'The Dexter 2012/2013 Rewatch Project'Ep.110: 'SEEING RED'
By dad1153, AVSForum.com
- Mar. 4, 2012Plot Summary: Dexter, sent to investigate a blood-soaked crime scene, is gripped by a suppressed memory. Meanwhile, Rita is charged with assaulting Paul and could lose the children in a custody battle. Angel investigates a hunch regarding the Ice Truck Killer. (Source: DexterWiki).
Premiere Dates: 12/3/06 (SHO), 4/27/08 (CBS)
Writer: Kevin Maynard
Director: Michael Cuesta
AVS Comments: klouseau (who back then had yet to see the first two episodes of the season but was nevertheless hooked) reacted first to 'Seing Red' (click link to read more).• • • • • • • • • • • •
I know a lawyer, Theo Huxtable. We wears weird-colored sweaters to court, but other than that he's the best. •
After skipping a week (CBS showed a made-for-TV movie the previous week) this episode aired (REALLY edited for network TV) on CBS on Sunday, 4/27/08. It got a 2.0 in the demo rating, up from the previously-shown-on-CBS episode (Source: HOTP Thread/Media Life Magazine
Only "Dexter" episode written by Kevin R. Maynard
, who is also credited as a 'staff writer' (i.e. polished/added words to someone else's teleplay) on three other Season 1 "Dexter" episodes. His previous work included scripts for "Hercules: The Legendary Journey" and "Xena: Warrior Princess." Since leaving the show Kevin has worked mostly on reality TV ("Addicted To Beauty," "Dress My Nest," "Jessica Simpson: The Price of Beauty," etc) except for a single script/episode in 2008 for "Army Wives."•
Fifth of six Season 1 episodes directed by Michael Cuesta
, who also directed the "Dexter" Pilot and the upcoming S1 finale.•
After ten episodes of build-up 'Seeing Red' finally sheds a clear light into what made Dexter Morgan the 'damaged' kid that Harry saw fit to mold into a vigilante serial killer. Despite its subject matter "Dexter" had kept its violent imagery/gore suggestive and subtle up until 'Seeing Red.' For the big reveal of Dex's childhood trauma though, the producers cash-in their chips of goodwill with the audience and set the gruesome/gore meter
off the charts. It's a story/character-driven decision that to this day works in making us not question why Dexter is they way he is. This, along with the show's trademark humor (Dexter's face after striking Paul
) make 'Seeing Red' one of the best and most memorable "Dexter" episodes of all time. Dex casually mentioning that 'five women gave their life, their blood, for this moment'
right before he re-enters room 108 actually made the hair of the back of my neck stand.•
I didn't watch the CBS version of "Dexter" (why have a Big Mac when you can taste Filet Mignon?
) but I made it a point to catch 'Seeing Red' because I was curious how they could show it on network TV without totally butchering it. From memory: the network censors cut Dex's first and last trips to room 108 down to a few frames/seconds, obscured/difused out-of-focus/zoomed-out the background as much as they could during the Mazuka/Doakes/Deb scenes looking for clues, took out the close-ups of the needle in Paul's vein and cut out the Rudy-visits-Dex-to-get-his-phone-back subplot (but kept the Deb-Dex confrontation in the blood test room, which shows less of the 'fake blood' background than when Rudy was there). Other cuts (the deposition of Rita scene) were just to get the original running time (56 min.) down to 42 mins. I was surprised that, despite CBS' butchering it, the essence of 'Seeing Red' still came through.•
I'd totally forgotten how much Batista figures into this episode (VIP backstage passes to see Neil Diamond perform 'Kentucky Woman'... ohh Angel!
