Dexter Review: “A Horse of a Different Color”

You know, as much as I like watching Dexter hunt down and slay killers, I do like it more when the show sticks to the main plotline. Yes, it’s fun to watch him hunt his prey in procedural type plotlines, but it’s something we’ve seen happen now about forty times, and there are only so many minor killers out there worthy of his attention.

Rather, it’s always much more interesting to see him focus his attention on someone truly worthwhile, a worthy adversary. How many of his minor kills do you remember over the years? A handful probably, out of dozens, but the show’s best moments have always been about the larger killers, Ice Truck, Trinity, Jordan Chase, and the same is shaping up to be true this season.

Last week we saw the Doomsday team in action by releasing their latest statement to the world. Yes, I didn’t catch on in the brief moments that were shown, but I suppose I should have guessed that there would be four horses, and they would signify the apocalypse. Naturally, it became a media shitstorm, and Lt. Deb got to prove herself as capable by swearing on camera which apparently gives her “spunk,” and the higher ups were pleased. Except LaGuerta. But f*ck her.

“What do you mean you can’t say ‘shitballs’ on TV?”

I’m not really sure what to think about the Doomsday team now. I started buying into the theory that maybe Edward James Olmos’s character wasn’t real, but was in fact a “Harry-like” figment of Travis’ imagination. Early evidence would hint at that, as we’ve never seen another person address him directly, and it looked like he was completely ignored at the restaurant, not to mention he didn’t have silverware or a drink in front of him.

But then Dexter theorizes about how two different people seemed to have set up the crime, one making the brutal cuts ,the other meticulously setting the scene. I figured, OK, well he probably has a split personality, that makes sense, but then they turned up further evidence that Olmos’s character is actually a real guy, professor James Gellar, an end times expert accused of having stolen John the Revelator’s sword.

So, how exactly would this work? Maybe Travis killed him and assumed him into his personality? Maybe Travis is a figment of HIS imagination? No, those are both stupid. It would probably make the most sense if they were in fact two separate people and everything was just as it seemed.

Are we reading too much into them? Can’t they just be teacher and student?

I didn’t think we’d actually get to see another kill of theirs so soon, and this time it was a Saw-like trap set up where they had the police actually kill the victim via tripwire, right before they set a plague of locusts on them. I mean, I get the whole Revelation thing, but seriously, where do you even buy a box of a thousand locusts?

I wondered how Dexter would finally begin to start tracking down Doomsday on his own, and Travis was stupid enough to show up at his own crime scene smiling, so now Dexter has his man. How he’ll ID and track him is another matter, but he’s generally pretty good at that.

I actually liked Dexter’s struggle with spirituality this episode. We’ve all seen characters struggling by losing their faith, but struggling by gaining some? Kind of an interesting concept and Brother Sam is a well-rounded character who really makes this plotline work. I have to wonder where his relationship with Dexter goes from here. Will he end up being more than just a spiritual mentor and friend? Will he learn something….deeper about Dexter perhaps?

I don’t know if his character is relevant to the bigger picture, but I like him.

I was a little disappointed to see that Masuka’s intern Ryan just stole the Ice Truck hand to sell it on eBay. I thought there was going to be more to her character than that, especially when she started asking about the other killers, but I guess this is just going to be a subplot to fill time. Kind of a bummer, as she could have made a good sleeper villain. Perhaps there’s still hope that there’s more to her than meets the eye?

When I saw Travis making eyes at the waitress, I knew she was dead, and when I saw the painting of the angel, I knew how it would happen, but I am impressed with the Doomsday killer’s ability to be theatrical. I am worried about the show maybe going a bit TOO over the top between Saw traps and locust plagues that kind of take the show a bit out of the somewhat grounded reality it normally enjoys.

Your thoughts on this week’s episode?


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  1. Freakin’ loved it. Considering the “Angel” Trap has been the ONLY “Saw” like trap in “Dexter” and The Doomsday killers taste for theatrics I can forgive it. As for the Locusts, I’m pretty sure they caught them sometime in advance, like the snake. I’m very interested to see what happens next week as they are quickly shaping up to be my 2nd favorite killers.

    As for Mos’s character I REALLY hope Brother Sam stays on the level. I get real sick and tired of Christian characters eventually turning out to be hypocrites. But in this show they’ve set up a nice contrast between a Real Christian (Brother Sam) and Self-Righteous Nut-bags (Doomsday Killers), so I’m not complaining.

  2. Great episode overall, especially because I also enjoyed that there was no sidetracking of going after some other two-bit killer. It’s good to see they Dex is already on the trail and I’m interested to see what will happen with Miami PD and Dex going after two parts of the same team and seeing who gets their man first.

    I think Travis being at the scene was more of a fail-safe in case the trap wasn’t set off like expected. There really isn’t any other reason for him to have been there, except for maybe liking the girl but he had just met her.

    I’m also glad to see Deb completely ignoring LaGuerta’s advice for the most part and the new detective actually adding in some insight that helps get the police going. It can be tiring to see Dexter as the only one connecting any dots.

