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'Dexter' recap: Quite a tableau

October 23, 2011 | 10:00 pm

Did Dexter made a deal with God tonight? And how is this going to be carried out? In tonight’s episode, “A Horse of a Different Color,” Dexter further explores his new relationship with religion by attending one of Brother Sam’s baptisms. Dexter doesn’t question whether there’s a God so much as why people believe in him.

It was interesting that in this episode, Sam met Debra: It’s refreshing that Dexter can just about be himself around Sam. Dexter hasn’t exactly told Sam that he’s a murderer, but Sam knows Dexter’s name, his family and what he does for a living. It feels like the most real Dexter’s been able to be with someone since Lumen (again, aside from that whole “I’m a murderer” thing). Dexter and Brother Sam engage in some good-natured theological discussion, both about the good parts of religion and the parts that inspire psychos to stitch humans together into puppets and send them down the street on horses. “People use God as an excuse for a lot of things,” Sam says.  

Dexter eventually finds himself calling out to a higher power as an act of desperation. His son Harrison becomes sick with appendicitis, and in a clever scene, after Dexter takes his frustration out on an uncooperative automatic coffee machine, he says “If there's something I need to do in return, I’ll do it ... OK?!” God/the coffeemaker responds by sending Dexter a cup of coffee and a healthy son.

I’m guessing of course that the “something” will somehow be related to Travis Marshall, whom Dexter finally got a look at at the end of tonight’s episode. After putting together some clues from the four horsemen of the apocalypse fiasco and the murder of the fruit vendor, Dexter and the detectives have figured out that they have a religious nut on their hands whom they call “The Doomsday Killer.” After discovering yet another a spectacularly staged crime scene along with the theatrical release of locusts, Dexter spies Travis, noting that the ecstatic look on his face is that of a man of true faith, the same look Dexter saw on Brother Sam’s face at the baptism.

I like the play of dark and light sides this season: Sam could ostensibly be a spiritual version of Dexter, but Travis could also turn out to be the bizarro Brother Sam. I think Dexter feels some sort of strange affinity for Travis: Dexter’s obviously titillated by the “tableaus” the Doomsday Killer set up and seems practically nostalgic for the meticulous scenes left behind by his brother, the Ice Truck Killer.

Aside from one annoying moment in tonight’s episode where Quinn convinces Batista to smoke a joint in order to “be cool” (that sounds like something straight out of a DARE cautionary tale), I was very pleased with how well the members of Miami Metro interacted in this episode. Masuka catches Ryan the intern selling the Ice Truck Killer’s mannequin hand on eBay and actually stands up to her (as opposed to giving in to her feminine wiles.) I think newbie Mike Harrison plays well off Quinn and Angel, and I like how he gives straight talk to Deb, who is obviously still trying to figure out who she is as a lieutenant. I loved how Deb cringed beneath the necklace that Maria placed on her before her press conference, like it was a yoke.

I’m going to posit that Professor Gellar isn’t “underground,” as the detectives think, but that he’s dead (possibly by Travis' hand?) My main reason for thinking this is that the poor waitress, upon serving Travis at the diner, acknowledged only Travis and didn’t seem to notice that there was someone else sitting there, namely a ghost who would tell Travis to jury-rig her into a contraption that would stab her in the neck and leave her hanging like a bloody angel.

--Claire Zulkey

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Photo: Edward James Olmos as Professor Gellar and Colin Hanks as Travis Marshall. Credit: Randy Tepper / Showtime