Monday, November 26, 2007

Dexter: Doakes, docks, Dex

Spoilers for "Dexter" coming up just as soon as I change my shirt...

"Don't get caught."

Last night's episode, "Resistance Is Futile," asks the audience to take a lot of things on faith, but maybe none moreso than the idea that Harry Morgan would make that the first rule of his Code.
Harry (making his first appearance in a couple of episodes) is still something of a mystery to the audience, and this season has made him even moreso, with the revelation of his relationship with Dexter's mom and the mechanics (but not explanation) of him adopting Dexter but not his brother. There's certainly a chance that he could have decided that Dexter's continued life and freedom were worth risking the lives of innocents, but doesn't track for me with what we know of the guy. The Code of Harry always seemed to be about channeling Dexter's bloodlust in a useful direction first, self-preservation second.

If Dexter were a more normal character -- as normal as any serial killer could be -- than Dexter's willingness to frame and/or kill Doakes in order to evade Lundy's task force wouldn't be an issue. A normal person, even a mass murderer, would be capable of independent thought in ways that Dexter simply isn't. He needs The Code to function, not only as a killer, but as a man. Even when he seemed to be abandoning The Code for selfish reasons in the middle portion of the season, it wasn't an independent act; it was him being manipulated by Lila, who briefly succeeded in replacing Harry's Code with her own.

Even Dexter admits to being torn about Doakes; if it were up to him, he might actually give himself up to protect Doakes, even though Doakes hates him, but he makes it clear that he's turning the decision-making back over to Harry. And I see Harry's priorities here -- as well as several other actions taken throughout the episode -- as less true to character than a contrivance to keep the story going. "Dexter" is usually so well-crafted that I don't see the hands of the writers pushing the characters around; last night, I did.

We all knew Doakes would be framed sooner or later -- the reference last week to his dad being a butcher was the final giveaway (though that's not the damning evidence that Lundy and the Captain tried to make it out to be; after all, the Bay Harbor Butcher didn't name himself) -- but few of his actions in this episode made sense, even within the context of Doakes' hot-headedness and hatred of Dexter. What the hell is he doing leaving the blood slides in the trunk of his car? What was the value of the trip to Haiti, especially with the slides left behind in America? Doakes kept acting like he had some brilliant master plan, but other than planting the GPS on Dexter's boat and following him (without benefit of any kind of recording equipment he might use to prove he's the framee and not the framer), it seemed like he was just running around in ways designed (by the writers, not him) to raise the FBI's suspicions.

Meanwhile, on what planet does an FBI agent -- especially one as smart as Lundy has seemed until now -- place crucial evidence in the hands of a man whose life is being threatened by the prime suspect? I'll go with Lundy being tricked into thinking Doakes is the Butcher -- as I said last week, we have knowledge he doesn't -- but why not give the slides to Masuka? He works for the Miami PD and therefore meets the Captain's criteria, and he also doesn't have any kind of motive to make sure Doakes goes to prison. It just doesn't make sense except as a bit of plot mechanics.

I'm also bothered by Dexter's complete inability to protect Angel from whatever bit of emotional vampire voodoo Lila has planned for him. Yes, Dexter is an emotional cripple, but he's also capable of giving out just enough detail -- say, telling Angel she's a pyromaniac who once set fire to her apartment to keep Dexter from breaking up with her, or, even simpler, asking him friend to friend to stay away because the break-up was so painful -- to make even a hard-luck horndog like Angel run screaming from that pale wackjob. Again, I was watching the scenes and picturing the story meeting the whole time:

"Okay, so how do we keep Lila around now that Dexter's dumped her?"
"I know! We'll have her start dating Angel!"
"But wouldn't Dexter just tell Angel to stay the hell away from her?"
"Well, what if Dexter tries to tell him but Angel doesn't want to listen?"
"He'd have to be really vague -- like, idiotically vague -- for that to work."
"I think I can do that!"

And yet, all that said, Michael C. Hall is so wonderful and the production team casts such a spell that some of these objections (not all, but some) didn't occur to me until after the episode was over and I began thinking about the review. The moment when Doakes appeared on the dock with his gun drawn took me completely by surprise. I knew something bad was going to come of Dexter leaving Jimenez's body alone for so long, but I just assumed Lila would be involved, or that some of Jimenez's drug-dealing cohorts would have turned up, that the house would be completely empty, whatever. For whatever reason, Doakes' presence just didn't occur to me; I have one of those computer brains that's constantly trying to predict where stories are going to go, and it's rare that I have a "No way!" reaction the way I did there.

(And yet, even that scene required a leap of faith, as the hair-trigger Special Forces badass Doakes had previously been established as would never allow Dexter to take control of that situation. He would have at least kneecapped him and figure out a plan later.)

I wouldn't call "Resistance Is Futile" a bad episode; Hall alone all but prevents the show from having one of those. But it's the first time all series where I'm genuinely concerned about the plan going forward. Writers are supposed to pull strings; it's their job. We're just not supposed to see them as clearly as we could last night.

What did everybody else think?


Susan said...

Alan - as usual, a really great analysis of the episode. I'd say I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but not with all of it.

