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"Slack Tide" is the seventh of twelve episodes in Season Four of the Showtime series DEXTER, and the forty-third overall episode in the series. It first aired 8 November 2009.

Miami Metro Homicide tries to solve the Model Killer Case.

Summary

Dexter Morgan’s family is lounging on the Slice of Life. Astor and Cody are fishing, Debra is reading in the captain’s chair, and Dexter and Rita are stretched out on the prow with Harrison’s carrier between them. Then Dexter’s phone rings. It’s the station with another dead body. Deb also has work to do too, which includes moving into Dexter’s vacated apartment.

In the Everglades, Dexter finds Angel Batista, Joey Quinn and a few uniformed cops outside Joe Nix’s run-down trailer, standing around a gutted alligator. The 'gator has swallowed a human arm which was found by Joe when he shot the gator planning to eat it. According to Dexter, it’s an adult female arm and the bite was postmortem. It also appears that her wrists were bound before she died. Dexter dumps the arm in a plastic bag, and Angel mobilizes the search for more body parts.

Dexter returns home and is ambushed by his family for help with a multitude of tasks. Christine Hill’s card is on the counter, along with a message for Deb to call her. Christine is still trying for that “hero piece” on Deb, but Dexter doesn’t want a reporter around. He hears the sound of the neighbors fighting and asks Rita if she thinks things are going better between him and her, and she does.

Dexter is sitting in his car outside a hardware store for the purpose of “bumping into” Arthur Mitchell. Arthur jovially greets "Kyle" and they load the van together. Dexter asks why Jonah isn’t here to help. Arthur says he’s busy, and advises Dexter to encourage his kids to have outside interests. Dexter sees the benefits of that strategy for a serial killer. Dexter puts on a sad face and tells Arthur that he’s new in town and doesn’t know anybody. Arthur tells Dexter to meet at his house at six-thirty the next morning.

At the Cuban food truck, everyone from the station is welcoming Debra back. Marty even gives her a free coffee. As they head into the station, Christine Hill makes a beeline for Deb, but Dexter successfully deflects her and asks her not to write the story about Deb. When Christine won’t let it go, Dex bluntly tells her to “stay away.” Quinn walks up just in time to hear their interaction. They have a face-off, with Dexter reminding Quinn that he saw him steal money at a crime scene. He insinuates that if Christine doesn’t stay away, there will be consequences.

Deb is late on purpose to a meeting, trying to avoid the attention, and tells everyone she’s fine. She asks about the photo of the severed arm that’s projected on the screen. It belonged to nineteen-year-old Estrella Carazo. According to forensics, Estrella died less than four days ago, and her arm was eaten about a day after that. She was a waitress and model, and four days ago had a shoot with a well-known photographer, Jonathan Farrow. The day after the shoot, she didn’t show up at her waitress job.

As Maria LaGuerta closes the meeting, she accidentally calls Angel Batista by his first name, then hurriedly corrects herself. It does not go unnoticed by Deb, who mentions it to Quinn. The two of them conclude that Angel and LaGuerta are “doing it.”

Dexter is using work time to research extracurricular activities for the kids when Jonathan Farrow arrives at the station with his lawyer and assistant. Dexter turns on the surveillance feed to observe his interrogation. When Angel hands Farrow a photo of Estrella, he remembers her, specifically her “ass.” He says their photo shoot lasted from nine until noon, at which point he went to another shoot and worked all night. Farrow describes Estrella as “F.O.J.J.” or “Fresh Off the Jumbo Jet.” He says he could make Deb famous, “I just need to get you in my studio, whip your clothes off and rough you up a little bit.” Dexter decides to put Trinity on hold and focus on Farrow.

Quinn is helping Deb move into Dexter’s old apartment. When she reveals that the apartment used to belong to her brother, Quinn is curious why he has kept it so long. Deb tells him that Dexter is “slow to evolve.” On his way out, Quinn runs into Dexter at the door. They’re not on the best terms, and Quinn needles him about keeping the apartment after he got married. “What kind of guy does that? What are you hiding, Dexter?” Dexter mutters, “Stay out of my life.”

