Dexter: Crocodile

Dexter: "If God is in the details, and if I believed in God, then he's in this room with me. I just wish he'd brought an extension cord."

The title of the episode is about monsters beneath the surface. Dexter sees himself as a monster who goes after other monsters. There were several images of just the top half of Dexter's face, in the ocean, in the tub, in the mirror of the men's room. Dexter's hidden monster below the surface is the bottom half of his psyche, ever present and in charge but unseen by others. (Rita even called Dexter the "Cookie Monster." What clever writing.)

And yet. Dexter believes in what he is doing. It's not just a convenient outlet for his homicidal tendencies. He killed Matt Chambers in an abandoned liquor store, an unspoken statement about justice that only Dexter would ever know. Dexter plays with Rita's kids with apparent ease and enjoyment. When you put that together with the fact that all three of the killers he's taken out so far in the series victimized children either directly or indirectly, what do you get? Does Dexter truly care about the innocent? Does Dexter like children?

Dexter also spends a lot of time with the two women in his life, and enjoys their company. And vice versa; they both think he's the best. The double date was Dexter's idea. It backfired on him, though, because Debra and the despicable, married Sean all over each other made Rita feel insecure. It bothered Dexter that it bothered Rita, and I just found it strangely endearing that Dexter cared about how Rita felt. Kissing is not entirely unpleasant, huh? Is Dexter actually capable of having sex? I'm really curious about this one.

On the con side, the monster side, the Ice Truck Killer's hookers and Barbie doll intimated that ITK sees human beings as toys, or objects. Dexter was identifying with ITK and admiring his technique, unmoved by the plight of the dead hookers that so upset Debra. Is it that hookers aren't innocent teenagers that will never go to Harvard? Then again, maybe they are.

Way too much about the opening credits:

When I first started watching this series, I found the opening credits so revolting that I had to look away when they played. I find them fascinating now. The extreme, almost obscene close-ups are all of ordinary, everyday activities that relate in some way to killing: from the mosquito to the blood orange to the tee shirt stretched over Dexter's face before he looks directly at the audience. It ends with Dexter locking his apartment door and strolling away with an odd smile on his face. He has succeeded in fooling everyone, in containing his different-ness. Except from us, the audience; we're in on the joke. We're getting very up close and personal with Dexter.

The music is lighthearted and playfully sinister, with a dark carnival sort of feel. What does this suggest? That Dexter is fun and scary at the same time, which he is. That he's a freak, which he is. There are lots of red drops and circles evoking blood spatter. Circle of life, cycle of death? The names jump around, too, as if to say that reality shifts, as Dexter's reality actually does. Brilliant.

Bits and pieces:

-- With Dexter's help, Debra got transferred to Homicide, pretty much over Maria's still warm body. Maria managed to take credit by saying she encouraged Debra to think outside the box. I like Debra. I like her enthusiastic brashness that doesn't quite mask her sensitivity. That's what is beneath the surface for Debra: no monster there.

-- The Barbie doll that the Ice Truck Killer left for Dexter had different colored nail polish on each finger. So did the fingertips that the ITK left in the block of ice. Big honking clue, but to what?

-- The cop killer that had Doakes all hot and bothered was an expansion of the same theme: justice, not revenge. Cervantes the cop killer was stabbed in the back while in custody. Are we supposed to think that what Dexter does isn't all that different?

-- Dexter has been doing blood spatter analysis for nearly twelve years, and has testified in exactly 2,103 cases. How old is Dexter? I'm assuming somewhere in his thirties, which means he started quite young. How old is Debra?

-- Why the cheek? Something to do with not turning the other cheek? The slides make sense, given what Dexter does for a living.

-- Dexter is friendly with Angel, combative with Doakes, wary of Maria. Maria and Doakes used to be partners.

-- Good casting of the teenage Dexter. I wasn't sure of the point of those segments, though. We never learned what happened to the killer of Harry's dead partner.

-- Dexter sang to Astor and Cody. Michael C. Hall has a professional singing voice that we heard a few times in Six Feet Under; we didn't hear that level of talent here, though. Probably because it would be out of place as a skill of Dexter's.

Quotes:

Attorney: "Then it's safe to say blood is your life."
Dexter: "Safe to say."

Debra: "Why is it we never talk brother-sister stuff?"
Dexter: "Our dad was a cop, you're a cop, I work for the cops. This is brother-sister stuff."

Dexter: "Our boss, Lieutenant LaGuerta. In keeping with her total sense of entitlement, she has this attraction to me. I thought I was creepy."

Dexter: "Another beautiful Miami day. Mutilated corpses with a chance of afternoon showers."

Angel: "I think he's got a crush on you, Dex."
Dexter: "Huh?"
Vince: "Yo. I was talking to Morgan the sister. Vince Masuko only swings one way."
Debra: "Yeah. From vine to vine."
Maria: "Enough. I'm glad to see the sexual harassment seminar really paid off."
She says this stuff, but she comes on to Dexter? What a hypocrite.

Angel: "You must have been a motherfucker at cat's cradle."
Dexter: "I never played it."

Dexter: "I can kill a man, dismember his body, and be home in time for Letterman. But knowing what to say when my girlfriend's feeling insecure? I'm totally lost." This was so oddly endearing. Yes, I'm repeating myself.

Dexter: "We have an elephant in the room and its name is sex."
Rita: "Tell me about it."
Dexter: "As far as I'm concerned, it can stay in the corner and mind its own damn business."

Rita: "I can't believe I found the one good, truly decent man left on the planet."

Debra: "I just wish I could get into a healthy relationship like you and Rita."

Dexter: "There are no secrets in life. Just hidden truths that lie beneath the surface." Just as with the pilot, in the last moment of the episode, Dexter was looking right at the camera. At us.

Three out of four stars,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

He is so clueless about jokes and how to handle certain things, just like Rita was feeling insecure.

ChrisB said...

For someone who lives near the beach, I find it interesting that Dexter chooses to hang out in fresh water, not salt -- just like the Florida crocs.

I'm still struggling the idea of killing being acceptable behavior. Yes, the three people Dexter has killed to date are all horrible people, but did they really deserve to die? And, to die so brutally. The first murder, as Dexter saws into the guy's head while he's still alive and conscious will haunt me.

I agree about the opening credits. They are brilliantly done and add another layer to the show.