Do serial killers retire? Do their hands get too arthritic to wield knives? Do they prefer to go to bed at 7pm rather than prowl neighborhoods in the wee hours of the morning? Do they start to use croquet mallets to actually PLAY croquet? It sounds like a silly concept—a serial killer too old to kill—but Sunday’s episode of Dexter dove right in, and the result was pretty darn great.

You already know the drill when it comes to Dexter episodes: Even the best ones contain entire subplots of comparatively boring filler, so let’s talk about the best stuff first:

THE GOOD PARTS

Obviously the way this episode ended was incredible, but we’ll get to that in a second, as the primary plotline was pretty effective in its own right. When the team investigated the murder of a dead hooker, only Dexter noticed that her chipped tooth bore a resemblance to the trademark of a serial killer from the 1980s. After a quick leaf through his teenage diary full of serial killer news clippings (we all kept those, right?), Dexter determined that one of his heroes, the notorious Tooth Fairy killer, had struck again. But as the ghost of Harry informed him, the killer would have to be in his seventies by now. Good thing there is only ONE retirement home in Miami! Once we got past that major leap, Dexter’s visit to the old folks’ home gave him a great opportunity to muse about growing old, and how being elderly is basically just a second childhood that nobody survives.

Anyway, it wasn’t long before Dexter was palling around with Walter Kinney, the crankiest old man in Florida. The more time Dexter spent with him, the more pity Dexter began to feel for how sad the man’s life had become. Estranged from his son and impotent in almost every way, Walter’s pathetic existence caused Dexter to doubt the man’s guilt—that is, until he found the box of teeth. Save for a brief moment where Walter discovered Dexter’s occupation and held him at gunpoint, it wasn’t long before Dexter had him on the saran-wrapped chopping block and expressing relief that his death would finally lead to the discovery of his crimes (which would serve to really piss off his estranged son one last time). But that notion seemed to disturb Dexter: The thought that Harry Jr. could one day learn of Dexter’s crimes was almost too much for Dexter to bear, so he decided instead to smother the old man and then dispose of his trophies in the harbor. One final denial of glory to a man who never deserved it. Meeting your heroes really sucks sometimes.

After the relatively tidy kill, it was clear Dexter felt a little rattled about being shown a glimpse of his own future as a geriatric serial killer. As he tried to place the newest slide in his trophy box, he dropped them all, mixing up most of them and shattering the rest. In a chillingly cryptic moment, Dexter looked at the shambles before him and realized he doesn’t have as much control over his life as he thought, and probably never will again.

Elsewhere in the episode—and continuing the season’s best subplot so far—Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos) and Travis (Colin Hanks) were tending to the jogger they kidnapped last week. Travis repeatedly instructed the man to repent for all his sins, but wasn’t completely convinced that the man truly meant it. As Gellar worked on his mannequin-crafting project, he reminded Travis that if their captive hadn’t purified himself through confession, they couldn’t “proceed.” It was so creepy! Later on the jogger got loose, only to come face to face with an ENRAGED STALLION inside their decrepit church, which was enough to send the man over the edge begging forgiveness from the Lord. At first these scenes were cryptic and sinister, but then the payoff was just absolutely horrifying:

Yup. A human body split into pieces, sewn to mannequin parts, strapped to four horses, and loosed in public. The water snakes were just the prelude—Gellar and Travis are definitely looking to get the whole Apocalypse thing rolling and these horrifying “Four Horsemen” were their coming out party. Dexter will be thrilled!

Another great subplot also involved a new character: This Ryan chick is WEIRD. We already knew she was the ultra-competent, busty new girl. But she’s also apparently obsessed with the Ice Truck Killer! After Masuka tried to impress her with actual evidence left behind by the Season 1 villain, she secretly stole it. Also she accepted a date with Masuka, so something is DEFINITELY up with her, because nobody would ever do THAT. I’m very curious to see where this goes, especially if it leads to Ryan being a long-lost relative of the Ice Truck Killer (and therefore Dexter too).

THE REST

Deb struggled in her new bosslady position, particularly when it came to dealing with LaGuerta’s condescension and Quinn being super mad at her still. Her main job in this episode was to hire a new detective, and she ended up contradicting LaGuerta’s wishes by hiring an out-of-towner, who then proceeded to treat Deb real mean. Assuming the new detective is competent, it probably won’t be too long until HE is the detective who grows suspicious of Dexter? Yay.

Oh, and speaking of Quinn, he’s taken a shine to showing up at crime scenes in red convertibles and making out with blonde ladies:

Also, Batista bought a car.

Finally, Harry Jr. continued to speak in weird ADR voiceover that sounds like a grown woman doing an impression of a two-year-old. He’s like Tommy from Rugrats, basically.

So yeah, anyway, forget these last bits, because the good parts of this episode were REALLY good! What did YOU think?

Random Blood Splatters:

… How do you think Ryan is connected to the Ice Truck Killer? Daughter? Sister?

… Was that supposed to be a HUMAN hand that Ryan stole? It looked like plastic!

… Is Dexter getting kind of sloppy? Why was he gallivanting around town with someone he intended to murder? Why did he break into a storage unit in broad daylight?

… Why was Harry, Jr.’s toy horse bloody?

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