"Road Kill" is the eighth of twelve episodes in Season Four of the Showtime series DEXTER, and the forty-fourth overall episode of the series. It first aired 15 November 2009.

Dexter travels to Tampa with Arthur aka The Trinity Killer and plans to kill him there.

Summary

In his backyard shed, Dexter obsesses over killing Jonathan Farrow, someone who didn't fit the Code of Harry. He feels "uncomfortable," an unusual feeling after his ritual. To make matters worse, Farrow's assistant, Timothy Brand, was arrested after confessing to the murders for which Dexter killed Farrow. Dexter scrolls through the photos of models on Farrow’s website. Frustrated, he breaks Farrow's blood slide and cuts his finger.

In the briefing room, Angel Batista informs the team that Jonathan Farrow is officially a missing person and that his assistant, Timothy Brand, is suspected of his murder. Angel assigns Detectives Michael Soderquist and Israel Yale to follow up on the case. Joey Quinn remarks that Brand probably turned Farrow into 'gator bait. Dexter keeps fidgeting in his chair and Debra whispers, “What is wrong with you?” Dexter admits that he doesn’t know.

Angel asks Deb what she has on the bludgeonings. As she is presenting a slide show that she prepared, a bathtub murder photo is unintentionally shown. It catches Maria LaGuerta’s attention. Deb was explaining the significance of the smudges of human ash at the crime scenes, and the bathtub pic has a smudge, too, circled in line. LaGuerta forces Debra to explain her entire case. Dexter privately hopes it will sound insane so that Deb will have to end her investigation.

Debra explains that there has been a pattern, “a trinity of victims,” every year for approximately thirty years, each time in a different city across the United States. The victims are killed in specific ways and in the same order: exsanguination in a bathtub, forced to jump from a building, and beaten to death with a blunt object. That’s why Special Agent Frank Lundy dubbed this serial killer “The Trinity Killer." When LaGuerta asks if it was a FBI case, Debra says the FBI never accepted it as proof of one killer, but Lundy came to Miami in order to hunt Trinity. She believes he got too close, and that’s why they were both shot

To Dexter's frustration, LaGuerta seems to believe her and is intrigued. He congratulates Deb, and leaves commenting to himself that he needs to "stab something."

Outside the conference room, Debra excitedly tells Dexter that she’s keeping Lundy’s legacy alive. LaGuerta interrupts them to order Deb into her office. While Dexter waits for the elevator, Quinn walks up, remarking, “Hey, buddy” and asks him where he’s off to. “It’s called lunch, buddy,” Dexter tersely replies. Quinn retorts, “Off-campus, as usual.” Dexter gives him a hostile grin as the elevator doors close.

In his garage, Arthur Mitchell is hunched over his newly-made coffin, head resting on his hands, in prayer. He straightens up and caresses the wood, then covers it with a tarp. He stands there awkwardly for a moment

Dexter (still going by the alias Kyle Butler) visits Arthur at his home. He asks Jonah how his car is doing as Arthur walks over to say hello. Dexter’s pretext for dropping by is that he was worried about Arthur after last week’s deer incident. Arthur says he is feeling fine, then turns to his son and chastises him for not waxing the car correctly. Dexter notes the appearance of "small cracks in the perfect family." Arthur's wife, Sally, comes outside with a glass of pink lemonade and lets him know that his clothes are clean, folded and, ready to be packed. It turns out Arthur is going to Tampa without family for a Four Walls One Heart build (possibly to begin his kill cycle again, sooner than normal). Another "crack" appears when Arthur chastises his daughter, Rebecca, for not watering the flowers properly. Dexter asks Arthur when he’s going on his trip. Arthur says that he’s departing the next day, straight from work. Dexter takes off to find a reason to go to Tampa.

Back at the department, Dexter looks up events in Tampa related to his job to use as an excuse on short notice to be out of town. Debra interrupts him, furious because LaGuerta took her off the Trinity case due to her being a self-reported victim of the killer. It appears that LaGuerta doesn't want Debra's emotions clouding the investigation. Dexter tries to comfort her, saying that this will free her up to "help the department in so many ways." Debra shoots back, explaining that she went from bringing in the biggest case in the MPD's history to being freed up in one day. Dexter awkwardly exits out of his search for Tampa conferences and stumbles across the perfect answer for how to be there: the East Coast Meteorological Conference.