Agreed: Doakes' behavior during this entire episode was out of character and basically idiotic for someone I've always thought was smart, if hotheaded and dangerous. Taking the slides from Dexter's in the first place was pretty stupid. And I am with you in that I have no idea what he was doing in Haiti without the slides. Or why he'd leave them in a hot car trunk in Miami. It's all ridiculous. At the very least, why not phone LaGuerta, tell her to break into his trunk and fingerprint the slides and slide box for Dexter's prints? Or ask her to meet him at the house where he cornered Dexter? He made a lot of stupid moves in the past couple of episodes, and I don't buy most of them.

Disagree: Harry's code, to me, has always been about protecting Dexter - teaching him how to do what he needs to do while still living a life. While a large part of the code is teaching Dexter who to kill, another large part has always been HOW. And the "how" has always seemed to me about making sure Dexter didn't get caught. So the lessons in this episode rang true to me.

Not sure: I hate that Lila stuck around and I hate that Dexter didn't come out and tell Angel any reason not to see her. But I can see why he'd keep his mouth shut - Lila can tie Dexter to Jimenez. So Dexter says, "She burned her own apartment," and Lila can counter with "He beat up his mother's killer" and next thing you know, someone else is finding the body before Dex can dispose of it. She knew too much for Dexter to risk pissing her off.

Beckylooo said...

The only buy I felt I was forced to make was that Doakes would leave the slides in the trunk of his car. (They tried to hang a lantern on it with Lundy's line about them being "very well hidden"). But the other concerns you had felt rooted in character.

They long ago established that Lundy HATES Masuka and trusts Dex. If anything, it would make sense for him to leave it in the hands of the feds but I don't bump on his choice to trust Dex the way you do. He has no reason to believe Dex wouldn't treat the evidence fairly.

Dex's decision not to wave Angel off Lila felt like the smart move in a 'keep your enemies close' way. Better he keep the dialog with Angel open. The last thing he'd want would be Angel fucking her behind his back, which is possible with an "I'm just too broken up about it, please don't" response. And once you pull one thread ("she's a crazy pyromaniac!") there's potential for the whole thing to unravel ("Oh is that what he said? Well, Dex is a drug addict who beat the crap out the guy who killed his Mom.") Not to mention, he fears for Rita's safety. I think he wants to keep Lila's waters as calm as possible.

What I found most compelling about this eps, and why I wasn't annoyed at having to overlook the buy where Doakes was concerned, was how beautifully they crystallized Doakes and Dexter's relationship. They're the flip side of the same coin. The writers have artfully directed our sympathies towards Dex and our ire towards Doakes when in reality, Doakes is the one who's managed to channel his darkness into good. (I found his speech on the dock about "why I became a cop" really illuminating.) And because these men are painfully human, they've been unable to recognize the darkness they share. Had Dex seen the darkness in Doakes and respected it, he might not be in the position he's in now. Had Doakes recognized the trait he shared with Dex and found empathy ("We hate in others what we fear most in ourselves."), he might have been able to bring him down with out all this cowboy shit and risking of his career. Ah, the fallibility of man. Makes for great TV.

Anonymous said...

I get what you mean about Dexter not trying hard enough to keep Angel from going after Lila, but I doubt anything he could have said would have worked. She's just too hot, flirtatious and apparently willing for that. (And anyway, crazy women are the best in bed -- supposedly!) Resistance is futile, indeed.

I guess I hadn't picked up on the fact that Doakes had left the slides behind in the U.S. That really doesn't make any sense if he's trying to have them analyzed in Haiti. Is it possible that he made up a fake set to throw off the investigation (or to entrap Dexter into falsifying his own analysis)?

Did we actually see Dexter kill Jimenez, or is it possible that he just left him tied up and supposedly helpless? If it's the latter, he could still have a part to play in the violence that's sure to occur by the season finale.

Jill said...

Alan, you said:

"Meanwhile, on what planet does an FBI agent -- especially one as smart as Lundy has seemed until now -- place crucial evidence in the hands of a man whose life is being threatened by the prime suspect?"

I would say at this point that Lundy is partially thinking with the wrong part of his anatomy and letting his relationship with Deb get in the way of clear thinking. It also looked like Capt. Matthews had a lot to do with the way this was handled for some reason. We know Matthews is all about appearances -- as much as if not more so than LaGuerta. And having one of his guys be the killer looks really bad. So you nail the obvious culprit and move on. The contrast between Matthews being willing to hang his people out to dry (see also: Esme Pascal) to keep up appearances, and the "family" aspect of the rest of Miami Metro is perfectly in character. Matthews wants Dexter on the case either because he figures Dexter will do the "right" thing and find the "right" way (i.e. the way that resolves things quickly), or because he doesn't trust Masuka to not close ranks behind Doakes.

It still seems odd that Lundy would focus on Doakes, because when you think about serial killers; guys like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy -- these were guys who didn't call attention to themselves. Sort of like, well, Dexter. Doakes is such a hothead that unless you decide that he's trying to fix his fuckups by killing killers who walk, it doesn't make sense.

As for Dexter's inability to protect Angel -- I think at this point there is nothing Dexter could say that would change Angel's mind. Angel practically said as much. This ep was full of men's Little Heads doing the thinking, wasn't it?

I'm with Susan on Doakes' behavior being sloppy and out of character for someone who was in Special Ops and could be hired by "Clearwater" (heh) sight unseen.

