In ‘Dexter’, Season 7, Episode 4, ‘Slack Tide’, Dexter explains the meaning of the term slack tide. It is a sailor’s term meaning that moment between the tide going in and the tide going out where everything is in balance.
Slack tide, in whatever form it happens, never lasts very long, though it has a special meaning for Dexter, that being the moment when he makes his kill and experiences the rush that he craves more than anything else in the world. For Dexter it is the most important point of time he can ever experience.
And then it passes. Spoilers surely follow.
In ‘Slack Tide’, Dexter encounters a candidate for his particular attentions in the form of a depraved fashion photographer who likes to take pictures of beautiful, illegal aliens in moments of pain and hurt. Several have vanished, including one into the jaws of an alligator. The photographer’s style reminds one of that of the Faye Dunaway character in ‘The Eyes of Laura Mars’, in its celebration of the sadomasochistic.
While Dexter prepares for his next kill, he is still seeking to learn from Trinity how to juggle family life and murder. A trip to the woods yields some advice on how to handle kids and some feet of trees to be turned into raw lumber. The latter is likely to have some significance since Trinity is building a coffin. For whom, it is not known.
Meanwhile Dexter’s sister, Debra, confirms that Harry, her dad and Dexter’s step dad, was a multiple philanderer. Dexter seems to understand this thing about illicit hobbies. Harry fooled around. Dexter kills. Debra is about to become a bigger problem, though, because she has gotten a kinda of sorta of ok to go after Trinity, whom she is convinced shot her and killed her lover Lundy. Dexter really needs to wrap up his schooling and dispatch Trinity before that happens.
Quinn, Debra’s partner, has begun to think Dexter is a little strange in an unpleasant sort of way. Quinn really doesn’t need to go there. Long time fans of Dexter remember Sgt. Doakes and what happened to him in Season Two. The apparition of Harry may be constantly warning Dexter about mixing family and murder, but his real danger has always been that he works among trained detectives who are skilled at sniffing out the odd and unusual. Quinn is going to be a problem.
Speaking of juggling family life and murder, the urge to kill gets so strong that Dexter sneaks away from an overnight camping trip with his step son and some other kids to deal with the fashion photographer. Dexter does the photographer with his usual style and dispatch. This is how Dexter has been balancing family and his special hobby. It involves some risk, since someone could wake up and find Dexter and his boat missing. But risk seems to be part of the thrill, the rush of the hunt and the ultimate kill.
There is only one problem. The next day, the photographer’s assistant is brought in, arrested and charged with the murders of the models. Dexter, in his haste, seems to have killed the wrong man. So unless sick photography is a capital offense, Dexter has violated the Code of Harry, which states that Dexter may only kill those guilty of murder themselves, in a big way. This disturbs Dexter profoundly. Does this mean that the Code of Harry is an actual code of morality that Dexter takes seriously beyond the convenience and respect for Harry’s memory? That would be interesting.
One theory that might be posited. Perhaps Dexter, having attempted to show a normal, mostly happy face to the world, is starting to internalize the idea of empathy and morality, to see other human beings as more than just objects. In that case, the question arises, will there be a time when the need to kill no longer manifests itself?
Source: Dexter, Slack Tide, TV.Com