Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lt. Maria LaGuerta

Season 2 Episode 4
Written by Scott Buck
Directed by Nick Gomez

It’s week 3 of the Bay Harbor Butcher investigation and Miami’s in the grip of the worst heat wave in recent memory. Oh, and Masuka’s just found something that could break the case wide open.
All that pressure gets Dex rattled enough to meet Lila on his lunch break, hoping she can do the sponsor thing and get him calm and centered. She doesn’t really help, though Dex does discover she works with “found art” (though in Lila’s case, it’s more like stolen), with pieces in her studio that are fairly disturbing, mannequins apparently eating each other and the like.
When Dex mentions to Rita that he may not be getting much help from Lila, Rita suggests that maybe Dex would be better off with an older, male sponsor, and Dex says he’ll consider it.
He eventually meets with Lila, and says the sponsorship is over.

Asking around about Masuka’s find, Dex finally gets the answer from Deb: algae found in the garbage bags. And when he gets to talk to Masuka, Dex finds out that a marine biologist is being brought in to examine the algae, which could tell them where the Butcher keeps his boat docked.
Dex doesn’t quite get it, but knows he has to do something about it. And a chance, throw-away comment by Angel tells Dex what he has to do: sabotage the freezered morgue so the bodies will quickly decompose in the heat, taking the algae with them.
He’s about to make some plans when Lila shows up at the station, asking for another chance. Lila insists there is no absolute good, and no absolute evil. Dex, wanting to just get her off his back, shows her the inside of the morgue.
Expecting her to be repulsed, Lila is instead fascinated by the corpse she is shown. When Dex asks her what she thinks of the Butcher, Lila says “whoever did this is just like you and me.” She goes on to say that everyone has both good and evil in them, making Dex realize that Lila, of all people, can see him, can see through the mask, and is apparently not revolted by what she sees.

Later that evening, Dex busts the cooling unit, making it look like it was carelessness on the garbage men’s part. The following morning, Lundy, Masuka, and the marine biologist arrive to find the bodies badly decomposed, the evidence compromised.
Dex is hopeful for the first time in weeks, when Masuka says it’s a good thing Lundy had the rocks kept apart from the bodies. Apparently, the algae was found on the rocks used to weigh down the garbage bags containing the bodies, rocks that are assumed to have been picked up in the area where the Butcher’s boat was docked. And the biologist’s taken the rocks and could have results soon.
So poor Dex could still be screwed.

Meanwhile, advise from Lundy gets Deb to chance an encounter with Gabriel (Dave Baez) from the gym, leading to some casual sex that Dex walks in on.
Another conversation with Lundy gets Deb to consider having a real relationship with Gabriel, and when they see each other in the gym again, and Gabriel suggests he wouldn’t mind hooking up once more, she suggests a real date instead. Gabriel agrees, and a date is set.

Meanwhile still, Pasquale (Jake 2.0’s Judith Scott) has a shirt from her fiancée that she wants analyzed, since she can smell another woman on it. She asks Dex first, but so as to help overload Masuka, he directs Pasquale to him. But when Masuka doesn’t give her the results she’s looking for, she has a meltdown in the middle of the station.
In the wake of this very public display, LaGuerta is put back in charge of Homicide.
Later on, in what is quite possibly the most shocking moment of the episode, we see LaGuerta in bed… with Pasquale’s fiancée! She then proceeds to dump his a$$. Now that she’s maneuvered Pasquale into a meltdown, she’s got what she needs: her job back.
Of course, it could not be as premeditated and cold-blooded as all that, but one must admit, that’s the way it looks.

Over on the Rita front, Cody (Preston Bailey) is having nightmares about the Bay Harbor Butcher, and Dex tries to assuage the little guy’s fears by telling him the Butcher only goes after bad guys and doesn’t go after kids. Still, Rita is incensed that this Butcher is giving her son nightmares and wishes only the worst to befall him.
Rita is also visited by her mother, Gail (Poltergeist’s JoBeth Williams; hurrah!!), who never really liked Paul, and has been at a distance for a long time. And though Gail casts her vote for the Butcher—who is, after all, cleaning up Miami’s streets—she tells Rita Dex is a very good actor, and that she senses he’s keeping a secret. (Hopefully, Rita will think it’s the drugs issue, though something tells me she’s going to assume it’s some sort of torrid affair with Lila…)

There are also subplots involving the investigation of a number of Butcher victims who don’t seem to have criminal records—in which Angel has to deal with a woman who claims her husband never killed anyone—and Doakes’ special ops past as a Ranger (though the latter seems an ill fit in the episode).
Despite that quibble though, this episode is a particularly good one, with developments in both Deb and LaGuerta’s lives (I mean, wow, I so bought into the whole LaGuerta standing up for a sister-in-the-force thing, but it looks like she’s really a stone-cold b!tch), while the Butcher investigation continues to get downright hairy for Dex.
And hey, I love Poltergeist and I love JoBeth Williams, the obvious chemistry between Williams and Craig T. Nelson a large part of what makes Poltergeist so special. I hope she hangs around Miami a while.

(Image courtesy of sho.com.)

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