Monday, October 26, 2009

'Dexter:' Season 4, Episode 5

Posted By on Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 3:15 PM

click to enlarge "I'm getting a lot of use out of my stalkin' shirt."
  • "I'm getting a lot of use out of my stalkin' shirt."

This week’s episode has the title “Dirty Harry,” which probably does not mean that baby Harrison is overdue for a diaper change. Series regular (and Lance Henricksen look-alike) James Remar gives a particularly angry, wrathful performance this week as Dexter’s imaginary/ghostly stepfather Harry in the wake of Deb and Agent Lundy’s shooting.

“Dexter” has grown increasingly skeptical about Harry over the seasons. At first, he came across, in flashbacks, as a positive influence on his young adopted son. Perceiving at an early age that his adopted son has sociopathic tendencies and a fascination with death, he channeled Dexter’s homicidal instincts in a “positive” direction, “The Code of Harry,” so he only preys on murderers and takes enormous precautions to cover his tracks. Early on, Dexter’s flashbacks and imaginary conversations have portrayed Harry as a combination of guardian angel and nurturing parent, albeit one who offers advice on the best places to dispose of chopped-up bodies.

The show’s perspective on Harry and Dexter’s relationship, which wasn’t exactly Field of Dreams to begin with, has become more dark and complex. Lately Harry has become kind of a complainer, counseling Dexter against family life, although he has a point if Dexter can’t or won’t give up killing. Dexter has become more disillusioned with how he was raised, and wondered whether Harry deliberately made him a monster, rather than try to cure his monstrous potential. Dexter and some times Harry talk about “dark passenger,” the bloodthirsty aspect of Dexter’s psyche. I would not be surprised if they’re building to the idea that Harry himself is Dexter’s dark passenger. Can Dexter exorcise his own father? Would the show still exist even if he could?

“Dirty Harry” does not actually dwell much on Dexter’s relationship with Harry, but I’ll bet the show’s going this way. This week he’s more like Dexter’s cop-partner on this one. Their imaginary conversations about the need to protect and avenge Deb provide Dexter with a different murderous motivation. He’s not just using “justice” as a pretext to feed his addiction. This time it really IS personal.

What shocked me most about the episode was that it was full-on night (actually 5 a.m.) at the shooting, and full-on daylight when Dexter arrives at the crime scene, with Deb being loaded into the ambulance. It’s amazing Deb didn’t bleed to death. Fortunately her wound was relatively minor, leaving Jennifer Carpenter free to give a ‘For Emmy Award Consideration’ performance this week. Initially, I didn’t take to Carpenter, who portrayed Deb as so immature and coltish, it was easier to imagine her as a high school athlete than a law enforcement professional. She’s dialed it back over the years and made Deb’s explosive emotions more tomboyish, as if she’s being “one of the boys” in a high-testosterone workplace. Carpenter’s an actress who digs deep and “does” a lot – if she could get the right movie role with the right director, she could rack up awards like Hilary Swank.

“No more secrets” serves as a refrain on multiple subplots this week. LaGuerta went public with her and Batista’s relationship. Deb came clean to Anton about sleeping with Lundy. Rita, fatefully, discovered that Dexter has been keeping his apartment. When Dexter walked in to find Rita there, I flashed on the “Busted” song from “Phineas and Ferb.” I hope this plot thread will explore just what Rita thinks of Dexter. She seems to take it at face value that he was a drug user.

Given the scenes of Trinity freaking out over his Denver omelet and choosing a framing hammer, I thought the show would continue the manhunt aspects. I was surprised that Dexter found Trinity’s (seemingly happy) suburban home at the end of the episode, not even the half-way mark through the season. Clearly, Dexter and Trinity’s relationship is going to become more complicated. Incidentally, I found the scene with Dexter watching Trinity on the surveillance camera to be terrifying. Something about seeing spooky images on grainy black-and-white heightens their horror than just watching the gore scenes directly. Maybe it activates your imagination while putting you in the watcher’s place.

Two questions: Why does Christopher Darga, as the security guard, look so familiar? Maybe it’s just because he’s been on every other show, apparently. Also, was the hot reporter chick only hired to provide more nudity on the episodes? If so, the actress deserves a For Emmy Award Consideration speech of her own.

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