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If I Had a Hammer is the sixth of twelve episodes in Season Four of the Showtime series DEXTER, and the forty-second overall episode of the series. It first aired 1 November 2009.

Dexter doubles his efforts to stay ahead of the official Trinity investigation, and receives relationship advice about the friction between himself and Rita from a most unexpected source.


Inside Sacred Fellowship Church, Arthur Mitchell is leading a rendition of “Are You Washed in the Blood.” Dexter Morgan is among the parishioners, singing along. He’s been following Arthur for days to learn his schedule. He’s up at six, breakfasts at seven, at work by eight-thirty on a Saturday for a high school study session, eats lunch at noon, leaves at three, and dines at six. “Father, husband, teacher, deacon, all in the name of blending in,” Dexter thinks, “Camouflage is nature’s craftiest trick.”

At home, Rita gives Dexter the cold shoulder, and accuses him of taking too long to move out of his apartment. When Dexter mentions he could go for a sandwich, Rita says they’re out of bread. He suggests to Harrison that he should maybe keep the apartment, just in case. With Harrison in one arm, he picks up a lamp with his free hand and crosses in front of television screen, causing Astor and her friends to protest. He moves to the kitchen counter and sets his lamp down. As he opens the fridge, Rita comes up behind him and says she made an appointment with a counselor; it’s an emergency. She picks up the lamp and tells Dexter it doesn’t belong there.

The next morning, Debra wants a ride to the station to watch the interrogation of Nikki Wald. Dexter gets a call to come to the scene of the bludgeoning. When he tells Deb about it, she says it happened exactly where Lundy had predicted -- and they could have stopped it. Dexter does not like her getting so close to this case, but he agrees to drive her to the station.

The victim, Earl Doorman, has been lying there for two days, because the building was closed all weekend. The AC was off and Joey Quinn is bothered by the smell. The cause of death is determined to be blunt force trauma to the head from a hammer. The blood spatter indicates that the killer is over six feet tall. Dexter remembers Arthur moving the victim’s arm after killing him, causing the victim to point towards a smudge of ash on the wall. Dexter tries to collect the sample secretly, but Vince Masuka catches him and demands the sample.

Arthur is in his garage, with the door open, whistling “Are You Washed in the Blood” while he takes his hammer from a bucket of water and bleach and cheerfully cleanses it.

At the station, Deb is watching a live feed of Nikki Wald’s interrogation. Nikki vehemently denies any involvement in Deb’s gunshot wound and Frank Lundy’s death. Quinn tells Deb that watching the interrogation is only going to fuck her up. Deb retorts she’s already fucked up.

Angel Batista walks into Maria LaGuerta’s office, frustrated that he couldn’t get Nikki to confess. He is being transferred and didn’t want to leave the case unsolved. He spots a new folder on LaGuerta’s desk. It’s the bludgeoning case, but LaGuerta saw no point in telling him about it. She feels guilty about the transfer, but Angel tells her the advantages -- promotion, raise, and increased life expectancy. LaGuerta, though, points out that he hates sitting behind a desk, with him replying, “But I love being with you.”

At the marriage therapist’s office, Rita is teary-eyed and Dexter fails to grasp what’s upsetting her. He thinks it’s just about the apartment. Rita is exasperated, saying he never listens, lies all the time, and she mentions Lila. The therapist points out to Rita that she knew about Dexter’s behavior before they were married. Rita says she hoped he would change, and the therapist asks if she hoped the same thing about Paul. Rita begrudgingly accepts a little responsibility, which relieves Dexter. He believes they’ll work out their problems, but Rita wants either total honesty or a divorce.

Back at work, Dexter is bludgeoning fake heads full of fake blood. LaGuerta and Quinn are watching from behind glass, waiting for Dexter to find the right hammer so they can trace it. Masuka runs excitedly in and slams a paper against the glass. After he catches his breath, he reveals that the smudge on the wall is cremated human remains, plus a fragment of bone. He’s also found two strains of DNA: one from the bone, and one from saliva, which the killer used to stick the ash to the wall. Quinn fist-bumps Masuka and LaGuerta tells him to run it through every database imaginable. Dexter, however, knows that Arthur’s DNA isn’t in any of their databases.

