In 'First Blood,' Dexter prevents Lumen from making a mistake, then almost makes one of his own

By Sandra Gonzalez
October 25, 2010 at 06:07 AM EDT
Randy Tepper/Showtime

In the past, I’ve always found it refreshing when Dexter would ignore the advice of his dark passenger. These moments reminded me that as much as his DP is part of his life, he is fully capable of setting it aside and acting on his own — however briefly. So when Dexter nursed Lumen back to health last week, I was proud of him for acting against Harry’s wishes. Unfortunately, as we’ve learned before, the actions that make Dexter a better person also make him a sloppy serial killer. I hate to say it, but Dexter would’ve been much better off had he followed Harry’s advice to kill Lumen. As we saw this week, she turned out to be the big cherry on top of Dex’s ever-growing fudge-me sundae of problems.

We opened this episode with, quite literally, the smallest of Dexter’s woes: Harrison. Despite his son getting a clean bill of mental health in a previous episode, Dexter once again found himself worried after Harrison caused playtime havoc (term used relative to children sitting under a rainbow parachute at mommy-and-me classes). Since Rita’s death, Dexter has become an expert in over-analyzing Harrison’s actions, so naturally he turned a simple act of toddler misbehavior — Harrison scratched another kid on the cheek — into premeditated assault and a sign of darker things to come.

“I want to believe that smile, that watching your mother die hasn’t changed you the way that watching mine changed me,” he pondered as the children played, officially making him the most adorably paranoid dad ever. Luckily, Harrison’s nanny would later put Dexter’s concerns to rest by telling him the story of her now-vegetarian Greenpeace-associated brother who used to bite others like a “bloody little cannibal.”

The same sense of ease wasn’t present at Dexter’s breakfast with Lumen. “Every time you see me, you look disappointed, like you were hoping to find an empty table,” she told him as he approached their meeting place. But what did she expect? Would anyone want the person who witnessed them committing murder hanging around? Dexter trying to push her out of town is the best scenario she could have hoped for. (The worst, of course, being that she would have ended up the same place Boyd Fowler did.)

But Lumen wouldn’t listen to Dexter when he told her that she needed to “get out of Miami to get past this.” He even gave her a plane ticket to Minneapolis. Yet she insisted that all she wanted from him was his help in searching for the men who hurt her. “I saw you kill Boyd. You knew what you were doing,” she said, in a very public place. But Dexter said killing the men would only open up a dark place in her. “Trust me,” he said.

“Trust you?” she replied. “I don’t even know your last name.” Touche. It was clear when she stormed off from the table that Lumen would take matters into her own unskilled hands. Dexter had hoped she would take his advice since she left the restaurant with the plane ticket, but deep down he knew the issue was far from closed. And he was right.

NEXT: An extra-marital affair? Or simply a matter of Internal Affairs?

Later, when Dexter went to Boyd’s house looking for more information on possible accomplices, he found someone had beaten him to the punch. Though Dexter initially thought it to be the work of one of Boyd’s accomplices, he confirmed it was Lumen by running DNA on a bloody print he’d picked up from the home. The challenge then turned into a race against the Lumen. He had to get to the men first — before she had a chance to do anything stupid.

Speaking of doing stupid things, Deb continued shacking up with Quinn, and Dexter found out about their arrangement after he came home to find them hanging out on the couch together. (Dexter was not happy about that, telling Deb, “Don’t bring him around when Harrison is here.”) My guess is that it’s only a matter of time until the budding couple have “the talk” about what their relationship is and where it’s going. It’s clear — both from Quinn’s desire to spend non-sex quality time with Deb, and Deb’s appreciation for Quinn as a partner — that they mean more to each other than their actions (well, rabbit sex is technically just one action) might suggest.

As a result of Quinn’s forced unpaid leave (which he lied to Deb and others about, saying he was told to use up vacation days), Deb worked with Batista this week. I rather liked them together, especially since they seemed intermittently effective. Their tag-team interview of last week’s slashing victim went so well, in fact, that it produced a small lead. The victim remembered one of the suspects had a small mark and drew it for them. It wasn’t much, but it was something to go on.

Believing it to be a tattoo, the pair turned to an unlikely source for help: Masuka, the boy with the dragon tattoo, if you will. He took Deb to see his tattoo artist, a woman named Michael Angelo. As much as the whole “it might be a tattoo” theory produced amusing results, it all seemed a bit like filler, especially considering we later found out the mark was not a tattoo at all. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the more organic Dexter humor that compliments the cases, rather than cases cooked up for the sole purpose of bringing the yuks.

While Deb was working the seemingly pointless tattoo angle, Batista found himself consumed with finding out what his wife was up to with internal affairs. As you recall, last week we were led to believe she was going to be forced into sleeping with the sleazy internal affairs guy (McCoy). Interestingly enough, we never saw the details of their arrangement, and I should have known that things would get more complicated than we’d initially been led to believe. Turns out the creep had indeed forced LaGuerta into something — but it wasn’t sex. Internal affairs actually wanted her help on a sting operation.

Batista was as in the dark as we were about this. So he did some (rather poor) detective work — reading a single text message without scanning backward for additional information and detail — and eventually finding out that LaGuerta would be meeting McCoy at a motel the next day. You’d think as a detective, Batista would’ve searched for a little context at the risk of making himself look like an ass, but nope, he went with the latter option.

