Dexter - Episode 5.09 ''Teenage Wasteland" - Recap

We always knew there would be a time this season when Jonny Lee Miller's Jordan Chase would move out of "quiet looming threat" status into a full-fledged villain. At the end of episode 9, here we are -- has the color returned to anyone's knuckles yet? (Probably not.) But before we get into the tense note we ended on, let's return to the beginning of the episode -- a happier time.

Well, it was happier for Jordan, anyway. The same couldn't be said for Dexter, who was running in place alongside his then assumed (and eventually confirmed) foe for a private session that was all about revealing his feelings. Had he really done so, Dexter would have told Jordan that he was only there to collect enough evidence to justify killing him. I'm sure that wouldn't have been received well.
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Still, in the name of the code, Dexter ran. He humored Jordan as he talked about how a broken man could rebuild himself. Inside, Dexter was only thinking of eventually taking apart the Plato-quoting man in front of him. After an hour, Dexter believed the only thing he'd walk away from the session with was cardio and a shower, but that's when he spotted what seemed like a trophy hanging in Jordan's locker -- a vial of blood on a necklace. Dexter suddenly had his a new agenda: Get the blood, test the blood, kill the man. By the time he'd get home, he'd add, "deal with drunk teen" to that list.

Astor had gone to the house with two friends (neighbor Olivia + bottle of wine) for some fun, when she ran into knife-wielding Lumen, who had been scared s---less after thinking someone had been breaking into the house. "The tenant," Dexter explained to a disbelieving and bitter 12-year-old. (Honestly, Astor, he's not sleeping with her -- yet?) But there were bigger issues for Dexter than proving his post-Rita celibacy, like how his pre-teen stepdaughter got to Miami from her grandparents' house in Orlando (bus), how she got her hands on wine (it belonged to Olivia's parents), and why her grandparents were making her shop from Miley Cyrus' Walmart line. (Okay, the latter wasn't his concern -- it was mine.)

As the teen-ebraited headed to bed, Dexter did what any parent in that position would do and banged his head against the kitchen counter. That's when Harry appeared (after being absent for a few episodes) and told Dexter to get Astor out of the house as soon as possible. It was the same argument he's always had: There's a reason serial killers don't have children. "You can't be a killer and a dad," Harry said. Dexter was hesitant to comply because he viewed her arrival as a cry for help. He wanted to make things right with Astor, and he couldn't do that by turning his back on her.

The next morning, at Quinn's place, Deb was abusing Quinn's kitchen cabinets and appliances as she prepared to head to her union rep meeting, and he did damage control by saying sweet words of support, including the big "l" -- "love." It was said almost in passing, but it took them both by surprise. "Seriously, you're going to drop that on me now?" Deb said, as Quinn brushed it off. "Forget I said it," he told her as she headed out the door. Of course, she wouldn't forget it. Later, in the presence of dusty files and the file room lady, she'd confess that she loved him, too.

Knowing that inconvenient moments are his bat signal, Liddy called Quinn wanting to meet about the pictures we saw him snap of Lumen and Dexter on the boat. (There was some confusion last week about exactly what Liddy had been able to snap with his paparazzi lens, and most of you were indeed correct in noting that he'd only gotten pictures of them with the luggage. Good eyes, team!)

Back at the house, Lumen was cooking hangover food, and Dexter sought her advice in dealing with his surly teen daughter. Not on the list of best practices? Insulting her smudgy makeup first thing in the morning. (A rookie mistake.) Then Harrison, who apparently inherited his father's ability to make ill-timed comments, piped up with a new word: Mama. On its own, the word would have put an ache in the heart of those around the child, but because Harrison said it as Lumen stood before him picking a stuffed puppet off the ground, everyone at the table froze in discomfort. (We later found out he had said it to his puppet.) Tree, behold your apple.

Despite warnings (both from Lumen and Harry), Dexter kept his plans to meet with Jordan that morning, and inside the swanky locker room, he waited until his adversary headed to the showers so he could extract a small sample of the blood from the vial on the necklace. What he hadn't counted on was that Jordan took short showers even by a man's standards (40 seconds by my count -- ewwww). Dexter wrapped up his extraction just before Jordan made his way out. He seemed in the clear, but then Jordan noticed his slightly ajar locker door after Dexter left. (Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.) When he inspected the necklace, the minute amount of blood Dexter had taken for his sample was undetectable, but the needle he stuck into it allowed the tiny drop of blood to leak out onto Jordan's finger. Busted.

Meanwhile, back on the floor of the station's file room where she had begun her weeks-long sentence as scapegoat, Deb was immersed in the details of the barrel girls case (the one they'd pinned on Boyd). Upon closer examination of the file, Deb discovered that they had closed the cases before examining the results from the lab, which reveled that the bodies contained DNA from multiple different men -- not one. Deb went to Batista and Masuka with this, and they agreed that the case had to be reopened. Whoever's job that would be, however, would have to guard their loins, because LaGuerta had to authorize it. They decided the lucky man would be Batista.

For Dexter, the day got progressively worse. Not minutes after arriving back at the station with his very costly sample, Dexter got a call from Lumen. The girls were missing. And they left their cell phones. Dear God, they left their cell phones. That meant they were in real danger -- or abducted by aliens. Panic set in, and Dexter rushed back to the house to learn from neighbor le douche that a man in a white panel van had been at the house. Because white panel vans are always good news, Dexter phoned the cops, fully aware that his and Lumen's recon work would be put in jeopardy. It was a risk he was willing to take.