I think the Lila/Doakes stories are somehow going to converge as we head towards the end. Not sure exactly how.

Does anyone know definitively that the show has been picked up? I've seen rumors and the ratings indicate that Showtime has a genuine cable hit on its hands (nice track record for Michael C. Hall, who so far is Mr. Cable Goldmine), but that doesn't guarantee anything.

Anonymous said...

Er, forget that last question I had. I guess we can safely assume those were Jimenez' body parts Doakes caught Dexter dragging away.

Susan said...

bigted - we didn't actually SEE Dexter kill Jimenez (we just saw him approaching Jimenez with a chain saw), but we know he's dead, because Dex spent the whole episode trying to deal with "the body," not an alive person. And because he was definitely dead when Dexter shoved him into trash bags.

Jill, good point with: "We know Matthews is all about appearances -- as much as if not more so than LaGuerta. And having one of his guys be the killer looks really bad." And Lundy said earlier in the episode that having the killer come from within is going to look so bad that they want to handle the case from within as well - that if they pass it onto the Feds, it would erase all public confidence in Miami Metro. So with the choice between Masuka and Dexter, I can see Lundy asking Dexter (who is also specifically a blood expert) to analyze the slides.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure why people automatically assume that Doakes is some sort of amazing detective who wouldn't have bungled the capture of Dexter or leaving the slides in the car. He was Ranger Spec Ops. As the step mom of a Ranger, the majority of these people in the units carry out the plans/operations that have been devised by others. They don't operate on their own initiative.

Besides, we have seen Doakes act questionably throughout the entire series. He has not impressed upon me as a character that thinks first and acts accordingly. If we want to nitpick about the slides, Doakes should have left them in Dexter's apartment. There is absolutely no way that Dex's prints would be preserved on the box or the slides after Doakes' borrowed blood analysts handled them.

The only evidence tying Dexter to the murders is those slides. That they were not found in his apartment would mean an automatic dismissal of all charges. Once Doakes moved the slides there was no way anyone could charge Dexter, let alone bring him to trial. There isn't even any circumstantial evidence.

No, Doakes has always been sloppy and hot headed. My guess is that he would better serve the series (and as Dexter's foil) in Season Three from behind bars and awaiting trial while trying to get LaGuerta to uncover the truth about Dexter in some other way.

Anonymous said...

Do we know the slides weren't found in Doakes's car AFTER he got back from Haiti? He still could have brought them with him on his trip.

Anonymous said...

Agree with a lot of these concerns.

Best part of the whole episode times ten? That long look Angel gave Lundy after they overheard Laguerta say Deb was sleeping with him. That one killed me.

Beckylooo said...

Doakes clearly said he left the slides stateside when talking to the fixer in Haiti. Didn't want to deal with customs. Planned to bring them back via boat when the plans were solid.

Anonymous said...

I guess my biggest question about this past episode is since Doakes is pretty convinced that Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher, why even waste time and energy to get the blood slides (!) that were found hidden (!) in Dexter's apartment (!) analyzed by some backwater Haitian analyst? The slides just seems like a pretty obvious guilty sign around Dexter's neck. Why not leave an anonymous tip or something along those lines?
And the obvious answer is that the writers needed a contrivance to have Doakes caught with them.

Anonymous said...

The Code of Harry always seemed to be about channeling Dexter's bloodlust in a useful direction first, self-preservation second.

I think the season one episodes could be read as supporting the opposite ordering as well, and season two has endorsed the latter reading -- think about Harry's opinion of the therapist Dexter had to see. I do hope we get some more Harry scenes to flesh out these points, though, since Harry's exact intentions are becoming such an important plot -- what Dexter does with Doakes will determine what sort of new Dexter emerges for season three. Moreover, James Remar is usually compelling in his brief appearances, even if his supporting cast is a little bland.

While I agree about the idiocy of Doakes' actions, I've never thought of Doakes as that bright. He's not a planner. He went to Haiti by plane but intended to bring the slides later by boat to avoid customs. He blew off Lundy because he never believed he could be a suspect. These are plot convenient attitudes, but I didn't find them uncharacteristic of tackle-Dexter-in-the-squadroom Doakes.

But not kneecapping Dexter? Now that was un-Doakes-like. Sure, Dexter put Doakes off balance, but you'd think in that context he'd be even more likely to shoot, not less.

But I do agree about Lundy. Not just about handing the slides to Dexter, but for picking on Doakes in the first place. Malcom Gladwell has once again reminded us to be wary of FBI profilers, but Lundy hadn't been played that way up to this point. Doakes has a temper and a butcher father. Does he really come off as more meticulous than medically trained blood specialist Dexter? Does anyone doubt Doakes' car was a sty of fast food wrappers and beer bottles?

I think Jill above makes a good point about Matthews wanting to do some PR work, but at this point I thought it had been established that Lundy has basically brought in all FBI team (including his own lab techs!) because the entire Metro PD is under suspicion. So why risk using any Metro PD lab tech at all?


Ransom said...

He has no reason to believe Dex wouldn't treat the evidence fairly.

