Monday, October 6, 2008

Dexter Goes To College (S3, Ep2)...

Okay, the actual second episode title is "Finding Freebo," but that is not nearly as fun for me as the one I deemed, considering this is wrought with frat boy imagery, as well as mentality. Continuing with the "arrested development" theme of last week's premiere, Dexter has moved slightly out of adolescence, being propelled toward adulthood by his situation, not his maturity. Dexter opens his show once again with some slightly sinister, slightly just plain unnecessary voice over about the hope on children's faces that often times is really just uncertainty. He sits uncomfortably in a hard plastic chair in the waiting room of a doctor's office that should be assumed to be a pediatric ward, but considering Rita's ominous "I'm pregnant" echoes over the show from the previous episode, it really should be the gyno. He is sweating, and his eyes dart back and forth at the kids, not unlike a sociopath deciding which one to snatch or snap in two; he imagines what each child could potentially become, obviously worried about passing something through his own DNA to an innocent baby. He doesn't have the emotional maturity to question the nature versus nurture debacle; he doesn't outwardly (or even inwardly, in his own inner thoughts voice over moments) wonder if he is the way he is and he does the things he does not because it was passed down to him in some sort of cruel genetic lottery but because Harry told him it was who he was and his urges to do what he does were okay-- under certain circumstances. The way Dexter is resisting Harry's influence now is correct: it is the kind of thing he should have had instincts about years ago, but unfortunately it is coming years too late. And just because he is resisting now doesn't mean he is questioning himself and his actions-- just Harry's part in them. Rita's entrance confirms her previous suspicions, and they ride downstairs in a silent elevator, only breaking the tension once to ask in a very Chris Rock way: "So what're you gonna do?" Dexter responds that he doesn't know, which is so clearly the wrong answer, it's ridiculous that someone who observes others' behavior so closely can miss it. He still has a lot of growing up to do.

Entering into work, Dexter barely hears his sister's tirade. It could be because he's preoccupied with the news, and he admits he's feeling "off," but really I think his salmon shirt is just too loud to let any other noise in. Hot Cop brings by some Starbucks To Go cups and offers to show Deb his scars. If this is his idea of flirting, he may lose me earlier on than expected. It's a little weird to hear Batista called "Serge," but I guess we'll just have to get used to it. Dexter doesn't seem to notice any of this, though, as he is lost in his own voice over once again repeating the events as if he needs to relive his memories to feel something about them. He appears to show some remorse that he can't help his sister figure out that the Jane Doe (Teagin) and Pheebo cases are one and the same, but he admits he wants a head start. He's no longer hiding behind the guise of vigilante justice, it seems; he's no longer just taking on sociopaths who the police can't catch (or can't convict). Now he's racing time and them to get to these guys first to fill his need; he wants the rush and the glory, and part of that high that comes from both also comes from the fact that he "cracked the case" well before anyone else and therefore had "dibs..." in a sick and twisted little way. He's starting to get brazen-- and perhaps a bit show-offy-- in a way that usually spells "capture" for people like him.

Dexter visits Masuka, who has strung up the entire prop department's religious symbol catalog in his lab space. He says he needs all the help he can get from the Gods about the article he hopes to have published, and he eyes Dexter like he doesn't believe he actually read and proofed it (he didn't) before submitting. I don't know why this matters at all; it's barely good for a chuckle or two.

Laguerta and Jimmy Smits are in her office with the door closed and the shades drawn. She puts on the over-the-top syrupy Latin accent when saying his name or the name of his dead brother. At this point I can't remember if he's Miguel and the dead brother's Oscar or the other way around. Jimmy Smits comments on the department's competency and how they didn't even realize they were working alongside the Bay Harbor Butcher; it's probably a good thing Dexter couldn't hear his comment because his increasing ego would only grow that much more exponentially in size. Jimmy Smits immediately breaks down into "vulnerable, this is why I need an Emmy" Jimmy Smits and apologizes, saying he just has a short fuse. It's clear he is going to prove to be a volatile, somewhat shady character in episodes forth. Laguerta has such longing in her voice when she makes her empty promises, it's almost sickening. This show doesn't have a good reputation for writing respectable let alone responsible women, after all. Cue the violins... literally, as the soft, slightly romantic music swells, and Laguerta admits she often gets too personally involved in her cases. Jimmy Smits only fuels her fire, as he leans forward and whispers (or mumbles, if you're cynical; he is method, after all) that they're not as close as they once were, all the while, his tone and his eyes implying they once again will be soon. Just in time for Sweeps, I presume.

