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'Dexter' recap: Brother against brother

November 13, 2011 | 10:00 pm


The title of tonight’s episode, “Nebraska,” should have let you know that we wouldn’t be getting our typical Season 6 installment of “Dexter.” In a midseason interlude, the series took a sharp turn tonight that indulged Dexter’s dark passenger (literally, his brother Brian Moser was riding with him in his car) and looked and sounded different from most other episodes to date.

I’m not complaining, however. Christian Camargo chews the scenery as Brian, a seductive, petulant, easily bored monster whom I personally find strangely sexy. Brian showed up at the end of last week’s episode when the worst of Dexter emerged victorious after he killed Nick, despite Brother Sam’s explicit directions to forgive him. Brother Brian triumphs over Brother Sam, encouraging Dexter to admit that he kills because he loves it, not because he’s obeying any particular type of code: “You like to see the light go out in their eyes,” Brian says.

Itching for a kill, Brian goads Dexter into taking a road trip to Nebraska after he learns that Jonah Mitchell, the Trinity Killer’s son, has possibly murdered his sister and mother.

Everything’s different when Brian’s around. Dexter -- normally diligent about being a good father, employee and brother -- leaves Harrison and Deb in the dust as he sets off, even after his sister begs him to come back and help with the Doomsday Killer case. Dexter barely seems like a flesh-and-blood human in typical episodes, except for the occasional beer, but with Brian he scarfs junk food, has random sex with a gas station attendant and impatiently scans the radio. Typically awkwardly polite, Dexter allows Brian to encourage him to become dismissive of Midwest culture once he’s in Nebraska, which backfires when the owner of his motel threatens him with a gun and Dexter/Brian then “have” to kill him with a pitchfork.

Brian is so compelling, he makes Travis and the Professor look a little dull by comparison. Their released “whore of Babylon” hostage reveals that while she was blindfolded, two people forced her to drink blood (I still think it’s possible that the Doomsday Killer is just one person with two personalities). Travis continues to be seduced by the light, spending more time with his sister instead of the Professor, although he’s still obviously tormented by his call to the dark side.

I found the return to the Trinity Killer in the end a little convenient and random. Obviously Jonah stood for a killer’s possible redemption, a working embodiment of Brother Sam’s battle of light versus dark. But I think that bigger questions about Trinity could have been explored. For instance, I wondered if Dexter would ponder whether Jonah, not Arthur, had somehow killed Rita, but that wasn’t brought up.

In the end, Jonah represents another opportunity for Dexter to learn that you can have both darkness and light in you. Jonah turns out to be a killer, but not the type Dexter (and Brian) had assumed. “How am I supposed to live with this?” Jonah implores. “Forgive yourself,” Dexter says, finally learning about forgiveness a little later than Brother Sam wished. Jonah’s filled with remorse and torment, and for that reason Dexter lets him go and quashes the Brian part of his personality, welcoming Harry back in the form of a hitchhiker. Did anybody else expect that Dexter would have had more of a violent showdown with Brian than hitting him with his car and watching him fade away?

After a dalliance with the dark, Dexter has come back to warily embrace the light. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to say the same for Travis Marshall, though.


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Photo: Christian Camargo as Brian and Michael C. Hall as Dexter. Credit: Randy Tepper/Showtime