With the station on the case, Dexter's first admission was that he had spent the morning with Jordan Chase. After a few wary glances were exchanged, he and LaGuerta found out that the case was on the verge of being reopened following Deb's discovery of new evidence. LaGuerta shat bitch bricks, but Dexter spent little time on the issue, insisting that they focus on finding the mysterious pervert van. And they did, but it was a cold lead because it turned out to be owned by a guy named Barry, the boyfriend of Olivia's mother, who had followed Olivia's GPS'd cell phone to Miami to find the girls.

Not that Dexter had time to hear all of this, seeing how he reached into a still-moving squad car to grab Barry by the collar and threaten to kill him. It was quite primal (and dare I say…attractive?). The man deserved the treatment, though. He might not have been a pervert, but it was revealed that he was abusive and had been hurting Olivia.

They ended up picking up the girls at a mall where they were being held for shoplifting (which they claimed they didn't do, but look at their clothes -- I wouldn't blame them). Back at the house, Deb met Lumen for the first time, and that, it went. "She's your tenant? Really?" Deb said skeptically after Lumen left the room. Dexter stuck to his story until Deb finally backed off. With his partner-in-crime now public knowledge, his association with Jordan Chase now revealed to the entire station, and Harrison poking his ear, Dexter lamented, "This is not my day." A heart-to-heart with Astor turned that around, though, and their breakthrough ended with Dexter promising Astor that he'd help her friend.

As evening fell over the station, Batista told Deb that LaGuerta had no plans to open the case, fearing it was Deb's way of getting revenge. Outraged, Deb stormed into LaGuerta's office ready for a fight (which she'd soooo win) and aired all their issues (her unwarranted suspension, Batista's middle-man position, and Quinn's "bogus" leave). "If this is all some game to you, I'll try to understand it, but those girls are dead. Don't you want to make sure that doesn't happen again?" Deb screamed. LaGuerta stopped her because she'd had enough. She told her she'd reopen the case, but not before laying an information crapstorm on Deb. "As far as Quinn goes, he wasn't on vacation; I suspended him to protect your brother."

Deb went to Quinn for details, and like all normal couples, they went to the interrogation room to hash it out with a single harsh light above them that cast a perfect shadow of intensity on their faces. Deb asked him straight: "Did it have something to do with my brother?" Quinn confessed it all. His "Dexter = Kyle Butler" theory. His suspension. Everything. Well, he didn't tell her about Liddy.

Speaking of the chicken-eating bastard, he went to Quinn with his evidence, but Quinn wasn't interested and tried to get Liddy to drop it by dropping some Benjamins. But Liddy refused to get "paid off like the corner whore." He told Quinn that he planned on taking his findings to homicide. Quinn reacted by grabbing Liddy's throat and telling him in no uncertain terms to stay away from Deb and stay away from everyone. We had initially believed that Liddy would meet his maker at the hands of Dexter, but I'm thinking it might be Quinn at this point.

Meanwhile, Dexter met up with Barry, who was waiting for Dexter to deliver the girls. The only delivery he got was a message from Dexter: Stay away from Olivia and her mom. "I know about Olivia's bruises -- how they're strategically placed so they won't show," Dexter told him. When Barry played dumb, Dexter gave him examples, via punches to the solar plexus, jabs to the liver's vagus nerve, and a kick to the kidney. (I love intelligent ass-kickings!) Dexter told Barry that unless he wanted another visit together (one that would end in Barry's untimely death), he'd leave and never come back.

In the car, Harry reappeared, but Dexter didn't want to be griped at. Then Harry surprised him. "I'm proud of you. …You protected Astor. You put yourself out there for another person. I didn't know you had it in you." The next morning, Dexter would echo the words to Astor as he dropped her off at home, adding a fatherly confession: "I love you. You know that?" he said in a heartbreakingly earnest tone. Astor felt the impact of this, and invited him in to say hello to Cody and the family, perhaps finally bringing an end to Astor's lingering bitterness toward Dexter. And it's likely that the revelation about Harrison's "mama" (he had said the word to his puppet) also helped.

We closed the episode with a terrified Lumen on other side of a phone call with Jordan Chase. He had called to set up another appointment with Dexter, and "time [was] of the essence. Tick, tick, tick. That's the sound of his life running out. Can you tell him that? Take care, Lumen."

Wow, readers. Wow.

The season is in full swing now, and it's fantastic, I say. But tell me what you think. If you weren't keen on Astor, as I wasn't, did you like her a bit better after this episode? How creepy is Jordan Chase? Are you getting worried that Deb the amazing detective might be on a very scary trail toward the truth about her brother? And who is Emily Birch?

Less importantly, have we ever seen Dexter run before, as he claimed in the beginning of the episode? Did you want to take a moist towelette to Astor's face during the entire episode? And how great was the moment between Liddy and the little kid in the store when he was developing photos? (Pow!)


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  1. Dude, there is no way in HELL that Deb doesn't find out... IF she doesn't I'm questioning all those keen police sluething "skills" she supposedly has!

  2. Dexter obviously doesn't know where the liver's vagus nerve is located. He was punching Barry's left abdomen, which is where the stomach is located. The liver is on the right side of the abdomen. Evidently not the most intelligent ass-kicking.

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