'The Dexter 2012/2013 Rewatch Project'Ep.107: 'CIRCLE OF FRIENDS'
By dad1153, AVSForum.com
- Feb. 12, 2012Plot Summary: The Ice Truck Killer is supposedly identified, but Dexter is skeptical. Meanwhile, Rita must deal with the return of her menacing, recently paroled ex-husband. (Source: DexterWiki).
Premiere Dates: 11/12/06 (SHO), 3/30/08 (CBS)
Writer: Daniel Cerone
Director: Steve Shill
AVS Comments: mayest not only started us off but his was post #200 (click link to read more).• • • • • • • • • • • •
When I was young I broke my Humpty Dumpty toy into pieces, but never bothered to collect human body parts to put the doll back together. I'm weird that way. •
This episode aired (edited for network TV) on CBS a little after 10 p.m. on Sunday, 3/30/08. It got a 2.2 in the demo rating, up five tenths from the previous week (Source: HOTP Thread/Media Life Magazine
Second script (of six) written by Daniel Cerone.•
First (of eight) episodes directed by Steve Shill
, whose direction for Season 4's "The Getaway" won the show (and himself) an Emmy Award for Best Direction in a Drama Series, one of four Emmy's "Dexter" has won
through the years. His previous work prior to (and during) "Dexter" included stints on "Law & Order: SVU/CI," "Deadwood," "The Tudors" and "The Wire" (among many others).•
In the back of my mind I was drearing this episode because it deals with pretend-serial killer Neil Perry (Sam Witwer
) instead of the real-deal Ice Truck Killer. Imagine my surprise when this episode built, from very jokey and comedic beginnings (super-wacky music by Daniel Licht, Dex play-pretend stabbing someone at a crime scene, crooked camera angles, etc), to a very serious and dramatic tone that ends on an exclamation point of utter joy (for Dexter and audience alike). This episode is like a perfectly-executed upward trajectory missile launch.•
All the balls the show kept juggling for the previous six episodes (Neil Perry showing up as a witness in 'Love American Style,' Jeremy Downs' fate when Dex let him live in 'Crocodile,' Rudy Cooper getting closer to Deb than two episodes prior and Rita's ex-hubby Paul showing up after being mentioned/heard on the phone in 'Return to Sender') pay up in this episode. Seven episodes in and all of the show's cards (except for the reveal of ITK's identity) are on the table.•
For a stabbed-to-death high school yearbook editor that corpse sure looked to me like it was breathing a lot. •
Unlike newer seasons where Dex always seems to be a step ahead of Miami Metro, here the police (through Doakes and fellow police officers) get to Jeremy Downs before Dexter snatches him because Doakes actually went with Dex's hunches at the previous crime scene. And Batista/Deborah's hunch about parking tickets that led them to Neil Perry was boiler-plate effective police work. It's been so long since I've seen Miami Metro work as anything other than Dexter's playground I'm kind-of shocked to see it. •
Rita is still driving the low-rider convertible Dexter got for her when she tries to pick her kids from school. It's an odd sight.•Mark Pellegrino
(the poor man's Paul Bettany) makes an impression as Rita's ex-husband Paul. While its obvious he cares for his kids it's obvious Paul's also an oportunistic bully. The first two times Rita alone has to deal with Paul gaining the affection of their children (by him getting behind her back with gifts) you truly get a sense of the sensible, gentle woman Rita was that couldn't muster the courage to confront her abusive husband...•
... which is no problem for Dexter. His 2nd meeting with Paul, when Dex barely blinks at an incoming punch (I like that Dex does react a little bit, instead of a non-reaction which would have come across as too-cool), puts the bully back in his place. Then, after talking with her boyfriend, Rita musters enough courage to lay down the law to Paul (who at this point in the show seems like he could go either way). Not a single scene in this episode between Paul, Rita and Dexter is wasted. They all serve to show Paul being a problem (Rita not standing up to Paul), Dexter correcting the problem (advice to his girlfriend and taking a stand) and then Rita putting her foot down.•
Astor made a quick 180 degree turnaround on how she felt toward her father. Last episode she was wetting her bed at the thought of him coming back and didn't want Paul on her birthday party. The very next episode Astor seems perfectly fine with her dad. Did Paul buy Astor a Sony PSP or something to bribe her? •
Even though it's a Paul-centric episode during the first half-hour 'Circle of Friends' still has time to build on the Rita-Dexter relationship. Their mutal feet-massage on the couch and Dex saying 'only you can make those words cute'
after Rita calls Paul a 'f***ing bastard'
are simple, lovely moments of intimacy. They make such a cute couple. •
