Monday, October 13, 2008

Dexter Acts Like A Dad (S3, Ep3)...

"This department is becoming annoyingly effective," Dexter claims, quite upset by it, as he opens "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" gliding almost giddily down the grocery store aisles, sampling cheese cubes on sticks (or something), talking to and about the "weaker brethren" who offer him gifts there, while Rita looks longingly at a display of diapers. It appears that one line is supposed to set up the theme of the whole episode, but if the past forty-plus have any bearing, it will ultimately prove to be an inaccurate statement and therefore quite ironic that he is beginning to think as simply and perhaps hopefully as the rest of the "regular" folk.

Dexter does his grocery list alphabetically and seems genuinely confused about how else it could be done, but then he quickly gets distracted by some seemingly non-threatening man talking to Astor. His highly-tuned sociopath ESP or whatever can sniff out another predator regardless of circumstances, he claims, but really one can only assume his emotions are heightened here because someone he knows and loves (even if he still thinks he is incapable of that emotion) is involved. The guy says he was just asking where the Cheerios were, so Dexter tells him, with his usual fake smile and a tone of "get the hell out of here." As Dexter packs his car, he "just happens" to be parked behind Cheerios Man, so naturally he writes down the guy's plates. Yet another lucky break for the D-Man, I guess.

Back at the station, Masuka passes out copies of the science magazine that features his article. Really? This is the only arc he's going to get? I'm bored. Deb storms in only to reveal she has made zero progress on either case, at which Dexter is relieved, but he doesn't want to make small talk and tries to get away from her. Batista says someone claims to have seen Pheebo, which apparently might be a good thing for their investigation, but Dexter knows the truth and feels the need to reiterate how he really has blood on his hands. Just once I wish he would slip and accidentally say these things out-loud. It would make for a much more interesting scene; if anything it sounds like a good SNL skit.

Jimmy Smits is still quite whiny about his brother, and Laguerta (who from now on I'm just going to call "Girlfriend") stands there and nods slowly, taking it all in as only someone who still has feelings for the guy would; everyone else just wants to slap him across the face. Hard. Anyway they hug, and he talks Dexter up a bit suspiciously; he seems nervous and twitchy as he tries to get her to drop the case. He is not the cop he once was on ABC, I'll say that much! Leaving Girlfriend, Jimmy Smits catches Dexter's scent and chases him down to invite him to something I can't understand because he slips half into Spanish. Meanwhile, Batista accosts Girlfriend in the hall, asking about Chicky Hines, but of course she covers for him about not yet even questioning the witness who claims the dude (who sounds like a lady) is innocent.

Before Jimmy Smits can catch his elevator (is his FOB not working either??), Deb rushes in all teary and panicky as per usual-- which actually just reminds me that she's in a new movie opening this weekend called Quarantine, in which she plays a teary and panicky... reporter. See? It is a different character!-- and says there's another victim with skin slices missing from the body. How can there be another serial killer in just a small (if metropolitan) area already? Dexter has a look of "oops" on his face; that one mistake with killing Jimmy Smits' brother is starting to spiral already.

The weird God angle that opens the next scene makes the worker in the tree look suspicious because his tree clippings are floating down into the roped off crime zone. He must be important later or else this is just a poor directing choice, and Showtime is supposed to be better than that! The teenager from last week's episode is lying on the ground, face up, with a rectangle of skin missing from the right side of his chest. We are told the same instrument was used to remove his skin that did so to Teagin's, so clearly the two are connected by more than just a pimp/ho scenario. As soon as Deb brings up Pheebo's name, though, Dexter is quick to offer his opposite opinion; either he really wants to show her up or the writers think the audience is dumb, and they need to spell everything out ala Oliver Stone. Masuka ofers that maybe the guy eats the skin, and Batista hypothesizes the skin is a trophy, but Dexter is non-committal. Finally Deb asks the tree guy to come down, while Hot Cop flirts with two bikini-clad extras. The tree guy apparently called in the body, which makes Deb calling out seem less like a good instinct and more like a delayed reaction; she really should have had someone take his statement first, before they started poking around, and he could overhear their theories and be led in his own answers. Anyway, his little worker bee son/assistant is nervous when dealing with Deb, and she hasn't even cursed yet. The scene is over before anything interesting happens, though, and it feels almost like the DVD should offer an extended version.

