is that his predicament is really just an extreme example of a common problem. If you’re an independent person, accustomed to living alone and responsible for only your own needs, it’s never easy to just take the plunge and commit yourself to a relationship that will take away much of that independence. Obviously, the payoffs are grand—I would use, say, my own absurdly blessed life as an example—but the sacrifice is nonetheless significant, and it’s a little spooky that we’re made to identify with Dexter’s predicament.
As with the last week, Dexter is on the prowl again and the circumstances tie directly into his domestic issues. Courtesy of Miguel Prado—whose special understanding of him I’ll get into later—Dexter learns of Ethan Turner, a gold-digging guy who’s made a habit of getting out of pre-nups with rich women by knocking them off. Catching Ethan involves taking a luxury ferry ride out to Biminy, which takes him away from Rita at a time when she needs him the most. While he’s off exercising his aorta-severing independence, she’s experiencing that old melodramatic canard, the pregnancy scare. He can’t be reached and isn’t where he said he’d be; this absence, on top of his surprisingly stern, I-said-no refusal to look for a house, doesn’t really fill his fiancée with confidence.
But here’s the thing—and the episode does a nice job of confirming it: Dexter picked Rita for a reason. She’s a woman who’s had such terrible relationship issues in the past that her expectations of him are not as high as they should be. So any little kindness that he extends to her—and he’s definitely kinder than the late, erratic father of her children—will be enough to quell her irritation or doubts about him. Any other woman would be enraged by Dexter’s behavior (first with the house-hunting thing, then the absence during a major emergency), but when he finally makes it to the hospital in a huff, Rita doesn’t ask any questions. This could change, of course; the more she feels secure with him and confident with herself, she may feel she’s entitled to better than the occasional gesture from him. For now, though, it makes sense that she doesn’t probe any further into what he’s been doing. (One could speculate that she instinctively knows not to ask too many questions of Dexter, but that’s a discussion for another time.)
Now I realize that I’ve buried the lede. Miguel Prado knows what Dexter is all about, and wants Dexter to be comfortable with it. After two seasons, we know what happens to people that catch wind of Dexter’s secret: They’re not allowed to live. I fully expect Miguel to join their numbers, too, but we’re only five episodes into the season and Dexter seems on the verge of trusting the guy. They share common interests: Miguel wants justice by any means— whether that means dropping his brother’s (alleged) killer or taking out someone who slipped through the court system—and that’s Dexter’s line of work. But Miguel’s knowledge gives him some leverage over his new best buddy, and I’m not sure how comfortable Dexter will be doing Miguel’s bidding. I’ll offer you this rock-solid analogy: Miguel is like a lion-tamer tossing red meat at his animal in order to keep him sated. But how long until the lion turns on its master?
Whatever happens, Miguel has put Dexter in a tough spot. His set-up on Ethan Turner proves that he knows how to manipulate Dexter beautifully, and his ability to materialize out of nowhere (at the docks, in Rita’s kids’ bedroom) is pretty unnerving. Plus he’s got his attack-dog of a brother, who’s now trying to insert himself into Miami Metro’s investigation of the skin-clipping murders. I’m still not entirely sold on what Jimmy Smits’ Miguel is bringing to the show, but with tonight’s big revelation, I’m anxious to see where it goes from here.
• Masuka’s back! That little throwaway subplot last week about everyone blowing off his articles and his lecture prompted him to an about-face in his work ethic that for me recalled Homer Simpson in the Frank Grimes episode. (“We should continue this conversation later during the designated break period. Sincerely, Homer Simpson.”) His brief flirtation with straight-laced, suit-wearing professionalism made his profane beatdown of Miguel’s brother all the more satisfying to watch. “That’s science and science is one cold-hearted bitch with an 18-inch strap-on.”
• The Quinn mystery deepens, as he appears to be sabotaging Deb’s case work at every opportunity, including sending Freebo’s 15-year-old doorman away just as she was softening him up. Could that be Quinn behind the binoculars?
• Nice insight from the pops inside Dexter’s head: “You’re cheating on her and you don’t even realize it. You’re going to have to choose which is your mistress and which is your wife.”
• Showtime announced this week that it was renewing Dexter for another two seasons. Good idea? Bad idea? I’m conflicted. There’s definitely a strong part of me that feels that they’ve taken this character as far as he can go. On the other hand, I’m willing to give the writers the benefit of the doubt; the plotting on the first two seasons (and this one so far) has been pretty solid.