'Dexter': 6 Shockingly Normal Moments In 'Are We There Yet?'
If you're lucky enough to have cable through someone other than Time Warner, you already know that while this week's Dexter episode toyed a bit with the every day, things ended on a rather twisted note. Still, it's clear the Dexter writers enjoyed putting together "Are We There Yet?" because it gave them a chance to give everyone's favorite serial killer his own big happy — the Morgan Family spin on 1313 Mockingbird Lane, if you will. The series got to show us (sort of) what an everyday nuclear family could look like in the mind of Dexter Morgan.
Normalcy Part 1: Someone's Sister Hates His New(ish) Girlfriend
Siblings are ridiculously protective when it comes to their siblings' significant others, and when Deb's brother's girlfriend isn't quite fitting perfectly into the fold (you know, being that Hannah is a murderer who broke into Deb's house and drugged her) Deb gets vicious. Like every good sister (and TV critic) she pokes holes in all of Dex's excuses for Hannah, like asking why the feme fetale couldn't just murder her own lousy husband. Good question, sis.
Now, I'll concede that the circumstances that have justified Deb's distaste for Hannah (and the fact that as Dex's half sister, Deb once confessed to being in love with him) are far from your average yarn about keeping up with the Joneses, but the little sister getting salty about her big, protective brother's new lady friend who's taking him away (literally... to the Florida Keys... on a boat)? That's as average as apple pie.
Normalcy Part 2: A Father's Love Is Riddled With Constant Disapproval
Zach may as well have been sitting in the background saying, "Aw shucks, Paw. I've only done this a coupla times!" in his best Opie Taylor voice this episode. Dexter discovers his protege's attempt at the classic killing room and is immediately critical and like a typical simmered down grandpa, swooping in to defend his grandson, Harry's voice comes through to remind Dex that it's better than "your first time." Of course, Dex answers this truth by later growling "Do not 'Dude' me" to his surrogate serial killer son. (Ah, the language of fathers everywhere. It almost makes me a little homesick.)
Minus the whole setting-up-a-nice-room-to-slice-people-up-in bit, this is the circle of extremely normal life: disapproval passed on from father to son, and then to that son's son. Can't you just hear that classic whistle-laden tune now?
Normalcy Part 3: "Grandma" Has An Over-Abundance of Pride in Her "Bloodline"
When Dex, Hannah, and the newly likable Zach have dinner with Vogel — or "Granny" as she's not-so-subtly cast in this scene — her proud tone rings like that of Gilmore Girls' unforgettable grandmother Emily Gilmore extolling the virtues of the Gilmore bloodline. When Vogel responds to the discussion of Zach's frame job with "I doubt it's anything this table can't handle," she may as well be a googly-eyed Grams thinking of all the beautiful young debutantes who'll be vying for her "grandson's" attentions. And of course, like any matriarch, ol' Vogel-grandma is tight-lipped about the origins of this "family" when Hannah asks why Vogel is so interested in serial killers. This is not suspicious at all.
Alright, alright. So grandmas don't usually say things that ignite conspiracy theories about them being the big, bad serial killers who've been tormenting their sons for nine episodes, but sometimes they make you go to church on a weekday morning, and spoiler: they don't sell donuts at weekday mass. Close enough?
Normalcy Part 4: "Mom" and "Dad" Are Too Busy to Undress Properly Before Hanky-Panky
In case you've missed the part where the episode hinted at Dexter and Hannah playing the roles of mom and dad to little tyke serial killer Zach, this is the part where I remind you and then make you extremely uncomfortable. Hannah and Dexter finally get to the frantic making out before scenes of frantic Michael C. Hall's naked rear-end bobbing about (read between the lines, folks). And this near perfect sexy encounter is marred by one glaring symptom of a parent who's without time for real romance: business socks.
It's happened. Dexter has reached full old man status: he does the nasty in dark socks.
Normalcy Part 5: The Young Ones Lack Patience
This moment existed solely for the folks who hadn't caught on to this whole "little happy, disturbed family" act, but when Dexter drives back with Hannah in the front and Zach in the back asking "Are we there yet?" it was just over-the-top enough that it works. Cute. You're a "normal" little serial killer clan.
Normalcy Part 6: The Chaos Never Ends
Anyone who's taken care of children from the ages of one to 17 knows that when you're taking care of a family, the chaos is never-ending. Screaming toddlers turn into terrifyingly articulate five-year-olds, who turn into wildly demanding hooligans swayed by the rudimentary commentary of their peers, who turn into teenagers with cars and hormones and God knows what else running their brains.
So when something bad happens to Zach now that "Dad" is distracted with "Step Mom" Hannah, who's definitely not going to screw Dex over (yeah, right), it seems like a normal symptom of a complicated family. Oh, right. Except for the part where the "trouble" with Zach is that the Brain Surgeon killer is back and has carved into the faux-son's head ending his life and this warped little happy family act.
I'll concede: The Pseudo-Morgans are a less average than even The Munsters, the family whose vampire-werewolf son Eddie once wrote a school essay in blood ink. But this strange little game worked. The Showtime series needed a little goofy role-play to jazz up the story for a bit, because so far, this final season is bringing a rather fervent new meaning to the question "Are We There Yet?" Seriously. Are we?