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Review: Dexter - Hungry Man

by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 23rd 2009 4:59AM
Dexter: Hungry Man
(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.]

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Obviously people don't understand what character evolution is. This episode of Dexter is just that. The reason he is protecting Trinity's children is that. Dexter is becoming more and more human. He's adapting to his surroundings, and with Trinity learning what does and doesn't work.

November 30 2009 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Totally agree with the Batista-Laguerta situation. Every time we divert to their storyline I feel like it's taking time away from the week's episode (read: bathroom break). I think this is bc, while I really like Batista, I dislike Laguerta and can't fathom why Batista is "in love with her". Sadly, I attribute it more to being very lonely with few options than actual love.

November 26 2009 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't think it's been mentioned already, but in the real life case of the BTK strangler, he was exposed with the help of his adult daughter after police had contacted her, telling her that a DNA test done on her recent pap smear showed she was closely related to the killer (also pretty questionable constitutionally). She had no prior reason to suspect her father, but was able to connect circumstantial pieces of evidence to him. Throw in that BTK was a Lutheran Deacon and I think we have a pretty good idea where the inspiration for this storyline is coming from.

November 25 2009 at 8:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to disagree about linking Christine to the shooting would have "been enough."

While the whole being related thing is definitely a cliche in the media, this is one that ties a plotline together and fits with the theme of the season (serial killers as family men).

Instead of Christine, daugher of Trinity being the killer, let's look at the other options.

There's Christine, unrelated reporter. First of all, I think the idea that a reporter would kill someone just to keep their job is a bit silly. I mean, I know reporters can be cutthroat, but that's a bit much. Plus, doing this would make the shooting, such an important event in the series, be just a subplot, on the periphery of what is going on this season.

I've heard other theories about Quinn being the shooter, or Anton; both make the shooting a subplot to the Trinity arc that is the main plot this season.

Finally, worst of all, it could be some person we don't know. Again, this would make the shooting a subplot, and it would ruin the mystery of the plotline. "Who killed Lundy? This guy no one has known up until now? Oh."

Now, with Christine, daughter of Trinity being the killer, it ties the important event of the shooting into the main plot. Not only that, but it also fits with the theme of the season, and revisits a lot of the questions that Dexter asked himself last season when contemplating the birth of his son. What will the offspring of serial killers be like? Are they doomed to be monsters? Or can they be normal? Now, we have a child of a serial killer who, it seems, has the same monster inside of them that their father has. Will the same thing happen to Dexter's son?

November 24 2009 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Justin's comment

And from this I wonder, will Dexter leave the family after finding out about Rita and the neighbour (if he finds out)--will he leave to "save" Harrison? Also, the writers are making a lot out of Cody really liking Dexter, so maybe Dexter would leave to spare him as well?

November 24 2009 at 11:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Are you the man my mom told me not to talk to?"

November 24 2009 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Susan J

When will Dexter learn to keep his slides somewhere besides the darned air conditioner? Sheesh! Dex - hide them in plain sight by putting basic blood labels on them - making them into a set of innocuous study slides. Change your trophy system - how about some blood splatter prints like those hanging up in the lab? Make a splatter "art" print in the kill room and then take a photo of it. There's no DNA and you can even call the photos samples of blood splatter that you are collecting for a book? Absolutely need to have the slides - make a false bottom in the desk and slip the box in there. Putting your slides in the AC shouts "hey, I'm important 'cause I'm hidden". Or give us some back story on why he needs to have slides and why they need to be in the AC as there have been several close calls in addition to Doakes actually taking the first set. How about a contest? Where do you hide your trophies?

November 24 2009 at 6:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

maybe the reporter doesn't know her father is the killer. it's possible that she shot Deb out of jealousy. She tells Deb that Quinn never stops talking about her.

November 24 2009 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frank M.

I don't know if it's just me but when Trinity was reading the newspaper story about Lundy, maybe his startled expression was from recognizing his daughter in the byline. Not the story about Trinity killing Lundy. Maybe she was the one to get away. And maybe he recognizes that she has the same killer genes as well.

November 23 2009 at 11:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Personally, I've really enjoyed this season (while my wife sits beside me and groans, "he didn't even kill anybody this week!"), but I'm a little baffled as to why he didn't just orchestrate Mitchell's capture, especially when he found out Mitchell didn't shoot Deb. Dexter usually reserves his cutlery for people who have escaped the established justice system. The justice system hasn't had a crack at Mitchell yet, but surely Deb could make the case if some anonymous informant tipped her to Mitchell.

November 23 2009 at 10:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent Schmidt

The reporter was also in the Born Free (S01 Finale)... I'll have to watch it again to see where she is in it, but that sure is interesting.

November 23 2009 at 9:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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