Dexter gains an adversary in week 2, but, as with week 1’s “My Bad,” this episode moves at a measured pace. Granted, “Hello, Bandit” is more peppy than the premiere, but it nonetheless reminds me of last season’s “Blinded by the Light” in that it plays like a steppingstone meant to transition deeper into season 5.
Whereas last week offered a respite from the annoying Laguerta-Batista marriage, in week 2 we get hints of trouble brewing in that particular paradise. Batista discovers a bank account Laguerta hadn’t mentioned worth $268,000. Turns out, it’s a rainy day/retirement account and Laguerta didn’t tell him because she thinks he’s too irresponsible with money.
A lover’s spat ensues and Batista vents his anger by buying everyone drinks after work. At the bar that evening, Batista gets drunk and punches a guy out over Laguerta in a scene that, even at this early stage, I’d nominate for season 5’s most contrived.
Meanwhile, Astor decides she can’t bear to live with her stepfather and demands to live with Rita’s parents in Orlando. Dexter doesn’t want her to go, but knows he can’t stop her. He knows, too, that although stepson Cody wants to stay in Miami, the two siblings can’t be split up. He thus convinces a distraught Cody to go too.
By removing Astor and Cody, the writers accomplish two goals. For one, they create season 5’s most emotionally effecting scene to date. The brief exchange between Cody and Dexter and then—especially—between Astor and Dexter is wrenching. Michael C. Hall reminds why, in fact, he’s been Emmy nominated for three years running (it’s astounding he hasn’t won) and Golden-Globe nominated four years running (an award he finally won this year).
At the end of week 1, Dexter discovered, during Rita’s eulogy, what the audience had long suspected: he actually loved her—probably the first person he’s ever truly loved. “Bandit’s” parting exchange between him and his stepchildren crystallizes that discovery. There’s no longer any doubt he loved not only Rita, but Astor and Cody, too.
Watching Hall convey Dexter’s love to Astor and Cody and his wish the two not leave, is like watching the character evolve before our eyes. It was a pivotal, weighty moment for the character; for the series; for Hall, who pulls it off seamlessly, revealing, for just an instant, the character’s awkwardness with his newfound emotions and unexpected, paradoxical vulnerability and depth. Hall’s voiceover work is especially poignant as well.
The writers have effectively taken Astor and Cody out of the equation, too—at least for now—freeing Dexter to spend more time on his latest adversary. That adversary comes in the form of animal-control specialist Boyd Fowler (Shawn Hatosy). Dexter is at first unsure if Boyd’s anything more than a weird personality who scoops up dead animals for a living, but as the episode closes, after a bit of stalking and some breaking and entering, there’s no doubt: Boyd’s a serial killer—a particularly demented one, too, who dispatches his pretty blonde victims in grisly ways, making him a perfect target for Dexter’s wrath.
Elsewhere in “Bandit,” composite sketches of ‘Kyle Butler’—Dexter’s alias from last season—begin circulating around Dexter’s department. FBI agent Ray Walker has compiled those sketches from Arthur Mitchell’s family.
Worse, Quinn has acquired copies. As we watch Quinn study those sketches in week 2, we see passing recognition in his expression—and no small amount of suspicion. He has been on Dexter’s trail since the beginning of season 4 and one suspects it won’t be hard to connect Dexter and ‘Kyle Butler.’
Further complicating matters, Deb acknowledges her week 1 sexual tryst with Quinn after initially denying it. It’s not hard to envision that relationship causing serious twists and conflicts as season 5 progresses. If (or when) Quinn uncovers the connection between ‘Kyle Butler’ and Deb’s big brother, how will she respond?
Like last week’s premiere, “Hello, Bandit” was hardly a shining moment, but it, too, did important work. The pieces are now in place. Dexter has a prey and even if he doesn’t yet realize it, the proverbial walls are closing in as Quinn ratchets up his pursuit. One suspects Dexter will become nothing short of an obsession for Quinn as season 5 evolves. Julia Stiles makes her series debut in week 3, too, with her mysterious character set to become, perhaps, season 5’s wildcard.