Randy Tepper/Showtime
Sandra Gonzalez
October 04, 2010 AT 05:01 AM EDT

The post-Rita unease continued this week both on Dexter and with Dexter, as the serial killer attempted to resurrect even the smallest sense of normal for the sake of his family. But Dexter learned this week that — like his family’s matriarch — all things normal might now exist only in memories.

We opened the episode with swimming Dexter pondering the stages of grief. “I suppose killing someone with my bare hands in a men’s room was my way of working through the anger stage,” he quipped (as I chuckled inappropriately). Anger was out of the way, but Dexter was less certain about how he’d get through the other stages; after all, he was now a full-time dad. And he learned very quickly just how hard a job that was, especially when he and the kids crammed into Deb’s apartment.

The tight quarters made for tension. Astor was complaining about everything from their living situation to the clothes Dexter retrieved for her from the house. Yes, her mother was just brutally killed, but as the scene unfolded, my sympathies went to Dexter. He was trying his best to keep his family — and himself — afloat.

Naturally, our protagonist took care of his own needs the best way he knew how: finding a kill. He stumbled upon one while picking out a moving truck, choosing to rent the one with what he knew to be a blood stain in the back. In the cover of night, he snuck outside (with Harrison in tow) to investigate further, thinking momentarily the stain might be the result of a moving accident or maybe animal blood, since the previous renter was a Department of Sanitation worker who was in the sector responsible for disposing of animals carcasses. But that theory didn’t pan out. The blood was human, leaving Dexter determined to find out more. He needed to find out more.

“It’s like when you get on a plane, they tell you if the oxygen masks come down, to put yours on first before taking care of the kids. I need to take care of my own needs, too. Otherwise, I’ll be spinning out of control. That’s not good for any one,” Dexter told Harry as he examined the blood stain. But Harry stressed the importance of Dexter’s connection with the children: “They’re not only your responsibility, but your salvation.” By the end of the episode, though, we were left wondering: What happens if Dexter doesn’t have the kids?

After a series of fights — and one ditched day of school — Astor told Dexter that she wanted to go live with her grandparents in Orlando, expressing again how she blames him for much of their turmoil. “…You come along and become a part of the family and we thought everything was going to be good forever. You made us think that! And it’s not true; things got worse,” she told him as she and Cody stood in the bathroom where their mother was murdered.

NEXT: Accentuating the sleep in sleepover.

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