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Dexter Recap: Night of a Thousand Awkward Moments

Hallelujah! With all the talk of freewill last night, it was beginning to look like Dexter might keep his pacifist streak going. One criticism of this season is that there’s been too much praying and not enough preying — as Dexter himself suggests at Brother Sam’s vigil. While seeing Dexter get some blood on his hands was almost as big a relief for us as it was for him, the episode still felt like a detour. In the opening scene, he’s hot on the trail of Travis and the Prof, until news of the Bro’s shooting derails him. Debra and Miami Metro don’t make much headway in the Doomsday Killer case. Brother Sam is off to the great auto body shop in the sky. We don’t even get a new tableau. If not for Dexter getting his murderous mojo back, all we’d have are questions for next week and the candlelight shrines we’ve built in memory of Brother Sam. Really thought he’d have a miracle up his sleeve. Mos, your time with us was far too short.

The cringe-worthy moments in this episode were legion: Deb gets the cold shoulder when she tries to talk shop with Angel and Masuka; Dex has an uneasy convo with Jaime at his apartment; Quinn shows up at Deb’s party drunk with a blonde he picked up at the bar; said blonde dumps his ass when she realizes Deb is his ex; Quinn hits on Angel’s sister; Angel scores a one-punch KO on his partner; Deb is speechless when Quinn asks if she ever really loved him. Oh, and Quinn’s former girlfriend, who’s also his boss, orders him to interrogate the lead witness in the Doomsday Killer case, whom he also just recently had sex with. As gross and unlikable as Quinn has become, last night would have been a snooze without him. He even inspires a moment of genuine pathos when Deb’s silence crushes him. All of Quinn’s bad behavior — the vacant doggie-style sex with random women, joint smoking on the job, and overall assholitude — is what happens when a cad gets his sleazy heart broken. One thing is for sure, Jaime Bautista will not be his rebound girlfriend, unless she appreciated his pickup line (“I want to have a relationship with that ass”) more than her brother did.

While everyone else is stuck in neutral — both emotionally and in terms of forward-moving plot — Dexter is the only one who makes any progress, slight as it is. He’s no closer to catching the Doomsday Killers (or is it killer?), but all the light-versus-dark chatter finally ends in one of Dexter’s most enraged takedowns yet. It’s also among the riskiest. For a guy who’s so meticulous, the fact that he’d drown a dude in the middle of a public beach on a moonlit night speaks to the fury that’s been building up inside him (and, by proxy, in us) for so long. He’s not even dressed for a murder — no gloves! No four-button Henley! Neither wardrobe nor the Bro’s dying wish is enough to keep his Dark Passenger buckled up for another week. The two best scenes of the night play off the theme of Dexter’s inevitable move away from his inner sunshine — the look of heartbreak on his face when the cops pump Leo the gangbanger full of lead, thus depriving him of a kill; and the shot of Dexter moments after drowning Nick, as he’s dripping wet in the moonlight with a gloriously depraved look on his face. All of those earlier Ice Truck Killer references were apparently paving the way for the return of Dexter’s brother Rudy, who looks like he’ll be the devil on Dex’s shoulder, competing for his anytime talk-to-the-dead minutes with Harry.

On the Doomsday Killer front, there’s little payoff. We learn that the “Enesserette” is a cult who believed the Book of Revelation was really a coded how-to for kickstarting Armageddon. According to the Prof, seven steps involving human sacrifice will bring about the End of Days, which means we’re four down with three to go. As for the two nutjobs behind all of this, not much news to report. The Prof does not support health care for whores (isn’t that part of Mitt Romney’s platform?). Travis has perhaps the creepiest refrigerator in Miami, filled with mason jars of his blood, a loaf of bread, and some bologna. He also set his victim free after seeing his sister, something the Prof will certainly not appreciate.

As for the Ghost Prof theory, it seems I was in the minority for thinking he might still be alive, and that it would feel like a bit of a cheap trick if he’s not, considering all the interaction he’s had with the world around him. Last night offered more clues to suggest that Travis, like Dexter and Haley Joel Osment before him, can indeed see the dead. At the flea market, Travis does the buying and the Prof — again out in public while a citywide manhunt for him is under way — talks to no one. Travis’s sister calls him an “amazing artist,” which suggests he could be the one who painted those scenes for each tableau. (Another clue that Travis is the painter: the Prof’s controversial campus installation. A naked chick, blood, and a dead lamb? That’s more like the cover of a Slayer record than fine art.) But consider The Sixth Sense and the brilliant flashback at the end of the film. You’re told Bruce Willis is deceased, and you revisit those earlier scenes in a different context. It all fits together snugly; he wasn’t eating dinner with his wife — she was eating alone! Here, though, we’ve seen the Prof doing just enough that it’s too much misdirection if he’s not really painting or answering cell phones. Granted, The Sixth Sense was about ghosts, whereas Harry — and presumably the Ice Truck Killer and now the Prof — are manifestations of the mind. Just sayin.’

Like Dexter, we know it ain’t easy to just let go. A few questions to ponder before next week:

• Did this episode set a record for the number of times the phrase “shot caller” was used in an hour-long drama? And why was Dexter, who’s been so hilariously unhip to Brother Sam’s slang, so comfortable saying it? A closet Puff Daddy fan, perhaps?

• Will Dexter interpret Brother Sam’s death as some sort of cosmic comeuppance for sparing Harrison’s life after his vending machine plea in the hospital?

• How will the Ice Truck Killer’s reappearance tie back to the prosthetic hand that Masuka’s ex-intern stole?

• If all sorts of dead folk appear to be talking, have we really seen the last of Brother Sam?

• What will be Travis’s punishment for freeing his harlot? And what are the odds that one of the brunette sisters — Travis’s or Angel’s — will be targets of the Doomsday Killers?

• Will Deb grow distant from her brother now that she has a therapist who won’t be busy killing people when she needs emotional support?

• Dexter casually mentions that he lost his chance to add Leo to his slide box. Is he already over the fact that his trophies are broken and out of order?

• Considering Dexter is the only one with any proof that Nick killed Brother Sam, wouldn’t Nick’s reaction upon hearing that news be to kill Dexter, instead of laughing at the idea that he’s getting away with murder?

• Will “flamingoing” replace planking and Tebowing as the next big Internet craze?

THE POSTMORTEM

Best quote: “This is Miami fuckin' Metro. We're all fuckin' rock stars.” —Masuka’s continued attempts to impress his intern.

Debra Morgan Vulgar Outburst of the Night: “I could give a fuck who you fuck. Just don't fuck with my investigation, you fuck.” —separating workplace protocol from complex personal feelings with Quinn.

Vince Masuka Pervo Quote of the Night: “See, Lewis, the art of dusting lies in the caressing of the powder over the print, so as not to corrupt it. As if one was trying to get a nipple erect.”

Kill Tools: baptismal waters, bare hands