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Dexter Recap: Complicated Reasons

Ever since Dexter met Lumen he’s been battling to keep her separate from his real life. She’s just this random witness he’s got a soft spot for. So what if she’s shacked up in the home he shared with his ex-wife, padding around in her slippers and making coffee? So what if she’s in a unique position to understand and support him? So what if she’s kind of cute!? It’s just business, he keeps telling himself. But you know how it goes: When you both want to murder the same people, one thing naturally leads to another. “Sometimes partners find us,” Dexter says right before taking a huge leap of faith and introducing Lumen to Harrison at the end of the episode. “As much as we try to push them away, they work their way into our lives until we finally realize how much we need them.”

Lumen and Dexter are totally in bed together, and yet they haven’t even had sex yet. In fact, their courtship has been as chaste and awkward as two shy middle schoolers. Early in the episode, they are working on their project at the kitchen table in Rita’s old house. But homework time is up, and Dexter needs to go back to his real life. “I can’t bring her into my world, there’s no room for her,” he thinks, responding to Lumen’s evident resentment at his departure. He heads to the door. She follows. “I feel like I’m dropping off my prom date, except this is my house and my wife is dead and I have no idea how Lumen fits into my world and this is all so weird.” They shake hands. “Exactly like my prom.”

All the emotional baggage aside, they make a good team. Dexter, a man supposedly insensible to the nuances of human emotion, talks to Lumen like a master trauma specialist. With his help, she’s able to walk him through the time she spent with her various captors. “Watch guy would lean in and whisper ‘tick tick tick, that’s the sound of your life running out’” she remembers of one captor who kept his face covered. “Suit and tie guy I’d know,” she says. “He always took the blindfold off; guess he thought I’d be dead soon. He’d take off his jacket and fold it really carefully and then lay it on a chair like he didn’t want to mess it up.” With this new information in hand, Dexter intends to pursue Boyd’s partners by himself, exacting revenge on Lumen’s behalf. Her desire to be included in the bloody part emerges as the principle source of conflict in their relationship. “What I do I do alone,” Dexter insists. “I can’t go to the cops because of you so you’re going to have to be a little flexible here,” is Lumen’s justified response. “I want to be a part of this.”

While Lumen and Dexter are navigating the terms of their nascent relationship, Quinn and Deb are dealing with their own boundary issues. In bed, Deb gets a call from the office. There’s been a car accident that yielded some suspicious evidence and she’s needed ASAP. “Why didn’t you tell them I’m here?” Quinn asks. “Because I’m not here; basically no one knows that we’re seeing each other, and I want to keep it that way.” Ouch. “Why baby, you say the sweetest things,” Quinn says in mock injury. He says he wants to move in with Deb and is pushing for that, but meanwhile, he’s still having her brother investigated. And now Quinn’s sleuth has found out about Lumen, meaning Dexter is still vulnerable here. At some point will Quinn’s feelings for Deb override his mistrust of Dexter? And will that point come before Quinn gets something really damaging on Dexter?

For now Quinn is back to work. The suspicious car accident turns out to be really interesting. Early in the episode we see a dour dude speaking in Spanish to a crew of shady-looking hired hands. He’s at the bog where Boyd dumped his bodies and wants all the barrels loaded into the back of his pickup truck. Driving on an isolated stretch of road, right-wing talk radio blaring out of the truck’s speakers, the driver is blindsided by another car, and the contents of the barrels are strewn all over the highway. The aerial shot of Deb and company standing around these six perfectly preserved bodies is classic Dexter. This moment signifies not just a super-satisfying plot development but it’s also one of those moments where we see through the eyes of a sociopath. Boyd’s bodies are weirdly pretty in their perfectly preserved state.

Another reason to love this scene: It inspires another great Deb one-liner. “Shit a brick and fuck me with it — you’re never going to guess who this truck is registered to …” she says. “Jordan Chase!” Yep, the self-help guru of “take it” fame, the guy Boyd played for Dexter, is the owner of this truck. The driver was seen fleeing the scene of the crash, leaving his jacket behind. Is this Lumen’s suit-and-tie guy? And is suit-and-tie guy Chase? Not according to Masuka, who, as a sexually frustrated, impressionable male human, is a huge Chase fan. “His first book made me realize how I’d been putting all these limitations on myself,” Masuka gushes. “That jacket is nice but not that nice. Jordan wears nothing but the best. That’s part of his thing: If you think you deserve something, take it.” Creeepy.

