Review: Dexter - Hungry Man
by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 23rd 2009 4:59AM
(S04E09) "Everything is exactly the way it should be. Perfect." - Rita Morgan
The season is almost over and that means things are bound to ramp up as Dexter moves in closer to kill the Trinity Killer. But this week, we get treated to a special Thanksgiving episode. Think of it as a sordid cross between the "Thanksgiving Day" episode from Father Knows Best mixed with the director's cut of any episode of Twin Peaks.
After explaining his identity, background and own "Dark Passenger," this week's episode dove head first into his family who aren't as Norman Rockwell as Arthur Mitchell might want Dexter and the rest of the world to believe. It turns out they are probably the most interesting aspect of Mitchell's twisted life and could turn out to be a huge asset to bringing the man down, now that he no longer has them in his upper hand.
Once again, Dexter finds himself torn between his need to dismember and destroy and the needs of his family. Since he's just gotten out of the doghouse with Rita, he has learned to make compromises without compromising what he needs. So for Thanksgiving Day, he fakes a quickie overtime job to spend more time with his latest target and his family after catching the eldest child (or so we thought) smashing his super cool Mustang, one of the hardest scenes to watch because (1) he opens up to Dexter and tells him about the unrelenting abuse he suffers at his father's hands and (2) that car is a classic. Seriously, a 1968 Mustang convertible is my dream car. Oh well, all the more reason to hate Arthur Mitchell more.
Dexter worms his way into the Mitchell house for Thanksgiving dinner and soon learns just how twisted the rest of the clan truly is: the wife is constantly afraid but unwilling to face the evil, the daughter is a shut-in nympho whom Arthur keeps locked in a room that's way too young for her, and the son is slowly growing tired of explaining his bruises and broken bones to his teachers and coaches. We even get to see Arthur inflict a rather painful broken finger on his poor son in a very visceral and powerful scene. This sets up an interesting scenario for Dexter: should he help himself and go back to his family or stay with the Mitchells and help someone else? His character has really come a long way from the first few seasons and shows he's sticking to the Code, even if it failed him in the past.
Meanwhile, back to the family nest. The lonely neighbor is horning in on Dexter's home life, from spending time with his kids to spending more than a little time with his wife. This week he makes his big move and plants a wet one that Rita reciprocates. It hasn't caught Dexter's attention yet, and how could it? The man is more emotionally frozen than a cryogenic Dick Cheney. But Masuka, Debra's "wingman," spotted them smooching and will definitely tell Dexter about it since the two are such close lab buddies. It will be interesting to watch Dexter's reaction and serve as a good test to whether or not he sees his family as someone special to him or just another mask.
Then the whole thing takes a big dive when Arthur Mitchell knocks on Christina's door after spotting her byline in the local fish wrap and she utters those two shocking words: "Hi Dad." What the hell just happened? Linking her to Lundy and Debra's shooting would have been enough (a big ol' "good call" goes out to the commenter who called it) as a desperate reporter who needs a bleeding lede for her paper, but this is just ridiculous. All this time, Quinn's reporter chick has been working both sides of the street for the villain? That really felt like a big letdown after the initial shock wore off. Sure it made for a nice twist, but now that it's been rolling around in my mind, it's formed into bad tilapia for the brain and it's not sitting well with me. Something tells me the show just dug a big hole for itself and no amount of bodies can fill it.
Other quick observations:
- The Batista-Laguerta relationship is now stronger than ever and so is my wishing it would just end. At this point, not even a solid link to Dexter's life or the Trinity Killer case can save it. If the writers just wrote it out of the script and never brought it up again, I wouldn't miss it.
- Now that Dexter has shown Arthur his dark side, just how is he going to get at him and how will he protect himself from Arthur, a seasoned killer who may be unstable but has been doing this a lot longer than our hero? Say what you will about Dexter not being as good as time goes by, but it can still bring home a good mystery.
- I've always enjoyed C.S. Lee's portrayal of Masuka as the brash and bawdy lab guy who thrives on keeping his twisted and tawdry reputation at full crazy, but he really did a nice job of stretching into more dramatic territory after he catches Rita and the neighbor making with the face sucking and has to spend time playing defense for Debra at Thanksgiving. There is more to a man than just his truck.
[Watch clips of Dexter on SlashControl.]