It's not just about Dexter's treatment of the evidence. Rather, by bestowing the evidence upon Dexter, Lundy has almost guaranteed that a jury looking at this evidence could find reasonable doubt at a potential trial of Doakes. Lundy would know that if tried, Doakes' defense might include a frame-up and/or his obsession of Dexter (something of which he would most certainly be aware following his suspension). By putting critical evidence into the hands of Dexter (who is no clinical observer but a witness to the behavior which made them suspicious of Doakes in the first place), Lundy has essentially written Doakes's defense attorney's cross examination for him. It's not about whether Lundy believes Dexter would or would not treat the evidence fairly; it's about the appearance of that decision at trial when there were so many other options available for evidence intake and processing. If Lundy is as wise and experienced as we have been led to believe, then he would never jeopardize a conviction in such a fashion.

SJ said...

I can't wait to see what happens is Dexter going to explain his wound?

I agree, there was quite a bit of sloppy writing here. Still, quite entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see what happens is Dexter going to explain his wound?

That's exactly what I was thinking! He can't very well say he accidentally shot himself since the Feds would have heard it. I blame it all on Lila's influence--he's still shaking off the chaos she brought.

I hope Dex doesn't kill Doakes, although that looks like the direction they're headed. I wouldn't mind if he made Lila disappear, though. Poor stupid, horny Angel....

Anonymous said...

Dexter’s slow climb to Redemption

When we last left Dexter, he was at his most desperate and alone. Having rejected or lost all his support structures – Deb, Rita, the Kids, “good” Lila, and the spirit of Harry via the Code – he was becoming sloppy and confused and closer to being caught than ever before. His urge to kill came roaring back, and he made the poorest choice of targets by going after Jimenez, a victim that not only is known to Lila and Rita (indirectly), but is also a link that can tie him all the way back to the Ice Truck Killer and more if the body is discovered. He compounded this mistake by leaving the body after the killing, knowing full well that the BHB investigation was at its peak and that Jimenez was killed in what is unmistakably the BHB signature style.

But at least we can applaud the reason he left the bloody Jimenez pile. He ran to Rita’s aid, dropping everything to do so, no matter how much it might cost him personally. Dexter claims he is incapable of love, and denies such feelings even to himself, but what else can we call his willingness to sacrifice himself at even a hint of danger towards Rita and the kids? We’ve long known that there was much more to Dexter’s feeling towards them than he ever admitted. But to see him finally acknowledges that his ‘family’ matters more to him than providing cover from getting caught is a relief and a step to Dexter coming into his own. Where before he was thinking how to dump Rita when she started to want intimacy (Season One) lest it increase his chance of being discovered, he is now willingly increasing his chance of being discovered to protect Rita, even as he believes she hates him. Quite a turnaround that even Dexter must notice.

That hug he shared with Aster and Cody, with his involuntary exhaling of emotional release at the first taste of unconditional love towards him for a long time (brilliant acting, *listened * to it three times), gives Dexter the courage to take the first steps towards redemption. Even though Rita has been with us for over 20 episodes, their FIRST genuine conversation - about the hurt Dexter feels in losing her and her kids - with Dexter’s emotional rawness fully exposed to her (and maybe himself!) for perhaps the first time ever, leaves Rita and the audience breathless. The monster that resides inside of him unchecked now has company.

Rita was introduced to us as a damaged victim that Dexter found to be a perfect match for him – scared of intimacy, repulsed by sex, emotionally closed off by spousal abuse, undemanding. Their “relationship” provided a lot of the best comedic moments throughout Season One, including the memorably cringe-inducing attempt by Dexter to return intimate favors for Rita while she was crying her eyes out watching “Terms of Endearment”. Brilliantly funny and sad. So while their maturation in this relationship means less of these funny moments, it introduces something much more meaningful. We will now get to see Dexter try to establish a genuine, guileless, emotional love connection for the first time ever in his life.

In fact, if the audience were ever to see how Dexter and Rita initially got together, I imagine it would remind us strongly of what Lila did to seduce Dexter. Dexter probably used canned seduction techniques to emotionally manipulate Rita because he needed something from her – cover. He cared very little for her emotional well being, only preoccupied by what her and the kids can provide him. “Consuming others to feed our own needs” – just like Lila. The parallel is striking and concerning. The wooing of Rita this time around is not for providing Dexter with a ‘beard’, but for completeness of his slowly emerging soul. The stakes are much higher, and the two players are beyond being fooled by deception from the other. Dexter will need to first confront himself fully if he is ever to be ready for truly being in love, and find out once and for all who he truly is and what he wants to be. I really hope the show will be brave enough to examine this new dynamic fully, and make Dexter earn his redemption with Rita in a way true lovers would – emotionally honest and allowing themselves to become connected. Rita really is “the light at the end of the tunnel”. How Dexter acknowledges this, and whether the light and the monster can really coexist, will hopefully be a focus, if not immediately, at least in Season Three.

Dexter has also reconnected with Harry in choosing to follow the Code once again. Simply shown – Dexter is at a crossroads, and he can either “turn left” and ignore the Code, going straight to the cabin to pick up the pieces of Jimenez, or “turn right”, acknowledging his FBI watchers and following the Code to make rational choices. He turns right, and is now “at peace with the Code”, reestablishing the first pillar of support he will need to extract him from this huge mess. But we will soon see that the Code, which is all he needed in the past, might no longer be enough. Nevertheless, after hitting rock bottom, Dexter is finally acknowledging he needs support of others to see him through. The Dark Passenger is no longer trusted to act alone.

