Dexter Filming Locations: Trinity's Son Smashes Car


The location: Trinity's Son Smashes Car.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Vacant land with palm trees and oil wells.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Somewhere in Miami.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 9 (of the Season 4), "Hungry Man".

    Dexter is keeping an eye on Trinity's house, and he observes an angry argument between
    Arthur Mitchell (the Trinity Killer, played by John Lithgow), and his teenage son, Jonah.

    He sees the kid come out of the house, get in the car and drive away.

    Dexter follows him, and finds Jonah in an empty field (spotted with bushy palm trees and oil tanks), standing next to the car with a baseball bat.

    At first, he's only hitting a few baseballs with the bat ("A healthy way to let off steam," Dexter muses.)

    But then he turns the bat on his father's classic car and smashes the windshield.

    Dexter stops him, which leads to Jacob telling Dexter the truth about the father, how he has injured his son in the past, and how the family lives in fear of him.

    The kid says he can't go home, with the car smashed. But Dexter promises him he'll show up for Thanksgiving dinner, so Arthur won't be able to do anything to him in front of company.

    But it doesn't quite work out that way.

    On Thanksgiving, as soon as Dexter's back is turned, Trinity breaks the fingers on the boy's right hand.

    This leads to a tense Thanksgiving dinner, that climaxes with the son loudly denouncing his father and smashing the beloved cremation urn (filled with the ashes of Arthur's dead sister).

    Trinity explodes and attacks the boy, forcing Dexter to intervene and violently pull him off. On the verge of killing him, Dexter stops at the last moment when the mother & sister intervene to save him.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A large tract of semi-vacant land, with lots of palm trees and some oil wells. But not near Miami.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. This tract of land is located on the northeast side of Pacific Coast Highway, at 2nd Street, in Long Beach.

    The land lies behind (north of) the In & Out Burger at 6391 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach.  The exact spot where they filmed the scene is about 750 feet due north of that burger stand's parking lot.

    In early California history, what is now Los Angeles was divided up into a series of huge cattle & sheep ranches. Much of the land that makes up Long Beach was originally part of the sprawling Bixby Ranch. When oil was discovered in the L.A. area, oil wells sprouted across Southern California. Most of that once-empty land has been developed and/or sold by now. But this patch of Bixby land remains mostly vacant, and contains a number of oil wells, oil tanks & small out buildings - spread out amidst an overabundance of bushy palm trees, growing in oasis-like clusters across the property.

    They later used this same field for another scene: the shack home of trucker Stan Beaudry.

    Unfortunately, since this is private property, and is fenced in, I was unable to go to the exact spot where the scene was filmed, so I had to settle for shooting a few generic photos of the property from the parking lot of "In & Out".

    But I was able to pinpoint the exact location by using Bing aerial photos, and you can see that spot via the links below.

    Here is an aerial photo of the land, with the locations marked. And here is a map link.

    I shot the photos below (from the In & Out parking lot) in November 2009.

    The photo below shows the same oil tanks & shed seen behind Dexter in the scene (albeit from the other side).

    [ Warning: This is fenced private property, not open to the public. No trespassing. ]

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. When I saw this scene, my first hunch was Signal Hill. I knew that they had filmed there recently (for the auto tow yard), and when I checked aerial photos of the area, sure enough, there were wide stretches of vacant land spotted with clusters of bushy palm trees and oil tanks.

    However, after searching for a long time, I was unable to match up the right combination of elements: the oil tanks, the nearby small white shed, the palm clusters, what appeared to be railroad tracks... But I was fairly certain at that point that if I kept looking, I'd find the right location in Signal Hill.

    It was then that Dexter fan Kerry Weiss emailed me to say that the only place she could think of that looked like what she saw on TV was the Bixby Ranch property near PCH & 2nd.  Although I've been on that stretch of PCH a lot over the years, I hadn't thought about that parcel. It's somewhat hidden away behind the highway, and I never really noticed what it looked like.

    But I checked it out via Bing's aerial photos, and one of the first things that drew my eye was a small white shed near two large oil tanks, along with lots of palms. That turned out to be the wrong shed (the actual one was a smaller building to the east), but I was on the right track. And after an hour or so of searching, and triangulating sight-lines, I was able to pinpoint the exact spot (give or take a few yards) where Dexter and the kid stood when they shot the scene. (Thanks, Kerry!)

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