Deb is out canvasing corners again, showing Teagin's photo to poorly passing drag queens. They can't offer anything but shock value for Showtime's more conservative viewers (though are there really any of those?), and as she heads back to her car, deeming this trip a bust, she gets accosted by Ruthie, who is practically stalking her in the jilted lover sort of way. She stands across the street in the park with her hands crossed over her chest, glaring in a way that says she suspects Deb of cheating on her with one said drag queen, but instead, when she comes over, she only mentions she can get Deb her shield tomorrow. Of course she brings up Harry in order to seal the deal, but this only angers Deb, who wants to do things right and by the book. Sure, because that's how people get ahead; just ask your brother! Ruthie points out the central arc for Deb's character in season one, and come to think of it, in season two as well, when she says that this is her life and all she has. Well, I guess that's Deb's arc for season three, too: is anyone going to grow up on this show!?

Dexter searches by the name Teagin in the DMV database and stumbles upon quite a few more than one might expect which such a specific (and cruelly odd) name, which only leads him into a daydream about potential baby names. He decides he likes "classic" ones like Mary or Charles, all the while still holding onto that small glimmer of chance he can have a "normal" family. But his definition of "normal" still seems to be something out of the fifties-- something that, even when it was "normal" was never entirely positive. He imagines a nursery, and he even sees Harry, though he seems to be pretty bitter about that last part-- as if his ghost is tainting an otherwise happy image. It's odd, that his subconscious would think this way, considering his conscious doesn't seem to want a baby at all. But once again, it's just classic Dexter: he is unable to really dig deep to discover the details of his psyche.

In the Cuban Miami club scene, Deb appears in flashing red and purple lights, sticking out of her element as clearly as a nun, to shake down Hot Cop's C.I. for more info. She curses at him (as per usual), but she is practically in tears, she is so desperate, and she can't quite recover, even when he gives her something. Her voice is still wobbly, and it's half expected she'll finally burst into full-on sobs thanking him for throwing her a bone. He says he'll ask around, probably only because he pities her, and he also reiterates that there's more to life than her job. We get it! Deb gets it! That doesn't mean she's going to change, let alone overnight, so stop pointing it out, Captain Obvious!

Heading to Jimmy Smits' for dinner, which he somehow got roped into, Dexter is ominously quiet, and Rita tells him she doesn't want to pressure him into a decision-- but clearly she is pushing him toward doing just that as the clock is ticking down on their options. He responds passive aggressively by saying that "this house would be a great place to raise kids," and Jimmy Smits and Wifey invite them in before she can say anything, splitting off in same-sex couples and resorting to their stereotypical places. If Dexter were paying attention, he'd see just how "normal" this is. Jimmy Smits point-blank brings up the kids thing and says that some people "shouldn't be parents." Dexter concurs, adding he wishes there were some sort of test. Then again, tests are not one hundred percent accurate: if a woman deems you a suitable enough mate to try to have a baby with, you've obviously cheated a little already. Meanwhile, Wifey figures out that Rita is pregnant when she doesn't drink her margaritini, and she begins to spill familial secrets like they are old girlfriends. Rita follows suit, even laughing over her ex-husband being a "sociopath." It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad: broken women do seem to have patterns in the men they pick.

Jimmy Smits tells Dexter he had an ulterior motive for inviting him to dinner tonight, and he wants Dexter to be straight with him about the odds his brother's killer will be caught. Considering he phrases it using Pheebo's name, Dexter raises a sinister eyebrow and tells him he's very confident. Jimmy Smits begins to feel him out about his receptance to the idea of alternative resources in order to catch and punish this guy, and Dexter listens thoughtfully, if not a bit eagerly, like he's almost hoping he's found another worthy playmate. Does his leg shake with giddiness of the possibility of sharing his secrets? Not so much, but close, and he looks like he might wet his pants. Apparently loose lips are inherited by marriage, as Jimmy Smits admits to Dexter that he is tracing Pheebo's mother's phone so he will know when the kid makes contact and where he is. This is the first "lucky" instance to occur for Dexter in this episode, but it most certainly won't be the last.

