Spoilers for "Dexter" coming up just as soon as I take a drive in the rain...
Before we get to discussing the meat of the episode -- Dexter pulling another Houdini act, the Dexter/Rita/Lila triangle, Dexter and Doakes' rivalry heating up, etc. -- I want to say a few words about Vince Masuka, and about actor C.S. Lee. Masuka was an amusing enough character in season one, but I didn't really start paying attention to him until Lee turned up on "Chuck" as Harry Tang, another very funny, but very different, recurring role. In both cases, he's playing something of a rival to the main character in his day job, but comic and irrelevant to the star's night job. The difference is that where Harry Tang is an angry tight-ass, Masuka is an obnoxious horndog -- and, as we discover in this episode, kind of a deviant. One man, one face, two unique performances. When Masuka put on his stupid fire marshall hat, he could have come across like Harry dressed as a cowboy (I think; it's been a few days) in the "Chuck" Halloween episode, but he didn't. I probably shouldn't make too big a deal of an actor managing to differentiate two different characters he plays, but given how many actors make a career out of being the same guy in every single project, I wanted to give Lee some dap. This is probably the closest he'll ever get to a "Dexter" showcase episode, and everytime he appeared, I laughed.
Maybe I'm also focusing on Masuka because "Dex, Lies and Videotape" as a whole seemed, as Scott Tobias pointed out already, like more of a plot-mover episode. Not a bad hour, but not a dazzler like last week's road trip.
Even more than Dexter melting all the bodies in the temporary morgue two weeks ago, the simple erasure of the blood-cleaning footage has me worried about the Vic Mackey factor, where Dexter keeps being put into narrative traps that he has to immediately escape from to keep the series from ending. Unless the series is ending with this season (which I don't think is anyone's plan), we know Dexter is somehow going to avoid capture; at worst, Deb or Rita or someone else he cares about will find out but refuse to turn him in. I know lots of cat-and-mouse stories like this rely on the same kind of artificial tension, but it distracts me more here because I'm so enthralled by the psychological portrait aspects of the show. I continue to like the presence of Lundy and his relationship with Deb, and some of the sidelines to this hunt for the Butcher -- namely, the sensational Dexter/Doakes confrontation in Dexter's office, the first time we've seen him lose his cool that badly while in his cover identity -- are great, but I'd be fine without another '40s serial-style cliffhanger between now and the last episode or two of the season.
Lila's inopportune answering machine message was a bit of a writer's cheat -- given the prevalance of voicemail these days, would someone as secretive and savvy as Dexter use a blabby, unsecure technology like an answering machine anyway? -- but this evolution of the New Dexter (not to be confused with New Larry from "Curb") is fascinating. I still think, like any good sociopath, he vastly overestimates Lila's tolerance for his dark side, but this change (or potential change) in his character is the kind of thing the show could legitimately sustain, as opposed to him getting caught by the task force. You can do a show where Dexter is more in touch with his emotions; you can't do one where he's a fugitive or behind bars. (I mean, you could, but it would be so different as to become a different series.)
Still not sure what vibe I'm picking up off Lundy vis-a-vis Deb. Is he really just as guileless and straightforward as he appears -- which would make him the perfect nemesis for a play-actor Dexter -- or is his interest in Deb more than just a bit of fatherly mentoring?
I have the next two episodes on DVD but am forcing myself to watch only one a week so my reviews aren't colored by knowledge of what's coming. with a show this good (even after a slightly off episode), my patience is really hard to maintain.
What did everybody else think?