Brother Sam’s conversation with Dexter “The Angel of Death” illuminates (pun intended) both the best and the worst that the series has to offer. All this talk of passing light onto one’s children comes in the context of both the twisted parallels between Harry/Dexter and Gellar/Travis and Harrison’s obvious desensitization to death. It’s tempting to fall back on my usual doubts about this series’ ability to pay such ideas off, but this was actually well executed enough that I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. The only problem is… why the hell did this conversation even happen?
I appreciate the “why” in the sense of what the potential payoffs of this conversation are, but what about the “why” in the sense what events lead up to it? My suspension of disbelief has been a bit strained by this unlikely friendship thus far, but Dex telling a virtual stranger about his mother crossed the line. He’s told what, three people about this? And didn’t he end up killing two of them? The confession is clearly there to illustrate the bond between these two, but it just doesn’t feel earned. And adding his comments about his own darkness? Again, why would Dexter open up about this to a man he barley knows?
Some might accuse me of quibbling about a small point when there’s a much larger one to outrage over, but it’s just the extension of Dexter’s wider problem. I’ve been vocal in my distaste for this series’ refusal to give big events real emotional consequences, now it seems we’re getting real emotional consequences without big events. Cause and effect is the engine that drives narrative, and it really looks like Dexter’s engine is breaking down.
Don’t think playing fast and loose with character motivation is a big deal? I submit that little inconsistencies like Dex sharing himself with Sam lead to big inconsistencies like Dexter letting Travis go. Haven’t half of Dexter’s victims claimed they didn’t do it? And even if Dexter believed that Gellar was the one doing the deed, isn’t the kidnapping and torture before murder grounds for ending up on the table? Wasn’t that the whole plot of season five?
Dexter’s stopped behaving like a fully realized character int his episode and became little more than a prop in this serialized thriller. The efficiency with which he tracked Travis made for an engaging hour, and the moment he wrapped the cord around his neck had me grinning in recollection of the Mike Donovan. But killing Travis would derail the season, and so this badass moment is left as only that; a moment unconnected to character or context. We can enjoy it in itself, just don’t expect it to be part of a cohesive whole.
So, we’re all 100% sure that Gellar’s not real, right? My certainty of this fact makes it rather difficult for me to really buy into his interactions with Travis. We’re really just watching a psycho talk to his imaginary friend without the emotion investment we have the Dexter/Harry relationship.
I really do hope we get some exploration of the damage Dexter is doing to his son. Kids are perceptive, and the fact that Harrison sits on Daddy’s lap during cyber-stalking just can’t be healthy.
So, Quinn and Batista just happen to stumble upon some evidence after Quinn compromises the investigation. Remember when these guys were real cops?
So, did Dexter buy the hand? I can’t imagine him having some sentimental attachment to the thing, particularly when he deliberately threw away the one thing Brian actually gave him. But then, this series has established its new love affair with inconsistency. Plus, who else would go to the trouble of erasing their trail?