Dexter takes off and heads to the local Row, slipping easily into a nondescript, open frat house where a party is already in full swing. With his red plastic cup, and the fact that all of the extras are clearly in the thirty-something range, he fits right in and just as easily slips upstairs and drunk-talks two blondes, who look like they walked off the Paris' BFF set, into giving him Teagin's new address. He's lucky (there's that word again!) he's able to get anything useful out of them at all, considering they seem to only know her by the term "Ho-bag," and really, that could be just about anyone in a sorority. As he heads out, he makes yet another comment over the reaffirming nature of how his kid could turn out; it's like the writers are afraid the central theme and dilemma of the episode (or the season, really) will be forgotten if they don't throw a reference into every scene. I'm sorry, I thought this show was on Showtime, not network!

Dexter sits in his car and reluctantly says that Teagin will have to wait because he promised Rita and the baby he'd come back. If he's already thinking of the baby as someone he owes something to, then he's probably leaning toward keeping it, right? Well, yes, but he probably doesn't realize it yet. He wonders if this is what life will be like from now on-- obligated and putting his life on hold, and as he starts his car up, the sound of the engine seems to cover a disgusted scoff emanating from his lips.

He and Rita are in the kitchen actually making a Pro and Con list with the kids running around the living room. She sites "lack of sleep" and "saggy boobs" as cons, and one of her kids knocks over a glass vase. It is appropriate and telling, if not a bit too "on the nose" that the kids are misbehaving at this moment because it should fill out this list for the couple, but they remain a bit more indecisive for a bit longer and instead just cut to another pink house with another tweaker inside. Hot Cop and Batista tell the kid as a parolee, they don't need permission to enter his house and search for Pheebo.

Dexter doesn't share with his sister because Deb just now figures out that Teagin is probably not a hooker but just a junkie. She asks Dexter what scrapbooking is (something Ruthie accused her of doing), and he gives her the Webster definition. She asks him how he can possibly know that, and we all wonder how she could not. She also tells Dexter she has a lead, and he is probably wondering who gave it to her-- as we all are.

There is a crash off-camera, and both Hot Cop and Batista turn in the general direction, but Tweaker makes a joke that it's just the cat. They investigate, and while they do find a cat, also find his girlfriend about to dump a bag of drugs down the toilet. A mistake only someone who was high would make: she should have jumped out the bathroom window with them. Tweaker isn't so out of it he doesn't know now would be a good time to make a deal, though, and he offers the boys not-so in blue a name in exchange for leniency: Chicky Hines. Well, that's not Pheebo, so I don't know why they care, but it turns out Chicky was some dude Jimmy Smits had fingered for an armed robbery, and now Laguerta has to break it to him that the guy actually has an alibi and therefore didn't do it (even if it is just a tweaker's word, but apparently that's as good as if not better than the ADA who likes him for the crime's!). Her boyfriend is going to be ma-ad!

Batista doesn't seem to like Sergeant work so far, but his analogy all sounds like the definition of being a father: making decisions, being responsible, etc, etc, etc. Dexter confides in him, and suddenly his whole attitude changes as he talks about his own daughter, and he tells Dexter that he actually feels better-- but maybe that is just one man laughing at another man's pain because he knows Dexter is f-ed. Once again Dexter delves into his imagination and sees his family in a park: he pushes Dexter Jr on a swing while Rita watches Astor and Cody, who haven't aged a day. Dexter Jr. runs off to play with them, and Harry appears, proving you can't escape from your past or where you're from no matter how mad at it you may be. Dexter Jr. changes then, into a sinister boy wearing dark gloves and holding a strangulation device. But really I don't know what Dexter's so worried about: Harry's not around to test out his own demented theories on child rearing, and Dexter himself isn't honing Astor or Cody's sadistic sides, so all things considered, the kid stands a fair chance.

Deb meets with the C.I. again, who is beginning to act more and more like a U.C. instead. He sends her up to some fifteen year-old pimp's place to see if he recognizes Teagin because he thinks the kid may have recruited her to have sex for drugs (apparently, this is called being a "strawberry," which in all of my years of crime dramas I have somehow managed to escape ever hearing before; "you can't just make stuff up!"). Deb calls this punk "little one," and naturally he resists giving up any info and only degrades her by discussing what she could make if she worked for him. She flips on him and yells something about scrapbooking, which would be funny if it wasn't so obvious a thread. His stoned girlfriend on the couch gives him up, though, and he immediately cracks and says he "passed her to Pheebo." The light finally goes on for Deb about twenty-five minutes too late.