NEXT: Dexter makes a move, then rethinks it.

Once again, Batista and LaGuerta’s story arc seemed superfluous, although it did act as an introduction to another important character. (More on him in a bit).

Over at Lumen’s motel room, Dexter stumbled upon a rather unsettling scene when he broke in and saw she had been tracking her attackers. Newspaper clippings and post-its covered an entire wall of the room. “Does this seem like the product of a stable mind?” Harry asked Dexter. He’s one to talk, but it’s true. It was a glimpse into how serious Lumen was about her revenge, and in the closet, we got a glimpse into the severity of her trauma. (She had set up a makeshift bed in there because it was where she felt safe.) “She’s coming undone,” Harry said. And I’m inclined to agree.

Dexter, to some extent, also had to acknowledge this on some level, but he was more concerned with making sure Lumen didn’t get any further in her search for the men who hurt her. Unfortunately for him, she was already further than he thought: Dexter found a letter from Boyd’s former cell mate (a man named Brunner); it had been taken from Boyd’s house. Upon learning this, Harry warned Dexter, “She’s going to bring you down.”

At his next meeting with Lumen, Dexter warned her once again to stop her vigilante quest. “These men put five women in barrels, they’re not going to want to be found. Please, stop this before it’s too late.” He had no choice but to track Brunner down first.

Dexter found him in the Tuttle Bridge area, a seedy spot favored by sex offenders. What he found was a man as odious as he had expected. Brunner didn’t get far into elaborating on his story about some blonde he “had on all fours” before Dexter put him to sleep and prepped him for kill. But Harry showed up trying to talk him out of it. “Think about what you’re doing. He’s a sex offender on parole. THINK!”

Then it dawned on Dexter: Brunner was a sex offender. Therefore, he was wearing a mandatory ankle bracelet and wasn’t allowed to go far from where he lived. He wasn’t one of the men who hurt Lumen. So he ditched the body and came to a conclusion, “Harry’s right. I have to convince Lumen to do what I never could: to move on.”

So that’s exactly what he tried to get her to do one last time after finding her over near Tuttle Bridge ready to kill Brunner. Once proving that she would have murdered the wrong man, Dexter convinced her to leave. Or he thought he did anyway.

At the airport (where Dexter finally told Lumen his real name), it briefly looked like this problematic woman had gotten on the plane (even after her freakout at security) and arrived in Minnesota, until (whoops!) it was revealed she had left the airport and hailed a cab back into town.

NEXT: The best lines from this week’s episode.

This week’s cringe-worthy scene occurred when Deb and officer Manzon stumbled upon the home of the Santa Muerte killers’ first victims. They had been there a while, so bugs and maggots had long-since begun feeding on the corpses. (Here’s hoping you didn’t double up Dexter hour with dinner hour!) There were two positives that rose from this gross scene, however. One was that Deb spotted the symbol they had been investigating on a poster across the street from the crime scene. It turned out to be the logo for a local club, and the mark the victim had seen was likely a faded hand stamp. They had a new angle. The second was the fact that it gave the group a reason to reunite, as Masuka pointed out. It was nice to have that chemistry back.

The only one missing was Quinn, who was busy catching up with a narcotics cop at a bar. We recognized him as the one being busted during LaGuerta’s sting. As the man lamented being out of work as a result of being busted, Quinn offered him a job: helping him investigate Dexter.

I honestly am a bit frustrated with this because I find it really hard to believe that Quinn (who is on city pay) would dip into his own pocket to fund an investigation like this. This tells me that Quinn has officially crossed the line into obsessed. Or that the writing for Quinn’s character is a little lazy.

That’s just my take, readers. What do you think? Did you like the episode? Which storylines have you captivated and which could you do without? How are you liking Lumen as a character? Are you ready for this Santa Muerte thing to kick it up a notch?

Also, do you think the memory of Masuka’s leopard underwear will give you more nightmares than Paranormal Activity 2? Did you feel a little uneasy when Quinn noticed the gloves in Dexter’s back pocket? Are you as in love with the Dexter/Harrison scenes as I am? Weigh in below!

QUOTEABLES

“Not even a year old you’re already destroying evidence…and having to flee the scene of the crime.” –Dexter

“Good luck getting the midget porn off your hard drive…He might have shown it to me.” –Deb to Dexter, after Masuka used his computer

“I would rather put a camp fire out with my face.” –Deb to Batista

“Don’t you have to have a soul before it’s in crisis?” –Deb to Masuka

“She’s into needles; why don’t you show her your d—.” –Deb to Masuka

“We all have our own ways of expressing ourselves. I have my ink, and you have your man boots.” –Masuka to Deb

“He reads?” –Dexter to Deb about Quinn

LOVE TO TALK ABOUT TELEVISION? Then don’t miss this week’s TV Insiders podcast! Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, Missy Schwartz, and our resident TV critic Ken Tucker weigh in on the best show on television right now, and dish the latest happenings on Project Runway, Survivor, and Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the TV Insiders podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to an embedded version below!

Michael C. Hall plays a serial killer who only murders evildoers in this gruesome drama
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