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Dexter Recap: The Writing Is on the Wall

James Remar as Harry Morgan and Michael C. Hall as Dexter (Season 6, episode 9) - Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime - Photo ID: dexter_609_1290

If there’s one line that best sums up last night’s episode, it’s when Travis tells Dexter, “The writing is on the wall.” He’s describing the bloody note in his bathroom, of course, but he’s also foreshadowing one whopper of an anticlimax, as we wait another hour for what we’ve suspected — some of us later than others — for much of the season. With all the references to Travis’s Dark Passenger, beginning with the opening lines and sprinkled throughout the show, it seemed inevitable that the Prof’s fate would finally be revealed. We also find out whose ass LaGuerta is covering, but perhaps the biggest (only?) surprise was in Louis’s apartment. Or was the surprise actually the apartment itself? Dude is living large! (As the Prof might observe, “Blessed are the geeks, for they shall inherit the Earth.”)

Before we get to those final scenes, there’s a lot of ground to cover in nearly every story line. With Miami Metro inching closer to finding the Prof, Dexter hides Travis in a South Beach hotel that looks Art Deco swanky from the outside but rather dumpy in terms of interior design. (Hope Dexter is prepared for a hefty housekeeping fee when he checks out; bloody walls and a severed hand in the sink are not covered in most room-rental agreements.) Travis is ordered to stay in his room, so he has a lot of downtime. Luckily, he also has a laptop, which is perfect for stuff  like catching up on e-mail, surfing for porn, and updating the Prof’s doomsday website. Thanks to Louis and his tech skills, it seems Travis did God’s Internet work at the old church, which is conveniently located near an open network. In addition to all their heinous crimes, the Prof and Travis are also Wi-Fi thieves.

With four tableaus down and three to go, Dexter deduces that the next DDK victim is Trent Casey, another professor whose book about the second law of thermodynamics (or “2Lot,” since we’re abbreviating everything this season) and atheism seems to have put a few wrinkles in the Prof’s button-up sweaters. It seemed like a great opportunity to pit creationism against evolution and give Dexter some non-believer perspective to contemplate, but in the end, it was just a setup for the ol’ Bowls of Wrath trick. Despite a full police sweep of the lecture hall, no one noticed buckets in the rafters and a pressure plate that would trigger a literal bloodbath.

Speaking of the knuckleheads at Miami Metro, Deb provides a little comic relief thanks to her newfound shrink-speak and the realization he’ll never be the (kill?) table she needs. Quinn’s strip-club bender ended with a backseat romp, where he lost his gun, his phone, and his last shred of dignity to a matronly Waffle House waitress. Continuing his self-destructive streak, he picks a fight with Batista and is unfortunately saved from a bloody ass-whipping by some nosy passer-by (was anyone else hoping Batista would flash his badge, declare he was engaged in official police business, and finish the beatdown?). Back at the station, Masuka — the last guy who should be doling out relationship advice — tells Louis it’s time to man up and make a move on Jamie. As it turns out, the little perv knows of what he speaks; Louis gets laid and we get a shot of the creepiest item in his already very creepy, meticulously displayed toy and comic book collection. Good thing Jamie didn’t see the Ice Truck Killer hand before they hooked up. She says she can handle weird, but that’s probably pushing it. Along with discovering the gamer-nerd intern has a baller bachelor pad and a stolen piece of police evidence, we learn that LaGuerta is indeed covering for Deputy Chief Matthews, which is not much of a surprise, given that he’s the only person besides Deb that LaGuerta has talked to all season long.

Both Louis’s hobby and LaGuerta’s secret are small-time reveals compared to what awaits Dexter in the church, as he prepares to make a tableau of his own starring the Prof. He sends Travis in first as bait, and we’re treated to another exchange that Edward James Olmos, with his rumble of a voice and deadpan delivery, makes both creepy and funny all at once:

Prof: I’m kind of surprised you haven’t burst into flames. God is very kind.
Travis: God doesn’t want to hurt me.
Prof: Don’t fucking tell me what God does or doesn’t want. You have no idea.

Preach, Prof, preach! As Travis sets up his father figure for the kill, Dex takes a moment with Harry to explain that he hopes by killing the Prof and setting Travis free, he’ll become a better dad. Not sure where he’s getting his parental advice — maybe too much Book of Revelation and Dr. Phil? — but enough talk of little Harrison. As Dexter says, there’s work to do, as in the kind involving a tranquilizer and sharp knives. With Travis passed out, Dexter finds a trap door to the basement, where we immediately see a large freezer. Since we know Travis gets by on bologna sandwiches, it’s probably not filled with food. Those who were convinced the Prof was dead all along are finally treated to their money shot as Dexter finds one very frozen Geller corpse. It’s a fun scene, but of all the ways to pull the curtain back, could a body in a freezer be any more boring? For a guy who carved up his own sister and turned zombie horsemen loose in downtown Miami, you’d think Travis would be more creative. Dexter is left wondering whether Travis has been acting alone (and perhaps how unwise it was to rent a hotel room for DDK). Judging by the way Travis is holding that ancient sword in the final frames, the answer is yes.

As we sprint to the season six finish line, a few lingering questions and random observations:

• Why does Deb need some unis to fan out and canvas the area near the park for her faith-based serial killers when we can all see a big-ass abandoned church just beyond the trees?

• Why haven’t the cops discovered said church by the time Dexter and Travis return that night?

• Why would LaGuerta help Matthews when she knows he’d get fired over the hooker’s death and she’d be a likely candidate for his job?

• Is Travis the most diversely skilled psycho in history? He’s an artist, web savvy, can set up intricate death scenes in broad daylight (sometimes involving livestock), and, based on the Bowls of Wrath trigger, is an electrician and possibly an engineer.

• How did Travis have time to sneak out of the hotel, kill Trent Casey, and set up that elaborate tableau in a college lecture hall?

• What’s in the coffee at Miami Metro? Three of the four male cops we know are either into hookers or strippers, and that’s not counting Masuka?

• Why would Dexter give Travis the identity of someone he killed as a means of starting a new life? His victims are likely considered missing, so if someone figures out that Travis is an imposter, Dexter would be linked to both DDK and an unsolved murder.

• Now that we know something isn’t quite right with Louis, what does that mean for Dexter? Is the nerd-tern just a disturbing serial killer junkie? A Dexter groupie who will try to get a little too close for comfort? Or is something more nefarious ahead?

• Can Colin Hanks pull off Crazy Travis, now that we’ll get to see him in full-on nutcase mode?

• Does Deb’s acceptance of Dexter’s “quirks” mean we’ll have at least one more season before she starts catching on to who he really is? Or will she start connecting the dots in time for this season’s finale?

• Did Quinn go back to the Waffle House waitress’s place after work to get her daughter’s digits?

The Postmortem

Best quote: “You don’t have to apologize. I get it. You’re the chair.” —Deb telling Dexter she finally accepts his detached brotherly love.

Debra Morgan Vulgar Outburst of the Night: “Are you serious? Bowls of blood dropped on my head? It’s like a perfect fucking metaphor for my entire fucking life. I’m not even sure I believe in God but I’m pretty sure he hates me.” —struggling with faith, her failures, and a very messy shower.

Vince Masuka Pervo Line of the Night: “When it comes to matters of the heart, always follow your dick.” —heartwarming (and effective) relationship guidance for Louis.

Kill Tools: n/a

Photo: null/Copyright: Showtime 2011