At some kind of tropical Christmas village, Doakes is asking a pair of elves who found the body parts. "I did," says the male elf. "They were left under the tree. I thought it was the crew from last night just messin' around, 'til I found the head." "I told him not to touch anything, but he never listens," says the female elf. "God, Patty, you're such a bitch." Deb asks if they saw anything strange before they found the body, and the female elf mentions that she saw a few broken ornaments by the tree. Deb 'n' Doakes thank them for their cooperation, and walk back towards the scene. Dexter shows up, and asks LaGuerta what's up. "Female victim, cut up into pieces." "The Ice Truck Killer? So soon?" "Yup. Can't wait to see how the Captain is going to handle the press on this one." LaGuerta tells Doakes to walk Dexter through the crime scene and complains about the snow machine, which does look annoying. "Your sister can help you out," says Doakes, giving Dexter the Hard-Shouldered Man-Bump of Misplaced Aggression. Deb makes a joke about sexual tension, which isn't funny, because here she is, yet again, not giving a fuck about her brother having beef with someone she has influence over. Not cool, Deb. Anyway, she points out a clock stopped at 1:03, "the same numbers he left at Marina View Hotel." Dexter asks if there are leads on what they mean, and Deb says they've talked to numerologists, mathematicians, and code-breakers, but they all needed more to go on. Dexter spies the body parts, and as the camera pans out to reveal the scene, Dexter VOs, "First he turns my whole world inside out with a carnival of blood." We're flashing back to the blood-soaked Hotel room and Dexter passing out. "Now he leaves me this, a calming oasis in the desert of my confusion. It doesn't make sense." Masuka rolls up and mentions that the crime scene's been wiped clean. "Another hooker?" asks Deb. "Ho-ho-ho, another dead ho," he responds. "Somebody's been naughty." Okay, Vince? Let's leave shitty lines like that for Horatio Caine, m'kay? "Hey, Morgan, you wanna sit on my lap and tell me what you want for Christmas?" asks Masuka. "And, he's back!" says Deb. "No thanks, last thing on my wish list is a burning sensation when I pee." Fair enough. Dexter says that this scene "doesn't seem right. The body parts scattered among the presents. He broke an ornament...it's not his usual meticulous style. It seems rushed, haphazard." "That would explain why we can't find one of the hands," says Masuka, striking some sort of chord with Deb, who looks like she just smelled a fart. Dexter notices something under the torso, and it's a videotape. The label reads "Merry Christmas, Miami."
Mathstor is walking towards the crime scene surrounded by journalists, one of whom is asking why, after all this time, the ITK has struck again. "Any answer at this time would be pure speculation on my part," he says. "Do you think it has anything to do with your handling of the Neil Perry fiasco?" Ooh, burn! He doesn't say anything, he just crosses the police tape taking those champion strides that he does. He meets up with LaGuerta, Deb, Doakes, Masuka, and Dex, who are all huddled around a TV, waiting to see what's on the tape. Someone hits play, and the amputee hooker's face shows up. "You arrested the wrong man," she reads, distressed. "Made the world think I'm a rank amateur. And I'm very, very angry to answer for your mistakes." She begins to cry, and Deb says to pause the tape. "Look at her tears," she observes. "They're rolling up!" It's true, they are. "Bastard's got her upside down," says Masuka. "That's how he bleeds them out: he strings them up like meat," says Dexter, drawing uncomfortable looks from everyone. LaGuerta signals to start the tape up again, and all we see is a body cross in front of the hooker's face, and we hear a sharp, knifey slashing sound, and the woman choking on her own blood. Mathstor demands the tape be turned off, and LaGuerta says she'll have the tape sent to the station for analysis. Mathstor says he wants to Doakes to take point on this, but Doakes says it's LaGuerta's case. "Not anymore. We haven't been able to catch this guy, and now he's rubbing our noses in it. We've got to come up with some fresh ideas." Doakes says it's bullshit after Mathstor's walked away, but LaGuerta doesn't want him to rock the boat. "Do as he says. The commissioner has his ass in a sling. He's up for review. Word is he's getting the boot." "You're just going to sit back and take this?" "If it means being seen as his worthy successor? I'll be at the hospital." Hmm, good call, Lt. LaGuerta. You know, she's grown on me. Yes, she's calculatingly political, but she knows good police work. ["She is, as it happens, my second-favorite character, after Dexter." -- Joe R]