“A jar of blood. Dramatic. Cryptic. Playful. Could it be him?”
-Dexter Morgan, Dexter S1E10: “Seeing Red”
Brief synopsis: Dexter gets called in to a hotel room that’s covered in blood, an image that causes him to start remembering something of his childhood. Rudy takes time away from Deb to lend his support to Dexter.
Title significance: Red. The color of blood. We certainly saw a lot of red this episode. There was the hotel room splattered up and down with blood, and then the bloody flashbacks to Dexter’s childhood. These two things are linked as the hotel room is what sparks Dexter’s memories. The fact that he saw so much red, so much blood, is causing his past to resurface.
Seeing red is also a euphemism for becoming extremely angry. We don’t see Dexter become angry this episode, though Deb certainly does. But we do see him have a loss of control, and in the end, that’s what seeing red means: to lose control. I think this title emphasizes both what happens to Dexter and what causes it.
“Someone like me”: We actually don’t get very much into this idea of Dexter seeking someone like himself this episode, and I kind of like that. This episode, Dexter isn’t even sure who he himself is. How could he find someone like himself? No, right now, Dexter is focusing on Dexter, despite his giddiness in the beginning that “his friend” had come back to play.
It would be amiss, however, to ignore how Rudy (not the Ice Truck Killer, but Rudy) fits into this. He is right there for Dexter the day he faces his crisis. He is able to get Dexter to open up to him on some level. Rudy even shares a story about a situation he had that was similar to Dexter’s, making him seem to be like Dexter in some way, related to witnessing violence that causes a mother’s death.
Success of “someone like me” plot: I actually think this mostly came from Rudy’s side this episode, which I think was a nice turn-around.
What “Seeing Red” does right:
- Worked up – I think it’s fantastic to see Dexter get so worked up about the blood in room 103. It really makes the episode something great. The acting is superb, and we get to see Dexter break down. All the walls he’s built up to contain emotion are crumbling. I thought he went through a great emotional journey this episode, and it’s awesome to see something affect him so much.
- Rudy – The interactions between Rudy and Dexter this episode were exactly what I was looking for last week. It’s dangerous, it’s fascinating, and it gives extra meaning to his interactions with Debra. It’s creepy, not just awkward like the last episode. I like to see them bonding, I like to see them instinctively give something to each other that they don’t give to Deb. I think it makes for a super intriguing episode.
- Hotel room – The visuals of the hotel room were perfect to set Dexter off. The blood splashed all over the place was very creepy and very visceral. The obsession with the number 103 was also eerie. The hotel room also sparked some of the best plots I’ve seen on Dexter, from Dexter freaking out, to Rudy reaching out, to Rudy and Deb’s fight. I also loved the perverse whimsy of the jar of blood, especially paired with background music. I thought it was fantastic.
What “Seeing Red” could have done better:
- Angel – I really don’t care about Angel’s troubles with his wife. They tried to connect it a bit with the main plot by Angel noticing the prostitute’s prosthetic arm with the colored nails, but I didn’t think it was enough to make the rest of Angel’s plot interesting to me or even feel necessary in any way. There were plenty of ways to have him make the discovery without turning it into the “Angel is a sad sap” show.
- Paul – I didn’t find myself caring overly much about Rita’s fear that the kids will be taken away by Paul. I think, any other episode, I would have been interested in Dexter’s moral dilemma and what he did to Paul to protect the family he cares for. But this episode had so much great stuff going on with Dexter’s memories and interactions with the Ice Truck Killer and Rudy’s manipulations of Deb, and I resented this plot taking away from the other plots.
- LaGuerta – There is a part of me that finds the part of this episode where LaGuerta undercuts the captain by revealing to the press that the blood came from the ITK’s victims empowering. However, the threats he makes and the issues with women needing to impress the men in their lives that came up a couple of episodes ago just aren’t as strong when compared to the rest of the episode. I do think it could done a lot better with some tweaks.
Overall: One of my favorite episodes of Dexter.