Dexter – Practically Perfect (S05E03) – Episode review

One of the times that Dexter works best is when he’s on the threshold of being caught out. With Practically Perfect, our lovable serial killer hero is getting it from both sides – he botches (yet another) kill, and almost falls foul of the murderer he’s hunting, and he doesn’t yet know that Quinn is very close to exposing him to the FBI.

The episode kicks off with a little housekeeping. How is Dexter going to continue to hunt and work with a baby on his hands? Simple. Get a nanny. And cue a series of hapless nanny interviews conducted with all the force that his sister Debra can muster. Which is a lot of force.

Nanny settled on, Dexter sets out to close the kill of his latest victim, a motivational tape addicted roadkill picker-upper who likes to torture women and then stuff them into barrels of formaldehyde. Where it all goes wrong is that Dexter blags his way out on a job with the guy, having prepared a spot where he can conduct the kill in peace. Unfortunately, when he tranquilises the man, he gets shot with a tranq dart himself and both men wake up in an ambulance en route to hospital.

Luckily for Dexter, the killer doesn’t want to be exposed any more than he does, so they both make an excuse to cover for their situation. Dexter evades a murder attempt in the hospital and catches up with the guy at his home for the final kill. And that’s where things really get interesting. He’s got Julia Stiles locked up in his attic – as a future victim. We don’t know Julia’s character’s name yet, but she’s been held there for some time and has cuts all down her back. And she witnessed Dexter making his kill.

Of course, our imaginations are flying at this point. Dexter has to deal with her. She knows he’s a killer. But could she morph into someone much more important? When Dexter met Rita, she was extremely damaged after a violent marriage, so perhaps this new woman – in addition to being blonde – could fill the void left by Rita? Didn’t Dexter himself mention wanting Rita back? This might be the next best thing.

But we’re flying way ahead of the story here. The previews of next week’s episode show that the woman is anything other than keen to spend time with Stabby McDexter. Maybe try some flowers, Dex.

Elsewhere…

Debra’s mostly involved with the Cult of Shit (as she mispronounced it) murders. She’s got a uniform policewoman from the neighbourhood in tow, but their investigations lead to a man being killed. My guess? The old woman in the front of the shop did it.

Angel and LaGuerta experience the fall-out from Angel’s bar-room brawl last week. After defending his wife’s honour and kicking several shades out of a lecherous colleague, Batista is facing criminal charges. I tell ya, you spend all your life being a great cop and a stand-up guy, and one assault with a deadly weapon (your foot) threatens to ruin it all. And it’s no secret that both of them made an enemy in their superior when they got married.

Quinn’s the big threat in this episode. Having noticed how much the Mitchell family’s description of Kyle Butler looks like a certain blood spatter analyst, he contacts the FBI to see if he can take his theory to the family. But they’re currently in hiding…and the preview suggests that Quinn will set out to track them down.

It’s nice to see that season 4 didn’t have an entirely clean ending – even though Dexter doesn’t realise it yet. Arthur Mitchell still casts a shadow over the show, and that’s something I wasn’t expecting. Normally when one season ends and another begins, there’s a surgical cut-off to the story arc. This is messy and worrying and rightly throws out the idea that not everything Dexter does is without its consequences. Even after Rita’s death, Dexter’s in very real danger of being found out.

Lots of nice ideas being spun out in Practically Perfect. I could have been spared the nanny hiring scene, but it was nice when Dexter freaked out when the nanny was late home. And now looking forward to see how this new character works out.

Was this an improvement from the last couple of weeks? What do you think?

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