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'Dexter' recap: Final days

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I’m really enjoying the long slow build that this season of “Dexter” is taking with its main freaky murder plot. Obviously, we know Travis Marshall and Professor Gellar are up to no good (you can tell by Colin Hanks’ “I’m very upset!!!” face) but what exactly they’re doing and why, well, we barely know more than we knew in the first episode of the season. It felt like last season, the writers doubted our patience and introduced characters and very quickly showed us their M.O.s. There was little doubt, for instance, the moment we saw Jonny Lee Miller appear onscreen that he was the ringleader of his particular gang of sadistic thugs.

But we still don’t know what this season’s gruesome twosome are cooking up. Tonight we did learn that they have a flair for the dramatic, however. The episode ended with what appeared to be two human-size puppets riding down the street on horses, and, P.S., the puppet parts appear to be made of real humans. One of the puppets appeared to be made up of parts of Nathan, the jogger Travis kidnapped and mentally tortured with promises of letting him go if he repented. Obviously, there is a biblical element to these murderers (how many horses were there, exactly? Four?), but does anybody have any thoughts as to what exactly they’re trying to carry out?

Travis and the professor’s antics are barely even on Dexter’s radar at this point. Tonight he was caught up hunting down a man called the Tooth Fairy (known for pulling victims’ teeth as a prize, much like Dexter’s blood samples). As a child, Dexter was obsessed with the Tooth Fairy for his confidence and arrogance, but the murderer is now a crotchety old retiree named Walter Kenney. Even though I saw Kenney trying to kill Dexter before Dexter did, I loved that particular angle of Dexter being forced to think about what he’ll be like as an old man and what he’ll leave as a legacy for Harrison. (I also liked the parallels of Harrison’s toy horse and the horses ferrying the stitched-together bodies down the street.)


Dexter was so cocky during his time with Kenney, probably assuming that Kenney deserved his decrepit state for being both a murderer and a disgusting person in general, but then Dexter was reduced to a helpless confused old man himself when he spilled his box of blood sample slides. Unless we die young, we all become old and helpless, even the best of us. I just hope Dexter doesn’t get long toenails like Kenney did. Eventually, Dexter decides to eliminate any trace of evidence that Kenney was a murderer, both to deprive him of his postmortem legacy and to spare Kenney’s son the pain of knowing that his father was a monster. This may be an interesting glimpse into the future retirement of Dexter Morgan.

Meanwhile, Dexter’s sister Deb has her own issues. At work she’s struggling with Quinn, who assumes that she dumped him because of her promotion, and Laguerta, who’s constantly undermining her. With some support from Batista, however, Deb is able to stand up for herself. I can’t help but wonder about the tension on set, meanwhile, during the scenes between Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall. I can’t actually sense any difference between the two of them now compared with prior seasons, except that I like Deb a lot more than when the series began. She’s matured.

It’s hard to think about anything else after that gorgeously grotesque finale, but I liked that the episode left a few other questions up in the air. For instance, Brother Sam is trying to get Dexter to attend a baptism of a member of his flock. Is Sam somehow a benevolent, religious version of Dexter? And will Brother Sam’s spiritual side somehow get connected to Travis and Professor Gellar, since they’re religiously inclined as well? Also, is Ryan the intern just rather creepy, or is her obsession with the Ice Truck Killer like Dexter’s childhood obsession with the Tooth Fairy? Just how many killers are we dealing with this season?

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-- Claire Zulkey

Twitter.com/@Zulkey

Photo: Edward James Olmos as Professor Gellar (Season 6, episode 3). Credit: Randy Tepper / Showtime

 
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