Deb is sitting at her desk, ignoring her ringing phone and reviewing the Vacation Murder files, when Angel comes over to demand the files back. He orders her to go home since she’s on sick leave. Deb first checks a message that has just been left. It’s from one of Harry’s CI’s -- Valerie Hodges. Before she can listen to Valerie's message, Angel barks at Deb to hang up the phone and go home. Deb protests that the call was “way personal.” Angel says there’s no difference for Deb. She looks up, and sees LaGuerta erasing names from a whiteboard, but Lundy’s name remains under “Unsolved.”

At Dexter’s house, Rita is washing dishes. Dexter starts drying, and tries to think of a conversation starter. Work? No. Trinity? No. Food? He’s about to tell her he’s hungry, but she finishes up and leaves the kitchen, telling Dexter they’re out of bread again.

At church, Arthur and his family are listening intently to the sermon, displaying what appears to be genuine affection for each other. Dexter, watching from a nearby pew, wonders how Arthur does it. He decides to put off murdering Arthur to find out how, since he’s just finished his cycle and is likely not an immediate threat. After the sermon, Arthur stands by the door, chatting with the churchgoers, and handing out fliers for an organization called “Four Walls One Heart” that builds homes for the homeless. Dexter introduces himself as Kyle Butler and accepts one of the fliers, saying he’s been looking for a way to get more involved. He tells Arthur that he’s at church because his wife kicked him out of the house and took the kids, and he didn’t know where else to go. Arthur assures “Kyle” that he’s come to the right place.

Christine Hill is at Quinn’s apartment checking her email. Her editor wants more on the vacation murders and she asks Quinn to get her an interview with Deb. When Quinn refuses, Christine tries to sexually entice him to get what she wants. Just then, Quinn’s cell phone rings. It’s Deb who is sitting on the curb outside his building. Quinn goes outside and sits next to Deb. She tells him she wants to be an eyewitness for the shooting. Quinn reminds her that lying could ruin her career, and urges her to think hard before she makes a decision.

Dexter is in his lab, looking at a flyer for Four Walls One Heart. He decides to skip work and stalk Arthur. On his way out, he hands LaGuerta the preliminary spatter report, saying he’s leaving to do field research. Just then Masuka appears and tells LaGuerta that there were no matches in the criminal database, but the killer is related to the cremated person, according to mitochondrial DNA.

At a build site, Arthur is hammering a nail into the frame of a new house, using his murder weapon. His family is nearby helping out. When Arthur catches sight of “Kyle,” he jovially greets him. Dexter says he lost all his tools in the move, so Arthur hands him that hammer to use. Dexter notes the make and model of the hammer and then nails a beam into place. Spotting Arthur’s son, Jonah, by the water cooler, Dexter walks over to introduce himself. Jonah is a pleasant young man and apparently enjoys working at the building sites. He tells Dexter his parents are awesome, and they never fight. In fact, his father just gave him his prize convertible. “Best dad ever,” Jonah states enthusiastically. Just then, Arthur looks their way and Jonah hurries off, saying that his father doesn’t like idle hands.

Deb stands outside Nikki’s holding cell where Nikki is sitting cross-legged on her cot with her head in her hands, rocking back and forth. Deb gets her attention by asking if she recognizes her, “The cop you shot.” Nikki covers her face with her hands and asserts her innocence. Deb tells her to come closer and say it to her face. Nikki does so, and insists that the night Deb was shot, she was in a hotel room with Johnny, taking meth, watching porn, fucking, and watching cartoons. She will not change her story, even when Deb tells her it’s bullshit. “I didn’t shoot you; I didn’t kill that old man.” Deb loses control. Reaching through the bars, she grabs Nikki’s face and threatens to be an eyewitness and accuse her. More words are exchanged until Deb pushes her away, and calls her a piece of shit. Nikki collapses, moaning about Johnny. She points at Deb accusingly and says that if Deb testifies against her, then Deb is the liar.

In Deputy Chief Thomas Matthews’ office, LaGuerta tells him she wants to be transferred out of Homicide to Public Relations. Matthews acknowledges PR could use her political skills, until she reveals she wants a transfer so that Angel can stay in Homicide. He says she’s not easily replaced, so she reminds him of her previous demotion.

