Julia Stiles was nowhere in sight in season 5’s premiere and I already missed her; this was one of “Dexter’s” most plodding episodes ever. That’s not to say “My Bad” didn’t do important work.
The episode picks up where last season’s finale left off. Dexter (Michael C. Hall) has just discovered Rita’s (Julie Benz) body in a bathtub of bloody water—Trinity’s grisly parting gift, discovered as Dexter returns from dispatching season 4’s adversary.
The police have arrived and the FBI’s on scene, too. Dexter’s first words to sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) when she arrives are “it was me,” three simple words that come back to haunt him minutes later when FBI agent Ray Walker (Adam Harrington) starts asking questions.
Fortunately, Deb and Laguerta (Lauren Vélez) cut him off. Dexter’s in shock, they tell him and he’ll need to schedule an appointment if he wants to question Dexter. He does so and those three words will likely follow Dexter throughout season 5.
Quinn (Desmond Harrington) voices early suspicion in episode 1 regarding Rita’s death. At headquarters the following morning, as he, Batista (David Zayas) and Masuka (C.S. Lee) review Dexter’s 911 call, Quinn notes Dexter’s emotional detachment and precise, clinical description of the scene. Dexter is once more spared by Laguerta, who happens by and reminds the three that the FBI has taken over the investigation—end of discussion. Making matters worse, Masuka tells Quinn about the kiss he witnessed last season between Rita and next-door neighbor Elliot (Rick Peters).
Elsewhere in episode 1, Dexter continues struggling to understand emotion and appropriate social reactions as he and Deb visit the funeral director to arrange Rita’s service. He attempts to use what he observes when he conveys the bad news to stepchildren Astor (Christina Robinson) and Cody (Preston Bailey) about their mother’s death. As expected, that doesn’t go well—not in the least—with Astor taking the news especially hard. She seems likely, in fact, to never forgive Dexter.
There’s also a bizarre encounter here, following the release of Rita’s crime scene, between partners Quinn and Deb as they arrive to Dexter’s house to cleanup. In what will likely become a season-long, on-again, off-again affair, the two have a mid-day sexual romp on Dexter’s kitchen floor. Besides the fact I greatly dislike these two together, it seems weird for Quinn to do the nasty with his partner when his girlfriend from last season—Christine Hill—killed herself just a few days before. This same girlfriend, mind you, was also Trinity’s daughter; why doesn’t the FBI want Quinn for questioning too?
We also get multiple flashbacks in episode 1 to Dexter and Rita’s first date. That scene goes mostly as expected—Rita’s the damaged lily and Dexter’s trying to wear an air of normalcy to lure her in—with one big exception. Turns out, on that first blind date—set up by Deb—Dexter was stalking his latest victim. He even cuts the date short to follow the man to the parking lot, drug him and then tuck him into a car trunk.
Dexter briefly runs away in “My Bad,” too, deciding he can’t face the FBI’s scrutiny; can’t face Rita’s funeral; can’t face Astor and Cody and little Harrison; can’t face the grief. After burning down the storage shed behind his house (another move that’ll undoubtedly come back to bite him), Dexter sets out in his boat, meaning to disappear forever.
Stopping on shore to gas up, he encounters the ultimate inbred redneck, a character so obviously written to serve as season 1’s first kill, it almost feels like narrative cheating. This kill’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before; it’s sudden, unplanned, bloody and savage. The character’s so unlikeable, though—he even insults Rita—it’s easy to overlook this otherwise unforgivable deviation from Dexter’s normal modus operandi.
After an emotional breakdown and a brief pep talk from ghostly Harry (James Remar), Dexter returns to face the music. “My Bad” ends with his moving eulogy at Rita’s graveside funeral. Dexter, we learn, actually loved her—a revelation with significant implications moving forward, as Dexter previously assumed himself incapable of truly loving anyone.
Although episode 1 was hardly enthralling TV, it’s easy to see a foundation being laid. Quinn’s ever-growing suspicion; the burning of the storage shed; Dexter’s guilt; the FBI investigation; Quinn and Deb’s new relationship—all are groundwork, I suspect, for juicier, more explosive developments to come.
If nothing else, “My Bad” was also a fitting sendoff for Rita. This episode—slow as it was—helped take the edge off those shocking images from season 4’s finale. That fact should allow the show to transition more smoothly into season 5 as it leaves Rita behind and moves into uncertain new territory; territory unlike anything Dexter or fans have previously encountered.