In LaGuerta’s office, Dexter makes the connection to how weather patterns, such as barometric pressure and humidity, can affect the integrity of blood spatter, painting this conference as a roundabout way of becoming a more efficient analyst, and therefore more valuable to the department. LaGuerta says he can go if he stops talking about it.

After listening to Dexter with a blank look, Rita is happy to see him both enthused about the conference and dedicated to his job and family. He brings up that it could help him get a raise at work, thus making it easier to send Harrison to college later. Rita suggests that, in exchange for taking care of the kids while he's in Tampa, he can take care of them when she goes to yoga on Tuesday nights. He agrees, noting privately that it might be challenging to arrange his "activities around her downward-facing dog."

That night, in his backyard shed, Dexter packs light for the trip, making sure to bring the hammer Arthur gave him, along with a large knife. Meanwhile, Arthur is pouring what looks like the last of Vera’s ashes into a little glass vial. He tucks it in among his clothes and shuts his suitcase.

Outside the high school the next day, Arthur is about to take off for his trip when Dexter suddenly appears outside his van and stops him. Arthur doesn’t want “Kyle” along for the ride, but Dexter insists that he needs to get away. He says Arthur is the only one who gives him a sense of purpose, and questions his generosity of spirit. Arthur relents, and Dexter climbs into the passenger seat.

At the station, Angel, LaGuerta, Quinn, and Masuka are discussing the bludgeoning cases, while Debra hovers nearby, listening and filing. They review what they know about the murderer: tall, old-ish, white, blue eyes. Given that this is Miami, they’ve got their work cut out for them. Deb catches Quinn’s eye and mimes something which looks like a blow job. Quinn winks, gives her the thumbs-up and mouths, “Now?” Deb is actually suggesting mouth swabs, meaning a targeted DNA sweep of the area. Quinn suggests this and is met with resistance, due to the huge cost, legality, and the amount of work. It’s pointed out that it’s the weekend and Thanksgiving is coming, so the courts will be closed. Moreover, targeted sweeps have been effective before. LaGuerta agrees to come up with the money, and tells Masuka to get a protocol rolling.

At LaGuerta’s office door, Angel asks where the money is going to come from, and LaGuerta says she’s going to try and find it in the budget. He offers to help, and they agree to work together in the briefing room, out in the open.

On the ride to Tampa, Arthur attempts small talk with Dexter but is met with curt answers to his questions. He wants to know what “Kyle” is troubled about. Dexter says he made a big mistake, but doesn’t say what it is, and Arthur accuses him of being purposely vague. Dexter suggests a pit stop to lighten the mood.

At the Collier County Rest Stop, Dexter eats a vending machine burrito while Arthur sips a soda. Arthur thinks “Kyle” should apply the bravery that it takes to eat a vending machine burrito to the problem at hand. He wants to help because good deeds are rewarded by God, but he needs to know what’s wrong. When Dexter is still reluctant, Arthur loses his patience and threatens to drive away and leave “Kyle” to fend for himself. Dexter nips that in the bud by interrupting, “I killed a man.” It gets Arthur’s attention.

Dexter isn’t used to admitting murder, and Arthur’s not used to hearing about it, regardless of their combined body count. Dexter explains by saying it was a hunting accident, which in a way it was. “I was so sure. I’m always so careful.” It’s left Dexter with a terrible feeling. Arthur tells him there are few things harder to bear than remorse, and Dexter repeats the word. According to Arthur, it’s “what separates us from the animals.” Arthur tells him that confession is good for the soul.

In his hotel room, Dexter reflects that killing Arthur is the best deed he can possibly do. Surveying the bathroom, he chooses it as the kill site. While looking up a hardware store to get a few supplies, Deb calls, asking wryly, “How’s the weather?” She wants Dexter’s discarded crime scene photos from the Tarla Grant Case to see if Trinity left an ash smudge. Dexter tells her that any photos he didn’t file would be on his lab computer and that Masuka could access them for her. Unfortunately she can’t ask him, since she isn’t officially on the case. Disappointed, she fills Dexter in on the DNA sweep and insults the name of a weatherman.

