The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

The Getaway – or so we thought

with 5 comments

Dear Kathryn,

Oh my, well let’s start at the beginning before we hit that twist ending.  This was a great episode and, for me, a great ending to the season.  First of all, I really thought Trinity was going to get away, and I thought that I would be disappointed if he didn’t.  But they played it brilliantly, with Dexter catching him, losing him and then catching him again.  This was an insanely fast-paced episode, and so as Trinity seemed to escape in his Mustang I couldn’t figure out why they were lingering on him for so long (i.e. why not take time telling the story of asking little Scott a follow up question like, ‘what did the guy who kidnapped you look like?’ but spend ample camera shots on Lithgow driving through downtown Miami?!?).

With hindsight now, I realize they weren’t lingering on him so much as they were lingering on the chilling idea of freedom tainted by Dexter hiding in the trunk.  Driving down the highway, with his own 1950’s music playing in an effort to recapture his innocence, poor Arthur had no idea what was about to happen.  In the strangest way, it was sweet that on the killing table, Dexter allowed his nemesis, his teacher, and in many strange ways, his friend, to listen to his song, watch his train swirl round, and die in a way that captured that lost innocence.  With his kill cycle interrupted, Arthur got to die as the child he had tried to be in his failed efforts with Scott.

Of course, this idea of re-capturing innocence would become so much more important as we reach the end of the episode and face Harrison experiencing the same types of trauma that Dexter and Christine both once faced.

While I thought that type of neat ending to Trinity would annoy me, the fact that they brought so many old stories to the surface made it work.  Arthur died in a poignant way (so much better than Lila, even better than Miguel).  And Deb discovered one of her brother’s secrets.  Thinking she was informing him of something new, we got some raw and lovely emotion from Deb as she told Dexter that she loved him.  And Dexter was able to realize that he had been the one good thing in Deb’s life, just as he was the one good thing in Rita’s – he realizes he’s not Arthur, that with his family he’s got a chance.

So, oh my goodness, I was so shocked in that final scene.  As soon as he saw he had a voice message from Rita, I knew she was dead or captured or something.  Finding Harrison in the blood and Rita in the bath was a genius twist that I don’t think any of us saw coming!  We worried for Cody.  We thought Dex might kill Rita.  But we didn’t think of this.  We’ve talked so much this season about the sins of the father being passed to the sons…or daughters – Harry to Dex, Arthur to his kids and then especially to Christine, and so on.  But here we really saw the effects of Dexter’s actions creating a rebirth of his son – born into blood, just like me.

So Dexter loses his family just as we think he’s going to be able to keep them.  What on earth will happen next season?  Not just forensics expert, family man and serial killer, let’s get ready to add single dad to that list.  I can’t even imagine!!

While Rita was the most shocking moment of the night, though, I have to end with Harry.  I really thought this was going to be the season where Dexter killed him off, but his influence still hung on.  Sure, he took the back-seat in the car at the beginning while he usually takes the passenger seat, but he stayed omnipresent, coaching Dexter along.  Dexter had to choose one father to kill, and he chose Trinity – the father who embodies God’s will rather than the father who embodies the law.  It all comes to a head between Harry and Dexter though when Harry wants to insist that Dex’s family is ruining his life and Dex wants to assert that it’s his dark passenger who is ruining it.  Harry insists the dark passenger is Dexter’s life; Dexter finally realizes he doesn’t want it to be.  We think at the time that Dexter has reached an important conclusion that will free him from perpetuating the same killing cycle again and again.  We think he’s free from Harry, free from Trinity, free from his own dark passenger (or at least on the path to freedom).  But in the end, Harry’s right – Dexter thinks he’s done all he needs to do, but it’s his family that pays the price…that ruins everything with their own ruin.  Harry might not ever know why he’s right or how he’s right, but the fact remains that he’s almost always right.  I thought next season would be freeing Dexter from his sub-conscious father figure.  I wonder now if it will be a deeper descent into that abyss of his mind’s dark side.

Ok, I am off to bed – I have to get up in four hours and my mind is still buzzing from our season finales!  I’ll be late with my comments on Californication tomorrow, but I hope to get them up by the afternoon!  Can’t wait what you thought of this episode, and any predictions your might have for next season!

ox,

Natalie

Dear Natalie,

From the minute the “previously on” started playing, I knew something strange was going to happen in the family way for Dexter. Not only was this the longest “previously on” ever – going all the way back to scenes from season 1 – it almost entirely centered on Dexter’s family, reiterating the central theme of the season: can Dexter have a real family? That is, can he experience the bonds of familial love to the degree that it overrides his murderous impulses and moves beyond the safety shield such relationships were meant to be for him (at least according to Harry’s Code)? As they made abundantly clear in the scene between Harry and Dex in the jail cell, this decision has everything to do with how Dexter views his Dark Passenger – as the essential element of who he is or as a handicap he can actively work to overcome.

I do hear what you are saying about Dexter choosing to kill Trinity/Arthur/God and not Harry/law. But if I am not mistaken, isn’t his confrontation with Harry in the jail cell the last time we see Harry (at least in the episode)? There was something very dramatic and poignant to me about his admitting, “out-loud” to Harry that he didn’t want the Dark Passenger to define him anymore and then bam, Harry is gone. It definitely felt like a kind of “death of the father” moment (but maybe I am forgetting another moment when Harry shows up in the episode later on? Readers: help me out!). We’ve talked before about whether or not Harry is responsible for making Dexter what he is – not just for giving him a code, but for actively insisting from the age of 2 that Dexter had no choice but to grow up a serial killer. That scene was the closest Dex has come to asking the same question and challenging the Code, not just as a method to his life, but as its driving motivation. So the question stands: should Dexter try to overcome his Dark Passenger, which might mean opening himself up to self-deception, and ultimately anti-social chaos, or should he stick with Harry’s ‘better-safe-than-sorry’ Code, simply assuming that the Dark Passenger can’t be overcome, and therefore at least living by the Code?