At first, no one can track Chase down, and Miami Metro is a hive of tension. LaGuerta is getting shit from the Chief regarding the Santa Muerte case, which remains unsolved. In response to the pressure, she green-lights a risky sting operation in which Batista’s contact, Yasmine, agrees to lure the Fuentes brothers out of Club Mayan. As the details are being ironed out, Jordan Chase (played by a decidedly less-hot-than-I-remember Johnny Lee Miller) and his head of security, Cole Harman, who is definitely the guy we saw driving the truck, stroll into the office. Chase has a strong alibi, but he wants to cooperate in whatever way possible, which consists of allowing Cole to draw the cop’s attention his way. He says the truck is his but that he leaves the keys around the office and anyone could have grabbed them. LaGuerta and Batista are skeptical. A security specialist is that lax about security?

Dexter is even less impressed. He borrows Masuka, gets Chase to pose for photos with him, and notices the guy’s statement watch. A gift from his father, Chase explains. Dexter nods. This is his guy. He takes the photo home to Lumen, who, hilariously, mistakes Masuka for the guy Dexter’s worried about. “I mean that guy’s clearly a freak but I don’t know him,” she says. “No, not the bald guy, the guy beside him,” Dexter clarifies. She doesn’t recognize Chase, but she positively ID’s Cole as suit-and-tie guy. She’s ready to go after him, but Dexter tries to talk her down.

“You can walk away from all of this now, put it behind you. I promise you, the police will take care of it,” Dexter offers.

“I don’t want the police to take care of it, I want to take care of it,” Lumen replies.

“I know how she feels, it’s not so different from me. She’s stressed, on edge, the way I feel when I’ve gone too long without putting someone on my table,” Dexter thinks.

Then Lumen plays the vulnerable-victim card. “You said you’d help me,” she say. “This is all I think about; don’t back out now.” This is the episode’s pivotal moment. In fact, it could prove to be the season’s pivotal moment. Dexter has a choice here. He can keep Lumen and her problems at arm’s length. He can help her without embracing her quest as his own. But instead he chooses to throw the police off the Chase/Harman trail, make these two his next victims, and toss them Boyd Fowler, a man he murdered, as a scapegoat. Dexter lets Lumen into his life in a way he has not with any woman, ever. “The truth is I actually want to help her,” Dexter thinks. “For some very complicated reasons.” Tell us more! But he doesn’t. Why is Dexter doing this? Is it because he sees himself in her? Is it because Harrison is his only still-living confidant, and, as Dexter admits in this episode, he’ll soon be too old to hear about Dexter’s escapades?

The pair solidify their new pact by returning to Boyd Fowler’s house, a place in which they’ve both been vulnerable: In this house Dexter broke his code and murdered someone while a witness watched, and upstairs, Lumen was brutalized in myriad ways. They grab Boyd’s wallet, and they disinfect the room where Lumen was held, eliminating any evidence of her presence. It’s not the last moment in the episode where this burgeoning couple’s intimacy is forged via a sense of shared trauma. Later, Dexter insists that Lumen stay in the car while he searches Harman’s house. He comes across a high-school photo that proves Fowler has known Dan the Dentist (Lumen’s first kill) and Harman for years, but Dexter’s interrupted when someone (Harman?) jumps him. Lumen comes to the rescue. Driving away from the scene, they are both exhilarated. Dexter’s out of control, and it thrills him.

Back at the station, Dexter has planted Fowler’s wallet in the pickup truck and Fowler becomes Miami Metro’s prime suspect. Harman identifies Fowler as one of Chase’s stalkers, which explains why he might have been driving the truck. Out in the car after questioning, Chase turns to his sidekick and says, “You finally did something right, steering the cops towards Boyd, very smart.” The look on Harman’s face suggests this kind of praise is like a drug for him, but he can’t accept it. “It wasn’t me,” he responds. There is clearly some kind of servant/master relationship going on here. Is this how Chase manipulated all of Lumen’s attackers? Woo a bunch of ego-less, sad-sack dudes with violent tendencies, fill their minds with some self-help bullshit about seizing what you want in life, and next thing you know you have your own little blonde-hunting army? Ick.

This episode leaves several of our major characters in tenuous positions. LaGuerta is in serious trouble at work. Her Club Mayan operation went horribly wrong; a Miami Metro informant, Yasmine, was shot and killed, as was one of the Fuentes brothers. Civilians were wounded. It was a mess. One she’s responsible for. Who would replace her if she gets the ax? Deb is falling, once again, for a super shady dude, just as her career is taking off. Will the thing with Quinn derail her? And Dexter is aligning himself with a girl he barely knows who is in a state of PTSD-fueled bloodlust. I’m worried. And really psyched for next Sunday.

Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime