The Bay Harbor Butcher: Scourge of the city or avenging force for good?

As news of the connection between the BHB’s victims comes to light, the question was bound to become a talking point. How much should the city of Miami fret about a killer who’s cleaning up the streets more effectively than the Miami Metro homicide department? (If people knew that the BHB came from inside the department, they’d understand just how effective their policing really is.) It will be interesting to see how the public’s reaction to these revelations feeds into Dexter’s self-image. He’s not someone who ultimately sees himself as a hero, but it’s definitely something he’s fantasized about before, like in that Season One dream sequence with the cheering crowds and the ticker-tape raining down on him.

Of course, the public’s ambivalence towards the BHB mirrors our own; the only difference is that we’ve known about his exploits a little longer. It was funny to see Dexter pumping up his self-image at the same time he was reassuring Rita’s little boy that he has nothing to worry about. The BHB, he says, only goes after people who do bad things and he stays away from children. Kind of heartwarming, isn’t it? No wonder the boy dresses up as “The Butcher” for Halloween. If Dexter is to be believed, he’s like a real-life superhero. (Except, you know, not quite so noble.)


After the impressive character work in last week’s episode, “See-Through” downshifts into more of a storyline-juggler, dividing its time more equally to other characters and subplots that have taken a backseat and dealing with revelations in the BHB investigation. The question of whether Dexter would sabotage the investigation in order to save his own ass gets an answer: Hell to the yes. (What is Harry’s Code if not a recipe for self-preservation? Appearing “normal” and fitting in allows Dexter to go about his dirty business in an inconspicuous way so he won’t get caught. And here he is again, doing his best not to get caught.) Dexter busting the refrigeration unit in the Morgue tent spoils those well-preserved bodies and causes a marine biologist to lose his lunch. (The latter had Dexter and Masuka cracking up like fifth graders.) But the telltale algae, which Masuka believes will help determine which harbor the BHB docks his boat, survives and Dexter leaves the episode seriously worried about being found out.

On the romantic front, things are more or less back to normal with Rita, who’s still threatened by Dexter’s hot sponsor Lila (and for good reason), but seems pleased by her role in helping him overcome his “addiction.” Unfortunately for Dexter, you’ll have to add Rita’s no-nonsense mother Gail  (JoBeth Williams) to the shortlist of people who feel something’s amiss with our hero. (She’s the new Doakes!) Irony of ironies, she voices her approval of the BHB’s exploits even as she tells her daughter that Dexter is an “actor” and that he’s hiding something. The question is: How much will Rita listen to her mother and how much does she trust Dexter? Will her mom’s blind accusations on top of her late husband’s—and possibly on top of Dexter’s relationship with another woman—turn her against him? Seems likely. Whatever the case, I think Williams is a nice choice for the role, an old character actor (not unlike Keith Carradine) who brings gravitas to a sometimes shaky cast.

With Dexter off his shit list (for now, anyway), Doakes’ past as a volatile Special-Ops guy comes back to haunt him when he starts to pursue one of his own. When poking around a domestic homicide, he knows right away that the shooter had “Mozambiqued” his wife, meaning he shot her twice in the body and once in the head. (And there’s a whole bunch of pictures of him in the army, in case it wasn’t clear who did the deed.) When Doakes tracks his man down on a boat intended for Cuba, he winds up having to shoot him, but not before confessing his own dark side, including an urge to gun down his ex-wife. I’m not sure precisely where the show is going with this revelation, but clearly Doakes and Dexter aren’t terribly far apart in their urges. They just have different codes and different ways to contain (or in Dex’s case, channel) their killer tendencies.


And finally, finally, finally, the shoe drops on the Esme/Maria subplot and I’m kicking myself for not seeing where it was going all along. So what was Maria’s plan here again? Sleep with Esme’s fiancé—while wearing perfume that not even the great Masuka can identify—in the assumption that the affair would prompt Esme to lose all sense of professionalism and forfeit the coveted lieutenant’s job back to her? Nice little scheme. And she gets a little nookie on the side, too. What will it mean to have an unscrupulous backstabber like Maria in charge of the department? Hopefully something remotely of interest to me.

Last but not least, there’s Lila the sexy sponsor, whose “found art” involves running over potential sculpture pieces with her car and raiding the wind chimes in someone’s backyard. Dexter really isn’t comfortable with her “unconventional” methods—or her willingness to break the law in his presence—but all that changes when he gives her a (highly implausible) tour of the morgue. Seeing all those bodies cut up like her mannequins, Lila not only isn’t repulsed, but sees a spirit kindred to hers and Dexter’s. This, in the mind of a serial killer, is what counts as a turn-on, quite apart from Lila’s more obvious feminine attributes. I’m really enjoying her addition to the show and it’ll be interesting to see how candid Dexter gets with her as the season unfolds. Will she be a good sponsor and help him get back on the right track or will she be an enabler?

Grade: B+

Stray observations:

• Favorite line of the night: Rita calls her mother a strong woman. Dexter: “I’ll keep that in mind if I have any heavy lifting to do.”


• Should I be seeing Deb as anything more interesting than a stock cop-on-the-edge type? Having her shackle that gym rat to her bed with her handcuffs seems a bit obvious to me psychology-wise.

• Regarding Angel and his assigned victim’s wife: Is “let me show you the guns hidden in the walls” a strange euphemism for “let’s get it on”? I’m thinking yes.