Dexter’s final speech as he carries Harrison from the bloody scene of Rita’s death seems to suggest he has decided on the latter. Or perhaps even worse – perhaps he has decided that he is so irreparably flawed that even the Code is a shallow means of protecting those around him from the world of pain he represents. And so we have to wait for season 5 to see just how dark Dex might go.

I too was shocked by Rita’s death. I was pretty certain the season couldn’t end with something so uplifting as a ritualized, symbolic death of Arthur on Dexter’s table. When Dexter walks into his dark house I was totally prepared for menace and vengeance, I just couldn’t imagine for sure what form it would take. Choosing to make it a bathtub death was particularly gruesome and horrible for me, not only because it allowed for Harrison to wallow in his mother’s blood, but because the very first time we see Trinity is watching him perform a bathtub murder, and it was one of the scariest and most awful deaths we’ve seen. Trying to imagine Rita undergoing the same ordeal was worse than a dozen other ways she might have died.

And I agree, at first the pace of the episode confused and frustrated me. They were squeezing enough twists and turns to comprise three normal episodes (the build up to discovering Trinity’s own identity would take at least two episodes in the normal pace of the show). So to zoom so quickly through the discovery of Trinity’s fourth victims to the revelation of his identity, to Dexter loosing his shit and Trinity early on, to Deb discovering the truth about Dexter and Brian Moeser, made my head spin. At first I felt like the writers were just rushing to tie up loose ends and had no real idea what they were doing. But the minute Arthur’s car starts sputtering, the pace slows down, and you realize all the rest was just a red herring. It was all meant to distract us from the primal game of cat-and-mouse Arthur and Dexter are playing. Thinking about it this way, I can’t help but wonder if Dexter’s despair at the end is partially caused by realizing his own limits. For the first time he has encountered a nemesis that in many ways outsmarted him and managed to destroy his life, even in dying.

Which brings us to predictions for next season. Something tells me that, like Californication, which I know you will address, we are going to see Dexter at rock bottom when he returns. I do wonder if the show will do anything with the fact that Dexter has a Trinity murder in his own family, and one that doesn’t fit the profile (if anything, Rita should have ‘jumped’ to her death). What will the police make of this? How would Dexter avoid being outed as Kyle Butler? Or at least how will he avoid raising suspicions in Deb’s mind? If they choose to go this route, we could have a much bleaker, much darker opening than the already bleak prospect of Dexter as a demoralized serial killer single dad. But that might be expecting too much logical consistency for a show that (in good ways) can play fast and loose. I only wonder how long we’ll have to wait.

It has been a great season and so fun to ponder together. Thank goodness Big Love and Lost are coming on again soon…

K

Read the entire Dexter conversation from start to finish.

Written by themothchase

December 14, 2009 at 8:40 am

5 Responses

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  1. Great post about an amazing conclusion, I’ve really enjoyed your blog all season.

    Natalie,
    I really don’t think Harry was proven right through Rita’s death, or at least not completely so. Dexter did bring tragedy to his family, but it wasn’t because he broke the code, it was because he’s a killer and the code’s a part of that. Rita’s death doesn’t change the fact that the code has always enabled the dark passenger and Dexter really does need to confront his demons head on. Rita’s death closes his path for doing so, but that doesn’t mean the path wasn’t real.

    Kathryn,
    Sorry, Harry’s the cop that closes the crusier door on the Mitchells/Morgans. It’s kind of an “I told you so” moment for Natalie’s point, but then Deb’s there with the counter-argument.

    jrcwoodward

    December 16, 2009 at 1:54 pm

  2. Thanks, jrcwoodward, for keeping me honest. I’m still going to hold out hope that something more profound was happening in that jail cell, but if Harry is back in all his halo-lit glory next season, I will eat my words.

    As I keep thinking about the finale, I am struck by what they didn’t cover. All that Angel and Maria drama just disappeared. No one died. No one was fired. They just talked about moving in together. I am sure something will come of it next season, but I wonder if loading that relationship with the prospect of an ominous end kept our attention diverted from the marriage that would actually be destroyed in the finale.

    Fall 2010 is so far away…

    Kathryn

    themothchase

    December 17, 2009 at 9:18 am

    • I’m wondering what they are going to do with the innocent photographer Dexter killed in ep. 7.

      Mike

      December 18, 2009 at 10:18 am

  3. The final scene with Trinity and Dexter in the kill room is some of the finest one-on-one acting in a single scene I have seen in a show that I can remember. If you go back and watch that scene again after you know how it ends (Rita’s murder), you see Trinity’s reactions to what Dexter says about his family and it is 100 times more dreadful.

    Like when Dexter says “I have a family” Trinity raises his eyebrows as if to say “Yes, I did too, but that will go badly”, but what he’s really saying with his eyebrows us “no you don’t, I killed her”. And shortly thereafter, Trinity says “It’s already over”, which you take to mean that Dexter is already screwed, he’s just biding time. But what he really means is “NO, SERIOUSLY, IT’S OVER, SHE’S DEAD”

    Just brilliant stuff all around.

    Scooter

    December 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    • Thanks for sending me back – I’ll have to check it out!
      – Natalie

      themothchase

      December 17, 2009 at 4:28 pm


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