  3. I thought “Saw” too…but I’m willing to give it a pass for the same reason as Ugo Strange.

    I’m also really enjoying Mos Def as Brother Sam…I’m an athiest and usually find characters who are “believers” to be cloying and condescending. However, as written and played, he comes off as just a decent person who’s genuinely trying to make amends for his life. I hope, as you stated in your review, this doesn’t end up as some sort of smokescreen for nefarious behaviour. ‘Ol Dex hasn’t really had good friends in the series, and it would be nice if Sam becomes Dex’s gateway to living with his dark passenger.

    My only gripe with the show is the way they depict the actual police work…as a cop, I can honestly attest to the fact that Miami Metro is staffed by the stupidest cops on TV! Seriously…how many crime scenes do the cops have to miss obvious blood trails that lead to a secondary scene 10 feet away…a scene (or ‘tableau’ if you will) that wasn’t included in the initial cordon? Minor gripe, but it bugs me.

  4. You HAVE to have locust if you’re doing a bit on the biblical apocalypse.

    I was sad to see Dexter sink into the Christian trap and ‘pray’… I understand his son was sick, but come on Dex, you’re smarter than that. I really don’t like the Christian vibes this season and as great as Brother Sam’s character is, ugh. I hope Dex doesn’t do what his dad suggested and actually keep his vow to god, aka the coffee maker.

    @Desipio J – Actually Deb was following LaGuerta’s advice about being herself when she dropped the F-Bomb… I think she knew Deb would do it, hell I knew she would say fuck on camera the minute she was deemed Lt! Luckily for Deb it backfired and she was praised, but this may only be a way for the Capt to further piss off LaGuerta.

  5. I still think the Professor isn’t real. Who cares that he used to be? Harry used to be alive, too. I think Travis is a dark mirror for Dexter, or even a warning of what can become of a sociopath who finds faith.

  6. The professor is real, and so is Travis. Why were they eating lunch at a dinner? How was he rowing the boat in the first ep? How did Dexter see Travis? I’m not even sure why everyone is thinking they might be imaginary.

    Also, come on… you should know from countless stories and games, the master doesn’t do the dirty work. Of course he doesn’t hack and slash, that’s why he has his devotee, Travis. His job is orchestrating the major plays, such as stitching the horsemen and crafting the goth angel. Do you really think Travis could do this by himself? Come on.

  7. Travis is real and so was the professor. Travis was taught by the professor but along the way he probably discovered that the prof was a hypocrite or had some other flaw. Travis kills him and takes on his personality. In this episode the waitress looks only at Travis, never acknowledges anyone else in the diner and in the kitchen before she was killed.

    When we see the professor we are seeing him through the eyes of Travis and that is why he can do things that you don’t expect like rowing a boat or painting but he’s not really there.

    If you check IMDB the girl that plays Ryan still has more episodes so there is something going on there. She may even be a wannabe serial killer that decides that it’s best to be close to the cops so she can figure out how to avoid being caught.

    I have a bad feeling that Brother Sam is going to give his life to save Dexter. I say it’s bad because Mos Def is nailing this character and I’d like to see him stick around but it isn’t going to happen.

  8. @Mandy – the reason people don’t think the professor is “real” (or alive) is because of the lack of interaction with other people. yes, they were both at the diner, but only travis had a drink in front of him and the waitress refilled without even a glance at the professor.

    i still think he may be a “ghost” or whatever harry is to dex. like Sara C. said, who cares who he used to be?

  9. Mos Def is totally making this season. He’s really a fantastic actor, and the character they’ve got for him actually has some depth, so all the better. He made me like Be Kind Rewind and that movie has JACK BLACK in it.

    As for where the locusts came from, I coincidentally rewatched an old X-Files episode the other day where locusts came out of the air ducts in a courtroom. They tracked them back to a lab supply store or something like that. There are people who breed insects for research purposes.

    Also, I loved that scene with Deb and the new detective coming in to interview. Any bets they wind up boning?

  10. This is stupid in retrospect but for awhile I thought mos def’s character poisoned little Harry or something. Harry got sick right after the beach party – it didn’t suit mos def’s MO so it didn’t really make sense, but it was a weird coincidence. I see now it’s more just to get Dexter to acknowledge his faith but during the ep that’s all I thought.

  11. Wouldn’t it be interesting if brother Sam ends up as the mastermind of the doomsday killiings and them just being his pawns? Or most probably he’ll end up as one of the victims of these duo. Or how about Olmo’s ending up as the father of brother sam. Hey, his mother could be black. So many questions.

  12. The girl didn’t look at the Prof. when she was tied up on the kitchen floor, but only at Travis as he walks into the kitchen from the bedroom. That scene more than any of the others made me think the Prof was not really there.

    It was too strong a hint. She didn’t even glance at him once or
    even so much as flinch while he was near her.
    If he was really standing there, it’s safe to assume he (the prof) had taken her from the room and tied her up, in which case you’d expect her to be out of her mind with fear at his very presence.

  13. @Chelsea… The waitress didn’t look at the Professor because Travis was flirting with her and she was flirting with him… Why would she look at the old guy?

    @Anon… She wasn’t looking at the professor because her eyes were pleading for HELP to Travis. If the professor is not real, who tied her up?

    Sure Travis could be falling into a crazy Fight Club memory loss situation, but I highly doubt it.. He just isn’t nearly as skilled as the professor and seems to know relatively nothing. He just doesn’t have the knowledge or skills to pull this stuff off on his own.

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