By Elaine Bergstrom
I’ve always been creeped out by suburbia — the vast expanses of lawn; the preoccupation with gardening, often at all hours; the vacuous need to own, own, own; the pressure to always live up to other people’s expectations because, unlike city life, other people expect that you should. This is the world that Dexter entered when he bought a house for his family, and in this week’s episode, “If I Had a Hammer,” he took the plunge, gave up his apartment and became a full-time member of the riding mower set.
In that, he mimics Trinity, now identified as fellow family man, churchgoer and general do-gooder-who-wields-a-mean-hammer Arthur Mitchell. Once Dexter knew Trinity’s identity, it was simple to find out exactly what had triggered him and, in its own way, Mitchell’s loss of a sister, then a mother, then a dad under violent circumstances seem far worse that Dexter’s own early loss. Dexter can’t remember his mother’s death while Trinity is forced to carefully replay the details of his own family’s violent end over and over again.
What is astonishing is how twisted Arthur is. This isn’t Dexter with his dark passenger, but an impulse that is so overriding it’s hard to imagine him functioning in society at all. John Lithgow is just getting better and better in this role, and that creepy moment with his wife in the bathtub seems to indicate that at some point even his family will not be safe.
Eventually, Dexter is going to have to kill Trinity (as opposed to Arthur who seems like a pretty nice guy), but for now he is content to study the man and learn from him. And as sees Trinity’s vicious side, he learns a lot.
He deliberately calls forth Arthur’s rage when he finds Arthur’s sister’s ashes. When Arthur attacks him, Dexter asks what would happen if his family saw him that way. “They’d understand,” Arthur tells him. Later, when Dexter asks what he needs to do to get back into his family’s good graces, Arthur tells him, “Let them see you.”
“And that saved your family?” Dexter asks.
“My family saved me,” Mitchell replies, and it seems that he means it.
So Dexter acted on the advice, telling Rita and their counselor that he needed his own space and Rita responded by adding a shed to their property, one with a padlock and an air conditioner. This should come in handy and, for Miami’s sake, we can hope soon.
For Dexter’s sake, too, since Debs has finally wised up and plans to make her case that Trinity was the one who shot her and killed Lundy as soon as she is allowed back in the office. If she gets too close to the truth, will she be targeted as Trinity’s next victim? And wouldn’t that make for a wild season finale?
Next: Debs takes over Dexter’s apartment. Quinn is getting suspicious of Dexter. And Dexter takes Arthur’s advice again and tries to help his kids find activities away from home. Dex, Dex, Boobie, does the phrase “Soccer Dad” mean anything to you?