Well, so much for the theory that Ellen Wolf was inviting a friendly face into her house.
To use the parlance of our times, it would appear that Miguel has “gone rogue.” His friendship with Dexter, we discover in this riveting hour, was merely a friendship of convenience, not the true bond that Dexter had wanted— and allowed himself to think he had discovered. It was a little sad to witness, actually… or at least as sad as the emotional life of a serial killer who befriends another killer could possibly be. Granted, this wasn’t the type of friendship that would appeal to Dexter’s better angels, but his ongoing desire to find someone who can share his secrets—previously manifested in his brother from Season One and Lila from Season Two—is once again thwarted. And like those other two, Miguel will most definitely have to die.
From what we find out about Miguel this episode, getting rid of him won’t be that easy. We can see that he’s a wily character, someone clever enough to ingratiating himself to the highly guarded, highly suspicious Dexter and someone crazy/confident enough to play with fire. He knew what he was getting into with Dexter from the start, and it would not be surprising if he had a contingency plan in place should their relationship go south. While it’s true that Dexter’s knowledge about the blood on the shirt gives him the drop on Miguel, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to dispose of him as swiftly as his usual victims. But then again, I thought last week that Ellen may have been welcoming Miguel into her home, so what do I know?
The opening bit of narration has Dexter sounding lovestruck after a secret extra-(pre)marital tryst: “Last night there was no pretense. Miguel and I took a life together, and today someone knows my truth, shares my reality. I’m not alone.” It isn’t long before Dexter learns from Miguel’s wife that he didn’t get home until early morning and that Ellen Wolf hasn’t been answering the phone. He correctly divines that Miguel has taken his advice on corpse disposal, and tries to set his independent friend back on track by unearthing Ellen’s body as a lesson. It is, again, not a touching gesture, exactly, but Dexter’s last attempt at bringing his friend back into the fold; he’s upset with Miguel, but seems to understand that Miguel’s betrayal of him and his “code” may be a side effect of discovering the intoxicating power of killing another person. After all, Dexter knows the feeling.
The discovery of the cow’s blood on the shirt, however, is another matter. The shirt was a symbol of the trust between Miguel and Dexter, a sign that they were together on Freebo’s murder and on all activities to come. So the question now becomes: How much does Miguel know and what’s his endgame? Did he know Dexter’s habits before the Freebo killing or did he improvise a way to use that knowledge after the fact? The cool thing about the Dexter/Miguel subplot is that Dexter has himself a worthy, like-minded adversary, and unlike his brother, Miguel is right out in the open. It’s obvious that Miguel must die, but as I said before, I don’t see him going down without a good fight. After all, we have three more episodes to go.
In much lamer serial killer news, Miami Metro finally has a bead on “The Skinner,” who turns out to be a Nicaraguan tree trimmer. The Skinner has run off with Anton—LOOK AT THE TREES! THEY’RE TRIMMED!—but as Dexter assures Deb in my favorite line of the night, “Anton’s a big guy, lotta skin.” Much of the episode was dedicated to tracking down this frond-clipping maniac, which at one point involves Deb and Quinn fooling the Skinner’s foreman into revealing his secret skinning hideaway by paying another tree-trimming company to spruce up the palms over the poor guy’s house. (I think they’re done with the whole tree thing now, but I find myself longing for an overhead shot where somebody looks up at tree, falls to his knees, and screams, “Noooooooooooooooooo!”)
That’s pretty much it, for now. The cat-and-mouse game between Dexter and Miguel has now ramped up for what should be a killer finale, and a still-on-the-loose Skinner seems like to insert himself into the main thread some time soon. I expect an uptick in quality when all these storylines start to converge, since nothing will be entirely independent of Dexter’s experience and thus will not be lame.
• And by lame, I mean stuff like Angel and Barbara’s relationship, which didn’t register a blip this episode outside the information that she’s not the delicate flower that Angel may have presumed her to be. (“She’s like the Wikipedia of perv!,” enthuses Masuka.)
• I believe I, too, am a very wise person who could save Miguel’s life.
• If my enthusiasm level is bit more muted than usual this week, then that’s probably because The Shield has been sucking up every bit of my enthusiasm lately. Holy fucking shit.