Dexter Season 5-03 ‘Practically Perfect’ Recap

“Practically Perfect” opens on a funny note, with Deb questioning a young woman as if performing a police interrogation. “I wasn’t expecting these kinds of questions,” the young woman says and we learn she’s interviewing to become Harrison’s nanny. With Deb’s unrelenting assistance, Dexter eventually settles on Sonya (Maria Doyle Kennedy), an Irish woman with a nursing degree who seems to have a magic touch.With Harrison’s new nanny hired, Dexter’s free to pursue serial killer Boyd Fowler.  He stalks Fowler to a café, “running into him” on purpose and introducing himself as ‘Daryl Tucker.’ After some chit-chat, Dexter convinces Fowler he’d be interested in working as a dead animal pickup specialist and Boyd agrees to bring Dexter on a ride-along the following day.

At an abandoned building along Boyd’s pickup route, Dexter meticulously prepares a secret kill room. Things don’t go as planned, however, and although Dexter gets Boyd on the killing table at the end of the episode, he isn’t able to use the prearranged space. Instead, he’s forced to subdue Fowler in his home, creating an improvised kill room there. The murder goes off otherwise unimpeded, but the episode concludes with a major twist [SPOILER]—and with Julia Stiles first season 5 appearance. It seems Boyd had a victim—a live one—awaiting final disposition in a locked alcove adjoining Dexter’s makeshift kill space.

Dexter accidently discovers her, lets her out and suddenly realizes—as she makes a feeble escape attempt and collapses—he can’t let her go: she’s seen him.  Roll credits. It’s a juicy ending that resolves the mystery surrounding Stiles’ character in season 5 and the “unique relationship” she shares with our favorite serial killer.

Elsewhere in week 3, Deb’s assigned lead in the investigation into the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Francisco Alfaro from week 2. The evidence suggests murder-suicide, with Alfaro killing his wife then shooting himself in the face. The problem, though, is the fact that Mrs. Alfaro’s head was cut off, with the eyes and tongue cut out.  The head was also placed on a blanket in a public park surrounded by ceremonial candles.  In the Hispanic neighborhood where the crime occurred, it’s whispered the killings are actually the work of the cult of Santa Muerte (Saint Death).

Enter beat cop Cira Manzon (April L. Hernandez); she grew up in the Venezuelan neighborhood where the murders occurred and Batista suggests she might be useful.  Deb’s none too happy about working with a beat cop, but Manzon indeed proves helpful—perhaps a little too helpful; the first witness she questions—a local shop owner tangentially connected to the case—is murdered in the same grisly way as Mrs. Alfaro.

Batista becomes the target of an internal affairs investigation in week 3, owing to his barroom brawl in “Hello, Bandit” with Sgt. Lopez.  That brawl, instigated when Lopez insulted Laguerta, ended with Batista being pulled off Lopez. Lopez suffers internal bleeding the following day, has to be hospitalized and presses charges, resulting in the IA investigation.

As with every development involving Laguerta/Batista since last season, I find this one hopelessly contrived. If it ends with any resolution other than Batista’s exoneration, I’ll be mildly shocked.

Quinn’s suspicions regarding a connection between Dexter and ‘Kyle Butler’ continue to grow in “Perfect.” He contacts FBI agent Ray Walker asking for permission to show a picture of his “suspect” to Arthur Mitchell’s family, who are about to go into witness protection. “Give me the photo; I’ll show it to them,” Walker offers, but Quinn refuses. It’s too sensitive, he claims, knowing if he’s wrong, he could be in possibly career-threatening trouble. The conversation ends with Walker offering to “see what he can do,” but making no promises.

As with season 5’s first two episodes, “Perfect” was on the slow side, but still an improvement over week 2. The writers would do well to resolve the Quinn and ‘Kyle Butler’ issue, or, in the least, move the storyline forward a little, as it’s painfully obvious they’re drawing it out.  I’ve speculated at this point in previous seasons that perhaps “Dexter’s” running out of gas and have always been proven wrong; I’ll withhold judgment this time.

Besides, I still see pieces falling nicely in place, with Julia Stile’s character being an especially promising wildcard. I anticipate her relationship with Dexter, in fact, evolving into one of the most interesting/bizarre Dexter’s ever had. That relationship alone is enough to keep me eagerly watching.