Even serial killers need to get away now and then, and last night’s episode proved to be a working vacation for Dexter. It was also a detour for the story line this season, in that Miami Metro didn’t get much closer to finding the Doomsday Killers, and for Travis and the Prof, who didn’t make much progress on their next bloody art installation. But when a road trip is that much fun, who cares about plot advancement? Instead, we’re treated to some deliciously bad Dexter behavior, the return of the other brother in his life, and a new twist in the Trinity Killer case.
As expected, Brian “Ice Truck Killer” Moser’s appearance last week foreshadowed his role as the devil on Dexter’s shoulder, poking and prodding him to do some wicked stuff, like ignoring speed limits and getting freaky at a rest stop. With the death of Brother Sam and the broken promise not to strangle the Bro’s killer, Dexter is a bit stressed. Luckily, Deb has a Trinity update — Arthur Mitchell’s wife and daughter were found dead in the sleepy Nebraska town where they were relocated. Dexter knows Trinity is history, of course, and we know John Lithgow probably won’t make a cameo this season. That leaves his son Jonah as the prime suspect and raises all sorts of questions about the parenting skills of serial murderers. In one of his many great lines last night, Brian makes sure Dexter keeps his priorities straight: “Road trip! Let’s go kill Jonah.” Highlights from their journey include a brief stop for nachos, sex, and a handgun, followed by some high-speed target practice set to “Search & Destroy” by the Stooges.
Dexter and Brian eventually arrive at the Shady Lane Motel, which has a very Bates Motel vibe about it. If that wasn’t obvious enough, the proprietor’s name is Norm (gotta love a Psycho reference on a show about serial killers). Turns out Norm has a thing for fixing flats, pot farming, and blackmail; somehow you knew he’d end up on Dexter’s hit list. Could we be in store for a double dose of death dealing? Alas, it was not meant to be, despite Jonah’s murderous appetites and a great showdown when Dexter admits he 86’d Jonah’s father. We learn that the kid’s sister killed herself, and that his mother blamed them both for Trinity’s sick behavior. Jonah fesses up to bludgeoning his mom with a hockey stick, then goes all Dr. Phil in explaining that he beat her just like his dad did. “I’m my father’s son,” he says, as Dexter wonders if little Harrison is similarly doomed and Brian rolls his eyes at all the touchy-feely crap that’s getting in the way of murder. Thankfully, Shady Norm isn’t the ripest corn cob in the field, as he suspects Dexter is really a DEA agent who carries a very large collection of sharp knives. By the time Dexter leaves town, Norm ends up in a grain silo, Jonah is given some less-than-helpful advice about forgiving himself, and Brian gets symbolically run over. Evil Dex was sort of like Four Loko — a blast while he lasted, but too much fun to stick around for long (and like sex with stranger at a roadside convenience store, gross and possibly hazardous to one’s health).
Back in Miami, Deb’s department continues its glacial crawl toward catching the Doomsday Killer (or as Dexter calls him/them, DDK, a nickname that’s both a stretch as an acronym and reminiscent of the real-life BTK killer). Thanks to the freed Whore of Babylon and super-intern Louis, the cops know that the Prof’s accomplice is one of about 200 male former students, including Travis. All the time he’s spending with his sister seems to have cleared his head, as we see in an unintentionally humorous breakup scene at the church when Travis drops off a bag of the Prof’s stuff. “I release you,” the Prof tells him, but homicidal mentors don’t go away easily (and neither do their framed photos, which sometimes reappear in your kitchen). We also get a glimpse into what’s in store for their next victim — there will be crocodile heads (and probably more Travis-blood smoothies). The door to Deb’s next disastrous relationship now seems to be wide open after Quinn’s inevitable kiss, her inevitable “We can’t do this,” and confirmation that they’re really, truly over (as if that wasn’t already clear). Cue the sad piano and some genuine sympathy for those two hopelessly unlucky-in-love emotional basket cases. By the end of the night, the detour ends and all is back on track: Deb is anxious about her crime stats and single, Travis is tumbling into madness, and Harry is in Dexter’s passenger seat.
Not many new questions were raised, but here are a few to ponder and an observation or two. (On a procedural note: I don’t watch the previews for next week. They feel spoilery on most shows, and I’d rather enjoy the ride with nothing but our hunches regarding what lies ahead.)
• If the End of Days is approaching so rapidly (specifically Day 1260, as indicated by those notes), why isn’t the Prof more concerned about his recent lack of murderous productivity?
• Why does Deb panic when they figure out that the Prof’s wingman is a former student? As even Louis points out, the suspect pool wasn’t all that large.
• Why is Anderson the only cop who can read the Book of Revelation, or at least Google it for clues?
• What sort of trouble will Louis’s creepy Miami Metro video game lead to?
• Why is Brian eating pizza and nachos? Minor point, granted, but it gets back to a lack of continuity that’s been a little bothersome this season. Harry never shares a steak with Dexter or drinks a beer. Brian shouldn’t either.
• Wouldn’t Dexter be slightly less cordial to Brian, considering he tried to kill Dexter’s sister (and would love to finish the job)?
• Speaking of the dead, I officially wave the flag of surrender. The Prof is undoubtedly in Travis’s head. The proof was everywhere last night. Notice how the freed captive speaks of her two tormentors, but never says anything that proves the Prof was physically there. Travis’s graduation photo mysteriously reappears, implying he’s still loony tunes. Yet it’s the way that Shady Norm is dispatched that seals the deal. Brian perforates him at first, but as the camera rotates, we see it’s really Dexter who does him in. The line between who’s doing the killing and what’s real versus imagined is officially blurred. (Insert “duh” here.)
Best quote (tie): “The one who got away.” —Brian reminiscing about Deb as the kill, not the love, of his life.
“You don’t turn the other cheek. You slice it. Brother Sam doesn’t know you like Brother Brian does.” —Brian giving Dexter’s Dark Passenger a pep talk.
Debra Morgan Vulgar Outburst of the Night: “Where in Fucktopia are you?” —expressing her frustration at Dexter’s disappearance and unapproved vacation time.
Kill Tools: pitchfork