Season 4 of Dexter can be summed up in a single word: Wow.
What started out as the best season of a tremendous series ended as the best season ever with a concise ending to the Trinity story arc, as well as leaving things up in the air for Season 5. I’m still picking my jaw up off the floor.
The episode opens up with Dexter having been formally addressed by Arthur with all the warmth that Seinfeld had reserved for Newman. In that moment, realizing that now that Arthur knows his real name, Dexter all but craps his pants worrying about what will happen to his family and the dual life he’s carved for himself (no pun intended). Arthur tells Dexter that he wants him to disappear from his life and cease with the extortion bit before striding from the precinct triumphantly.
Dexter takes off to follow him, vowing to cap Trinity then and there. On his way out, Quinn attempts to get all Doakes on Dexter and tells him that he needs to sign off on Christine Hill’s suicide splatter immediately and that chasing tail can wait. Dexter shoves him hard and takes affront to Quinn’s insinuation.
As Dexter’s in hot pursuit of Trinity, Rita calls him on the cell with something “important,” saying that she wants to have her honeymoon this weekend. Since the kids will be going to Disney with Paul’s parents, they can take little Harrison with them. Dexter hastily agrees and gets off the phone, having just sideswiped some dude’s mirror. Meanwhile, Harry-Wan Kenobi looks at Dexter disapprovingly, telling him that he’s getting careless and the messes are piling up.
Things are about to get even messier as Dexter tracks Arthur to the bank, getting out of his Four Walls, One Heart van and all-but skipping into the bank. He waits for Arthur in his van and then doses him, leaving him passed out in the back as he takes a look at all of the money Arthur drained from his accounts for his getaway. Dexter is appalled that Arthur would leave his family and leave them destitute. Already angry, Dexter sees the guy whose mirror he sideswiped talking to the cops and pointing out Dex’s vehicle. Dexter jumps out of the van undetected and tries to defuse the situation, but the police and the angry, mirror-less dude get in his face with a cell phone cam and Dexter snaps. The police cuff and stuff him and Rita has to go pick Dex up.
As if he didn’t feel bad enough for his five-minute stint in the clink thanks to Harry-Wan Kenobi’s lecture on getting sloppy, Dex feels like scum knowing that Rita’s seen him this way. On the ride to pick up his car, Dexter comes as close as ever to telling Rita about his Dark Passenger, alluding that sometimes the darkness creeps in and takes over. Rita acknowledges her husband’s dark side, bringing up the time he smashed the hell out of the stadium-style light Elliot installed, smashing the hell out of Elliot for kissing her, and then his recent rage-fest. He tells her they’ll talk more as he heads to his car, then makes a beeline for the bank parking lot. Arthur’s van is still there, although Arthur is not. Yet Arthur’s cash and wallet is still where Dexter hid it. Uh-oh.
Back at Casa de Mitchell, Arthur busts into his happy home as Sally, Rebecca, and Jonah are happily eating. Arthur proceeds to shake down his family for all of their cash and jewelry. Jonah attempts to step to Arthur and gets choked out by Daddy for his efforts. Looks like Arthur wants to make a quick break and get out of Dodge.
Back at the precinct, Deb is still working on the Trinity case with three postcards that don’t link up with murders. Batista urges her to take a personal day since Christine blew her head off in front of her, but Deb is the Energizer Bunny of Detectives and keeps plugging away. Speaking of plugging, Angel and LaGuerta get about five minutes in this episode, contemplating moving in together now that they’re married.
Taking up her superiors on her day off, Deb meets again with the C.I. who Harry was banging years ago. While Deb downs Daddy as a manwhore, the C.I. says that Harry was still a good man who always made her feel safe. She takes her to the house she remembers of the woman who she was dumped for: Laura Moser. The house and the name ring a bell, being the same spot where the Ice Truck Killer took Deb in Season 1. After doing some digging, Deb comes across info on Laura Moser, that she had two sons: Brian and Dexter Moser. Hey-yo!!
Deb meets with Harry’s old friend, Deputy Lieutenant Matthews and asks him about her father’s dealings with Laura Moser. He admits that he knew of Harry’s fling with Laura and that he knew Harry took in Dexter but didn’t take in Brian because the boy was far too damaged after watching his mother chainsawed to death. Deb is understandably gobsmacked, but it triggers the idea to quiz little Scott from last episode about the man who kidnapped him.
Speaking of, Arthur has just been playing around on the computer and has pulled up Dexter’s Palm Terrace address online – where Debra is now living!
Little Scotty comes through with info on Trinity and details of the kidnapping, remembering the logo for “Four Walls, One Heart.” Deb, Masuka, and the rest of the department head to the latest home-building site and find something buried under the patio. Masuka unearths the body of a 10-year-old boy in the bag, badly decomposed. They now know that Stan Beaudry wasn’t Trinity and have a bead on Arthur Mitchell.
Back at Casa de Morgan, Dexter and Rita have a heart to heart chat about Dexter’s demons. In spite of it all, she tells Dexter that she has faith in him and knows he can conquer anything. Dexter finally shows emotion to Rita and honestly tells her how he really wants to be the man and husband she believes he is. Rita acknowledges Dexter’s demons and tells him she has faith in him. Dexter tells her how he really wants to be the man she wants him to be. He tells her that he wants their honeymoon and to fly to the Keys tomorrow morning. Internally, Dexter rationalizes that he kids will be safe in Florida on their Disney World vay-cay with their grandparents and he, Rita, and Harrison will be out of Arthur’s reach in case he goes off.
