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Dexter: Some Good News, and Some Bad News

This week's episode is titled "Finding Freebo," and the good news is, Dexter finds him and kills him, so now Freebo's dead. This is good news because the hunt for Freebo — the pasty-faced junk dealer who was the only one who knew that Dexter, not Freebo, killed Oscar Prado — was already threatening to drag out into one of those the-cops-are-unwittingly-hunting-Dexter story lines, uncomfortably similar to last season's the-cops-are-unwittingly-hunting-Dexter story line.

But the girlfriend-abusing, video-bowling-playing, naked-ass-scratching Freebo has now been artfully dispatched with a knife to the neck. He did manage to sputter out a few hints that maybe he wasn't, in fact, the one who killed his ex-girlfriend and cut off a square of her skin. (We don't have any inside info, but spoiler alert: We're guessing he wasn't.) In a convenient coincidence, Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits, at his maximum emotive powers) shows up to think about killing Freebo at the exact same moment that Dexter is actually killing him. In a nice bit of acting by Michael Hall, Dexter manages to convince Miguel that he killed Freebo in self-defense, looking at the bloody knife in his hand the way a vegan might look at a dead fish. At which point Miguel … hugs him. They're bros for life!

The bad news is that, in this episode, the writers spared no opportunity to pummel us with Dexter's newfound doubts about being a dad. Every scene poked at his fears in one way or another, from the opening voice-over ("We're supposed to see hope in children, but right now all I see are little bundles of uncertainty") to Miguel's line about inheriting his father's bad temper ("Some people just shouldn't have kids") to Dexter's surreal trip to a Dante's Inferno–style hellscape of parental anxiety, a.k.a. a sorority kegger. (Lo, he looked upon the beer pong, and he wept.) And, oh yeah, there was that daydream where Dexter imagines his little hellspawn garroting Rita's other kids. Awkward.

The worst part of the episode? We love us some Jimmy Smits, but already his soapy scenes with Lieutenant Laguerta have all the subtlety and emotional force of a telenovela. Best part of the episode? When Deb tosses an anatomical sobriquet in the face of the Littlest Irritant, a.k.a. Yuki Amado, I.A. cop extraordinaire. We are too polite (and squeamish) to repeat it here, but Deb, for what it's worth, we totally agree.

Photo: Dan Littlejohn/CBS