When one of Dexter’s recent kills is discovered, he’s faced with the knowledge that the Ice Truck Killer planted the body. Also, someone witnessed the crime!
“Keeping the truth from the people closest to you is how you’ll survive, and how you’ll protect them if anything ever goes wrong.” — Harry Morgan
“Return to Sender” is a good, high-tension yet low-key Dexter episode. While not particularly action-packed, the story definitely engages the viewer. One could easily wonder, “Gee, how’s he gonna’ get out of this one?”
See, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) had murdered a happily married couple (the Castillos) the previous night, because they were people smugglers, scam artists and murderers. Normally when he dumps a body off into the ocean, they stay buried. However, Dex is alarmed to find himself called back to the salvage yard to investigate his own crime. The police presence isn’t just from a random tip-off with no body evidence. The body of Valerie Castillo (Valerie Dillman) has somehow found its way back into the trailer it was killed in!
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Dexter’s no dummy, and is in complete possession of his faculties. He knows he didn’t do this on his own. In fact, the most likely suspect is the Ice Truck Killer — whose identity has yet to be revealed, despite him knowing Dexter all too well.
The question, then, is how is Dexter to proceed? If he tries to conceal the crime more, it might do more to reveal him as a suspect. If he’s to completely ignore the issue, it won’t go away, either. So the plot (and the case) thickens, and clouds over Dexter’s mind like a heavy fog (whereas he normally sees things pretty clearly). He even has a nightmare about his sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) being a killer herself, and doing to Dexter what he does to his own victims!
Panicked after Deb reveals the killer’s profile as being similar to him, Dex even dumps his knives into the ocean, as if to say, “Never again!” Still, he gets the bright idea of investigating his blood slides, knowing that the Ice Truck Killer may know about them. Sure enough, Valerie’s blood side has a smiley face etched into it — a playful little sign, but deadly. Deciding he doesn’t want to lose, he quickly alters the scene to make it look like Jorge Castillo (José Zúñiga) killed his wife. Good thinking, Dex!
The Witness and Moral Issues Regarding “The Code”
Dexter as a savior? “Return to Sender,” Showtime.
As we saw in the previous episode, someone had actually witnessed Dexter’s crime. It turns out to be a boy, Oscar (Cesar Flores), who was hidden in a trunk. While Dex is concerned about him, and no doubt ponders what to do, it’s a matter that happily works itself out. When asked to identify the killer, Oscar actually draws a picture that is clearly Jesus Christ (although, during initial stages of the drawing, the eyes looked eerily similar to Dexter’s)! In other words, the boy believes the killer of killers was a savior!
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Still, some interesting ethical questions linger in the viewer’s mind. While Dexter expressed that he would never harm a child, what if this principle were really put to the test? Not only is there Oscar, but in a previous episode, Dexter was faced with a young man, Jeremy Downs (Mark L. Young), who was on the brink of murdering someone. In Dexter’s code, does it become acceptable to murder someone, let’s say, the very second after they turn 18?
See, even though Dexter is clever and tries to have an answer for everything, it’s clear that a lot of his (and his stepfather Harry’s) “code” is just rationalizing. The premise is, if you develop your own ethical standards (or rules of thumb), it can make your unethical behavior seem like it’s more justifiable. If watched correctly, Dexter makes this very clear, while not being afraid to pursue taboo angles regarding vigilante justice and human corruptibility.
Meanwhile, Dexter’s code is facing additional tests, stemming from his girlfriend Rita’s abusive husband, Paul (Mark Pellegrino), who was recently released from prison. If pushed, should Dexter consider applying his code to protect Rita (Julie Benz), or would refusing to apply it do more to protect her? Even for Dex there are no clear answers, which is another reason for his code. Still, what if something comes along to totally tamper with his life, and his line of thinking?
As people like Paul and the Ice Truck Killer enter Dexter’s life, the complications clearly take their toll, and a clean, neat and orderly killer can never be organized enough. and can never kill all of his problems away.
That’s it for this Dexter flashback. Feel free to discuss the episode in the comments!