“Stay away from Rita. Stay away from me."
"Or you will see the monster."
Damn. But the big question is, which monster will Lila (and we) see?
There was the monster we met in season one, the neat and tidy one, as Dexter described himself at the time. The monster slavishly followed The Code of Harry, was meticulous about his targets and his methods, a danger to those who “deserved” it (c.f. William Munny) and a seeming prince to those who didn’t.
That monster appears to have died along with its brother, the Ice Truck Killer. The monster we met at the start of this year was a scared, clumsy creature, who tried to be the neat and tidy monster but never quite pulled it off.
After Dexter went to NA and fell under Lila’s sway, the monster was replaced by a seemingly smarter, more benign one, one who didn’t feel compelled to kill, who could channel his aggression and talents in more positive ways.
That was, of course, a mirage. New Dexter was, in some ways, an even bigger monster, selfish, arrogant and amoral. The stunt last week where he temporarily framed the innocent stepfather in order to snare Doakes was a complete repudiation of The Code, the first step down a slippery slope towards Dexter hurting whomever was necessary, whenever it was convenient to him. That monster got cocky and inadvertently put Lundy on his trail.
And now that Dexter’s seen Lila for who she truly is? What kind of monster is he now? Based on his apparent willingness to kill Lila for being an inconvenience to him (and, in fairness, a potential threat to Rita), the return of the familiar urge to kill but also the panic and sloppiness with which he left Santos Jimenez’s body alone in his Everglades shack (which may or may not come back to bite him), it feels like the current incarnation of Dexter combines all the monsters of the past. He’s bloodthirsty and amoral, calculated at times and clumsy at others. This Dexter is very bad news -- for Lila and for everyone else around him.
We’re nearing the home stretch of season two. I’ve occasionally complained about the silliness of these stories where Dexter narrowly evades discovery by Lundy or the other cops, because of course we know Dexter won’t get caught, because otherwise there’s no show. But there’s a different kind of suspense at work here. We know Dexter will stay free, but which Dexter will he be?
Besides Dexter’s ongoing identity crisis (which even he doesn’t appreciate the depths of, because he’s not on the outside looking in as we are), episode eight had some other vedddy interesting things going on.
We all assumed after last week that Dexter’s unmasking and subsequent head butt in front of Doakes would backfire – that, unfettered by the rule of law and more aware than ever of what Dexter really is, Doakes would become relentless in pursuit. For a little while here, that seemed not to be the case. Doakes seemed at peace when he first met with Laguerta, and it wasn’t until Lundy mentioned the faulty blood evidence in the Rodrigo case that Doakes finally decided to go after Dexter.
So here’s the question: is there any way Doakes isn’t, even briefly, wrongfully accused of being the Butcher? He has a history of obsessive, violent behavior and that mind-warping Special Forces background. He walked out on Lundy in mid-interview, and now may be in possession of Dexter’s damning blood smear collection. (Assuming he doesn’t do something smart like put it back where he found it and place an anonymous 911 call.) And, of course, he knows too much about Dexter to be allowed to remain free, if not alive. (It’s like how, in the early days of “Smallville,” the Kryptonite Freak of the Weaks always died so that the writers could keep Clark’s powers a secret.)
Doakes’ only hope is that Lundy is as smart as he’s seemed up until now. Dexter made the right move in falling on his sword and blaming the Rodrigo screw-up on overwork and distraction, but he was still producing Albert Brooks in “Broadcast News” levels of flop sweat during that interview, and while Doakes has a history of violence, he doesn’t really fit the profile of a meticulous, twisted killer like the Butcher. Once again, we have knowledge that the characters don't, and it could be completely reasonable that Lundy would just interpret Dexter as being nervous for having screwed up a case through inattention. But I hope this storyline doesn't get resolved by the writers selling out Lundy as not nearly as clever as he's seemed to this point.
As it is, I'm having a hard time scrubbing my brain of the scene where Lundy spanked Deb and Deb got off on it. I'm not saying a healthy sexual relationship can't have a little bit of rough-housing, but we've been beat over the head with the idea that Lundy is a Harry surrogate for Deb. Lundy even proceeds the smack with a comment about their age difference that's really a veiled father-daughter suggestion. The guy is a profiler whose speciality (other than picking the right music) is figuring out how people think and why they do what they do. Even if his intentions with Deb are entirely pure, I don't think it's a coincidence that he's playing into her Elektra complex.
Some other thoughts:
- The final scene of last week's episode implied that Dexter had made the connection between Lila smashing the landlord's lightbulb to get her own fixed and Lila burning her apartment to get him back, and yet here when he first contemplates the possibility, he thinks, "I can't imagine why." Maybe Michael C. Hall played that earlier scene a little too well, you know?
- Another familiar face from cop shows past, with Bruce Weitz (perp-biting Mick Belker from "Hill Street Blues") as Lenny Asher, Rodrigo's pack rat neighbor.
- I'm glad the writers haven't felt compelled to delve into Angel's personal life again this year, because I like him much better when I'm not being force-fed boring material unrelated to Dexter or Deb. A nice moment where he produces the case file and Deb realizes he's been busting balls the entire time.
- "That's how Hitler walked." Sad as I am to lose C.S. Lee from "Chuck," Masuka's awfully funny by himself.
- Also funny: Deb's reaction to Dexter accusing her of sleeping her way to the top, followed by her comparison of Lila to a vampire.