Holding an ad for a hardware store he’s ripped from the Yellow Pages, Dexter is on his way out. As he opens the door, Arthur is standing right there, poised to knock. He appears to have cheered up, and tells Dexter that, instead of going to the build site first thing tomorrow, he’s got a surprise instead. Apparently, it will make Dexter feel better. As he closes the door, Dexter wonders what kind of surprise Arthur has planned.

LaGuerta and Angel are sitting together in the briefing room after hours. Through creative budgeting, they have freed up twenty-four thousand dollars. It’s not enough and, in frustration, she takes down her hair, causing Angel to point out that they’re the last ones in the station. As they stare at each other, a drunken Quinn bursts in. He has persuaded a bunch of other officers to donate one vacation day each to help pay for the sweep. With that good news, he staggers out. Angel and LaGuerta end up making love on the conference table

Quinn is sleeping it off at home when he is awoken by a knock at the door. It’s Christine. It seems her boss told her that if she can’t get the “lead that bleeds,” she’ll lose her job, so she’s come to Quinn for some comfort. Quinn is half-drunk and half-asleep and doesn’t want to let her in. He placates her with some comforting words and a hug, during which she spots his instructions for taking mouth swabs on the table behind him. She then rejects his begrudging invitation to stay and goes off to write another story.

Early next morning, Dexter is planning to register at the conference and establish an alibi, then make it back to the hotel before going on Arthur’s surprise outing. However, Arthur is an early bird and has just returned from purchasing two large coffees. He’s very excited and does a little tap dance while Dexter watches him with a puzzled air. As Dexter walks around to the passenger side, he ponders the drastic change in Arthur’s behavior and wonders what it means. Is his mask crumbling?

Deb is sitting at her desk staring at a photo of Frank Lundy’s dead face when Quinn walks in. His hair is messy and his collar unbuttoned. Deb suggests that he ask Masuka for Dexter’s discarded crime scene photos to look for ash smudges. Quinn, annoyed at being bossed around, asks if he’s just her tool. Deb, trying to lighten the mood, says he is, but she’s just trying to make him look good. Quinn storms silently away.

Quinn finds Masuka in the lab overseeing the construction of DNA swab kits. When asked if he has access to Dexter’s discarded photos, Masuka responds that he and Dexter share everything, but “not in a gay way.” When Quinn tells Masuka what he wants them for, Masuka is impressed. While there, Quinn refers to Dexter’s conference as a “geek fest” with Masuka stating, “I’ve almost banged so much tail at those geek fests.” He further clarifies that Dexter is “pure jungle cat,” and fills Quinn in on Lila. Quinn seems to appreciates the info.

Neighbor Elliot brings the kids home with a catch of fish. Cody is eager to fry them up and Elliot suggests that, in Dexter’s absence, he clean the fish, Rita cook them, and they have a party. Rita relents, on the grounds that she makes a mean mango salsa.

In Tampa, Arthur pulls up in front of a small suburban house, runs to the door and starts frantically knocking and ringing the bell. An Asian man answers and takes them for salesmen, but Arthur explains that this is the house in which he grew up. Ignoring the man’s protests, he bounds up the stairs as the man and his wife argue in Chinese. Dexter, whose curiosity overcomes his propriety, bows to the distraught couple and runs up the stairs after Arthur.

In the upstairs hall, Dexter finds Arthur standing, terrified, across from the bathroom door. This is where it all started, he says. As an innocent boy of ten, he was watching his sister, Vera, in the shower. She saw his reflection in the mirror and it startled her. She slipped and shattered the glass shower door, cutting her leg, and had bled to death by the time the ambulance arrived. “Born in blood … both of us,” Dexter thinks. Arthur says that his parents blamed him. His mother never recovered, and eventually killed herself, leaving Arthur all alone with his father, whose alcoholism worsened after his wife’s death. He began to beat his son and taunt him, calling him a pervert, accusing him of their deaths. When Dexter asks what happened to his father, Arthur only says that he died. With that off his chest, Arthur is relieved. It’s the first time he’s ever shared this story and has told Dexter to make him feel better, and to show him what they have in common. He embraces Dexter, and asks him if he feels better. Dexter doesn’t respond. The Asian couple demands that they leave, with the wife threatening to call the police. Arthur thinks they are overreacting, but Dexter defuses the situation by suggesting lunch at a great place.

