I guess we all tell lies about ourselves

To Dexter’s credit, “Doomsday_Adam” was introduced last week, so he didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but his appearance still presents a pretty big leap in logic.  Are there psychos out there who’re ready to move from vlogging to homicide with nothing more than a five minute pep-talk from Colin Hanks?  Sure.  Are two such psychos married, living in Miami, and fans of this particular religious nut?  I have my doubts but, to Dexter’s credit(?), it’s been prepping us for the absurdist procedural all season.  But I’ve complained enough about old episodes, let’s focus on what was wrong with this one.

We actually saw some good detective work from Dexter this week.  No, not the stunned pronouncement, “he still thinks Gellar’s alive” that had me ready to throw the remote (is there anyone who still didn’t get it by that point?), but the pursuit of Holly Benson.  A B&E, an interrogation, a trip to the new search engine; it was all vintage Dexter.  So how did Travis and his slack-jawed disciples figure it out?  The series doesn’t bother to explain, likely because there isn’t any good explanation, but with Travis having played second-fiddle to his imaginary friend for nine episodes, he really needed some buildup before becoming a criminal mastermind.

Of course, his newfound competence is perfectly in keeping with his newfound delight in the work.  Yes, Travis has always been crazy, but the evil parts of himself seemed to be buried in the Gellar personae.  Now it’s all evil, all the time and I’m not entirely sure why.  Oh wait, there are only two episodes left and they’ve got to get Travis out of the crazy-and-not-morally-responsible territory and into the pure-evil-so-Dex-can-kill-him territory quickly.  There’s just no time for little things like character arcs.

Other points without any narrative connection: Dexter’s movement from “he’s mine” to calling the police, his “dialogue” with Harry was little more than “yes you should / no I won’t / yes you should / no I… ok, fine I will;” Matthews uses his own name to send flowers to a prostitute (I thought the whole point was you didn’t have to send them flowers?), it seems he didn’t learn his lesson after Laguertta blackmailed him; Deb freaking out at a crime scene because… you know what, never mind.

Final Thoughts

Yep, I’m kinda bitter at this point.  How can a show so thoroughly squander all the credit it gained over the years?

Angel gets to do some more “I spy” detective work this week, noticing the evidence that’s out in the open.  Will the series kill him off in order to “raise the stakes?”  That might have worked back when he was a meaningful part of it.

I care so little about the outcome that I’m actually watching the “next week…” previews.

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4 responses to “I guess we all tell lies about ourselves

  1. You gave this episode a D? I feel that is unduly harsh. Its a solid B, maybe B-. Is it possible your negative outlook is based not on what the shows is providing, but because it hasn’t re-achieved the level of excellence it had in season 4? Yes, all the points you raised are valid criticism that existed in seasons 1-3 and some even took place in season 4.

    Travis’s newfound competence – Its not new-found, rather its been there all along since he has always been the DDK. He managed on his own to complete all the four the currently executed tableaus and has the fifth underway – all without the police catching up to him.

    Matthews – I like this story line, as I think its building him up to be the next season’s big bad. We know he is responsible for her death (negligence, not calling for medical care, and leaving the scene) and so he fits the series mode of a big-bad. I don’t think he will kill Deb to keep his secret (he didn’t kill Laguarta for her far more intimate knowledge of his crimes or for blackmailing him over it). But I can see him manoeuvring to hurt her and she is clearly going to tell Dexter about his involvement in a death and Laguarta’s attempted cover-up. That is my theory.

    Gellar personae / Harry personae. I am a Harry fan. I like how we see Dexter’s relationship with Harry evolve. And through Gellar / Travis we can learn more about Dexter. Travis has self loathing. He constantly berates himself, as seen by his own admissions of weakness, and how Gellar mocks him. Notice how Gellar is the man Travis wants to be: intelligent, faithful, insightful, a direct connection to God that makes him special – unable to be hurt by a sword no-less and a chosen witness to the apocalypse. So his interactions with Gellar is less a psychotic break as it is a window into his own self-image: the man he is vs the man he wants to be. Dexter and Harry on the other hand, Harry was always aware he wasn’t real, and saw himself as advising Dexter, never mocking or ordering. I think Harry is Dexter’s psyche minus the self-hatred and self-defeatism over the impulse to kill. Harry has all of Dexter’s insights, caution, pragmatism, love for the children, desire to stay safe. But Dexter’s delusion, like Travis, is he isn’t good enough so he projects the image of someone else.

  2. This piece of shit earned it’s “D” and is so far removed from the quality of Dexter’s first four seasons that it scarcely seems like the same show. You claim that the early years also sunk this low, but at what point did they ever blithely ignore basic questions of “how” and “why” things happened. One of the best parts of used to be how tight the writing was and this episode, in itself and within the context of the season, was anything but tight.

    Until now, Travis has never demonstrated any significant talents outside of a macabre sensibility for art and a strong stomach. With the possible exception of the fruit vendor, his victims were all simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now he’s able to track this chick to her boyfriend’s boat? How is he suddenly in Dexter’s league? Would you describe Travis as charismatic before now? How then can we justify his ability to inspire such devotion in his followers? It’s certainly not Collin Hanks’ performance.

    Dexter’s become a series where things just happen in order to move us to the next thrill. Travis is as competent and as evil as the plot needs him to be.

  3. “One of the best parts of used to be how tight the writing was” – Its a great show, but it had challenges, like even since Season 1, Angel and the other cops had weak story lines, or how in Season 3 the Slasher caught Dexter just in time to be killed right before his wedding and to stop himself from being found by the cops, the master manipulator, athlete, genius … tucked and rolled off to the side! Or complex DNA tests that can be run in a few seconds and nobody from the accounting department asks why he is always running tests on non suspects? Or his constant three-hour lunches during the work-week that nobody asks about?

    I wouldn’t describe Travis as being in Dexter’s league. And you are right, it was a bit of a stretch that he could find the love-boat faster then Dexter could. But one of the best aspects of the show is how Dexter’s ego is actually larger then he thinks it is. He constantly assumes he can control the situation and because of that unintended consequences happen: i.e. Rita. He forgets that one of his primary advantages in avoiding detection for his 100+ killings is the fog-of-war that exists in investigations. Why he assumes his intelligence and resourcefulness is enough to pierce the fog is an example of his ego causing him problems. Travis isn’t in Dexter’s league but does enjoy the benefit of that lack of information that Dexter and the police suffers from.

    Travis as charismatic – I agree, he should have had a larger build up to his displaying confidence and inspiring devotion, even though its clear he is using Adam and his wife’s devotion to “Geller” not him. It would have been nice to see him take on the traits of his Geller delusion (and hence does possess himself).

    “…quality of Dexter’s first four seasons that it scarcely seems like the same show.” – there is one thing I am worried about from next weeks trailer. I really hope that they don’t pursue a “Deb falls in love with Dexter” plot.

  4. While you’re right that number of elements of Dexter have always been somewhat unrealistic, they still make sense within the context of the show. This is a world where a new serial killer appears in Miami every year or so; absurd in our world, but normal in theirs. The problem with Travis is that his character now bears little resemblance to who he was established to be in the first nine episodes of the season. The only things that’s changed is that he’s recognized his delusion, and this episode didn’t provide sufficient explanation for why that would turn him into a super-sleuth/cult leader. It’s just lazy writing of the exact sort I ripped True Blood for.

    Deb+Dexter would be another example of the same sort of BS, and I wouldn’t put it passed the writers at this point. There’s been no indication of any romantic attraction between these two for 70+ episode. For it to suddenly appear now would make no sense within the context of the show.

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