Dexter: Comeback Kid

I know this hasn’t been the best season of Dexter we’ve ever seen, but I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s episode “Ricochet Rabbit” – not only am I looking forward to seeing how this season wraps up, but I’m genuinely excited about what’s too come in the next (final?) two seasons.

Before we dive in though, I want to address something – apparently some of you didn’t think it was obvious that Gellar was already dead, so I’m sorry if I ruined that surprise for you. A few commenters were genuinely angry that I’d “spoiled” a plot twist, but I do want to clarify that I’m just a blogger, and a pretty small fry one at that. I don’t have any inside scoops or insight – I’m just a TV fan who writes what she thinks about her favorite shows. I felt like it was clear from pretty early on that Gellar was dead, and I felt like that was dragging this season down – so I wrote about it. I understand that not everyone had that same opinion, but you are opening yourself up to hearing ideas like that when you come visit a blog like this.

OK, on to this week’s episode. The doomsday killers case has really started to heat up, and this episode moved at a much quicker, more thrilling pace than anything else we’ve seen so far this season. Deb and the rest of Miami Metro are closing in on Travis – they found the abandoned church – so Dexter had to go to great lengths to lead them off course. He hacked off Gellar’s hand to leave prints all over the church, and his the frozen corpse. But he kept the hand – something that will surely come back to haunt him. Dexter’s #1 workplace fan, Louis, noted that Dexter never makes mistakes – but in his moonlighting gig, he’s been making plenty.

Dexter finally knows who his target is, but his focus is still split. He’s been pulled in a million different directions this season, what with Harrison’s surgery, his friendship with and then the death of Brother Sam, Deb relying on him as she faces challenges at work, that trip to Nebraska. He’s had a lot on his plate, and as I’ve noted before, I think that’s why Dexter is getting sloppy. The old Dexter would have caught on to the Travis/Gellar situation long ago, he would have spent more time pursuing this case, and he wouldn’t be making little mistakes like picking up a pen from a motel in Nebraska or, this week, calling 911 from a cell phone that could possibly be traced back to him. (I don’t know for sure that the cell phone call will come back to haunt Dexter – I saw it as him making another careless mistake, but perhaps nothing will come of it.)

What makes this season interesting is finally coming to light – just how alike are Dexter and Travis? Dexter’s dark passenger was born out of a childhood trauma. He can’t help being a monster. Travis has a lengthy list of psychological issues – it was suggested that he was even responsible for killing his own parents. In short, Travis can’t help being a monster. They both have sisters who remained oblivious to their brothers’ wrongdoings. When Deb mentioned that Travis’s sister seemed so convinced that her brother was a good guy, Dexter responded “Maybe she didn’t know.” “Anything is possible,” Deb replied. Not only is Deb realizing through therapy that she simultaneously leans too much on her brother and barely knows him at all, but she’s working on a case that closely mirrors Dexter’s own life. This is the endgame that’s being set up for the next two seasons, it’s an endgame that has been hinted at all along, and it’s where the intrigue lies.

Unfortunately, the slow-burn pace of this season meant that a lot had to be established in this episode. Gellar didn’t have anything to do with the tableaus – he was fired from the university after Travis stole that dagger, and Travis killed Gellar after Gellar encouraged him to seek psychological help. Travis went too quickly from being a troubled young man acting under the influence of a hallucination to being a gleeful religious zealot and murderer. I wish the show had managed to let this information seep out a little more slowly, because it seemed like Travis’s personality changed too quickly, even for a sociopath.

I also found it odd that Travis would choose this moment to find some disciples to help him complete the tableaus. He’s worked alone all along, so why reach out to his fan base now? Just because it’s hard word? The inclusion of these Gellar fans felt too forced and unrealistic. These people leave video messages of support on the blog of a known serial killer? And besides Batista getting attacked by Travis while questioning the wife of Travis’s new (and now dead, thanks to Dexter) disciple, what the storyline really gain from this plot thread?

Speaking of Batista, confronting the wife of a known Gellar supporting about their extensive collection of Gellar books while alone was nothing short of stupid. Travis stepped out of hiding and clubbed him with a crucifix, so who knows what will happen to him. I like the idea of Batista ending up in danger, or even dead, thanks to Quinn’s self-destructive spiral and lack of responsibility, but there had to be a better way to execute that.

The subplots gained steam this week, too – Deb has figured out that Matthews was the man at the scene of the dead call girl, and Dexter’s not around for her to turn to as her career is on the line. And we’re beginning to learn more about Louis. He showed Dexter his video game, which puts players in the perspective of the serial killer – famous ones, including Jack The Ripper and the Bay Harbor Butcher. Dexter, of course, shot the idea down as sick and offensive and Louis didn’t take well to hearing criticism from his workplace hero. So we know that not only does Louis glorify serial killers (first the arm from the Ice Truck Killer and now this game), but he has a temper.

The episode finished with Dexter finding the boat Travis was supposed to be on too late – both the girl Travis had previously let go and his helper had been killed, and Dexter learned that Travis was planning to stage a poisonous gas attack on the Miami Metro office. He called in an anonymous tip to 911, but unless he wasn’t using his own cell phone (maybe he used the phone of one of the victims – did anyone see if that was the case?) it may not be truly anonymous.

While this has been one of Dexter‘s weaker seasons, I think it’s been one of the strongest seasons for Deb. Her character has gotten better and better as the seasons have worn on, both in writing and in Jennifer Carpenter’s portrayal. Since the relationship between Dex and Deb has always been at the center of this show and will become even more central as we near the conclusion of the series, I’m happy to see that, at the very least, that aspect of the show is sharper than ever.

So, what did you guys think? One of the stronger episodes of the season, or a sign that the season (or show) can’t be saved? Sound off in the comments!


Introducing Book Club

Boardwalk Empire: Motherf—–