Dexter: Episode 107 – Circle of Friends – flashback review


In “Circle of Friends,” an Ice Truck Killer suspect leaves Dexter unimpressed. Also, Rita’s abusive husband enters the picture. Can Paul redeem himself?

“Pretend. You pretend the feelings are there, for the world and for the people around you. Who knows, maybe one day they will be.” — Dexter Morgan

What makes a serial killer kill? Is it being abused as a child, mental illness, something in the water, or the mysterious “dark passenger” that Dexter (Michael C. Hall) often alludes to regarding his crimes? Most likely, the truth involves a confluence of factors, with no single one deserving all the credit. Indeed, motivations are difficult to pin down.

For example, Dexter’s relationship with Rita (Julie Benz) started off as a ruse to convince people he’s a normal American male, who wants things like relationships and sex. However, as season one moves along, Dexter seems to actually care more about her and her kids. Maybe Dexter really doesn’t feel much for them emotionally (as he insists), but he intellectually grasps their merit, even apart from his cover. In other words, they are teaching him to care, just as his adoptive father Henry taught him to tame his wilder, more anti-social instincts by giving him a “code.”

Mark Pellegrino in Dexter (2006) (Showtime)

So, when Rita’s abusive husband, Paul Bennett (Mark Pellegrino) steps into the picture, it puts Dexter’s code to the test. Unlike when Dexter’s stalking killers for his dark passenger, Paul is not an outright killer. He’s just a bad guy. To complicate things further, he claims he’s trying to change his life around, and he wants to be able to see his kids. In previous episodes, Dexter has stated that violence against kids is strictly off limits, even for himself.

So, what if Paul ends up being abusive to the kids? What if he’s violent against Rita? There’s also the humiliating possibility — which is very real in abusive relationships — that Rita could go back to him, and take the kids along. Not only would this leave Dexter back at square one, but it risks severing any real emotional connection he has to his fledgling family. It’s a real problem for Dex, and not one he can likely kill his way out of.

Neil Perry, Taxidermist Extraordinaire

Dexter’s sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), is always desperate to prove herself on the Police force, probably due to her father’s expectations of greatness. So, when she and Officer Batista (Davd Zayas) believe they have arrested the Ice Truck Killer, it’s undeniably a huge moment for her. Is Neil Perry (Sam Witwer) the right guy? He seems weird enough, that’s for sure. A taxidermist with a taste for the macabre, his own mother’s bones are found outside of his trailer home!

Still, one thing makes Dexter immediately skeptical: The Ice Truck Killer lives in a trailer? For Dexter, everything about the Ice Truck Killer spells grandness. Also, Perry doesn’t seem nearly as organized — that is, neat, clean and methodical — as the ITK. The real ITK operates with surgical precision. He may have a sense of humor, but his approach is not that of a clown. Perry’s behavior seems too far beneath the real deal.

Sure enough, Dex’s suspicions are confirmed when he sneaks a meeting with the suspect, and the guy has no idea who Dexter is. Keep in mind, the real ITK not only knows of Dexter, but seems to have insight into his life, knowing what makes him tick. In other words, Neil Perry is most certainly not the Ice Truck Killer, but someone craving the glory without any of the hard work. So, obviously, this episode deals with other possible motivations for murder: Fame, notoriety, and a vague desire for acceptance into folklore.

Jeremy Downs Slips Through the Cracks Entirely

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Previously in the series, Dexter encountered a young murderer named Jeremy Downs (Mark L. Young). Rather than adding Downs to his slide collection, Dex told him not to kill, that it’s a dark road to travel. Two things prevented Dexter from killing Downs: His age, and that the person Downs originally killed had raped him. Both facts aligned with Harry and Dexter’s code, so he was let off with a warning.

Apparently, though, the warning didn’t quite stick, as he has killed again. Dexter meets Jeremy in a police interrogation room and urges him to only kill those who deserve it. It backfires, however, as Jeremy eventually decides that he himself deserves to die. It’s sort of an emotional moment for the series, but it doesn’t send Dex on a tangent. In a way, it only serves as a mirror of what Dexter could have been. It gives something for Dex — a self-justifying vigilante killer — to think about.

Meanwhile, as what seems like an aside, Deb asks out a surgeon named Rudy Cooper (Christian Camargo). It is, of course, the same man who provided prosthetic limbs to ITK victim Tony Tucci (Brad William Henke). It ends up a regrettable decision for Deb, for some major reasons. Rudy seems like a nice guy at first, but that’s true of a lot of people.

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That’s it for this Dexter recap. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!