Dexter works in the lab, clockwatching. Batista asks him he found anything on Pheebo's clothes, which really, how could he? in the dead brother case and mentions Deb's big lead. He gets nervous for a half a second, perhaps overestimating his sister simply because he wishes her well. Masuka announces he's getting published (is this really what he's relegated to now?), and now it makes sense why Dexter is so anxious for the clock to turn because for the first time ever while watching this show, so am I.

Jimmy Smits and some Ramone guy argue over how to handle Pheebo. Laguerta shows up, and Jimmy Smits shushes him, but it is evident to anyone who is not blinded by lost love (or lust) that he is a shady character. She tells him about Chicky Hines (there's that name again!) and admits her "timing is shit," but if he's innocent they have to do the right thing, don't they? She doesn't really give him time to answer, and it's a good thing, too, because he'd probably disagree. It's all just setting up he's dirty, especially when he talks about how he's glad she tells him things straight (and she looks into his eyes like she wants to confess it all-- even things she's not really thinking) and that they should get together. But he adds "the three of us" just in the nick of time that he can't be blamed for giving her false hope.

Deb briefs the team as Dexter finally heads out for the night, and he stops momentarily at her desk to find out if she has little more than a hunch. When she admits she still doesn't have her Jane Doe (Teagin)'s name, he smiles in that "of course you don't, sweetie" patronizing way and continues on with his plan. Batista congratulates Deb on going about earning her shield the noble way-- by honest police work-- and a little part of me can't help but say, "Aw, shucks," and want to chuck him under his chin. He's as naive about that as he is about that damn fedora he insists on wearing everywhere. Hot Cop saunters over (perhaps in a roid rage?) and tells her off for bleeding his C.I. dry. She accuses him of having another reason he doesn't want her to talk to him, and the audience is like: "Yeah, jealousy." Batista pipes up with a "We'll be working late on this," which is really just a cue for Dexter's deadpan: "I'll be working late, too."

Dexter breaks into Teagin's "ho-pad" and finds a naked (WTF?) Pheebo hiding out. He doesn't have his usual tools or a kill room prepped, and despite his whole "breaking out from under Daddy's thumb" kick, he still decides he can't go forward with his plan tonight. Too much is unknown; Dexter is still being analytical and reverting to the rules. He heads home instead, where Rita promptly shows up for an answer (see man, yet another reason you should have been spontaneous!). She tells him she can only find cons, and he promptly agrees (perhaps assuming that is the "right" answer? Is he really having that much trouble reading people lately? He must be really off! And if that's the case, does it mean he's going to be wrong about a future victim? One can only hope!). Anyway, Rita was faking him out, and she tells him she has made a lot of mistakes (hmm, that sounds familiar-- both Batista and Dexter have said the same thing earlier in this episode), but that having her kids was never one. She's been a single mother for awhile, and she can continue. She's grown up so much! She might be my favorite!

He leaves her wondering what he will do to finally confront Pheebo. Or it's a night later; it's hard to tell. At least this time the kid is wearing boxers. Dexter grabs him in the kitchen and drags him outside through the garden into the detached garage, in which he set up a makeshift kill room. Pheebo is strapped to the table as per usual, but he is standing this time. Jimmy Smits watches the house in his SUV on the curb and sees a flash of light in the window; maybe he mistakes it for a muzzle flash and barges in, gun drawn. He finds the dropped box of cereal on the kitchen floor and knows something is up, but Dexter is already almost finished. He has a photo of the dead brother taped to the back of the table, as if he has to convince himself he is another one of Pheebo's victims. He hears Jimmy Smiths and once again has to rush and runs into him outside in the garden, still wearing his latex gloves and holding the bloody spear. Jimmy Smits is shocked, sure, but mostly over seeing the spear, which he recognizes as a family heirloom. Dexter's eyes go wide, and he spits out: "It was self-defense!" And then proceeds to make up some garbage about following a forensic hunch and wanting to check it out before wasting the department's time and getting surprised by Pheebo, who jumped him, and not knowing what to do, but he fought back and ended up stabbing him in the neck. Any clear thinking individual could tell by the increasing intensity in his voice and the sweat on his brow that he was full of it, let alone any law enforcement official, but Jimmy Smits is so emotionally invested (and was there for the same less than stand-up purposes) he just deflates, grateful, and embraces Dexter. Dexter may still not be sure if he is ready to become his father and have a baby of his own at this point, but it looks like someone found a replacement brother!

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