The Crucible for Deb

The season is setting up Deb to make some really hard choices. She is already split between Lundy, her new Lover and surrogate father and “an above-board kind of guy”, and Dexter, her most trusted confidant, adoptive brother, and definitely “a below-board kind of guy”. She is also in the middle of the cold war between the Miami PD and the FBI, with both sides wanting to maintain her loyalty and offering her professional favors for that loyalty, while neither side fully trusting her. In many ways, her storyline will put her to the hardest choices. No matter which way she chooses, she will lose something very important to her. For the second season in a row, she will be the most pronounced victim of association with Dexter’s secret life. I guess this isn’t surprising as she is the only ‘forced’ relationship that Dexter must maintain. Even if she never finds out the Truth about Dexter, she has already sacrificed a lot of herself for him. He was right in choosing her over Brian.

The Temptress Returns

Like the rash she gives to anyone who sleeps with her, Lila is proving to be extremely tough to get rid of permanently. While I think her character’s expiration date is quickly approaching, she does still represent something meaningful to the ongoing story. Lila is a tempting reward for Dexter to give up everything he is now beginning to seek – love, connection, humanity – by instead taking the easy path his Dark Passenger begs for him to take. If Dexter chooses to allow the Dark Passenger to rule his life, he now gets a bonus - an undemanding sexual relationship, false self-examination that leads nowhere, the ease of having other’s make emotional choices for him. Lila is the one character that has been set up to be believable in accepting Dexter as he truly is right now, killings and all. Even Dexter states she is the only one who has yet to flinch, even as the mask is lifted for her to see. This theoretically makes the choices Dexter must make in the future a tougher proposition, but besides Lila’s physical beauty, it is tough to see her as much of a reward. Nevertheless, if Dexter wants to continue to deny his emotional emergence and the importance of the connections that led to it, he can have what a decent man (and perhaps many men) like Batista is begging for – steaming hot sex without worry about deeper feelings. Tempting for any man, bar none. It means that Dexter will have to become a better man than, well, most normal men. Is it too tall an order for an emotional cripple? Lila waits for the answer.

As far as Alan’s feeling that Dexter did not do enough to protect Batista, I did not feel that that was the case. Considering all that Dexter has on his plate, I found it realistic that he would have to put Batista on the back-burner. Even so, he took him aside twice to warn him about Lila and put it in no uncertain terms that he thought Lila was crazy and bad news, and using him to get to Dexter. Dexter has grave interest in getting Lila away from anyone close to him like Batista, but cannot afford an open war with Lila since she knows about Jimenez. Batista knows he’s the rebound guy, and is completely fine with it if it means sex with Lila. Dexter played the situation correctly.

I also think Batista’s ignoring the warnings and dangers plays up the temptation Lila represents to Dexter as noted above. Batista jumps at her willingly, as Dexter did too before he knew what it would cost him. Lila wants Dexter. She is still playing the emotional manipulation game and staying close to her target. Lila needs to be shown to be as capable of ruthlessness as Dexter if we are to believe she could be ‘the one’ who fully knows what Dexter is and wants to be his lover anyway (not a stretch – plenty of killers who met and even married women groupies AFTER they were arrested). Batista might be a casualty of this game, but I’m not sure many men would turn down the proposition even if all the facts were laid bare.

The Unstoppable Force meets the Unmovable Object

I might seem like a fawning apologist for this show, because it does so much so well and I praise it a lot. The show does have some big misses though (anyone figure out why Pascal was in this show, and for so long?). But I really dislike the way the Doakes-as-BHB scenario played out. It’s just too hard to believe Doakes would handle the slide evidence so poorly. Many of the comments I have read so far I agree with regarding Doakes suddenly becoming very incompetent and how that doesn’t fit in with what we knew of Doakes. A few points helps the believability (a little at least).

First is that Dexter didn’t frame Doakes. Dexter thought he was caught dead when he saw the slides were missing (we get another peek at Dexter’s emotional emergence when, at the point Dexter thought he was done for and his world was collapsing as the FBI agents knocked on his door, his mind turned to Deb, Rita, and the Kids.) The fact that it was happenstance that Doakes got caught with the slides sets up the big moral showdown for the next episode. I’m glad that Doakes wasn’t a ‘frame job’ conceived by Dexter, because having Dexter actively frame Doakes would have meant a central question regarding his future would have been answered, but for much lower stakes than how it actually transpired (see below).

Second, I think Lundy’s competence has not yet been as damaged as Alan does. Lundy emphasizes strongly to LaGuerta that Doakes is a suspect wanted for questioning, which is reasonable given what has been found. I do believe Lundy is still open-minded to the possibility that the BHB is someone else. Timeframe-wise, it is still within a 24-hour period of finding the slides in Doakes’ car and the manhunt for him. I still believe that it will be hard to match up all the previous BHB victims, the methods, the timeframes (with witnesses placing Doakes far away), and all the other forensic evidence and tie it in with Doakes. The case against Doakes might feel strong to the pursuers in the moment, but I think will dissipate over time. At least I hope it heads that way. It would be truer to Lundy’s character to notice the lack of evidence and is necessary to maintain the tension in the show, for if Dexter could get away with killing so many by simply planting slides on someone, he never will be in real jeopardy again in the future.