Debra cheerfully informs Dexter that she’ll be picking up the Trinity research where Frank Lundy left off. She has all the evidence Lundy collected except for the stuff that was stolen. Just then Dexter spots Harry’s CI files and feels uneasy. Deb tells him she’s having coffee with one of them tomorrow, so it can’t be his dead mother. He’s worried that Deb will find out about Laura Moser, and it will lead to her to finding out about him.

When Dexter arrives home from work, Rita tells him that the neighbor’s wife moved out. Eager to find time for himself, Dexter hands the kids pamphlets on after-school programs. For Cody he suggests the Young Sailors Club, which is an instant hit. Unfortunately, he strikes out with Astor — she turns down soccer, ballet, and the Little Scientists’ Association.

Early the next morning, Arthur takes Dexter for a drive through a forest in his van. They stop in an isolated area and Arthur opens the back of the van to reveal an array of cutting tools. “Choose your weapon,” he says. Given his expertise with the chainsaw, Dexter goes for the axe. Arthur takes the chainsaw, the hacksaw, and the regular saw, and they walk further into the woods. Until now, Dexter has been unaware of the project, which is to cut down a tree. Arthur tries to start the chainsaw and can’t, cursing as he throws his hands into the air. Dexter offers to lend a hand. He starts the chainsaw with one pull and revs it, which annoys Arthur. Without offering it back to Arthur, Dexter holds the saw to a tree trunk and fells it in one clean cut.

While Arthur measures the tree, Dexter asks what to do when one of your kids isn’t interested in any of your suggestions for outside activities. Arthur tells him not to make suggestions. “They’re just children, Kyle. You let them do whatever they want, they suck their thumbs and diddle themselves all day.” When Dexter asks why they don’t just buy lumber from the hardware store, Arthur snaps that he doesn’t want that lumber, that this is better.

Driving home, a deer jumps out of the bushes and slams into the front of the van. It’s seriously wounded. Arthur observes it with horror and gasps that he didn’t mean to hit it. He wants to leave it there, but Dexter insists that they put it out of its misery. He hands Arthur the axe, but Arthur can’t do it. Dexter asks if Arthur would like him to do the deed, and Arthur is relieved. As Dexter prepares to deliver the fatal blow, Arthur turns away. It’s a chance to kill Trinity, but he doesn’t. He takes one swing and kills the deer.

Later, at the station, Dexter eavesdrops on Quinn, Angel, and LaGuerta. They can’t get a search warrant for Farrow’s place, which is a relief to Dexter as it will make it easier for him to get Farrow. Angel is sure Farrow killed Estrella, and has found records for three other Latina models who have gone missing in the past year. He thinks Farrow preys on them because their illegal status makes an investigation less likely.

Deb asks LaGuerta off the record if she and Angel are in a relationship. LaGuerta vehemently denies it and tells Deb she thought another woman would have more sensitivity about these kinds of rumors.

Dexter is researching Farrow on a celebrity gossip website called “TinselWeb.” Apparently Farrow likes to party, and that’s how Dexter tracks him down. That night, Dexter is parked outside Farrow’s studio, watching the assistant lock up for the night. Dexter,climbs the stairs and shines his flashlight across a brick wall decorated with expensive electric guitars. The computer and desk lamp have been left on. Dexter starts scrolling through photos, and comes across creepy shots of Estrella Corazo. He grabs a spray bottle and a black light and starts inspecting the floor. He finds a blood trail that leads across the room to a fragment of fingernail embedded in the wall. In the morgue, he confirms that the nail was from Estrella.

In his garage, Arthur is obsessively sanding a plank, made from the tree that Dexter cut down.

