Thursday, October 4, 2012

Showtimes "Dexter" "Are You..." #601

It’s a whole new ball game for “Dexter” as episode 1 for Season 7 unfolds. Secrets, long kept, are now revealed as new secrets are born. I’m renaming this episode “”My Little Secret.”  The title is meant ironically because the secrets on this show are huge.”

The actual name of this episode is “ Are You…”  It refers to the question that Deb asks Dexter. Dexter’s secret life has been exposed, but so far only his step-sister, Deb knows. The title refers to the question she poses to Dexter, “Are you a serial killer?”  Dexter has no choice but to answer “Yes.” 
How did things get to this point? The unraveling of the secret began when we last saw Dexter at the end of Season 6. He was in the abandoned church, the headquarters of the villain of the season, the Doomsday killer, Travis Marshall. He had just dispatched the killer. At that very moment, his sister Deb, enters the church and discovers him standing over the dead body of Travis. Was Dexter’s secret life as a serial killer finally exposed?

Not quite yet. Dexter, ever quick-thinking when on the verge of discovery, explains away the dead body lying on an altar, wrapped in plastic, with a knife in his chest. Dexter tells Deb that the killing was done in self-defense. Dexter begs her not to call-in the crime. He tells her he will lose his job if she does. He reminds her of his toddler son, Harrison—what will happen to Harrison? 

He is successful in persuading his sister to become part of a cover-up. They set fire to the church, and the Doomsday Killer’s death is thought to be a ritual suicide. Now Deb has a secret. She has become complicit in her brother’s career as a serial killer. How long will she be able to contain this “little secret”?

One small question: When Dexter and Deb decide to burn the church down, Deb goes to a nearby gas station and pumps gas into a gas can. One small question: Why did she take the risk of being seen? They could have siphoned some gas from their cars. How did she pay for the gas? Credit card or cash?  Either way she risks being identified if anyone cares to come looking. Perhaps, in a later episode, the plot will turn on the fact that Deb was seen as the gas station.

Deb initially accepts Dexter’s version of the killing—he acted in self-defense. However, soon doubts start to set in. There are too many holes in Dexter’s story. At first she just questions Dexter, and Dexter manages to come up with plausible answers. Nonetheless, doubts continue to nag Deb. She is, after all, a police detective. She searches Dexter’s apartment and finds his blood-slides (his trophies) and knives. Dexter returns home and discovers Deb sitting amidst the evidence in his ransacked apartment. “Are you a serial killer?” Deb asks. Dexter can say nothing except  “Yes”. And that is where the episode ends.

But there are other “little “secrets. One secret explains why Deb went to the church where she discovered Dexter in the act of killing Travis. Deb has been in therapy and during a session she realizes that all her romantic relationships end badly because she is actually in love with Dexter. She knows that Dexter will be at the church collecting evidence, and she impulsively races there to tell Dexter that she is in love with him. The killing and cover-up changes everything. She does not proclaim her love to Dexter and she lies when he asks her why she came to the church. She keeps her “little secret” secret.

The captain of the police department, Maria Laguerta, also has a “little secret.” She found Dexter’s blood-slide at the scene of The Doomsday’s Killer’s supposed suicide.  She initially had it bagged as evidence, but now she surreptitiously removes it from the box with the evidence bags. She realizes that only the Bay Harbor Killer, thought to be dead, made blood-slides. She once suspected Dexter for the serial killings; it looks like her suspicions are renewed. Way back in Season 2, the murders were pinned on another police detective, Sergeant Doakes. The detective was framed by Dexter, and being conveniently dead (having been killed in a fire set by Dexter’s crazy girl-friend), he is unable to exonerate himself,

Whenever, we think Dexter’s career as a serial-killer/public-avenger is about to be over, Dexter always manages to escape, to cover up, to explain of to be saved deus-ex-machina-style by a lucky turn of events. It happens once again in this episode. One of the detectives at the crime scene at the church does not completely buy the ritual suicide story. He wants to look deeper. But as he leaves the crime scene, he stops to help a motorist on the side of the road with a flat tire. No good deed goes unpunished.  The driver of the car is part of the Russian-Ukrainian mafia. There is a dead woman, a stripper, in the trunk of the car. The detective sees it, and is instantly shot dead by the mobster. The detective who wants to “look into” the story concocted by Dexter and Deb is dead—the deus-ex-machina moment of the episode.

The mobster flees, and we next see him at the airport trying to return to Russia. The police have no clues, but Dexter has discovered the identity of the killer. One small question: Dexter knows the man is at the airport because he breaks into his home and searches his computer.  It is a laptop computer, not a desk top computer. Why didn’t the man take it with him?
Dexter accosts the man in an airport restroom, injects him with a sedative as he always does with his victims, and then places his limp body into a wheelchair. Dexter looks like a paralyzed man’s caregiver as he wheels the mobster through the airport and into an isolated baggage room.
But then Dexter departs from his modus operandi. Dexter is showing signs of strain. Deb’s suspicions have un-nerved him. He desperately needs “a kill” to restore his composure.  He doesn’t have his usual tools with him so he ties the mobster to a table with baggage straps, places a plastic bag over his head (to contain the blood), and bashes his head in with a fire extinguisher. He then smuggles the body out of the airport, and takes it to his boat for the usual buried-at sea disposal.

One small question: I initially thought Dexter had to improvise his killing method because he didn’t have enough time to transport the sedated victim to a “safe house’ as he usually does.  Also, his plastic wrap and tools were left behind at the church. I know this because Deb asked him about them and Dexter claimed that they belonged to Travis.

While Dexter was off killing the mobster, Deb was at his apartment. When Dexter returns to his apartment to find Deb sitting amidst the evidence of his killings, the tools are there laid out on the floor. He couldn’t bring his tools to the airport because he would not have been able to get through the TSA screening with them. Did Dexter manage to smuggle the tools out of the church while Deb was at the gas station?

Did he have a second set of tools?

This latest killing departs from the usual ritual method. This departure from the “code” long ago taught to him by his adoptive father as a way to channel his killing instincts away from innocent people and to keep him safe from capture is ominous and portentous. Dexter is out of control. Our careful and methodical serial killer, who kills the “bad guys” (Most of the time it is the bad guys, Dexter occasionally slips up.) is much more scary now. Anything can happen.

We, the members of the audience have a “little secret” too. We root for a serial killer, and we are no more than slightly ill-at-ease for it. Aside from Dexter’s one little foible—his compulsion to kill, he seems like a pretty nice fellow.  But now, Dexter is looking like the psycho he really is--a man with a compulsion to kill. No one is safe.   

Here’s a picture of Dexter looking scary psycho evil.

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