Before leaving, Dexter/Kyle goes to visit the Mitchell family to find out where Arthur is. Jonah tells him that he made off and describes what happened at dinner just before the SWAT team busts in and the family hits the deck. Dexter/Kyle hides in Arthur’s homemade casket and puts on his Forensics laminate at the last minute.
The rest of the precinct is at the Mitchell family home and Dexter makes a cover story that he got there first. As the action unfolds, Dexter has an inner-monologue with Harry-Wan Kenobi, contemplating leaving his family and worrying if he’s anything like Trinity. GhostHarry tells him that long after Dexter is executed, his family will be stuck with his stigma. This is made all the more poignant as Arthur’s family is taken out of their home and filled in on his dual-life.
Deb takes this opportunity to tell Dexter about Laura Moser and her sons. She said she wasn’t going to tell him, but after learning about Trinity’s family, she felt she had to tell him. Dexter plays dumb to knowing any of this and internally believes his jig is up. He truthfully admits it’s a lot to take in. In yet another rare moment of real revelations, he tells Deb that if he hadn’t been in her life, she wouldn’t have been in the Ice Truck Killer’s path, feeling that she was targeted because he was his brother. Deb tells him that it’s not true and that he’s been the one remaining constant in his life that has been good.
Dexter has a sudden epiphany that maybe Harry’s wrong. Meanwhile, Arthur is happily speeding down the freeway laughing to himself. Arthur had the Mustang’s windshield fixed and the white car repainted black. Dexter is onto where Arthur will be taking the car from, having spotted the broken windshield removed in the Mitchell’s driveway and the receipt from the bodyshop in Arthur’s wallet.
As Arthur has a blowout on a dirt road somewhere, realizing his gas cap is missing, Dexter capitalizes and doses Arthur, having trailed him. For the last time ever, we’re treated to butt naked John Lithgow as he’s strapped to Dexter’s kill table with images of his victims splayed out. He tells Dexter he was just following his path and that God had led him to Dexter as he takes a sample of Trinity and puts it on his slide. Arthur notes that unlike Dexter, he never took pride in what he did. Dexter retorts that Arthur had it all and then destroyed his own family instead of treasuring them. He breaks the news that Christine killed himself because of him. In classic douchebag fashion, Arthur/Trinity says that his dearly departed daughter was weak. Dexter counters that he doesn’t think he’s better than him, but wants to be a better man. Trinity cautions him that he couldn’t control the demons inside of him although he prayed to be changed. Dexter tells him that it wasn’t an active attempt to transform, but rather he waited to be stopped. As one last request, Dexter plays “Venus” for Arthur and runs the Trinity Express around the track before killing him with his own framing hammer. Arthur smiles before he dies.
As Dexter deposits Arthur’s remains in the water, he looks up at the moon and hopes to be rid of his Dark Passenger. He notes a feeling of calm, believing that Rita is looking at the same moon and this is his opportunity to get away from the old Dexter. He heads home, excited to go on his honeymoon, albeit a bit late and notices he has a voicemail on his phone from Rita. She came back home with Harrison to pick up her I.D. for the plane and can’t wait to see him.
Dexter is somewhat alarmed since the house is dark and doesn’t seem that Rita had been there. Plus there’s no follow up message asking where he’ll be meeting her. Panicked, Dexter dials Rita’s number and her cell goes off right there in the house. Dexter races in slow-motion throughout the house and enters the bathroom. Baby Harrison is sitting in a pool of blood seeping from the tub – much the same way Dexter was “born in blood” when his own mother was chainsawed. He sees Rita sitting in the blood-filled tub, dead. In shock and disbelief, Dexter closes Rita’s eyes and picks up baby Harrison.
I can’t even begin to explain how shocked I was by this ending! This is the second time I’ve found myself liking a character after a long spell of dis-like and WHAMMO, they die horrifically after a poignant scene. (The first surprise death being Smallville’s Henry James “Jimmy” Olsen character at the hands of Doomsday last season.) It was refreshing to see Dexter and Rita be real with each other and demonstrate caring for one another, rather than the harried-husband and desperate housewife bit.
The ramifications of Rita’s death to the series will be tremendous. Beyond the jaw-dropping shock factor, it sets the stage for a whole new Dexter. Will he be a single parent to Harrison as well as Astor and Cody? What will the kids’ reactions be? Furthermore, how will he deal with the guilt of having been able to prevent this, if he had killed Trinity sooner or if he hadn’t prevented Arthur’s attempted suicide?
I will predict that in Season 5, Deb moves in with Dexter to help him take care of the kids. Being the only other person besides his children that he cares about, Dexter will bond closer with Deb who also lost the love of her life this season. I also have the sneaking suspicion that the loose plot-end with Rita’s first ex-husband will come into play in Season 5.
All in all, I rank this right up there with Season 1 of Dexter as the show’s best yet. I was shocked and sad to see Rita go (for as much as she could be an uber-shrew, at times), but am excited to see the direction the show takes next year.
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