Nov 08 2011

Dexter Review: “Just Let Go”

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

The further we get into this season of Dexter, the more I think it might be my least favorite of the series so far. Even at its worst, Dexter is still interesting and better than almost every show on TV, but this season just does not live up to the others for a multitude of reasons at this point.

Chief among them would be its central bad guys, which make or break any season of Dexter. I was pretty excited about the Doomsday Killers when they pulled off their epic four horseman murder, which was pure insanity, but now? Everything seems like a foregone conclusion.

There’s almost no escaping the fact that the Professor is not actually there, and has been assumed into Travis’s persona as his “evil side.” You can pull a trick like this in a two hour film and get away with it, but keeping it up for six or more full TV episodes is a different story, and we’re going to notice that in all that time not a single person other than Travis has seen or spoken to the Professor directly. There were more not-so-subtle hints that the Professor isn’t there, like how Dexter stops trailing Travis a second before he meets up with him, or that Travis’s sister remarks what a good painter he is.

I half expected him to start fingerpainting the Antichrist or something.

It’s a really strange phenomenon though. Many have compared it to Dexter seeing his father, but Dexter knows his father his dead and his ghost isn’t making him do things. And it’s not exactly a Tyler Durden situation either, as this isn’t a made up person to represent a repressed part of a personality. Rather, the Professor was indeed a real guy, but Travis (presumably) killed him, and now literally absorbed him into himself. Is that even psychologically possible? Norman Bates and his mother come briefly to mind.

As for what exactly the duo is planning as a final endgame, that remains the show’s biggest mystery, but if they’re seriously expecting it to be a big surprise when Travis turns out to be operating solo, they’re going to be in for a let down. Dexter is usually so good about crafting winding and surprise-filled plots, but it’s been too easy to see this from a mile away, unless there’s something we’re all missing.

The show’s other main plotline has come to a clumsy conclusion as well, as they’ve now killed the most interesting addition to the cast in the years by gunning down Brother Sam. Really? Over a stupid gang beef and a quick pleading lesson about forgiveness to Dexter? It seems like a throwaway use of the character, and I’m sad to see Sam go.

We hardly knew ye.

Other storylines haven’t exactly panned out. After learning that Masuka’s hot intern wasn’t interesting at all, we thought briefly that this witness TA in the Doomsday case might have secrets. But now all indicators point to her just being the jumping off point for a Deb and Quinn spat, and nothing more.

There are a few interesting questions raised at the end of the episode that I’ll be curious to see resolved. What exactly happens when Travis disobeys the Professor to this degree? Is he going to pull a Durden and beat the hell out of himself? Will they find a new Whore of Babylon? How many more tableaus until the endgame? It can’t be more than two or three, and as we know the world isn’t going to end, what the hell is actually going happen then?

More pressing is Dexter’s latest rage kill. The last time this happened was when he beat down that random redneck in the bathroom after Rita died. At least I think that’s when that was. He’s not usually sloppy, but drowning someone with your bare hands on a public beach is about as careless as you can get when it comes to his line of work. Can he get away with carting the body back to his car and doing his whole cut-up routine? Or will this be an actual crime scene and develop into an entirely new plotline? Perhaps this is resolved in the “scenes from next week,” but I always skip this, and I don’t understand why they even exist. Do people really need those in order to not stop watching?

And then there’s the return of dear old big brother Rudy, and in a season with few surprises, this certainly was one. Why is he showing up now? Presumably he’s a figment the same way Dexter’s dad is, and honestly, you have to wonder why he hasn’t shown up sooner. So why this moment? Because Dexter fell deeper into darkness? Still, it’s not like he purposefully killed his first innocent or something, and even though most of his kills are cosmically justifiable, this one was especially so. So why the sudden appearance of Rudy?

Outside of the cameo and the pretty awesome baptism drowning scene, I’m a bit disappointed in this episode, and subsequently this season. I love the show, but this season seems to be building to a bit of anticlimax with the whole inevitable Doomsday reveal, and hopefully in its second half can turn things around.

 





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10 responses so far

  • Sam

    The last two episodes were weak. But up until that point I loved this season, and I fully expect it to pick up in the second half, like the show usually does. I’m assuming Rudy showed up because Dexter was fully willing to let this bad guy go on Brother Sam’s (RIP) final wish, but then when he killed him he fully went into the darkness Sam was warning him about.

  • Sam

    P.S. They said there were 7 steps he had to take so 7 tableaus, and since there have been 4 so far, there are 3 to go, one of which I’m assuming will be the whore of Babylon.

  • kj

    WHAT!?! This is the essential “turning point” that happens in a typical Dexter season to throw off any assumptions you have made as to the course of the show so far. Everything has changed now. I think we are about to finally see a very dark side of Dexter. This is exciting as hell for me, plus we’ve never seen a dynamic where Dexter is almost hunting an unwilling participant at this point. At least I’m excited now, this episode has saved this season for me so far.

  • JB

    Agree to disagree but I thought it was a great episode. To me Brother Sam was trying to show Dexter the light in people and that they could be saved. Dexter was starting to believe this and was even going to let Nick go after Sam forgave him. But when Nick (a man Brother Sam tried to save) killed Sam and showed no remorse or care Dexter snapped and drowned him. Totally rejecting Sams teachings about the light which is why now he is seeing visions of Rudy because he rejected the light and embraced the darkness.

    Total speculation on future episodes but spoilers I guess if you dont want to hear my theory.

