Stan Liddy finally meets his ending in week 11, but it wasn’t exactly the ending I’d hoped for; his death—which came at Dexter’s hand—might even be described as anticlimactic. Liddy’s demise did, however, reveal some significant—albeit subtle—character changes in Dexter; changes first hinted at in the season 5 premiere. Namely, Dexter seems to have fewer qualms now about violating Harry’s code.
Granted, Liddy, after kidnapping our heroic serial killer and trying force a videotaped confession from him, left Dexter little choice. This violation of the code was thus a matter of survival: kill or go to prison. That makes it less egregious than the murder of a random redneck from episode 1, but Liddy, although a disgraced dirty cop, fell far short of Harry’s criteria.
More telling, however, is the fact that Dexter was on the hunt when Liddy tazed and kidnapped him. And Dexter’s target wasn’t Stan Liddy at all. After inadvertently finding the surveillance equipment Liddy had planted in his apartment and tracing it back to Detective Joey Quinn, Dexter assumed that Quinn had set up an off-the-books surveillance operation. With that in mind, after tracing the source of the electronic surveillance receivers to a rented van nearby his apartment, Dexter swoops in, a syringe of M99 in hand.
He fully expects to find Quinn in the van. “I never wanted it to come to this,” actor Michael C. Hall intones via Dexter’s signature voiceover, but Dexter doesn’t find what he expects. In fact, instead of preying on a hapless Quinn, Dexter instead becomes Liddy’s quarry, ultimately leading to a violent, intense scuffle wherein Dexter stabs Liddy to death.
Quinn, meanwhile, after receiving a call from Liddy to come make “that big bust” at the Bayfront Park Fuel Docks, nearly stumbles onto Liddy’s murder, but ultimately leaves the scene, perplexed, thinking Liddy’s van abandoned. He’s none-the-wiser regarding Liddy’s fate—at least for this week. Neither does he realize the full extent of Liddy’s evidence on Dexter or that Liddy had kidnapped the blood splatter analyst. Conveniently (from a storytelling perspective), Liddy never mentions Dexter’s name or any of the other details.
Dexter’s intention to drug and murder Quinn represents a significant evolution for our heroic serial murderer. Until Rita’s murder last season; until his involvement with Lumen this season, such tactics would have been strictly off limits. The Dexter from seasons 1-2, for example, in his handling of Sgt Doakes—Dexter’s previous police nemesis—would’ve abhorred such a blatant violation of Harry’s code. In fact, that pre-Trinity Dexter took great pains to avoid murdering Doakes and might’ve gone to prison if not for a deus ex machina from the borderline psychotic Lila.
Dexter’s not the only one kidnapped in Hop a Freighter. Lumen meets a similar fate when she falls into a trap laid by Jordan Chase. At Chase’s behest, the first victim of his self-help-enabled serial-killing gang, Emily Birch—with whom Chase shares a “special” relationship—calls Lumen for help, claiming that Chase called her and somehow knows Emily talked to Lumen and Dexter. She’s scared enough, she claims, to go to the police. Nobody wants that and Lumen calls Dexter, who, of course, doesn’t answer because he’s tied up with Liddy.
Lumen thus goes alone to meet with Emily. Big mistake—Chase is waiting with Emily when Lumen arrives. He not only kidnaps Lumen but also murders poor Emily, marking the first time the former Eugene Greer has done his own wet work—not a huge surprise considering Chase’s mental/emotional instability and that, thanks to Dexter and Lumen, there’s no one left to do Chase’s killing for him.
In contrast to Dexter and Liddy, there’s no neat, all-in-one-episode resolution with Lumen’s kidnapping. Dexter’s left to follow the clues at Emily’s house, including Emily’s bludgeoned body and multiple trails of blood, one of which belongs to Lumen and, possibly, to Chase. Lumen, it seems, using a switch blade knife Dexter bought for her as a gift earlier in the episode, is fighting back. Dexter finds that blood-drenched knife leading away from Emily’s house. Roll credits.
Elsewhere in week 11, Deb’s investigation into Chase and his gang is heating up and her vigilante theory—which could ultimately lead to Dexter and Lumen—is gaining steam. She and Quinn, after speaking with Dan Mendell’s wife—aka ‘Dan the Dentist’—at last uncover a connection between Chase and Mendell. That’s enough for a warrant to hold Chase as a material witness and prevent him from leaving the country on a self-help speaking tour of Europe.
Chase, of course, owing to his kidnapping of Lumen; to his murder of Emily; to his obsession with Dexter, has lost interest in Europe—at least for now—and when Deb and Quinn intercept his private plane, Chase is nowhere to be found; he never showed up for the flight.
Quinn also continues his romantic pursuit of Deb in week 11, laying it all on the line, confessing to her what a dumbass he is and how much he loves her. I remain dubious as to how much he actually loves her (I mean, c’mon the guy’s only recently lost the last “love of his life”—the ill-fated Christine Hill, daughter of the Trinity Killer—to suicide), but he certainly is a dumbass—and an unlikable one at that. It wouldn’t bother me a bit, in fact, if he proves one of season 5’s casualties. I suspect that won’t be the case, though, as he seems to be cracking through Deb’s considerable, foul-mouthed defenses in Freighter. Then again, if Deb finds out about Quinn’s connection to Liddy—and she seems likely to do so—all bets will be off.
As penultimate episodes go, Hop a Freighter was something of a letdown. Although nicely paced and well written (and impressively bereft of tangential plot elements like the snooze-inducing Batista-Laguerta romance), it was mildly predictable and lacked suspense. It did do a nice job, however, of setting the stage for the finale.
The only big season 5 questions left (to my thinking) are whether Lumen will live or die; whether Deb will uncover Dexter’s secret; and what role Quinn will play as everything winds down. Chase seems destined to die, but it might make for a nice curveball if he somehow escapes and lives to toy with and torment Dexter another day. Whatever the case, my biggest fascination with next week’s The Big One will be seeing if the writers can duplicate the emotional impact of last year’s finale. That would be a stunning achievement indeed.