Dexter, Season 7
Is LaGuerta the heroine of Dexter?
Posted Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, at 8:20 AM
Every week in Slate’s Dexter TV club, Katy Waldman will have an IM conversation with a different Dexter fan. This week, she welcomes back Chris Kirk, Slate interactives editor, to discuss episode 7.11.
Katy Waldman: Chris, I don’t want to bury the lede. At the end of this episode, we saw Miami Metro arresting Hannah for the murder of Sal Price, based on evidence Dexter provided. It seems that Hannah tried to poison Debra, and Dexter stepped in to protect his sister. Is this relationship—and subplot— finished?
Chris Kirk: I don't think that's likely. This season has built Hannah up too much. (Then again, I thought the same thing about Isaac.) But there are no killers left. LaGuerta is looking for evidence to support her theory that Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher. Here’s what I predict will happen: Hannah will get bitter and threaten to reveal Dexter's true identity. "You should have killed me," she tells Dexter as the cuffs go on. Did she mean that his betrayal cut her more than his knife would have—or was she threatening him?
Waldman: Interesting read on that last line. I had an almost opposite reaction. Hannah seemed so hurt and lovelorn in that moment that I wondered whether Deb had somehow spiked her own water. Earlier, we did see her plant evidence to protect Dexter in a different context.
Kirk: That would certainly make for an interesting twist. But I think it would be implausible that Deb intentionally overdosed on her anxiety pills and crashed her own car just to turn Dexter against Hannah.
Waldman: It’s insanely reckless, even for Deb.
Kirk: Then again, I'm conflicted. As Hannah said, she gets the job done. She doesn't make mistakes.
Waldman: Maybe she never intended to kill Deb? Although what she could possibly gain from sending the homicide LT into a non-fatal car crash is beyond me. She knows Deb doesn’t intimidate.
Kirk: Well, remember that Hannah is a lot like Dexter. She kills for different reasons, but she knows how to play innocent.
Waldman: You’re right: They are both practiced manipulators. Hannah’s speech to Deb—oh, please, don’t send me to jail because it will hurt Dexter—was infuriating. Just as Dexter’s deer-in-headlights act on Matthews’ boat made me feel, well, seasick. By the time he was perfectly impersonating a drug dealer with Estrada, I’d had it with the lying, scheming pair of them. Which is totally not my typical reaction to these characters.
Kirk: Actually, I love it when Dexter adopts new personas. It reminds me how slick he is. He's got more than a "Good, Lab Geek Dexter" gear and a "Bad, Serial Killer Dexter" gear. He can tailor himself to a range of situations.
Waldman: It’s hard not to revel in his competence as a serial killer! But isn’t his shape-shifting also at the core of his "trust problems?” How can you trust anyone if you’re always faking? And think about the tragically (ok, kind of comically) misleading photographs scattered through this episode. The family portrait with Santa and the happy-couple shot with Hannah and Dexter. I think the show is telling us that, yeah, it’s fascinating when things aren’t as they appear, but that discrepancy has a price.
Kirk: Dexter faces a Catch-22. I think it's fair to say that he can only be in love with a fellow serial killer. Only a fellow serial killer can accept who he really is, without an inkling of judgment. But he can never trust a fellow serial killer. So his options are a life with somebody he doesn't love, a life with somebody he doesn't trust, or a life alone.
Waldman: That's really astute. And it explains why Dex’s justification for killing Estrada—breaking the last strand from his past so that he could start a new future with Hannah—rang so false to me. The reason Hannah is so great for him is because he's a killer. Without that common ground, do they even have a basis for a relationship?
Kirk: I’m not sure, but I am convinced they love each other in a bone-deep way. Which definitely makes it stranger that Hannah would go after Debra, knowing how much Dexter cares for his sister. I wonder if she thought eliminating Debra would be the equivalent of Dexter eliminating her father.
Actually, I’ve been wondering if this show is leading us into a scenario in which the only way Dexter can be happy is by killing his sister. Do you think this (orchestrating Hannah’s arrest) is his final decision between the two of them?
Waldman: Dexter wants things both ways. See Christmas dinner, when he says, "I'll have a little bit of everything." I don’t know if we can trust that any choice he makes at this point is final. As impossible as it is to imagine Dex betraying Deb after seven seasons, especially given the recent sacrifices she’s made to protect him, Deb never made Dexter dream about “the future.” (Side note: Isn’t the inability or unwillingness to plan ahead a symptom of clinical psychopathy?)
Kirk: We have both been reading Kevin Dutton’s The Wisdom of Psychopaths.
Waldman: And maybe LaGuerta picked up a copy too! Can we talk about her for a second? She FLOORED me this episode with her sudden investigative brilliance. After being condescended to for weeks by an increasingly obnoxious Matthews—he, by the way, is fast replacing Deb as the show’s resident potty-mouth—she lures Dexter into action by getting Estrada released on bail.
Kirk: "The fat lady isn't singing any more. She's being dry humped in the dressing room." Yes, Matthews is becoming the show’s go-to source for lewd humor. And LaGuerta’s investigation is definitely bringing us to the endgame of the series.
Waldman: She’s emerging as a compelling character in her own right. She had that lovely moment with Batista in her office that I didn't know what to do with. Will some sort of holiday romance blossom between them?
Kirk: The last time we chatted about Dexter, I said I would love to see LaGuerta on Dexter's table, because I have found her character repulsive in the past. But this season has redeemed her for me. I like the fact that she's working for more than a higher position at Miami Metro.
Waldman: Right. And of course, the more likeable she is, the bleaker her chances of surviving. How will Dexter avoid killing her if he wants to preserve his cover?
Kirk: Especially since he’s no longer bound by the code.
Waldman: At least it was great to see Nadia get a fresh start in Vegas. Speedy, painless demise to an agonizing subplot. And pretty funny watching Quinn receive the news from a stripper writhing around on a pole.
Kirk: Speaking of speedy demises—and the lack thereof—Estrada is still at large. Will Dexter be heedless enough to go after him?
Waldman: The show took pains to show us that Estrada was totally unreformed. At the time, the fact just struck me as more justification for Dexter's vigilantism, but now it seems thematically resonant. Once a killer, always a killer. That's the painful truth Dexter deduced from the latest Hannah twist.
Kirk: As well as the question that the show Dexter wants to leave eternally open.
Waldman: Along with whether real-life teenage Harrison will be as hunky as the kid who appeared in Dexter’s future fantasy montage.
Kirk: I think you’ve had one too many mosquitoes, or whatever they call that goddamn drink.
Monday: What other writers and Slate commenters thought about Episode 11.
Katy Waldman is a Slate assistant editor.
Chris Kirk is Slate's Interactives Editor.