The Good Boy Box
Episode 4 of Dahmer opens with Jeffrey Dahmer in the interrogation room recounting the sequence of events that led up to him killing people.
The first section of this episode starts with him confessing to his crimes and recalling the incident where he killed a hitchhiker. He is questioned about why he left the hitchhiker’s bones all over his yard. Jeffrey claims that he just wanted him to be around and that he liked the idea of having bits and pieces of him everywhere.
Dahmer continues by telling the officers that he believes he was born to be a serial killer. He also says that he doesn’t believe anything took place that made him the way he is, which is highly debatable. Here, it’s unclear if he’s trying to downplay the suffering he endured at the hands of his parents to avoid placing blame on them, or if he genuinely believes that they had nothing to do with how he turned out.
Jeffrey claims that after killing the hitchhiker, he went 9 years without killing anyone despite the urge that frequently clouded his thoughts. He goes on to tell them that he managed to suppress his unconventional fantasies.
The psychologist that had a conversation with Jeff said something that, according to Jeff, truly stuck with him. The psychologist names the condition he suffers from as splanchnophilia, which is characterized by a person’s sexual arousal toward internal organs and viscera. One of the aspects of Jeff’s condition, which he mentioned to the psychologist, is that he enjoys the way organs shine.
When asked why he waited nine years after his first murder to commit another killing, Jeff responds by saying that he wished to be a good boy.
We can’t help but wonder if he tried to be a good boy, and if he had been fruitful in repressing his impulses for 9 years, why did he start killing again? And what went wrong?
Jeffrey wanting to be in the honor society picture, but when he sneaks in because he isn’t allowed to be there because of his GPA of only 2, his photo is covered in black ink, leaving him feeling left out, angry and hurt.
Jeff is unaware that his father is returning home with his recently wed wife. His father is disappointed with Jeff when he finds the house in disarray and finds alcohol lying around. His father ultimately accuses Jeff’s mother of abandoning him without supervision, food, or protection and fails to realize how he also did the same thing.
Jeff’s father is unhappy with his son’s academic performance too When he asks if he has enrolled for college, Jeff informs him that he hasn’t because people who enrol typically have strong GPAs.
Jeff ends up losing it at this moment as the pair discuss college, and goes on to tell his dad that he is a failure and that he is not a good boy so why try to be. At this point, his father doesn’t comfort him or make an effort to motivate the guy.
Furthermore, when Jeff tries to talk to his father about his issues with his fantasies, his father becomes awkward, changes the subject, and once more fails to support him in getting through his difficulties. He disappoints Jeff once more and offers to get him enrolled in a reputable college so he can study science instead of just having a conversation with him.
Due to Jeff’s poor academic performance and subsequent expulsion, Jeff’s father is summoned to his college. His father enlists him in the army after being disappointed in him. His father continues to move him from one place to another and expects him to somehow transform, instead of attempting to determine the underlying cause of his issues or engaging in a conversation with him.
Jeff is chosen to join the army as a medical specialist, and his father appears to be proud and happy with him. As a medical specialist in the army, Jeff gains knowledge of various medications used to treat injured soldiers, which he later abuses during his killing sprees.
When Jeff is transferred to Germany, his father appears to be overjoyed because he is doing so well at work. However, a few years later – perhaps as a result of alcohol abuse or because he attempted to forcefully engage in unconventional sexual relations with a fellow soldier – Jeff is removed. Even after this incident, his father chooses not to speak with him and instead sends Jeff to live with his grandmother.
Jeff’s grandmother is nurturing and she makes an effort to support and encourage the boy. She is extremely polite in her request that he give up his bad habits and is very kind to him.
The accomplishments of his father are all contained in a box that his grandmother shows Jeff. He mentions not having a box like that, one that was filled with memories of his accomplishments, and tells her that he wishes he did have one.