At the lunch area behind the station, Deb meets Valerie Hodges, an attractive woman in her fifties. She thinks Deb wants to hire her as a CI, but Deb instead asks if she and Harry had a romantic relationship. Valerie balks at the word “romantic” but says they often had sex, and she wasn’t the only one. In fact, she’s pretty sure Harry picked his CIs “based on how good we were in the sack.” She’s about to go into detail, but Deb, shaken by the loss of her long-held ideal, cuts her off and hurries back into the building.

Deb tells Dexter she should never have started looking into Harry’s CIs. Harry was fucking Valerie and who knows who else. She doesn’t know her father anymore, but Dexter states nothing has changed, and everyone has secrets. Deb retorts that she doesn’t have secrets like that. Dexter hurriedly says, “Me neither.” He offers to deal with the CI files. When Deb leaves, he picks up his mother’s file and feeds its contents through the shredder, but can’t destroy her photo, thinking, “I can’t let her be cut up again.”

Rita is washing dishes and Astor is finishing her homework when Dexter walks into the kitchen with an acoustic guitar. Astor seems interested and he says it’s a guitar for her, because she’s taking guitar lessons. She takes the guitar and says, “We’ll see.” Rita warns him that you can’t force kids into things, and asks Dexter if he’s ready for his “big night.” He’s unaware that he committed himself to take four boys on an overnight camping trip with the Young Sailors, starting tomorrow at eight a.m. He tells Rita that he can’t go because he has plans for the weekend, but Rita doesn’t buy it. To keep her happy, Dexter decides to kill Farrow that night and leaves quickly, saying he has to prep the boat.

Dexter follows Farrow through Miami’s nighttime streets, and pulls up outside of a club. Quinn, in turn, is following Dexter. After breezing past the bouncer by saying he’s on Mr. Farrow’s list, Dexter locates Farrow in the VIP section with a couple of women. Quinn walks in and spots Dexter leaning against the bar, and orders a drink for himself. Dexter watches Farrow's actions with the women and reflects that he doesn’t have all night. He stops a busboy and asks him to tell Mr. Farrow that a homeless man is throwing up in his car. Angry, Farrow leaves the club about ten seconds later. Dexter is about to go after him when he spots Quinn on the other side of the dance floor.

Turning to the sexy girl next to him, Dexter points at Quinn and says, “Can you believe he’s here?” She doesn’t recognize him, so Dexter tells her she’s making a big mistake. Curious, she strolls over to introduce herself. With Quinn distracted, Dexter makes a quick getaway. Quinn soon notices that Dexter, the lab geek, gave him the slip.

Driving home, Dexter reflects that he should actually stock up the boat. In a garage across town, Arthur is still working on his wood, planing it to make sure it’s perfectly straight.

The next morning, Dexter speeds across Biscayne Bay while the four little sailors cluster excitedly on the deck of his boat. He reflects that if he can’t kill Jonathan Farrow, he should at least make the most of this father-son time. Dexter struggles up the dock with the camping gear while the boys run off to play.

Debra is at the station going through the Trinity research. She looks at LaGuerta, sitting at her desk, then gets up and tries to lift the box. It hurts too much, so she takes just one red folder and walks to LaGuerta’s office.

At the campsite, Dexter is teaching Cody how to make a bow-line hitch while they set up the tent. Cody, however, would rather go throw dirt clods with the other kids. Dexter is disappointed, but lets him go play. Dexter stares across the bay at the Miami skyline.

Dexter is making more bow-line hitches when his phone rings. It’s Deb, bragging that LaGuerta gave her the go-ahead to do a Trinity investigation. However, she only asked for permission to investigate the bludgeonings, but it lets her investigate Trinity without LaGuerta knowing she’s investigating Trinity. Dexter admits that was smart, but he’s annoyed that Deb is vowing to catch Trinity to avenge Lundy’s death.

