Never has an episode of Dexter inspired this much cringing and jaw-dropping. As our favorite serial killer mulls over his copy of Anna Karenina (“All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”), Thanksgiving robs him of his role model.
Let’s get the unrelated side plot out of the way first: Batista and LaGuerta solve a heart-breaking case a little too late. He’s afraid he’ll get hit by a bus, so he tells her he loves her; she’s afraid if she says it, he’ll get hit by a bus, but she loves him too. Moving on.
Trinity isn’t just a cranky old man, he’s an emotionally and physically abusive father and husband. A spying Dexter sees him dangerously tormenting his son, so, naturally, he invites himself to Trinity’s Thanksgiving dinner while Debra invites Masuka to the Morgan clan’s feast.
Over at Dexter’s place, the lonely neighbor puts peas on Rita’s burn and kisses her. She rebuffs him, but that’s not what it looks like from the window through which Masuka is watching. Suddenly, the office perv is a little boy whose parents are splitting up, and he’s so upset that he throws his special dessert in the trash.
Trinity is having a more traditional, family-oriented Thanksgiving, complete with bitterness and recrimination, a coffin, women cooking, and men playing catch and watching football. Hey, Trinity: It only makes sense to shout “He’s open!” at a point when passing is an option, not as the guy with the ball leaps across the goal line. While we’re at it: Are the shot/countershots in this series supposed to look like they were set up and lit by two separate teams who didn’t know what the other was doing?
A family holiday indeed: Trinity punishes his son by breaking his finger when no one is looking; Dexter realizes that Trinity keeps his daughter locked in her room; the daughter tries to seduce Dexter; mom says Dexter can have the little girl as long as Trinity doesn’t find out, and Trinity calls his wife a cunt. Happy Thanksgiving!
The tradition in which the family takes turns saying what they’re thankful for goes horribly awry, with everyone so busy tiptoeing around Trinity that they neglect to say they’re thankful for him. Trinity calls his daughter by his dead sister’s name, and his son flips out, calling Trinity a murderer and throwing the urn of ashes against the wall. Trinity attacks the kid and protective Dexter, having cringed through this whole episode himself, finally loses it and nearly murders Trinity, growling, “I should have killed you when I had the chance.” Did we mention all the jaw-dropping? But the family’s presence stops him, and Dexter is back in his car, delivering a flustered recap to an increasingly tiresome Harry.
Meanwhile, Reporter Girl wants to spend Thanksgiving with Quinn, and she keeps referring to herself as his girlfriend. See Quinn cringe. But just when we’re wondering why we have to watch this, it all comes together. Trinity’s jaw drops when he sees the front-page story she wrote about him, and Deb’s jaw drops when she realizes that the story has a detail about Lundy’s shooting that only someone who was there would know. Suddenly Trinity is at Reporter Girl’s door, to which she says only: “Hi, dad.”
Reporter Girl is Trinity’s daughter, and she (probably) shot Debra! Holy fucking shit. Or, as Debra said last episode, “Mother shit fuck.” If Trinity and Reporter Girl don’t realize that “Kyle Butler” is Dexter Morgan, they’re about to. The whole thing makes that spoiler Showtime drops in the preview for episode 10 seem like nothing.
Pajiba wonders if it’s a mistake for Dexter to spend so much time with someone he’s planning to kill.
Cultural Learnings wishes the show would stop being so formulaic and pay more attention to Dexter’s internal changes.
In the middle of this sprawling TWOP recap is an interesting question: Does Trinity also think his victims deserve to die?