Third, they are trying to justify how Doakes could act so recklessly with those slides, and why Dexter is now in charge of them. Lundy, with the backing of history (Doakes killing the Haitian Man in Season One, and lying about it even though Batista ratted him out to I.A.), claims that Doakes is a man driven “by a need to dole out personal justice.” We can easily accept that characterization. Using that, along with the fact that Doakes’ way of finding the slides most likely would have caused them to be thrown-out as evidence (illegal breaking and entering, illegal search and seizure) AND the fact that Doakes felt that if he delayed and went through ‘proper channels’, Dexter might kill again in the interim (actually a very reasonable assumption), might have compelled him to take the slides and have them analyzed quickly himself.

I also am fine with both Lundy and Capt. Mathews handing the slides over to Dexter’s care. Lundy has three of his own techs working very closely with Dexter, so it is not like Dexter has free reign with what to do with them or the story he tells from analyzing them. The type of analysis is also non-tricky. It’s basically just DNA matching, as opposed to blood spatter patterns where there is much bigger room for interpretation. Also, Lundy himself has shown blood expertise, so he won’t be fooled easily. As for Capt. Mathews, I think he explains his justification by stating that the public’s trust in the Miami PD is about to take a “major a**f**king” once it comes out that a cop is the prime suspect, so he wants to show the Miami PD’s Forensics Department played a major role in taking down Doakes to regain that public trust. I didn’t see a need to look beyond Mathew’s words for the reason Dexter is on the case, he states his reasons quite clearly and believably.

It is also very telling that both men so far trust Dexter to that degree. It gives the audience a gage on where Dexter is on their radar, and seemingly gives him some time.

I do question why Doakes was reluctant to bring LaGuerta into his findings, though. Not only do they share a personal bond, but also if Doakes really suspects Dexter as the BHB, it seems logical that he would warn his best friend about the immediate danger to her and her department. It’s hard to fill this plot hole.

So while I’m disappointed for the moment in how easily the finger got pointed at Doakes, I still think there is time to put a coat of realism over the situation as it develops. We still have LaGuerta (and Batista maybe) championing Doakes’ innocence and will actively search for evidence proving as much – it’s not as if everyone is suddenly convinced. I do think it would be impossible to frame Doakes for all of the killings convincingly. For instance, the two most recent kills are problematic for framing Doakes. The Ken Olson slaying (Copycat BHB killer) will provide no evidence pointing at Doakes (he was on another assignment, and never shown to be in Olson’s presence) and, since it is a body that is very fresh and undamaged by water, can actually provide forensics that will lead to his exoneration. It is too late to go back and try to frame Doakes on that body – it really seems to be a big tactical mistake by Dexter to kill and leave a body inside that train car knowing full well the investigation was currently raging.

The Jimenez killing, if discovered, all but points to Dexter conclusively if linked back to Dexter’s mother. We don’t know yet if the body will be found, but even a missing report on him would be damning if they connect the dots. Doakes knows for sure where Jimenez was killed and possibly dumped. There is also the knowledge of Lila and Rita who both know the link between Jimenez and Dexter (Rita at least knows it was a man from Naples who killed Dexter’s mother).

Further, if Doakes were ever incarcerated for the BHB killings, and Dexter continues to produce bodies afterwards (and he IS compelled to beyond reason), will it not be obvious that they have the wrong man in jail? So I really believe the movement of the story towards Doakes being the BHB will not be the final solution – I’m sticking with that for now even as the show seems to make me an underdog on this prediction.

Finally, we have the biggest showdown of the series – Doakes and Dexter. Or should it be Doakes versus The Code of Harry? We learn this episode that Rule #1 of the Code is: Don’t Get Caught. All other rules of the Code are built around that one. Harry even arranges to have young Dexter witness an electrocution to scare him into adopting Rule #1 above all. Perhaps it was a ham-handed scare tactic by Harry, but it drove the point home.

And Alan is correct – if Dexter absolves himself of any decision and strictly turns himself over to Harry’s Code, then it seems the decision has been made for him. As Alan says, “He needs The Code to function, not only as a killer, but as a man.” He will need to kill and frame Doakes in order to abide by Rule #1, as Doakes has caught him red-handed and there is no turning back. He can place himself above moral self-judgment by simply claiming he was ‘following orders’, and obeying the Code.

So if the Code is the only thing that can guide Dexter’s action when he is lacking in morality, Doakes is a doomed man. But this season is about Dexter’s slowly emerging humanity, one that he always denied existed and tries to deny even in the present. He was once emotionally barren, and then crept towards a childlike empathy by the end of Season One. But now he has matured. He is still behind the curve for a man in his thirties, yet far ahead of where he has ever been emotionally. There is no denying his hug with the Kids was for real, his outpouring of emotion towards Rita over the breakup was real, and his protectiveness of Deb has gone from rote training to genuine concern (best seen when Dexter thought he had been busted). One might say his emotions are now in the adolescent stages, confusing him with their newfound intensity, and hard for even him to ignore.