Quinn walks up to Angel and asks if he and LaGuerta are doing “a little bump and grind.” Due to Angel’s attitude, Quinn apologizes and quickly walks away. “ Angel then reports the incident to LaGuerta. She says Deb asked her the same question. Angel jokingly says it’s LaGuerta’s fault because she can’t stop staring at his ass. They wistfully state that they miss each other, but they’ve made their choice.

The Young Sailors are sitting around a campfire and one of the dads is telling them a story. Then it’s Dexter’s turn. After some prompting, Dexter begins to tell a genuinely creepy story about the Man of Three... Trinity... a monster, who was “born in a bathtub filled with blood” and roams the countryside killing innocents. The kids are getting creeped out, and just as Dexter is getting to the bludgeoning part, a father jumps in with a lame finish about hitting his thumb with a hammer. The kids laugh and the father looks at Dexter a little strangely.

Meanwhile, Trinity is fitting two boards together in his garage. He looks haggard and troubled.

After Dexter puts Cody to bed, he surveys the campsite. Everyone’s asleep and it’s only nine o’clock, so maybe he can kill Farrow after all. He sneaks down to the dock, climbs into his boat and starts the motor.

Farrow, returning home, is surprised to see bright flashing lights in his studio. Walking over to investigate, he’s attacked from behind by Dexter, who strangles him due to lack of M99.

Farrow wakes up to images of his supposed victims projected on the wall, flashing on and off. He’s tied to a panel that’s illuminated from below. Panicked, Farrow demands to know what’s going on. When Dexter explains what’s happening, Farrow denies killing anyone — like they all do at first. He insists he only photographed these women. He says it’s too bad they’re dead, but “life is hard, and it’s brutal and ugly and way too fucking short. That’s why I shoot what I do — beautiful women.” Dexter adds, “Who are bruised and cut and bleeding.” Farrow screams that it’s just for the contrast and, because of his pictures, those women will live on forever. Dexter retorts that nothing lasts forever. Then he chops off his head.

Dexter dumps Farrow’s body parts into the ocean. While he does so, Trinity is shown in his garage with a completed coffin, Deb is going through Lundy’s personal effects, and Angel and LaGuerta say goodbye at the elevator. Cody emerges from the tent to find Dexter cooking pancakes, his favorite breakfast.

It’s Monday morning, and Dexter exits the elevator to the sight of Farrow’s personal assistant in handcuffs, being led into questioning. According to Angel, he’s been booked for the murder of Estrella Carazo, and the case is airtight. They have camera footage and DNA evidence. Dexter walks to his lab in a daze, Alone in the dark room, Dexter sinks to the floor and breathes, “I killed an innocent man.”

Related Pages

Extra Information
Title Meaning:
Slack Tide - Dexter explains it himself in first quote of this episode
"There’s a moment sailors call slack tide. When the tide is neither coming in nor going out, but perfectly still. It’s a moment frozen in time, when all is calm and peaceful. The only downside to it is that it passes so quickly. As much as we might like things to be suspended in time, they never do."
Trivia
The story a man tells the children during campfire is "The Hook", a classic urban legend.
Quotes
"Man has always been drawn to the sea, but it’s an unnatural setting for us.
A place of great danger. Tides, currents, waves, wind
-each presenting their own hazards, none of which can be ignored.
The slightest lapse in judgment could be a mistake you might never recover from.
But a good sailor doesn’t fight against these elements. A good sailor works with them,
using them to his advantage. While others less fortunate might be forever cast adrift,
often in several pieces, he always comes home safely."
- Dexter, to himself

"Okay - two serial killers go for a ride.
Why do I get the feeling that this joke ends with only one of them coming back?"
- Dexter, to himself, when he's in Arthur's car

"Debra’s headed in the wrong direction,
but when she realizes that and gets headed the right way,
Laura Moser leads to Brian Moser leads to the Ice Truck Killer leads to Harry Morgan.
So many little stepping stones that lay a path to the real me.'
- Dexter, to himself

Gallery

The Episodes of Dexter

Reference

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