Deb is taking a coffee break behind the station. She turns around and almost bumps into Christine, who is looking for her. Christine wants to know about the roadblocks, and if they’re related to Lundy’s shooting. Deb tries to cover up the real reason for the roadblocks, but Christine knows she’s lying. To distract her, Deb agrees to the interview that Christine’s been wanting.

In Tampa, Dexter leads a skeptical Arthur into a hotel coffee shop. Asking Arthur to order him a tuna melt, he pretends to need the men’s room. This is the hotel, though, that’s hosting the meteorological conference, so he checks in and grabs his name tag. Then, to support his alibi, he takes a photo of himself with the famous weatherman Sonny Skyes and sends it off to Rita with the message “Me and Sonny! Learning lots, xoxo D.” Rita doesn’t notice the message because Elliot is chasing her around the kitchen with a fish head as she fends him off with a wooden spoon.

Dexter returns to the coffee shop, but Arthur isn’t sitting at their table. He’s sitting in a corner booth with an uncomfortable family of four. He calls them “the neighbors,” and recites their names and city of residence while they all look as though they’d like to call security. “Bob!” Arthur scolds. “They should learn to speak the truth! ... We all need to confess our mistakes, so we can go into the light unburdened!” Arthur, apparently, has gone off the deep end. His face is red and he’s breathing heavily as he stares at Dexter, inviting him to confess his own sins. Instead, Dexter tells him they need to go and leave the family in peace. Arthur is up like a shot and strides quickly out of the restaurant with Dexter trailing behind.

Arthur tells Dexter that he embarrassed him in the restaurant, and it was rude to leave. He states that Dexter’s lack of openness is caused by his remorse, and he must shed it. Dexter replies that he can only do that by "giving." He wants to stop by a hardware store to pick up some things for the Four Walls build. (Also, Arthur’s murder.)

In Miami, Deb’s got her hands on the discarded photos of Tarla Grant and is looking at them in the women’s restroom. LaGuerta, singing, walks out of a stall and asks Deb what she’s doing. Deb doesn’t answer, except to ask why she was singing and if she’s happy about something. LaGuerta says, “Are you hiding something?” Deb retorts, “Are you?” LaGuerta hums on her way out of the restroom. Deb, in her haste to get back to the photos, drops them on the floor, and groans as she bends to pick them up. Staring at her wounds, she has an epiphany. Mumbling, “Mother shit fuck,” she runs out.

Deb goes straight to the lab, closes the door and the blinds, then takes off her shirt. Masuka is distracted by this, but his forensics training kicks in. Her gunshot wound is perfectly straight, with the entry and exit points perfectly level. Given how most people hold a gun, it should reveal how tall Deb’s shooter is. After putting Masuka on a stool, they figure out there’s no way Deb’s shooter was 6' 4". Matter of fact, the shooter was probably about as tall as Masuka himself. That means it wasn’t Trinity.

Arthur and Dexter enter Dexter’s hotel room and drop their purchases on the bed. Arthur says there’s “nothing like the spirit of charity to make the heart right.” Apparently, Dexter has insisted on buying loads of plastic sheeting, in case it rains. Dexter then fakes a huge yawn, and Arthur leaves, but not before saying that he and “Kyle” are kindred spirits. Dexter grabs the plastic sheeting and walks into the bathroom.

Back at Rita and Dexter’s house, all the kids are passed out in the living room while Elliot and Rita share a bottle of wine. Rita’s buzzed, and he calls her a lightweight. This leads Rita to reveal that fifteen years ago, she was a “dress-over-the-head party girl.” Elliot is charmed, and they stare at each other in awkward silence. Rita suddenly retreats to the kitchen as Elliot gathers his kids.

Dexter is blood-proofing the bathroom, with his knives at the ready. He hangs photos of Arthur’s victims, including Tarla Grant, Deb, and Lundy on the wall. He then breaks into Arthur’s room, which has an old-fashioned key lock. Unfortunately, Arthur isn’t in bed, nor is he anywhere else in the room.