During the feet-massage couch scene Dexter uses the term 'darkness' (no passenger yet though) to refer to the personalities inside the troubled guys that Rita has met. Then Dex confesses (not really!) to what type of person he is and Rita dismisses it. Dex will have a similar non-confession confession with Jeremy Downs later in the episode (more below).•
Neil Perry's mobile home looks like twisted homages (with an ironic/comedic bent) to Norman Bates' room/hotel office in "Psycho" (complete with dead mother's corpse under the "house") and to Buffalo Bill's lair in "Silence of the Lambs." Even not knowing if Perry is the ITK or not, the music makes scenes in this location look/feel like a big joke.•
Dex mentions to Deborah when the latter wants the former at Neil Perry's place that it's his day off. Later in the episode (when it's clear it's a new day since Paul shows up at Rita's for breakfast) Dex mentions again that it's his day off. Just how many days off has Dexter taken? Or are we to assume that this entire episode takes place in the span of a day or two?•
What do you know, Dex risks been seen with Jeremy Downs twice (in the park and at the police station) even though the kid could at least finger Dexter of stalking/nearly killing him. For a low-profile, stay-under-the-radar type of serial killer in this episode Dex almost gets caught... twice!•
If Doakes had discovered that the civilian he ran over in the park on his way to aprehend Jeremy Downs was Dexter, what would he have done? Technically Dex could have been charged as soliciting prostitution services from Jeremy (though both could have denied it since it never got that far). It also means Doakes could have gotten the (wrong) impression that Dexter is into young boys, which maybe in his cop mind would have explained why Dexter behaved in a way he found suspicious.•
Doakes' reliable chestnut to Dexter when the latter's theories are proven right again, 'Im watching you,'
elicits a 'whatever' backward hand wave from Dex. •
Even though he's the least-used of the regular cast members, when Geoff Pierson's
Capt. Matthews is in the squad room his presence is always felt even though he's mostly sitting quietly in the background. Matthews screwing over LaGuerta by taking credit with the media for Perry's arrest (which actually backfires on him) plants the seeds of mistrust that result in the termination of Tom's career in Season 6 at the hands of ambitious-to-a-fault Maria.•
Very unconventional interview LaGuerta conducts with Perry when both of them exchange pleasantries while smoking. Very odd, and probably part of the director's attempt to make Perry seem like a plausible (if disappointing) Ice Truck Killer.•
The scene where Dexter talks to Jeremy Downs in the (camera-less) interrogation room is the centerpiece of this episode and a masterpiece whose elements had been set-up throughout the season up to now. By casting young actors that look very similar (Devon Grey as teenage Dexter during the flashbacks and Mark L. Young as Jeremy Downs) Dexter is, figuratively and somewhat for real, talking to himself when he was a young man with murderous impulses (i.e. where teenage Dex would have ended up without Harry's 'help'). Doakes' white partner (who even has an earlier scene in this episode talking to Dexter to establish his presence) that comes in and yells/threatens Jeremy when Dex leaves is like the anti-Harry, a cop who doesn't give a s*** about Jeremy and doesn't see/recognize any good within him. And Dexter's 'I'm empty... pretend...'
speech to Jeremy (the equivalent of Ernest Hemingway's 'all men lead lives of quiet desperation'
for lonely serial killers) is the core tenant of the series that we've been watching, here at its most emotionally naked and exposed before the breakdown with Lumen at the end of S5's 'The Big One.' And, unlike Rita earlier in the episode, Jeremy doesn't see it at first but then he sees (and feels it) enough to know he'd rather be dead than continue 'living his life inside his head.'•
'Circle of Friends' is the first episode in "Dexter" history without Harry flashbacks (James Remar appears briefly on-camera in the photos that ITK fondled that Dexter is looking at). Then again, no flashbacks are needed bacause that Jeremy Downs interrogation scene is like a present-day flashback (Jeremy: teenage Dex; Dexter: Harry; angry white cop: the world that doesn't understand Dexter's needs, etc.) of Dexter's emotional chickens coming home to roost. Jeremy was Miguel/Lila/Lumen/Deb (starting in Season 7) all rolled into one, long before we were even aware of how meaningful it was for Dexter to expose his true self to complete strangers.•
The interrogation scene between Jeremy Downs and Dexter, to me, answers the matter of why Dex gets involved in the lives of characters he'd be better off killing instead of befriending (Miguel in S3, Lumen in S5, Arthur Mitchell in S4, Lila in S2, etc.). It's clear Dex is alone and wants someone to share the burdens of his lonely serial killer life with (what else is 'I'm empty... pretend... maybe one day those feelings will be real'