). He spots the former prostitute with the prosthetic painted nails (like, you know, Dex's 'magic blood' in S5) and gets Mazuka to point him to Rudy Cooper, who then tries to kill him. If Batista hadn't spotted the painted-nail prosthetics woman, would Miami Metro even had gotten on to Rudy? BTW, the recently-divorced woman that Batista was dancing with before he spotted the prosthetic-arm ex-hooker, are we to assume that was 'the right one' for Angel and that it got away because his cop instincts took over? Angel really hit it off with this woman, unlike Mazuka who seems to hit it off with every hot woman in Miami on practically every episode he's in... how the hell...? •
The official definition of Acrotomophilia
for those curious how/why Mazuka would know about these things.•
When Batista hands over his card to Rudy it shows his first name as 'Angelo,' which doesn't make sense because 'Angel' is spelled the same in both English and Spanish. Are Batista's parents Italian? Or is this another 'Angel gets s*** on' joke that whoever printed his cards botched Batista's first name with an extra 'o'? I don't know, but seeing 'Angelo' on the card made me LOL.•
Right after Batista survives Rudy's stabbing (though we didn't know that back then; the episode ends without us knowing if Angel is dead or alive) he shows up with flowers for Deborah at Miami Metro, reconciles and sets-up the next two episodes' plot. Now, is this 'Plan B' for Rudy because he didn't kill Batista? Was Rudy going to kidnap/use Batista's remains to stage another crime scene or fancy clue for Dexter to read? Or did Brian just want to kill Batista because he was onto his scent? Regardless, when the killing of Angel fell through Rudy's next step was to kiss and make-up with Deb. If Batista hadn't started snooping, would Rudy have kept on teasing Dex with more crime scenes and stuff (and for how long)? Did Brian move into 'Plan B' with Deborah because he knew that the heat was onto him now that Batista survived the stabbing? Just a 'what if' speculative scenario.•
It's not just the blood-soaked hotel room (which we don't see until Dexter steps into it for the first time) but Dexter's reaction to it that gives the first scene its power. We're used to our 'hero' being in control and the rock-solid center of calm when faced with the most gruesome stuff. When Dex gets his panic attack/repressed memories/nausea it hits us harder than his Miami Metro colleagues, who have no traumas/memories attached to the still-gruesome-but-they're-used-to-it crime scene.•
Sgt. Doakes' 'something finally got to you... I guess you're human after all'
comments to Dex after the latter staggers out of the hotel totally shaken is a rare moment of begrudging respect for a colleague. The weaker Dexter seems the more Doakes respects him, which is the flip-side to Dexter's earlier 'room full of cops'
comment about Doakes being the only one that senses something is wrong with pretend-normal everyday Dexter.•
Dexter also loses control of his emotions when he strikes Paul with the frying pan (an incident whose consequences lead all the way up to the end of Season 2*)
. Is the shaking from the blood-soaked room impairing his judgement when he acted on emotion/provocation? Dexter can and does something about Paul because he's good at it and something that is within his control, unlike his repressed memories still haunting him.•
Is this why Dexter goes back to room 108 after framing Paul, to get control back over the repressed demons he partially unleashed by letting them fully come out in the end? Despite being very emotional and traumatizing to see himself as a blood-soaked baby ('He scares me, I want him to go away'
), Dex's return to room 108 at the end of the episode is the most rational and cold calculation he makes: get this torrent of memories to all come out at once so he can deal with them and not be prone to more errors of judgement like striking Rita's husband on a whim. Even at his weakest Dexter is the strongest, smartest and most cold-hearted calculating person in the room. Not necessarily because he wants to because he has to to stay free/alive, per the training Harry drilled into young Dexter's psyche.•
Second episode in a row in which Paul Bennett is clonked in the head (after last week Rita took a swing at him). •
Dex's throwaway comment to Rita on the phone (after she's taken for questioning by authorities for hitting Paul) that he's familiar with how the criminal justice system works (so he can keep getting the guilty one's that get away free on his kill room table) is hilarious. •
Was Paul's case against Rita as iron-clad and ominous as they made it seem in this episode? I don't think so, and you'd think the courts (who are almost always biased in favor of fit mothers) would be more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to a working mother without a criminal record when she says she was almost raped than an ex-convict (even one that the system wants to favor as an exemplary case of a parolee going straight) for custody of their children. But, the same way the show expects us to buy Dex's trauma as an excuse for his behavior (more below), the legal threat Paul's accusations hangs over Rita are believable-enough
