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Dexter Recap: Squeeze Play

Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but how good is this season so far? All the tension between Dexter and Debra, along with his slow, inevitable march toward finally being exposed as a serial killer, is really paying off. Dexter’s strained relationship with his sister/boss is still the focal point of the drama, but as the supporting story lines rise to the surface, each one contributes to the vicelike squeeze Dexter finds himself in. (Well, except for Quinn. Would anyone — cops, Eastern Bloc strippers, or us — care if Isaak trades paying him off for bumping him off?)

One thing that’s been missing has been memorable rants from Deb and Masuka, of the four-letter and X-rated varieties, respectively. Masuka still hasn’t reeled off any outstanding pervy lines, but while Deb’s done her fair share of cursing at her brother, she’s in particularly rare form in this episode. After LaGuerta reveals she’s convinced Doakes wasn’t the Bay Harbor Butcher, Deb unleashes what we’ll call the Great Elevator Meltdown.

Deb: Fuck. Ah, fuck. Motherfucking suckbag! You [unintelligible expression of primal rage]! You fucking fucknugget! Fuck!

As if that’s not enough to drive her insane, Dexter arranges a Deep Throat parking-garage meeting and admits that, well, yes, he’s the guy who killed Viktor, but it’s totes all good because he found Viktor’s prints at the crime scene before he ritually executed him. You can tell that Jennifer Carpenter is relishing her role now, as all of Deb’s ignorance over six TV years is gone, replaced by a flood of incredulous anger, panic, and confusion. Not to oversell her performance thus far, but Emmy voters, I submit this breathless soliloquy in response to Dexter’s confession.

Deb: How am I supposed to do my fucking job, which at this point is the be-all, end-all of hypocrisy because I am the lieutenant of fucking homicide, and I have already helped you cover up two murders — three, this makes three. And the fucking bartender — oh my fucking God, oh my God. How did this become my life?

Masterful stuff. There’s also a telling exchange when she asks Dexter if he’s lying when he promises to never steal another case from her or the department. He hesitates, then insists he’s being honest. “I have no way of knowing, do I?” she replies. We know she’s right about Dexter’s allergy to honesty — that’s confirmed in the final moments when Dexter lies about what he learned on the first stop of Hannah’s Buried Corpse Tour 2012. For starters, Hannah is one dirty minx. Dexter’s talk of his first crime scene gets her hot and bothered, as does his theory that she killed the dead woman they unearthed. His insinuation that she’s a murderer sounds more like foreplay between two psychos than an accusation. Dexter keeps his hunch to himself, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him turn to Hannah as someone who might be able to accept him fully for who he is. If Deb can’t be the Bonnie to his Clyde, maybe Hannah can — at least for a few episodes.

The sharklike circling of Dexter and the other killer in his life, Isaak, ends fairly abruptly when the nattily dressed drug kingpin tries to ambush Dexter at his apartment (and we learn they both enjoy using tools for projects other than home repair). Isaak seems to clarify his relationship with his dead henchman when he says, “I liked Viktor.” Coming from a guy who’d probably stab his own mother to death with a Phillips head screwdriver, I think it’s safe to say they were lovers. (He calls Dexter “handsome.”) Hopefully Isaak won’t spend much time in lockup, because his Matrix-like disposal of the rival Columbian drug dealers, as well as his dramatic flair for pronouncing words like “douchebag” and “vendetta,” are making him more enjoyable every week. I’m not sure where he was going with the story of his grandfather and the “fat little man” he exacted revenge against, other than to suggest that Dexter hasn’t seen the last of him, but Isaak does know how to weave a tale.

We can also add Batista to the list of folks in Dexter’s life who are inching closer to exposing his secret. When Deb tells him to “back the fuck down” from his hunch that Anderson’s killer wasn’t the Fox Hole bartender, he looks crushed at first, then furious. It seems unlikely he’ll let that go anytime soon. Their exchange is also the tipping point for Deb, who later has an epiphany at Dexter’s apartment.

Deb: I know you’re not going to stop. But I don’t want to know about it. I had to lie to Batista. Batista. For you. And that was the moment that I realized that I don’t want to be a part of this. I can’t do it. It took me forever to wrap my brain around the idea that you’re not who I thought you were. But that doesn’t mean I have to change. All of your stealing and your lying and your covering up. That’s not me.

The only false note comes in that final scene, as Deb seems a little too at peace, too accepting of who Dexter really is and her ability to be both a cop and the loving sister of a serial killer. When Dexter offers her a beer, like old times, I expected her to flinch and say that things can’t be like they were before — especially since she just hid evidence (the wedding photo) to save his ass. Instead, she takes a swig and waxes nostalgic about their Myrtle Beach vacation as kids. (Kudos to the writers for not taking their motel room sleepover in a creepy direction. Admit it — when Dexter took his shirt off, you were a little worried, too).

Of course, it’s probably only a matter of time before Dexter’s deceptions — and his body count — come back to haunt her. All their talk of young Deb running after him on the beach without ever catching him suggests there’s a bigger chase yet to come, one that may well end differently.

Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime