Stay behind me

First off, sorry for the delayed post, real life simply took precedence over this increasingly mediocre series.  Having now watched “Get Gellar,” I’m happy to say I didn’t miss much.  Yes, as everyone who was paying attention should’ve realized, Travis is crazy and Gellar’s his Dark Passenger in every sense of the word.  This episode provides a perfect example of what’s wrong with Dexter these days; rock-bottom expectations of the audience.  I’ve written extensively that great fiction makes demands of its audience, insisting on greater investment in order to yield greater payoffs.  Dexter’s become determined to serve things up to the audience on a silver platter and bafflingly confident that no one cares enough to ask a few basic questions.

Dexter and Travis’ excellent adventure is not without its good points.  There’s some solid tension in Dexter turning his back on this monster and I held my breath a couple of times, waiting for Travis to bring the hammer down.  Fun as that is, it’s completely marred by how utterly stupid Dexter looks.  We might forgive him for not knowing everything the audience does, but there are enough clues in this episode alone for him to know that Travis wasn’t what he seemed.  How, exactly, did “Gellar” escape from the second floor of the church?  How did “Gellar” stop the elevator moments after Dexter entered it?  How the hell did “Gellar” move the table back on top of the trap door after he’d gone down there?  Dexter’s been well established as a master of deduction, and his failure to catch any of these clues or be even remotely suspicious of a man he just met only works if the audience has a ten-minute attention span.

But wait, Harry explained why Dexter’s missing things; he’s just too emotionally invested in Travis’ redemption; because it offers him the possibility of his own.  Gee, thanks dad.  It’s lucky you’re here to describe things that should’ve been effectively communicated through the narrative.  Michael C. Hall’s a phenomenal actor and to require exposition to explain his emotional state is just the worst sort of laziness.  For this dialogue to conclude with Dexter “realizing” he wants to be a better father to Harrison than Harry was to him just piles on the insult to the audience’s intelligence.  Wasn’t that the climax to season three?

Accepting what we’re being fed here requires us to check our brains at the door.  Not only do we need one character to tell us what the other is thinking and feeling, we need to forget that he’s thought and felt these things before, and in far more dramatic fashion.  Enjoyment of this episode is dependent on ignorance, as its central conceit requires that we not know what’s going on.  Why should we care when Travis meets Gellar in the church?  All the talk about God, forgiveness, vengeance, virtue, and evil are meaningless if we understand that Travis is just a mad man who’s delusions can take over at any moment.  There are no stakes to their conversation, and so there’s no drama.

Final Thoughts

The one bright spot in this episode is Debra’s therapy sessions.  Jennifer Carpenter does great work here and it was nice for the series to finally acknowledge what a train wreck her life is.  They didn’t even get to the part where her ex-partner was also a serial killer (at least as far as she knows).

So, what’s his name has the hand.  Hmm, it’s ironic that this proved a far bigger shock than the main plot.  I just wish that the “previously on Dexter…” hadn’t spoiled it somewhat.

Quinn and Angel once more have an uncomic B-story.  Do these two have anything to do with anything anymore?

I’m not really digging the fact that Harrison has replaced Debra as Dexter’s link to  humanity.  Yes, I buy that love for his son would bring out the best in Dexter, but the nuances of relating to a toddler don’t make for interesting storytelling.

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