(at least for the duration of the episode) for us to buy that Dex (already tense and traumatized from room 108) had to do to Paul what he does. Our reward is the scene of glowing, truly happy Rita cheering her ex going back to prison (Julie Benz has never looked prettier) but, to the show's credit, this action by Dex would come back to haunt him and Rita's family all through next season.•
Yes, that's Theo Huxtable himself Malcolm-Jamal Warner
as the lawyer that Dex knows (how exactly?) helping Rita out. Unlike other child actors that fell off the face of the Earth (or flat on their face) after their hit show went away, Malcom's been pretty busy and has gotten steady work in the years since "The Cosby Show" went off the air.•
Keep track of the number of times the show uses a glowing red light on Dex's face even when he's not in the blood-soaked hotel room (like the first time Sgt. Doakes and Deb open the door). Particularly when Dex is in Paul's room and finds/stages evidence (and he says Paul's gun could lead to a 'family slaughter'), the red light becomes a visual symbol/metaphor for the unleased uncomfort (not the memories until the very end) from that room sticking with Dexter as he goes about his daily chores.•
Right after Dex checks out Paul's room (and has another violent flash of reprthe little kid) we see him returning to his apartment and docking his Slice of Life boat right next to the complex (clearly shot in Miami). This moment is played in silence (except background BGM) but it feels like we should be hearing a Dexter voice-over that the producers decided not to use. The scene still works as a transition moment but it feels kind-of odd.•
I don't know about you but I love the back-and-forth between LaGuerta and Capt. Matthews, both in their dialogue exchanges and the departmental decisions they make (like LaGuerta re-opening the Ice Truck Killer case without giving Matthews the heads-up). These two know each other's hot buttons and they keep pushing them, often and hard, just to piss each other off. I always wondered why the hatred these two felt for each other never translated into a sexual relationship. 'Seeing Red's' reveal that Matthews sees Maria as just another 'spic detective'
presents a nasty racist side to his character though, one that the producers/writers of "Dexter" have managed to tone-down over the next five seasons in which the LaGuerta-Matthews' feuds seem personal and not race related.•
Second S1 episode without Harry Morgan flashbacks, which weren't needed since this episode was all about Rudy working overtime to get Dexter to remember stuff.•
The 'bromance' between Dexter and Rudy is sad for Deb (more below) but it allows the show's dark humor to shine through: Dex sharing with Rudy beers and steaks (meat knife), Rudy not getting 'wood' when talking to Deborah about her brother's 'bloodbath' (which turns her 'horny'), Doakes' 'turn that s*** off' to Devo coming up on the 108 FM station that the ITK set up in room 108, etc.•
Love it when Rudy asks Dexter while the latter is testing tools for blood-splatter patterns if he had tried testing an electric saw, which Dex was unaware of (because the repressed memory of his trauma is so deep he doesn't even acknowledge the existence of electric chainsaws?) but Rudy knew about and wanted to trigger the memory on his younger bro. It almost goes without saying that Rudy deliberately left his cellphone in Dexter's apartment so he would have an excuse to go visit him at Miami Metro.•
Now that we know how the whole thing ends it's hilarious to look back at the consuming jealousy Deborah has at how close Dexter and Rudy bonded during this episode. But, back when this originally aired and we knew Rudy was ITK but didn't know how things would end (unless you had read the book), in 'Seeing Red' we were watching a clueless Dex (whose meter for other folks like him with 'dark passengers' wasn't obviously turned on when Rudy was around) be manipulated and played with like a puppy to Rudy's whim. And in the process of letting Rudy close to him (but not enough to truly see him) Dex was pushing Deborah away, whom we knew loved her foster brother unconditionally. It pained us to see Deb suffering because Dex was letting someone dangerous get close to him. At no point are we concerned for the innocents that Rudy or Dexter might kill (or have killed in the case of the ITK victims whose blood is prominently featured as a visual metaphor for Dexter's root trauma), just that Dex is in danger from Rudy and we're worried because Dex doesn't kno who he's dealing with. The "Dexter" writers/producers are toying with viewer's emotions by putting characters we know at the mercy of someone (Rudy) we know is bad for both the Morgan siblings. It's done for drama, but it doesn't work unless the audience is 100% invested in the characters they're watching (which we were) being played against each other by a bad guy they don't know about (but we do). It's Hitchcockian-type storytelling at its finest.•
The two scenes in 'Seeing Red' when Dex doesn't confide in his sister (first on the elevator, then in Dex's blood splatter test room) are the root for the distancing between brother-sister that fuels Season 5's eventual 'Deb likes Dex more than a brother' storyline. Compared with how its handled this season (the heart-to-heart between Dex and Deb on the splatter room really felt touching and genuine) the work the writers did in 2011 feels weak and amateurish, IMO.•
