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.