Arthur’s van is in the parking lot, but his tools aren’t. Dexter assumes that he must be at the Four Walls build, and takes off running. As he stalks through the partially built house, he hears the thud of Arthur dropping his tool belt. He’s on the roof, ready to throw himself two stories down. Dexter doesn’t grasp Arthur’s true intention until he sees him emptying the last of his sister’s ashes onto the ground below. Dexter runs toward him as Arthur spreads his arms, ready to dive. Dexter lunges forward and grabs him by the arm as he falls. The glass vial drops and shatters. Arthur begs to be let go, and Dexter wonders why should he keep him alive just to kill him. He’s about to let go when Four Walls builders appear and grab Arthur, hoisting him back up to the roof. Dexter realizes that Arthur planned this, and that’s why he was able to unburden himself. He wonders if this is what he’ll be driven to someday.

Arthur is helped to his feet by the Four Walls folk, and gasps to Dexter, “I thought God sent you so that I could save you. But God had another plan. He sent you to save me.” The irony doesn’t go unnoticed by Dexter. Everyone gathers around to shake Dexter’s hand as he feels his anonymity fading away.

At the station, Deb is sharing her new theory on the shooter with LaGuerta, Angel, and Quinn. They buy it, and LaGuerta lets her back on the Trinity Case now that there’s no conflict of interest. In fact, Deb gets to take lead, and Angel will take on the job of finding out who shot Lundy. When Angel perches on the table where he and LaGuerta had sex, it collapses. The privately laugh about it.

On the way back to Miami, Dexter decides that he’s not going to spare Arthur again. It occurs to him that the purpose of remorse might be to keep you from repeating mistakes. Arthur tells Dexter not to worry about him. He’s embarrassed, but not suicidal, and asks him to treat the jump as an accidental fall. Likewise, Arthur will never spill the beans on how “Kyle” killed an innocent man.

Nearing the city, they get caught in a line for one of the DNA checkpoints. Dexter tells Arthur he’s heard it’s for “some huge serial killer.” They have his DNA and are looking for a match. Arthur’s face betrays nothing. When a red car ahead of them pulls out of the line and drives back the way it came, Arthur decides to follow his lead, and suggests the scenic route instead. He laughs as they drive away.

Related Pages

Extra Information
Title Meaning:
Road Kill - It isn't a killing on the road, it's a "Road" that leads to "Killing", as Dexter plans to do with Arthur, although he doesn't. It may also refer to Arthur's "Road of Killing" as The Trinity Killer, that seems to end when he tries to commit suicide, but Dexter saves him.
Trivia
Lila from Season Two is mentioned in this episode.

The Moore family, including Bob Moore (dad), Nancy Moore (mom), Spencer Moore (son), and unnamed daughter, are the family that Arthur talks to in the restaurant

Harry doesn't appear in this episode.
He emerges in Episode 5, vanishes in 6, emerges again in 7, and vanishes again in 8 (this episode).

Although the word "Kill" is in the title, nobody dies in this episode.

Quotes
"Born in blood, both of us."
- Dexter, thinking about himself and Trinity

"Guilt, remorse, it’s what separate us from the animals.
Your conscience is eating away at you but you’re gonna feel better. Confession is good for the soul."
- Arthur, to Dexter
"All the more proof I don’t have a soul."
- Dexter, thinking to himself about what Arthur said

"I killed an innocent man and saved a guilty one. I won’t make that mistake again"
- Dexter, to himself

"It should have been Arthur Mitchell on my table.
Trinity, shooter of my sister. I should have…
No, no should haves – that’s not me. I just need to stop thinking about it."
- Dexter, to himself about killing an innocent man

"A changed man at peace with himself. Maybe only monsters feel no regret.
If erring is human, than remorse must be too. Wait – does that make me human? Huh! -"
- Dexter, to himself

"This is his solution to remorse – suicide.
That’s why he could unburden himself. He knew this was next.
Will it be my only solution someday?"
- Dexter, to himself about Arthur's attempted suicide


Gallery

The Episodes of Dexter

Reference

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