Batista says this looks like the work of Pheebo, disproving Dexter's earlier comment about the department doing their work diligently (and properly). Deb, done with her interview perhaps a bit prematurely, wants to have a beer with her brother, but he shakes her off, claiming he has "too much to deal with" right now and blames the pregnancy. Deb's face contorts in a crying smile, and she hugs him hard, happily cursing about the "motherf***ing, rolly polly, chubby-cheeked sh*t machine" he is about to have. He's still not quite so on board, though.

Back at home, Rita is faint-- morning sickness comes late for her, as it always does for TV moms. Dexter tries to get out of the dinner thing with Jimmy Smits because she doesn't feel well, but she says she knows he likes hanging out with Jimmy Smits (uh, really? Maybe there is some truth to Dexter's theory that he picks up on people's true thoughts more than "normal" people do), so they'll still go. Rita also mentions the doctor wanted her to fill out all sorts of forms about her medical history and asks Dexter if he knows anything about his own real family. His voice over summarizes but outwardly the Dext-Bot-- ooh, this is what I will call him from now on!-- just says he doesn't really know. A bit too quickly, so then he offers to go get checked out, and Rita glows.

Cue the flamenco dancers? Wifey gives Rita cheese fries and an inquisition about how Dex-Bot is handling (or not) the pregnancy. She mentions that some men are just "scared of losing their freedom." Wifey knows more than she looks like she would! Oh, and on the man-date between Jimmy Smits and Dex-Bot, we learn that Ramone is another brother. Apparently Jimmy Smits talks about Dex-Bot alllll the time at home, which is really starting to freak me out, and Ramone still isn't sold. Oh yeah, and apparently Wifey has loose lips with other people's news, too, as Jimmy Smits knows about Rita's "way." Before Dex-Bot can say anything, Jimmy Smits turns their conversation back to their shared aphrodisiac, Pheebo, and Dex-Bot has to confirm that he's really dead but then pretend like he's torn up about it or at least "unsettled." It's quite the acting challenge for Dex-Bot!

Dex-Bot isn't calm until he's home alone, which is an oddly familiar feeling for me. I got hooked on this show in the second season because I felt like I understood Dex-Bot in a way he claimed no one could, but the past few episodes of season three have thus far made me start to rethink that claim-- and I never change my mind about... well, anything, really. Dex-Bot put in time and a half between work and socializing, after all, and now he's winding down with a little relaxation on the internet: he looks up Cheerios Man in the sex offender database, and "luckily" he is not only listed, but listed under his actual name, which doesn't make Dex-Bot's search even the slightest bit challenging. Normally, that would mark him as an unworthy opponent, or at least one would think, but Dex-Bot never really has to work for anything-- like most TV "heroes."

Jimmy Smits shows up at Dex-Bot's apartment with an apology about what his brother said to him and with alcohol. Natch. Dex-Bot doesn't have a frame of reference to know this is creepy and not just what friends do-- unless the friend is just walking across a dorm hallway. Jimmy Smits tells a story about his abusive father, probably looking to connect with someone who he feels saved him, and oddly, it seems to be working. He might just be a genius. Then he leads into a story about how his father acted when they came to America and how Jimmy Smits was a failure to his father. Dex-Bot looks shocked that someone else could feel the same way and actually blurts out: "My father was disgusted by me." Jimmy Smits' eyes go wide about how that's unpossible. Dex-Bot admits he has never told anyone this before, not even Rita, and Jimmy Smits is not surprised because his machismo says "they wouldn't understand. They don't know what it's like to be a man..." Dexter: "To mold you to the man he wants you to be." Jimmy Smits: "And still not be good enough." A furious love affair is about to take off; they even finish each other's sentences and stuff!

They toast the dead brother, and Jimmy Smits offers a plan to close the case by moving the body and calling in an anonymous tip. Dex-Bot has to take him to see the body to believe he's really dead, and this is over, I guess. Jimmy Smits says: "You and me are in this together," and we all know that's the problem, but Dex-Bot still feels the need to say it. Natch.