if not a cry for help by an anguished loner?) but can't because of Harry's Code. When Dexter sees Jeremy Downs going down the path he (Dex) could have gone but without a Harry Morgan to guide him, Dexter FEELS
sorry for Jeremy, and wants to know why he killed the HS kid because he (Dex) CARES
. 'Feeling' and 'caring' are not normal emotions of the psychopathic personality, thus Dex's need to get involved with people that could potentially (and in the case of Trinity, devastatingly) hurt Dex's life. Dexter Morgan, like Bill Bixby's Dr. David Banner character in "The Incredible Hulk" TV series, can't help but care for strangers that stumble (Miguel, Lumen) or could help him understand (Trinity) his secret. Dex would be better off stalking bad guys and executing them, the same way Dr. Banner could stop 'Hulking Out' if he stopped getting involved in the businesses of mobsters, crazy scientists, white trash dirtbags, etc. Both TV characters though, by virtue of the TV world they exist in, can't help but get involved even if it often means doing harm to themselves. That's what being not a Harry Morgan creation but 'an entirely new being... I'm Dexter'
means, and why Dexter remains compelling 72 episodes into its run even if the show the character appears on is more miss than hit these days.•
Dexter's voice-over when he leaves Jeremy behind with the angry cop is a (very short and brief) return to the 'exposition for dummies' explanation of what we had just seen. A little clumsy, but it happens fast-enough and it's not done as often as in latter seasons that you forgive it, especially since the 'I had someone to talk to, Harry my foster father'
schpiel is also there to get then-new "Dexter" viewers up to speed (especially in this flashback-free episode).•
I was waiting for when this season we'd hear the uber-classic Dexter tune 'House.'
It debuts in 'Circle of Friends' not once (during the aforementioned 'Dexter interviews Jeremy' scene) but at the very end. Both times the music enhances and gives extra power to what already are pretty dramatic moments.•
Gotta say though, Jeremy killing himself by smashing his head against the corner of a bed in prison smacks of a last-moment "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" leap of dramatic license. Steve Shill directs the hell out of the moment though, especially the slow-motion guards running past Dex and toward Jeremy's cell. It looks beautiful, but how convenient that Jeremy's dead and Dexter's secret is once again safe.•
When Perry looks at Dex and says 'who the f*** are you?'
the camera on both characters is crooked. When Dex hears Neil's question the camera centers itself (reflecting Dex's world righting itself at knowing Perry isn't ITK), peppy music kicks in, Dex smiles and we cut to black. We as audience members are literally cheering with joy that the real ITK will kill and hurt many more innocents because Dexter is happy. The show at this point has the audience 100% on Dexter's side, not only for the reveal at the end (nobody wanted the mysterious character that had intrigued us for seven episodes to be a white trash loser like Neil Perry) but also because we see Dex's renewed happiness as a reward of-sorts for Dex trying to do right by Jeremy Downs (even if it was too late).•
I can honestly say know, rewatching Chris Camargo as Rudy Cooper, that the guy's charm is what kept me from thinking of him as the Ice Truck Killer. Seen from Deborah's eyes (the character we identify with most after Dexter) Rudy is good-looking, a gentleman, doing good deeds plus a doctor. No wonder she barely-waited to say yes when he asked her out for dinner, or he kissed her mid-conversation in the parking lot (Jennifer's beautiful).•
Deb mentions to Rudy that her mother (Harry's wife) passed away from cancer when she was 16. Rudy's description of her mother's death (a car accident) doesn't match what we know happened to Laura Mosler (coming soon) except for the bit about her being in parts that couldn't be put back together again because the pieces weren't around. That's not only true but a big fat pointer that the guy is ITK, along with his 'Humpty Dumpty' conceptualization.•
Rudy mentions to Deb casually that he attended the University of Paris-Sorbonne
to study the 'human form.' Paris is where Lila escaped at the end of Season 2's 'The British Invasion,' and where Dexter got to her. Was the French location a recall back to this episode where Rudy mentions (though no proof is offered, maybe Bryan's just making s*** up) that he studied in Paris?•DEBism of the episode:
(to Rudy when they're out drinking/eating) 'How did you become Captain Hook?'
. Batista actually had the clever foul-language line of the episode with his 'hitting the motherf***ing load'
comments at Neil Perry's place.•DEX's favorite quip:
(when realizing Jeremy Downs has killed again) 'My random act of kindness was misguided. If I'd followed my instincts this boy's high school yearbook would still have an editor.' Runner-up:
(to Rita's ex Paul the first time they meet) 'Dexter Morgan... I can't think of anything clever to say' (Pics courtesy of this website)