    I think Travis is a reflection of what Dexter is going through. Travis is torn with the doomsday killings since he let that girl go this week. I think Dexter is going to eventually find the light and save Travis from his dark path. Dexter is going to still be a killer but will finally accept that there is some good in him.

    End possible spoilers.

    So far I think this is a great cereberal season and I dont think the show always needs a big bad for Dexter to take down. Its more about whats going on in Dexters head for me at least and this season has delivered so far on that front.

  • http://www.clemonslawfirm.com Wayne

    Will Dexter be redeemed? He knows that he can, Brother Sam has shown him that there is hope. The fact that Dexter refers to his “Dark Passenger” shows that Dexter clearly recognizes that his murderous nature is something apart from his true self, his core. Dexter is a man, like any other, capable of being good if he can get rid of the Dark Passenger.

    I’m convinced that you’re right that the Doomsday Killer has his own Dark Passenger (Admiral Adama). If this show really wanted to be about redemption, we could see the Doomsday Killer come in, confess, cut a deal, and try to “help” Dexter and Homicide hunt down the “true” killer… only to find out who it really is later. Dexter would be confronted by an example of a man who is blaming his “dark passenger” for the killings that he himself does… for Dexter to judge him, Dexter would be judging himself.

    In the past, Dexter has avoided judging himself, while snidely judging others. If pressed, he would admit that he kills because he enjoys it. The fact that the victims deserve it is not a motivation, and not even an excuse. At this point, it’s an empty code, and we’ve seen him drift from it at least once. If the world were otherwise free of murderers, I expect Dexter would still kill.

    For entertainment, it’s fun to watch remorseless, evil Dexter take out bad people. We can even identify with Dexter, since we all have an evil side that we wish we could fully indulge. Season 1 Dexter was interesting because Dexter was so very, very troubled.

    But he’s been working through his issues for a long time now. He’s being confronted with hard choices, does he embrace his Dark Passenger, choosing life as a killer, ending up like the old serial killer from earlier this season, pawing over his box of trophies in a retirement community. Or does he choose a path of righteousness?

    What’s an end-game for Dexter? I like the show, I want it to last, and Good Dexter would be boring. I don’t want an ambiguous series finale (which we will probably get at the end of this season) where he says”religion can be good (Brother Sam) or bad (Doomsday killer) I guess it’s all about how you approach it, I obviously can’t give my heart to Jesus right here and now or the audience will freak, so we’ll just leave it for the audience to imagine their own ending… fade out.”

    Here’s what I want for an End Game:

    Dexter’s Dark Passenger is his imaginary adopted Father, who taught him that he could not be free of his evil, and had to work around it and had to be evil “with a code.” Or maybe it morphs into his Brother, who starts following him around, the devil on his shoulder, saying “yeah, be Dark Dexter, kill ‘em all, it’s fun!” and we get to see some good cathartic violent retribution for a while.

    But another imaginary friend shows up. Brother Sam! He sticks around on the show, as a voice in Dexter’s head, and says “No! Be good Dexter. Don’t kill this person, turn them in to the police. In fact, you should use your skills to hunt down evil doers, but rather than kill them, convince them to repent, change their lives, and start being good… starting with yourself!”

    Eventually, everything leads to the Big Decision. Maybe we have a kill room, where Dexter has to decide whether to kill someone, or let them go. Maybe he has to bind and kill his “Dark Passenger” metaphorically chopping it up and casting it into the ocean. Season ends with Dexter hunting down a criminal, confronting them, but instead of tranquilizing them, inviting them to Dexter’s Rehab, where Dexter (guided by imaginary Brother Sam) takes over as the new Brother Sam, turning crooks into children of God.

    It would be a feel good ending to the series. I don’t want to leave Dexter out there, troubled, alone, driven to kill, and having to raise a son.

    But the show must go on, so I don’t want it to happen this season, maybe we set up the groundwork for it, but I’d be happy with this season turning very dark, so we can see Dexter wallow in his blood soaked despair for another few seasons.

    Dexter gets a

  • http://mandyatlarge.com Mandy

    WTF?! Just wtf… I didn’t think the professor was imaginary… or better yet, I just didn’t want to think the professor was imaginary. I mean, in this season of God, and with Harry already, do we really need more imaginary things?

    So, we know Geller is Travis’ dark passenger who he is struggling with. He must have been totally obsessed with the Professor and snapped and took over… The other theory I have on this is Geller is Travis’ dad… These imaginary friends seem to be family, Dexter sees his Dad and then his Brother.

    For Dexter to see his Dad, I understand. He too was kind of obsessed with his dad as a child, and knows so much about him, it’s easy to understand how he could manifest his image. But his brother? He barely knows anything about him, other than the bit in the first season. How could he genuinely conjure him up? Are there now rules to imaginary friends like, it has to be your family?? WTF?

    Things are just going off the deep end. I understand the correlation between Travis and Dexter… and their imaginary friends, but gahhh.. it’s so ridiculous, I just don’t like it.

  • Rosstopher

    This was by far my favorite episode of the season, i let out a gasp when his bro showed up. Brother Sam didnt have to die though, but Dex’s bro wouldnt have come about if he didnt perish.

  • Kangaryu

    Hated that they killed of Sam, to me he was the best peripheral character by far. All the others do little less than to annoy me. Except Batista, he’s bearable.
    Waay too much episode time is spent on Dex’s sister tho. God, I hate her.

  • DZA

    I usually skip all previews but holy **** at that the next episode! Trinity Jr!

  • John

    Completely disappointed that Sam is gone.

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