Dexter comes home with a big bag of items. Rita hopes it’s the last of the apartment stuff, but it’s merchandise. He bought electronics for the kids, a onesie for the baby, and a bread maker for Rita. He says he got the bread maker because they’re always running out of bread, and Rita asks, “We’re always running out of milk. Did you get me a cow, too?” Rita tells him they don’t need gifts — they need Dexter. She wants him to talk to her, but he’s doesn’t know what to say. He pauses too long and Rita exclaims, “How hard can it be?”

LaGuerta is lighting candles in her bedroom, clad in a satiny robe. She has a surprise for Angel -- he gets to stay in Homicide. Angel is amazed to hear that LaGuerta has saved his job, but he soon realizes how she did it. They’re faced with a dilemma -- he can’t let her leave Homicide, and she can’t let him leave Homicide.

In the lab, Dexter stares at Masuka’s computer screen and Arthur Mitchell’s DNA profile. He wonders if Arthur has some kind of family-keeping gene that he’s missing. Masuka pops up behind him with the news that the mitochondrial DNA indicates that the ashes came from a female. Dexter has a feeling that Arthur’s history with this unknown woman shapes who he is.

Dexter rushes up to LaGuerta and hands her a hammer identical to the one Arthur used in the bludgeoning. He’s finished his work and wants to take care of some personal stuff. LaGuerta is very supportive of this, “Take care of your personal stuff, Dexter. Take very good care.”

Deb is at the station rolling her chair from one table to another. She tells Quinn she’s changed her mind about being an eyewitness. “Just ‘cause Nikki’s a piece of shit and my dad was a lying sack doesn’t mean I have to be.” Deb no longer believes that Nikki was the shooter. She’s gone through Lundy’s research, and she knows some of it is missing. Quinn isn’t buying it, even though Lundy predicted the bludgeoning. He believes Lundy was chasing a ghost. Deb is adamant, but Quinn wants her to go home, relax. “And what? Paint my fucking nails?” Deb snaps.

In Matthews’ office, Angel and LaGuerta are officially announcing the end of their relationship. Matthews is sick of the back and forth and calls it out as “middle-school bullshit.” They present him with signed affidavits to guarantee it’s over. Matthews regards them with skepticism, and says that if it isn’t true, there could be “severe, career-ending consequences.”

Dexter is at his apartment, moving out the last of his stuff. He opens his laptop, and searches the newspaper archives for “survived by Arthur Mitchell, Florida, obituaries. 1949-1969.” He retrieves three records: one for Arthur’s sister Vera, who died in a bathtub when she was sixteen in 1959 ; one for his mother, Marsha, who jumped to her death off the Collins Canal bridge in 1961; and the last for his father, Henry, who was beaten to death in an alleyway in 1964. Faced with this new information, Dexter lies down on the floor. “Sister, mother, father,” he whispers. Trinity is recreating their deaths in cycles of three. He remarks on the similarity of his own case; he watched his mother get cut up, and now he does the same to others.

The Four Walls One Heart van pulls up to Arthur’s house and everybody exits to head home. Arthur starts carrying his tools into the garage. Dexter, watching him, slips a box cutter out of his pocket and cuts his knuckle. He walks into the garage, and Arthur is shocked at the blood running down Dexter’s arm. Dexter lies that he cut himself at the build and didn’t think it was serious. Arthur hangs up the hammer on the wall and leads Dexter into the house.

Arthur insists they take their boots off before entering. He goes to get the first aid kit, telling Dexter to make himself at home. Dexter wanders around, looking for clues. Then he spots several wall plaques, commemorating the work of Four Walls One Heart. Their dates and locations correspond to the dates and locations in Lundy’s books. He realizes the charity is Arthur’s cover. Dexter admires the way he’s “hiding in plain sight.” Then he spots the urn -- the remains of Arthur’s sister, Vera. The ashes are getting low. He hears Arthur returning with the First Aid kit and is about to replace the lid on the urn, but decides to see what Arthur will do when his weak spot is exposed. Arthur bounds into the room and sees Dexter holding the urn, lidless, in both hands. Arthur stops short, takes the urn, and places it on the table. He grimaces, charges forward, and pins Dexter to the wall, his forearm across Dexter’s neck. “Don’t … touch … my sister!” he gasps. Dexter plays the innocent and says he can’t breathe. Arthur realizes what he’s doing, releases Dexter, and apologizes. Dexter feigns shock and asks what that was all about. Arthur says that his sister died when he was young, and it was very painful for him. Dexter says he understands; he’s lost people too.