And one of the characteristics of adolescence is finally questioning the morality handed down from one’s parents. What was previously taken as dogmatic rules are finally scrutinized and either adopted or discarded as one’s own code takes shape. Dexter has learned this season that his father, who he once held in the highest regard, is actually fallible and capable of moral grayness. His reaction to discovering the link between Harry and his biological mother was to temporarily reject Harry and the Code. But this was bad for him. So he has swung back the other way and re-integrated the Code back into his consciousness, allowing it to dictate his actions.

But in doing so, he will be put in a position of having to kill an innocent man as the Code seemingly demands. Doakes did not just kill Dexter when he ambushed him, which he could easily have done and is known to do as a Black-Ops assassin. Doakes instead choose the moralistically correct way by arresting Dexter and obeying the law. Doakes has proved himself to be a just man, and even Dexter acknowledges that Doakes is innocent. Can Dexter figure out that seeing the world in black or white, in Full Code or No Code mode, is no longer compatible with his own emerging humanity? Will his newly forming emotions allow him to see shades of gray? Can he realize that, finally, he is ready to replace the Code of Harry with the Code of Dexter, and start to take the responsibility of choosing his own way?

With Dexter being shot in the leg and needing a way to explain that to his bodyguards (and thus a need to act immediately), Doakes alive and in a cage with full knowledge of what Dexter really is and thus cannot be set free, and Dexter struggling with new emotions and a demanding Code, we are at an apex of the story. Dexter will have to willfully and deliberately make a decision about Doakes, the Code, and his future emotional path, all at the same time and sealed by what he does to Doakes. Their next conversation, both fully revealed in front of each other, will define the direction of the series. There are so many interesting directions it could go, so many implications to each word and action in their next face-to-face talk. It should be very intense.

It might have been a bit of a contrivance to get Doakes to this point, but I can’t wait to see how they handle it.

Finally, a big thanks to Alan for separating Dexter blog entries from the CYE ones, and highlighting every episode this season. I think the Dexter comments and commentators have been the most consistently interesting since, and have added greatly to my enjoyment of the series.

Jill said...

Yay! UAM is here!

Jeff Lindsay has said that while he was skeptical about Michael C. Hall at first, he now thinks he so perfectly embodies the character of Dexter that he may very well consult with him when he writes the books to find out what Dexter would do in a given situation.

But the writers of the series have taken Dexter so far afield from Lindsay's books. Lindsay can crank out Dexter genre books till the cows come home, but I don't know that he has the literary or character chops to take Dexter in the direction that the writers are. In some ways, Dexter is the embodiment of every person's emotional journey from id-driven, impulsive infant to maturity. We're just seeing it take place at a shortened and delayed time.

Dexter doesn't even realize yet the kind of huge breakthrough that his confession to Rita about what a mistake his decision to trust Lila was. He's a creature of pure instinct, and like a lost dog whose owners moved away and left him, he keeps going back to where he felt emotionally safe (even if he couldn't recognize it as emotionally safety), eventually starting to recognize what it means.

We can see from the trailer for next week that Dexter finds a way to get Doakes' fingerprints on his tools, indicating that the "Doakes Setup" storyline is a go. But the creators of this series set up these red herrings for every episode, and I'm not convinced that it's going to be as straightforward as we thought.

The cocaine in Jimenez' shack is important, because it keeps showing up in the camerawork. We don't yet know how it's important, but it is. Also important is that Doakes went to Haiti but the hospital that is going to do the slide analysis is in the Dominican Republic. Is DR a major stop-off point for cocaine trafficking? If so, that could be where they're going with it. It still doesn't resolve what happens to Doakes, and it may be that the Paul storyline from the early part of the season may foreshadow Doakes' fate -- that he ends up in prison ranting about what Dexter did to him.

Re: Doakes shutting LaGuerta out of his findings: It hasn't been as apparent this season, but it was pretty clear last season that LaGuerta is attracted to Dexter. At the very least, she feels warmly and protective towards him. She may be tight with Doakes, but when Doakes came out pummelling Dexter, she didn't ask who started it, she put Doakes on Administrative Leave -- and ONLY Doakes.

There's so much history in these relationships that we don't yet know, and that I suspect will start to peel like an onion in season 3.

Thank God for your blog and commenters, Alan. The only other person I know who watches Dexter is my spouse, and we are only two perspectives.

Unknown said...

This may sound like a stretch... but Dexter may try to frame Doakes as a drug dealer. He may frame him for killing Jiminez, and have him in the coke locker waiting to be picked up. It may be ironic considering the fake drug addiction Dexter pretended to have earlier in this season.

The coke addiction angle would allow Dexter to get rid of Doakes for a while, would explain away a lot of Doakes' issues with being extremely erratic, and maybe even freeing him of going down as the BHB.

Dexter seems to be developing a bit of a conscience, and I don't think he will directly make Doakes go down for his own crimes.

Lila seems like the prime framing suspect, because from some pictures I saw, it seems that Lila may find out about Dexter's true inner demon.

Think that is a stretch?

Anonymous said...

I don't know how successful Dexter would be in framing Lila as the BHB because she is far too emotional and messy to be a meticulous killer (unless she wanted Dex to know she set her own loft on fire, which I doubt), plus she hasn't shown the sort of physical strength she'd have needed to drag some of those victims to their slaughter--even Dex had a rough time with some of them.

