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'Dexter' recap: Sign of the Beast

December 12, 2011 |  7:31 am

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When I finished Sunday night’s episode of “Dexter,” I thoughtI liked it better than the last two installments, but when I sat down to write about it, I found a lot of little things to nit-pick or, more troublingly, just laugh at.

To start with, there’s Colin Hanks’ face. Not that his face in and of itself is funny, but Travis Marshall was in full-on evil mode Sunday night (except for when he fed ice cream to a kitty cat.) Colin Hanks has such a sweet, babyish face that when he slaps a fiendish puss on, I just want to giggle. He looks like angry Bert, or even an Angry Bird.

Then, there was the portrait of the devil Travis amended to look like Dexter. Yes, obviously, Dexter is Travis’ version of Lucifer, but Travis taking the time to change the painting while he’s being hunted by the police and trying to catch Dexter seemed like a comic-book villain’s waste of time. Both this conceit and the unflattering painting itself made me think of "Ghostbusters II" (and for the record, I did not care for "Ghostbusters II.")

Also, can Quinn do anything to get in trouble at work? In the episode, Batista gives Quinn credit for saving his life after being held hostage by Travis (which wouldn’t have happened if Quinn was doing his job in the first place), but Angel has finally has had enough of his unreliable partner. But at work, Quinn doesn’t even get written up by Deb for failing his partner and being MIA in general. The worst he gets is the threat of a write-up.


Speaking of Travis kidnapping Batista, what’s with his aversion to simply taking care of business? Why didn’t Travis just shoot Dexter and Batista when he had the chance, instead of setting up an elaborate but ultimately futile fiery death for both of them? I know, it’d be a much shorter episode and series if he were simply pragmatic, but still.

Then finally, there was sexy Dexter. In Sunday night’s episode, Deb’s therapist gently suggests that perhaps subconsciously, Deb’s in love with her adopted brother. After a nice tense pregnant pause, Deb debunks this heartily, yet still has an inappropriate dream that was reminiscent of the one Brenda had of her brother Billy in another Michael C. Hall show, “Six Feet Under.” Sexy Dexter was like Painting Dexter to me: creepy and yet silly. Part of the problem was that the dream sequence was filmed, unsexily, with plenty of closeups of Dexter’s mouth, even while he slurped down Chinese noodles. Yum, how tantalizing. This, paired with the fact that sex and Dexter don’t mix well, made the scene more funny-squicky than sexily forbidden.

But despite all these issues, I found the episode more interesting and tense than last week’s, possibly because it rang real-life alarm bells. Travis sets Beth (Mrs. Doomsday Adam) on a mission to execute Wormwood in Deb’s office at work, which would have made anybody who has ever been afraid of terrorism feel on edge. Dexter manages to figure out what’s going on right on time and isolates Beth in an interrogation room, where her death is satisfyingly violent and gross, but Dexter’s exposure to the poisonous fumes spells trouble for him.  Once again, the logistics of this episode had me annoyed. If I could foresee that Dexter’s bloody nose and dizzy spells would hinder his attempts to catch Travis, why couldn’t he? Some time in the E.R. would have saved him from the predicament he found himself in later in the episode.

Meanwhile, it seems to have turned out that no matter what Deb did to handle the Matthews incident, she would have ended up doing the wrong thing. After Matthews convinces Deb to close the case of the dead call girl, Laguerta tattles on him anyway and informs Deb that she’s basically made her her prison wife. I don’t know, I could see Deb stepping down as lieutenant (with Mike Anderson stepping in?) before she agrees to let Laguerta boss her around for the rest of her life.

The episode ends with Dexter at sea, having escaped a dramatic but not-escapable fire Travis has set for him after presumably heading off to end the world.  Dexter can get back safely, but there is the matter of his missing boat, abandoned babysitter, video text message on Travis’ phone and blood on the dock to explain. Will Deb manage to save the day and her brother? Hopefully she can do so without falling in love with him, because if she does, based on her track record, Dexter’s as good as dead. Or having sex with a “hilariously” middle-aged stripper.

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--Claire Zulkey
twitter.com/Zulkey

Jennifer Carpenter as Debora Morgan and Michael C. Hall as Dexter. Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime

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