Despite having Jeff’s best interests at heart, Jeff’s grandmother’s approach towards helping him doesn’t seem sensible. She advises him to attend church and find a nice girl to date in order to resolve his issues. Because Jeff is fascinated by organs and becomes sexually aroused by them, he starts working as a butcher.
Jeff was seen stealing a mannequin in an earlier episode. On his way out of his grandmothers house , he tells her not to go in his room because he likes to make his own bed. This episode picks up the storyline that was left on a cliffhanger.
As she lifts his covers, his grandmother discovers the male mannequin Jeff stole from the store. She confronts him about it because she thinks he might be gay. Jeff’s grandmother advises him to attend church in order to overcome his homosexual tendencies. She views homosexuality as a sin because she is an ardent Catholic. Because she threw his mannequin away, Jeff becomes furious and begins to yell at her.
Jeff eventually does apologize to his grandmother and tells her that he’s not gay and was just looking for a friend. When his grandmother tells him not to curse, he assures her that he won’t do so in the future. She informs him of an upcoming state fair and its addition of a beer tent, which excites him and prompts him to attend.
During the state fair, Jeff overindulges on beer. He ends up flashing and peeing in public, and he is arrested as a consequence. Because of his arrest, the owner of the butcher shop fires him from his position there and forbids him from returning.
Jeff is hired as a doctor’s assistant in a clinic as a result of his military training as a medical specialist. He steals the clinic-donated blood and consumes it.
When Dahmer enters a gay bar, he meets a guy. They go to a bathhouse after the guy asks him out. The man tries to make love to Jeff, but Jeff is into unconventional forms of sex, so he didn’t particularly enjoy it. Jeff lies to him saying he has a lack of experience, he asks the guy if he could lay in bed with him for a while. The following morning, when the guy must depart, nothing happens between them.
After this incident, Jeff begins taking guys to the bathhouse regularly, where he would drug them and then leave them there after having his way with them. He’s eventually blacklisted after many incidents.
Jeff meets a guy when he goes back to the gay bar. He dances with him before eventually asking to take him to a hotel. The guy suggests going to the bathhouse instead because it would be less expensive, but Jeff insists on the hotel. Upon entering the room, Jeff makes an attempt to drug the guys’ drinks, but by accident Jeff consumes it himself. In order to rectify the situation, Jeff forces himself to stay awake and drugs the guys’ drink. The following morning, the guy is dead and lying next to Jeff.
Jeff is shocked and saddened by the man’s passing because he hadn’t intended for it to happen. After regaining his composure, Jeff cunningly packs the dead body in a suitcase and takes it to his grandmother’s home. He places IT in his grandmother’s basement and leaves it there. He asks his grandmother if she’s going to church the following day, using this as a pretence to dispose the body then.
Jeff removes the box his grandmother had shown him earlier in the episode, which contains memories of his father’s accomplishments. He kisses the corpse intimately and locks the box with the head inside. This could imply that he considers killing the guy and storing his head to be an accomplishment, given that the box contains memories of his father’s accomplishments.
The Episode Review
The episode’s and the show’s overall plot are both very practical and leave room for interpretation, which heightens the realism. One could argue that Jeff’s behavior was influenced by genetics, the fact that his mother took too many pills while she was pregnant, or the chaos in his family, including his parents’ chaotic marriage, their subsequent divorce, and their neglect towards him. All of these factors or any combination of them could be the cause.
The episodes only hint at what it might be, leaving us to draw our own conclusions. This drives viewers to reflect and form different points of view. The lack of definitive answers provided where there may be several potential answers makes it more stimulating and enjoyable to watch.
Despite some sequences in the storyline that ends up making you uneasy – like when Jeff consumes blood – you find yourself rooting for him and feeling sorry for him in equal measure. Despite the abhorrent things he does, it’s impossible not to feel empathy for Dahmer.
The actors are outstanding in their portrayals of the characters. This helps to add to the top-notch script by bringing Dahmer’s story to life and by making it seem realistic.