However, I can totally see him framing Doakes as a drug dealer since he did it successfully with Paul, though I don't know how he would explain the slides in Doakes' car (unless whoever he sets up to take the fall as the BHB was supposed to have been framing Doakes in turn?). The trip to Haiti would definitely add to the "evidence" that Doakes is a dealer.

I'm still wondering if Dex somehow swapped out the slides so that the results don't match any of the victims and so he could have his trophies back. There seemed to be some sort of weirdness going on there, although it could also be my wishful thinking because I don't want Doakes to die or Dex to get caught--yet!

Chris Littmann said...

Just keeping it brief: The Dexter-Doakes showdown on the dock was as excited as I've been about any scene on TV in quite a while.

Right before Doakes popped up on screen, I looked at my roommate and said, "Wouldn't it be cool if Doakes appeared? I don't know what they'd do with it, but it'd be awesome!"

Jill said...

dez, I never even considered swapping out the slides. That would be devilishly clever -- to quote Daffy Duck.

My Alter Ego said...

I think Doakes' behavior in this was not so out of character or implausible for a couple of reasons. First, keep in mind that Doakes’ suspicions regarding Dexter arose long before the BHB bodies were discovered, and Doakes had no particular reason to suspect Dex of being the BHB. Doakes’ instincts told him Dex was guilty of something, but he didn’t know what. I don’t think it was until he found Dex removing Jimenez’s dismembered body from the cabin that he fully grasped the enormity of what he had stumbled onto. There seemed to be genuine shock and surprise in his voice when he confronted Dex and exclaimed, “Jesus Christ, Morgan! Jesus f**kin’ Christ! You’re the Bay Harbor Butcher!” Because of this, I don’t think he realized the full importance of the slides he had discovered in Dex’s apartment until that moment. He just knew they were evidence of something. Doakes’ state of shock would also have given Dex an advantage in overpowering Doakes.

Second, Doakes never seriously believed that he would be targeted by Lundy as a suspect for the BHB killings. He knows himself to be innocent, and he believes himself to be above suspicion. The license plate evidence putting suspicion directly on the Miami Metro PD was discovered after Doakes’ suspension, and he knew nothing of it before boarding the flight to Haiti. That is why he felt safe leaving the slides in his car; he never expected that his car would be searched.

Third, even if Doakes should have realized that behavior like walking out of his interview with Lundy or boarding a flight out of the country would tend to cast suspicion on him, any thinking along those lines was pushed to the back of his mind by his single-minded pursuit of finding out the truth about Dexter. That’s why he walked out of the interview with Lundy and blew off the meeting with the security contractor. When he is in pursuit mode, he has tunnel vision and is incapable of acting cautiously.

On a separate note, regarding UAM’s question about why Pascal was on the show, and for so long, it was because LaGuerta’s exquisitely underhanded way of ousting her gave us a window into LaGuerta’s character that we would not have had otherwise. The way in which she played with Pascal’s mind while appearing to Matthews to be a staunch supporter of Pascal showed manipulation worthy of Lila, only LaGuerta played it with much more control than someone like Lila ever could have. I think this dark side of LaGuerta will be highly relevant before the end of the season. Remember that Doakes is the only one in the department who figured out that LaGuerta was sleeping with Pascal’s fiancĂ©. Even though she cares more about Doakes than anyone else in the department, she may ultimately having her own self-preservation motives for wanting him discredited.

On a final note, I have noticed in the past that things about the series that seemed contrived on first viewing have often made much more sense in light of later developments. I remember reading somewhere (here?) that some thought the scene where Rita overheard Lila talking into Dex’s answering machine seemed contrived, but that was before we knew just how manipulative Lila could be. Looking back on that scene, is it not possible that Lila was outside Dex’s apartment, binoculars in hand, when she left the message, making sure to time it for maximum damage to Dex and Rita’s relationship? I have confidence that any seeming inconsistencies in this episode will make sense in retrospect.

Jill said...

I still have a bit of a problem, especially after looking at the LaGuerta clip on the SHO site, with this sudden "stand by your man" thing that LaGuerta has towards Doakes. Yes, they've always had a bond, but it seems odd that she's putting him on administrative leave one minute and obstructing an investigation involving him in the next.

Am I missing something?

My Alter Ego said...

Another thought about Lila: Some have speculated that, if Dex wanted to kill Lila, he could use her "accidental" killing of her ex as justification. I don't think Dex will need to grasp at straws like that; Lila will provide fresh justification for being a worthy victim. I don't think we've yet seen the worst of what she is capable of. I would not be surprised if she were to seriously endanger the life of someone close to Dex (Angel looks like the most likely candidate at this point, though Rita could easily be a target) in another attempt to win him back. Lila will end up seeing the monster after all.

Anonymous said...

Jill, I think LaGuerta truly believes in Doakes' innocence and will do what she can to give him room to prove it. There could also be residual affection from their past romantic relationship. Plus she knows him well enough to know that he is too hot-headed to also be a cold-blooded (and calculated) murderer. She also knows he had no affection for his dad's line of work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with My Alter Ego. It's just a matter of time before we find out how horrible Lila is and she becomes "eligible" for execution by Dexter.

legion said...

I thought I really liked that show until I read Alan's review! He makes me thing about stuff