Deb meets with the C.I. After calling him three times and not getting an answer, she tracked him down for a second time, in a second location, which is more like stalking, if you ask me. She drags him into the bathroom to get more info, but he tells her he doesn't want to end up, too. He's not scared so much as he is accusatory-- like she's the one off-ing Teagin and the teenager, which would actually be a great twist, but in reality Hot Cop is probably bumping them off. He is the one who's so pissed she keeps talking to this guy after all, and if it turns out he's just jealous because he has the hots for her, I will give up with this show altogether; that's too obvious and lame-- like something that would be done on a network show. The C.I. pulls out a joint, and Deb's face contorts the way you'd assume a recovering addict's would, but when he lights it and puffs in her face, she violently slaps her cuffs on him.

Dex-Bot lies like a slab on a metal table, waiting for the doctor to run him through the machine, as Rita waits patiently, supportively, and not at all nervously out in the hall. He thinks about the time Harry showed him a scan of a known serial killer's brain-- again lucky that he had access to such things-- and it was identical to the scan of Dex-Bot's brain. Needless to say, he's a bit worried about what the doctors might find. I find this ridiculous: there is no serial killer gene. People may be born with a penchant for violence, but it's nature versus nurture, and Harry was the one who cultivated Dex-Bot's urges and allowed him to explore them, even if in a "moral code" sort of way. Dex-Bot may have been able to resist without the okay from the man he so admired while growing up.

Dex-Bot takes Jimmy Smits to a graveyard and says he dumped Pheebo's body in an empty grave. It's kind of a genius plan, and even Jimmy Smits has to admit it, and I wonder if that's what he'll do with all of his new victims since the cops found his body bags in the bay, and he was able to pin that all on Doakes (remember him??). Jimmy Smits wants to exume, and Dex-Bot makes up a fear tha the left evidence because he's never done this before, and Jimmy Smits gives in easily. He's more concerned about the department chasing Pheebo's dead lead, since they know he's not the Skinning Serial Killer after all. He's quite the flip-flopper there with his own moral code.

Rita and Dex-Bot sit on the beach (odd how they live in Miami and never seem to make it there) and talk about cowboys for the baby's room. Isn't it too soon to know if it's a boy? He spots Cheerios Man snapping shots with a paparazzi camera-- so maybe their first encounter wasn't so lucky after all; maybe he has been following them-- and Astor's smart enough to recognize him, but Dex-Bot says the guy is "no one to be concerned about." Because no one is a match for Super Dex-Bot!!

Onto Mommy Yoga class. The teacher tells them all to be "strong warriors, and Dex-Bot says this is his worst moment... until they have to free-form dance, and then he repeats that statement. The teacher tells them to be "as beautiful as the golden flakes of dust," and as she stands in front of Dex-Bot, he realizes how he could kill this crazy lady before anyone could even notice what had happened. She asks the partners to place their hands on the bellies of the mothers and put forth all of their "positive intentions," but Dex-Bot can't do it in case he really can "doom" the child through some sort of weird osmosis. Rita pulls his hands forward anyway, oblivious as usual, though.

Back at the station/courthouse, Jimmy Smits has pushed for the max in the Chicky Hines case; the guy is going to be put away for twenty-odd years, and Girlfriend is for once not supportive because of the conflicting witness statement, but Jimmy Smits says it doesn't add up and that many scumbags try to play the system in order to walk. Basically, the witness was a criminal, too, who just wanted to cut his own deal, and therefore his word has no merit. Sure, when things suit him, he can be ruthless and dirty (bad cop)-- maybe he's manic. Or again, just a flip-flopper. Helen Hunt's TV sister calls Jimmy Smits out to a reporter for sending an innocent man to jail, especially for so long, and Girlfriend seems to agree with her assessment, as she eavesdrops behind some big plant, perhaps to symbolically explain that this criminal world is "like a jungle."

Deb jokes about putting Jane Doe's picture on a milk carton, and this sets Dex-Bot's brain working, but before we can learn why/on what, Hot Cop barks at Deb about locking up his C.I. Deb questions him again about what he's withholding, so he gets Batista involved. He's very possessive and moody lately; maybe he should just shut his mouth, stand there, and look pretty. Deb tells Batista straight out what happened and adds a piece about not backing down or she'd lose face or whatever. Hot Cop slinks away sulkily when Batista says it sounds like it all checks out. Seriously, WTF is going on with that guy?? At least when Adam Beach was brought onto SVU, it was clear he was going to be a loose cannon; this guy flip-flops as much as Jimmy Smits. Maybe the writers are manic.