This 'Dexter' rewatch has made me marvel at how its skilled writing/directing/acting have made me overlook leaps of logic that I normally apply to other movies/TV shows. 'Seeing Red' is a perfect example of this because it's asking us, point-blank and without trickery (though more details emerged over the next few episodes/seasons), to accept that a little baby named Dexter Morgan was traumatized so badly by what he saw/felt as a child (which we're shown enough of to 'get it') that he had no way to be repaired, brought back to 'normal' and was condemned to become a monster. We debate whether Harry was wrong at turning a moldeable kid/teenager into a serial killer when, with proper treatment/love/upbringing, he could have been made whole and/or different. But through six seasons of "Dexter" the core trauma that we saw him experience as a baby (the chainsaw dismemberment of her mother in front of him AND
his brother, which we didn't know yet) has remained so convincingly revealed/unfolded/shown (over the series' first ten episodes... show a serial killer being good at what he does, then show the root cause of his killer instinct) and followed-through that we still don't question that Dexter HAS
to kill because it's built within his inner-circuitry from what he experienced. If you accept the show's central idea of Dex's trauma being overwhelming of his life though, then every convict or law breaker that's ever been convicted can give you sob stories (my dad abused me, my uncle molested me, my friends forced me to rob that liquor store, I was bullied in school, etc.) that explain his/her criminal life. "Dexter" presents a fictitious universe in which many unbelievable elements (Harry being the cop that found Dexter, his teaching him from an early age to hide his emotions, Brian growing up to become an equally-expert serial killer parallel to Dexter without both knowing each other, etc.) had to come together to create this extraordinary character. It amazes me that, even when acknowledging the trickery and fakery of the foundations of the "Dexter" franchise, I can't help but be won over by it even as I see the root trauma of Dexter's 'born in blood' lifestyle as an extreme case of an excuse to do crimes that he (and Harry) should know better than to rely on to overlook how wrong what they did/do is/was.•
In latter seasons the character of Laura Moser (Dexter's mother) would be written/acted in such a way that made it clear she was no saint or smart person. For the purpose of Season 1 and this episode specifically though, she's a recollection in Dexter's mind of a kind person that (maybe she did, maybe she didn't in reality) had her young son's interests in mind when she told her baby boy his mother loved him very much and to close his eyes right before she was cut into pieces. Even for the purpose of establishing the central trauma that made Dexter the damaged person he was/is, in 'Seeing Red' we're still witnessing the disjointed/repressed memory of a child because of present-day shock/trauma (the recreation in room 108 of something that triggers a repressed memory). The full picture won't emerge until 'Born Free' (Brian fills in some of the missing pieces) and throughout Seasons 2 and 3.•
I find it interesting that 'Seeing Red,' an important entry in the "Dexter" canon, was done by a writer that has no other significant entries on any other TV show. Either Kevin Maynard had just one great script within him and this is it or, as he used to do to other scripts, the other writers from "Dexter" rewrote Kevin's 'Seeing Red' script and made it the masterpiece that director Michael Cuesta filmed.•DEBism of the episode:
(to Dex after he mentions Mazuka wants her to go have drinks with him): 'I told him I have a yeast infection.'
(Dex's 'it's a bit of an overshare'
comeback is also pretty funny)•DEX's favorite quip:
(in bed with Rita thinking about Deb trying to get him to open up) 'Harry taught me that: secrecy, self-reliance and a well-stocked cupboard of Hefty Bags.' Non-verbal quip:
Dex wiping Paul's blood from Rita's kitchen floor with his sock after 'taking out the trash.'
(Pics courtesy of this website)*:
Seriously, if Dexter hadn't stricken Paul he wouldn't have had to dispose of him so quickly he leaves a shoe behind. A shoe that Paul tells Rita about, which she uses to confront Dexter after Paul is killed in prison. Dex, on the spot, confesses to framing Paul and mentions 'an addiction' that makes Rita send him to a group support that is where Dex meets Lila. Lila gets involved in Dex's life and eventually kills Sgt. Doakes so that he doesn't implicate Dexter into the Bay Harbor Butcher search that Dex was framing Doakes for. Bottom line:
if Dexter doesn't strike Paul with the frying pan then Doakes would have still lived at the end of S2 because Dex would have never met Lila, who wouldn't have stolen GPS data from Dexter's car to find the cabin where Dexter kept Doakes imprisoned. Not that this is how the writers of the show would have gone if the Lila character hadn't existed, but a plausible 'imagine if' play-along scenario.