They sit, and Arthur bandages his wound. “If the ashes bother you so much,” Dexter asks, “why do you keep them out?” Because his sister is a part of him, Arthur says. When Dexter asks what if his family saw him so upset, he says it doesn’t matter because he can be himself at home. He used to push people away and it even led to the loss of a relationship, but once he met his wife and they had kids, he realized it would only work if he “jumped in with both feet.” Dexter repeats the phrase, and asks if that’s what saved his family. “Kyle,” Arthur says, taking his hand, “My family saved me.”

On the way out, Arthur gives Dexter a bag of tools, including the hammer. “I thought you should have your own tools,” he says. “It’s the least I can do.” Dexter thanks him, and they agree to meet at the next build.

At the next therapy session, Dexter says he wants to be part of his family, and uses the “jump in with both feet” line. Dexter says his mother’s murder shaped who he is but he wants to change. The murder is news to the therapist, but Rita knew about it. Under questioning, Dexter admits that he’s afraid to let Rita get close to him, because he thinks she’ll abandon him if she finds out who he really is. Rita is shocked. “You think I would leave?” Dexter responds, “Yes, absolutely.” Rita protests that she married him because she wants to know him better. The therapist takes this moment to ask Dexter why he really kept his apartment. Dexter admits, “Because I need space … to keep my stuff.” Rita points out that they have a whole house. The therapist interprets his remarks to mean he needs space for himself in the marriage. Dexter agrees, but says he really does need a place for his stuff. Rita agrees to give him the space he needs, which surprises Dexter.

A bathroom door opens a crack. It creaks as Arthur pushes it a little further open. His wife is soaking in the tub, and she says with a smile, “I know you’re here.” He smiles. “You always catch me,” he says. He joins her in the bath and puts his arms around her neck. Then he reaches over and takes a hand mirror from the shelf, holding it to see his wife’s face. “Look how beautiful you are,” he says. “I’ll never get tired of hearing that,” she answers. She leans her head on his arm and closes her eyes, smiling, as Arthur lowers the mirror into the water.

Deb and Dexter are drinking coffee at home in the kitchen. She is feeling better and now knows that Nikki Wald didn’t kill Lundy. She believes that Trinity shot them and then stole Lundy’s research. Dexter knows this isn’t true, but says nothing. On her way out, she tells him that she thinks she knows who Harry was fucking. Dexter almost chokes on his coffee, but she won’t tell him anything until she knows more.

Dexter longed-for space is a pink-and-green shed in the backyard. Rita helps him move his trunk into his new space. Is it too stuffy, she asks? Nope. He’s got an air conditioner, with his blood slides hidden inside. Rita is happy and, trusting him, she gives him a padlock and key for the shed’s door. “We have three young children,” she says. “There’s dangerous stuff in there.” Dexter is relieved. For a split second, he looks at the camera, and gives a devilish grin.


  • I'm perfectly comfortable with bodily fluids: blood, snot, tears. But the emotions that go along with them, not so much" -Dexter, to himself
  • Rita’s picturing her life without me, and I can’t picture mine without her… or the kids. - Dexter, to himself
  • I was born of primordial ooze. I crawled out of my own mother's blood. I hid among the humans, hoping not to be seen. But somewhere along the way, I grew legs, stood upright. I became a husband, a father. I had to evolve. It was the only way to survive. - Dexter, to himself


  • "If I Had Hammer" refers to the title of a folk song of the same name written in 1949 by Pete Seeger. It also mainly refers to the hammer that the Trinity Killer uses to kill his latest bludgeoning victim. Trinity ends up giving it to Dexter.
  • Dexter uses the alias "Kyle Butler" when he introduces himself to Arthur Mitchell.

Related Pages


The Episodes of Dexter