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'Dexter': Think outside the box

November 29, 2009 | 10:00 pm


From where are bad guys born? For Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), it was the shipping container where he witnessed his mother’s murder, from where his adoptive father, Harry (James Remar), rescued him. Now, for all intents and purposes, Dexter’s made that his office.

For Arthur Mitchell (John Lithgow), it was the home where he witnessed his sister’s death, the moment that murdered his innocence and thus set his mental reset button during the 1960s. This is apparently why in tonight’s episode we found him entertaining his young kidnapping victim with old-fashioned pajamas, a record of the song “Venus” and a train set, a state of innocence that he intended to preserve in concrete. That’s right: The Trinity Killer is actually a Quarterly(?) Killer, who starts each cycle with the little boy who represents himself. You know, just in case the bludgeoning, throwing from buildings and bathtub slayings weren’t murderously diverse enough for you.

As for Christine Hill (Courtney Ford), Arthur’s secret daughter, it was peering through the window (truly a future investigative reporter) as she watched her father take a victim that apparently set her switch to “Evil.” Perhaps by telling him she knew what he really was, she thought dear old Dad would feel a sense of pride and camaraderie when she revealed that she killed Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) to protect him. However, in response, Arthur pulled out his favorite vulgar word for the women in his family.

On this one thing I believe we can all agree: Arthur Mitchell is a bad father. We can only hope that Dexter won’t be nearly as awful -- although some of his transgressions as a parent, like leaving his stepson’s campsite to mistakenly kill an innocent man, seem to be catching up with him.

In case I haven’t made it clear already, I absolutely love Lithgow in this season of “Dexter.” Occasionally he takes little nibbles out of the scenery, but who cares, really, when he’s so wonderfully scary. Sure, he enacts every parent’s worst nightmare when kidnapping his prey from an arcade, but it’s the little things, like how he can somehow be creepy just eating a fast-food hamburger, that make him so fun to watch. It’s all in the facial changes: I’d rather take angry Arthur over sweetly innocent-faced Arthur any day.

I’m not eager to let Arthur go, though. The season finales of “Dexter” tend to feature a showdown between Dexter and his main prey, but I’m hoping that the writers pull out a little something special for the Trinity Killer, because he deserves more than Dexter’s typical hunt-and-kill. Perhaps Dexter can have a revealing chat with Christine, since they both obviously have daddy issues.

Why does the season have to be near its end too when for once the Miami Police Department is actually doing its job? I specifically enjoyed watching Deb Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) and Angel Batista (David Zayas) work together to figure out who Christine really is. Everyone on the force seemed smarter than usual on tonight’s episode, except Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington), of course, who seemed to be pouting over the fact that his girlfriend is Lundy’s murderer. Maybe nobody gave him the memo when he joined the police that, when in doubt, the victim or the murderer is typically a close friend of someone on the force.

-- Claire Zulkey

Photo: John Lithgow as Arthur Mitchell and Courtney Ford as Christine Hill. Credit: Randy Tepper / Showtime