For the many of you who've been up at night wondering what Tony Award winner John Lithgow would look like stark naked in a bathtub slitting the femoral artery of a bare-breasted woman, we’ve got good news. Showtime series Dexter provided that stunning visual within the first 90 seconds of its season opener on September 27. Insert pithy Dirty Rotten Scoundrel joke here.
Dexter, which stars Broadway alum Michael C. Hall as a Miami forensic specialist who happens to be a serial killer (with a code of ethics—he only dismembers other murderous criminals, you see), has officially returned for its fourth year, thankfully bringing its signature combination of suspense, crime scene gore and pitch-black humor along as well.
As per last night’s episode, Hall’s Dexter has gone from lone-wolf killer to an overworked, under-rested domestic daddy with a wife, three kids and your average late-night habit of carving up criminals like seasonally appropriate Halloween pumpkins.
Lithgow’s nude entrance signaled the start of his season-long arc as Arthur Mitchell, aka “The Trinity Killer,” named for his predilection for killing in threes. On the lam and nearly undetectable for 20-plus years, Mitchell has a master’s degree in the fine art of murdering, meaning three things: 1.) He’s fair game for Dexter’s own brand of slicing and dicing; 2.) Dexter will become bizarrely fixated on him, since the D-man always has an extracurricular interest in his homicidal colleagues; and 3.) Hall and Lithgow will eventually go head-to-head in a scene-chewing, blood-spilling, creepy-eyed showdown—and we will watch it.
The pair are just two of many Rialto regulars in the show’s lineup of actors. This season’s Dexter also features Jennifer Carpenter (The Crucible), co-starring as real-life hubby Hall’s hot-headed detective sister, Debra Morgan; Lauren Velez (Into the Woods), who returns as tough-as-nails police lieutenant Maria Laguerta; David Zayas (Anna in the Tropics), back as loveable and lovelorn sergent Angel Batista; James Remar (Bent), haunting son Dexter from beyond the grave for his fourth consecutive year; and Tony Award nominee Andrienne Barbeau (Grease), who was looking pretty fantastic last night at age 64 in a cameo as a woman with ties to Dexter’s deceased father.
Oh, and did we mention season two standout and Tony Award nominee Keith Carradine (The Will Rogers Follies) is back? Yes, everyone’s favorite Martha Plimpton-maker has returned as serial killer hunter Special Agent Lundy to team with Dexter in hunting down Lithgow’s Mitchell, or as he puts it, “the one who got away.” (He means that in the criminal, not romantic, sense.)
If you want to dial up the geekdom just a little more, then allow us to note that the episode showcased Hall’s Broadway pipes (kinda) when the star sang a fairly disturbing rendition of “America the Beautiful” while looking at photographs of blunt force trauma. (“Purple mountain’s majesty” + bruising = metaphor.)
And just in case one flash of unclothed Lithgow wasn’t enough you-won’t-see-this-on-Broadway fodder for one night, the dignified thespian’s buttocks returned toward the episode’s end in a truly unnerving scene in which Mitchell showers in scalding water, screaming all the while through what was, presumably, a Judge Turpin-like moment of self punishment for his evil ways.
No clues yet as to whether the Trinity Killer spends the next 11 episodes buck-naked and masochistic, but we’ll keep you posted.