23
Nov
2009
Dexter: Season 4, Episode 9
Hungry Man
Jordan
I was truly loving almost everything about "Hungry Man" in the last minutes of the episode. I saw hoe Season Four, which has been troubled and often lackluster, seemingly without direction, actually fits into the show at large. Dexter has, in each of its seasons, explored a facet of its central character--both what he is and what he tries to be. In Season One we got a look at the curtain he'd built up and at the man behind it. Season Two showed us just how far his survival instinct could carry him. Season Three showed him the ups and downs of friendship. And Season Four has been entirely about family. Beyond that, though, each season also gives us a look at a different kind of monster. Ice Truck. Rita. Miguel. And now we are seeing the monster that is Arthur Mitchell, the Trinity Killer, in all his crazed, demonic glory. I was regaining a lot of the confidence I have lost in the series over the course of this season, when suddenly, the ending twist came.

Let me say that it was expected at this point that the reporter shot Deb and Lundy. However, as I stated last week, no matter how they made it happen, it was going to be ridiculous. The theory I developed, about her being too overzealous as a reporter, made me angry enough at the truth stretching, but the idea that she is Trinity's daughter is just fucking ludicrous. I have already mentioned (often almost jokingly) how much the truth is stretched by the idea of the crazy amount of serial killers who happen to live in Miami, and come up on Dexter's radar about once a year, but that's the sort of suspension of disbelief you have to be willing to have in order to watch this show. The idea now that there is a family relation between them may break the tenuous grasp on reality that portion of Dexter has. And even if the reporter (who, true to form, is incredibly boring, even when she's naked as she is yet again tonight) is related to Arthur, that does not provide her with a reasonable motive to shoot Deb. Protecting Daddy? We've already seen Arthur engenders hatred and fear, not protective feelings. That ending twist made me almost angry enough to spoil the good will the rest of the episode had built up.

But let's not forget how expertly tension was built during Thanksgiving at the Mitchell's house. John Lithgow has perfect control over his portrayal of Arthur and excercises the profoundly creepy layers perfectly. Arthur rules over his house through violence and fear, using his family, as Dexter puts it, as "human body shields" protecting the monster within from being detected. He beats his son, even breaking his finger. He locks his daughter in her room, causing her to very creepily come on to Dexter. He even calls his wife a cunt, though he has clearly broken her down beyond repair already, as she just begs him, and Dexter, to ignore the cracks in the surface of the family so they can just survive another day.

Watching Dexter interact with these people, and seeing him truly worry whether his own family made for excellent television. Dexter tries to be a hero, but he is really only using his internal monster in the best possible way. And the cracks in Dexter's own family are already apparent as Rita carries on her particularly bland flirtation with the guy next door (another character I don't care about enough to find out his name). Yet when push came to shove, the first thing COdy mentioned at Thanksgiving dinner was how thankful he was for Dexter. Our favorite serial killer may never be the normal family man he is trying to, and he may have toruble keeping the love of his wife, but for now at least, he has maintained a solid parenting relationship with his step children.

Had the episode allowed its climactic moment to be the scene in which both Dexter and Arthur snap and resort to violence, exposing the monster's inside of themselves, I would have left this week a happy Dexter fan. the ending scene's of Thanksgiving would have been the perfect cap to that moment. Instead, they went and spoiled it with a stupid, poorly though out twist. Nevertheless, at day's end, this was still one of the better episode's of Season Four.

Grade: B

Notes:

-I make a point often of how much I love Michael C. Hall and his performance here. He is very ,very, very, very clearly the best thing about this show. Tonight reminded me how well he plays Dexter when Dexter is playing someone else. Every layer of the character is apparent, but it's all through subtext.

-John Lithgow is matching Michael C. Hall point for point this season though. Truly an excellent performance.

-Oh yeah, Angel and La Guerta were in this episode. Too bad.

-The multiple ovens thing felt very zany sitcom to me.

-God I wish Dexter would put Harry's ghost on his table. I am so tired of that convention.
Tags: Dexter
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