Cheerios Man watches some kids on the boardwalk, again with his scary ass camera in front of him, and Dex-Bot slides into the chair opposite the dude with a warning. Cheerios Man gives him a song and dance about changing, not being like that anymore, learning his lesson, yada yada yada, but Dex-Bot knows that's unpossible, and since it's personal now and his emotions are involved (even if he can't articulate that), it's safe to say he won't wait to see if the guy strikes again.

He follows Cheerios to his house and watches him make dinner through what appears to be a mail slot in the door. He comments that the guy is not so different from hime and realizes at least Cheerios has never killed anyone. Cue the moral dilemma for Dex-Bot, as this guy doesn't fit Harry's code. Another flip-flopper! Dude, make up your mind: you can either be pissed at your dad and want to rebel against everything he ever taught you, or you can hang on his every word and still abide by his rules. Dex-Bot opts for the latter and just heads home to work on Teagin's case. Birds of a feather, he and Jimmy Smits: they're made for each other. He even calls Dex-Bot at this moment, but Dex-Bot ignores the call.

The next morning, Dex-Bot compares Deb to a dog as he makes fake flyers with Teagin's picture and a "Have you seen this woman" tagline, using her real name, basically to lure Deb into breaking the case. He meets Deb in the park, and she gives him a onesie and says Debra's a great name if it's a girl. He comes clean about not being sure if he wants to raise the baby, and she punches him and flips out about "Where would you be without Harry?" Actually, I think I answered that a few paragraphs ago; scroll up. Dex-Bot says he doesn't want to screw the kid up (well, if he knows that much about himself he should also know that means he won't take the kid into the garage and show him how to stab a guy fatally with one simple blow), and Deb tells him that this isn't about him, but mid-speech, she spots the flyer over his shoulder-- the flyer he strategically placed. She rushes off with her new lucky lead.

Back at the station, they're catching Girlfriend up: it looks like Pheebo stuff was all over Teagin's place, but he was alibied by some other ho for both deaths. Naturally Girlfriend harps over the fact that now she has to tell Jimmy Smits it looks like Pheebo's skipped town (and probably innocent anyway). Masuka yells at Hot Cop for throwing the science mag in the trash (I could have fast-forwarded this part), and Batista splits the cases back into two and tells Deb to make good with the C.I.

Dex-Bot calls Jimmy Smits a bit formally, and he gets a cryptic side of the guy in return, asking to meet under some bridge. Dex-Bot knows he can take him, though, so he shows up anyway. Jimmy Smits starts to read Dex-Bot: doesn't take compliments, guard up, cautious, etc. Right on point. He brings up the crap about them "being on the same side" again, talking like he's bugged and trying to trap Dex-Bot into incriminating himself. Instead, though, he gives Dex-Bot the shirt with Pheebo's blood from the night he embraced Dex-Bot outside the pink house. He says it's because he trusts Dex-Bot and wants Dex-Bot to trust him, but as they part, the camera pans up to see the overpass, and a small black circle on the underside of the bridge appears to be a security camera. But that would be unpossible, too, right? Jimmy Smits calls him a "good man," basically announcing his man-crush.

Back to the club from last week, Deb slinks back in to tell the C.I. that she feels "not good" about how she treated him. That counts, right? She practically gets whiplash looking for a witness that she actually apologized. He returns the sentiment and says he's been working on a song for her. She bops along to it, even when the girl next to her translates "skinny, mean bitch."

Meanwhile, Rita calls Dex-Bot while he's on the road and asks for milk for the kids' cereal in the morning. This sets something off in him, and he heads back to Cheerios Man's house to find him looking at the pictures of Astor on the beach on his computer. Dex-Bot seethes as he stands behind Cheerios and sees this and strangles him with his bare hands without even a thought. He mutters that he is "not like you" as he does, adding for the second time this episode that "no one will hurt my kids." He takes the whole "protecting his kids" thing extremely literally! Then he steals the dude's milk on the way out.

He makes his way to Rita's house, basically committing to fatherhood and family in a way he has been struggling with this whole time. On his own, he places his hands on Rita's (still flat) stomach and tries his hardest to send positive intentions. Will his attempts be futile?

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