'Dexter': The Neighbor Hood
What I enjoyed about last night's episode was the spin on the tired cliché of suburbia's secret dark side. With "Desperate Housewives" and "American Beauty" and "The Twilight Zone," we've seen time and time again what evil and paranoia lurk beyond those white picket fences. But in Dexter's case, the fear and hysteria of his neighbors is an annoyance. He has better things to do than participate in the Neighborhood Watch. Yet if he doesn't catch the neighborhood "... head" who's been committing petty crimes around the area, the vigilance of the community won't let up, and he won't be able to skulk around the dark in peace.
In the meantime, he's trying to figure out how to blend in with his new crowd while scoring points with his wife, Rita (Julie Benz), who notes that Dexter hasn't been the most present husband/father of late. But even more difficult, he's learning how to handle Astor (Christina Robinson), his adolescent stepdaughter. I like this storyline a lot, as the writers treat it rather gently and let it unfold slowly -- any father has a hard enough time relating to his maturing daughter, but a new stepfather who has some of his own blending-in issues has a different take on it.In the meantime, John Lithgow's Trinity Killer continues to repeat the past, killing women as if it's a fait accompli: Last night as he forced the woman he was stalking to drive to an abandoned building and jump to her death, he said, "It always ends like this." What's creepiest about him is how sad and sympathetic he looks as he kills his victims and how tender and intimate he is with them too, cradling them, holding his head against theirs. Oh and what's he wiping on the ground afterward, and which invisible person is he sharing drinks with later on? Not Harry, I hope.
Meanwhile, life was relatively quiet at the police department last night -- Dexter, fed up with Quinn's (Desmond Harrington) butt-kissing, blurted out, "I don't care if you're a dirty cop," to which Quinn took offense. Things are not going to end quietly with him, it seems, as Quinn is a dirty cop and apparently treats his reporter girlfriend as a psychiatrist/confessional, which can't be a good thing.
Ultimately, Dexter tracks down the neighborhood nogoodnik and it turns out to be one of the leaders of the Neighborhood Watch. The writing in that scene was a little hackneyed for me, as Andy blubbered, "I played by the rules my entire life and look what it got me!" I can't imagine that committing petty crimes around a nice neighborhood would seriously alleviate the pain of losing a wife, job, house and love of a son, but that's how it worked out. After solving that crime, Dexter returns home to put out the spotlight outside the house, only to be spotted by Rita, who, judging by the concerned look on her face, seems to see Dexter in a, shall we say, new light?
-- Claire Zulkey
Photo: Michael C. Hall and Julie Benz as Dexter and Rita Morgan. Credit: Randy Tepper/Showtime