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Dexter Recap: Swordplay

As Dexter spent most of last night’s episode following clues to find Travis — who is now officially bat-shit loony tunes — we’re tracking our own leads and hints about how this season will end. Among the dots to be connected: Deb’s major discovery, the twist to Louis’s video game, Quinn’s continued self-destruction, and Travis’s new Doomsday Killer internship program, which offers plenty of hands-on experience.

The opening scene finds Dexter dealing with his realization that the Prof is actually a manifestation of Travis’s mental breakdown. He’s also a frozen piece of evidence that might help Deb and her bumbling homicide department finally identify Travis as the lone killer (note that it took what appeared to be a full day for Miami Metro to discover the large abandoned church situated approximately 500 yards away from the source of Travis’s favorite Wi-Fi hot spot). When Travis flees, Dexter gets creative in doctoring the crime scene — he hacks off the Prof’s hand, leaves prints, and plans to give his corpse a ride on the Slice of Life. He also decides to keep the hand and, as anyone who’s implicated in a crime would likely do, plans to hide the evidence at his workplace. This moment plays into last night’s theme about mistakes — Travis vows to correct his, and while Louis notes that Dexter never makes any, stashing the Prof’s appendage in the morgue seems like a big one that will come back to haunt him (much like his decision to trust Travis instead of killing him when he had the chance).

Meanwhile, Travis officially breaks up with the Prof, who explains that his former student really screwed him over — the Prof not only lost his job after Travis stole an ancient sword, he was also stabbed to death with it. Kids these days, right? If this is the last time we see the Prof, at least he leaves us with one more hilarious exchange with his pupil:

Travis: I proved it to you that you couldn’t be hurt.
Prof: You stabbed me with the sword three years ago … You killed me, Travis. And then you stuck me in the freezer.

Travis continues to suffer from a severe case of tableaus interruptus, as he puts his crusade on hold to recruit some volunteer labor and revisit the original Whore of Babylon. Because Anderson continues to be the only cop with access to a Bible and Wikipedia, he explains that the next tableau will be based on Wormwood, a Biblical fallen star that poisons mankind. Upon finally realizing that faith-based serial killing is a lot of work, Travis dons his best pedophile outfit — shirt buttoned up high, grandpa cap pulled low, old-school headphones that probably came with a Walkman — and hits an Internet café to find some help via the Prof’s website. The guy who names one testicle “end times” and the other “God’s wrath” doesn’t make the cut. Instead, he hooks up with Steve Dorsey, a.k.a. Doomsday Adam, and his wife, Beth. Steve is unemployed and apparently sees whore-killing as a great résumé builder.

As usual, Dexter stays far ahead of the police and tracks Travis to a yacht — the “Ricochet Rabbit” of the episode’s title — largely thanks to the owner’s daughter, who appears to be a member of the Young Kardashians Club and introduces “slam-pig,” “sexcretary,” and “fuck pad” to Dexter’s lexicon. Before Dexter finds the boat, Travis cuts Holly’s throat, and Steve, all hopped up on Travis’s inspirational speeches, sticks her in the gut for good measure. Finally, it’s time to get working on Wormwood, and we see yet another one of Travis’s endless skills on display—not only does he pilot the yacht, he also goes all Walter White, concocting the poison gas in a hazmat suit. Colin Hanks seems to be enjoying himself now that Travis is in full psycho mode and we know he killed the Prof, probably killed his own parents, and is off his meds. Hanks even delivers a few lines that feel rather Profesque in their humor (upon meeting Steve: “Do you mind if I come in? I’m kind of being hunted.”)

Back at Miami Metro, there’s no shortage of drama as Deb has her first panic attack at the church and then nearly has another when she learns Deputy Chief Matthews sent flowers to that dead call girl. (The fancy dinner date they’re planning just got really awkward.) Quinn’s bad behavior continues to have repercussions, as Batista goes alone to interview Beth and ends up getting clubbed with a crucifix by Travis. Miami Metro will also have Quinn to thank when Travis, who sees Batista’s arrival as a sign, tries to unleash Wormwood at the station. In other bad news, Dexter isn’t pleased when Louis shows off the special feature in his video game — you can play as a serial killer (including the Bay Harbor Butcher, a.k.a. Dexter himself). Dexter’s angry dismissal (“Who would choose to be a serial killer? ... How could you possibly know what it’s like to take a life? It’s a bad idea. Do something else.”) sends Louis into a funk and leaves him feeling unappreciated by his idol. That’s perhaps another mistake that Dexter will have to deal with as the season winds down.

Dexter slips up again on the yacht, this time in a bloody way when he tussles with Steve and ends up killing him in self-defense. Travis did a really lousy job covering his tracks with Holly, as Dexter learns when he finds her body on the boat’s anchor. Dexter finally realizes that his obsession with stalking Travis has led to a lot of innocent lives lost, and with the Wormwood gas out there somewhere, there could be more bodies on his conscience. Harry tells him he can’t make this DDK obsession personal, but when has Dexter’s human hunting ever not been? Earlier, Dexter said he wished he never listened to Brother Sam and his “religious garbage,” but changes his tune after failing to stop Travis: “Brother Sam said it. Sometimes you have to surrender to something greater than yourself.” With that, Dexter breaks his own code and calls 911 to report the Wormwood evidence scene. We’ll see if that ends up being another lousy decision, though at this point, Dexter could probably give homicide Travis’s precise coordinates and they’d still find a way to lose him.

With two episodes to go, a few thoughts and questions to kick around:

• Once Quinn learns his behavior placed Batista in harm’s way, will he make some sort of heroic self-sacrifice, considering all the trouble he’s causing and the people he’s hurting? Perhaps he stops the Wormwood gas attack at the police station and saves Deb, which would damage her fragile psyche even more.
• How will Deb handle her dirt on Deputy Chief Matthews?
• Why was Batista buying Beth’s story that her husband’s video rants were just weird jokes when there’s a massive crucifix on the wall and other religious paraphernalia was in view?
• Will Louis catch on to Dexter’s secret life? Seems that the missing Ice Truck Killer evidence and Gellar’s hand will be connected somehow — perhaps someone learns the Ice Truck hand is gone, and an evidence review will uncover the Prof’s hand.
• Why didn’t anyone at Miami Metro find “Doomsday Adam” before Louis (and Travis) did? And speaking of that last video post that Louis found, wouldn’t Travis tell Steve to lay off the YouTube stuff now that they’re working together?
• Was Louis’s freak-out after Dexter shot down his video game nothing more than a plot device to cancel his date so Jamie would stay home, allowing Dexter to hunt for Travis? Or was Louis upset about Dexter’s reaction because he has a Dark Passenger of his own?
• Why was Deb so understanding when Dexter blew her off again to deal with his “personal issues”? Even if she’s trying to be more independent as his sister, she’s still his boss. Hasn’t he taken enough unapproved time off lately?
• How naive is Jamie? She tells Louis that Dexter is really a “softie.” So reading Everybody Poops to your kid makes up for being emotionally sheltered and an absentee father?
• When Travis is looking at the Prof’s site, the last post reads: “In six days, the End will be marked with the solar eclipse. All those following false prophets are doomed.” Is that a sign of what’s ahead?
• Did anyone else find this odd exchange on the boat to be one of the episode’s funniest moments?
Travis: This…is Wormwood.
Beth: I thought it would be bigger.

The Postmortem

Best quote: “You’ve got it easy. [Abraham] was asked to sacrifice his son. You just have to pitch in and help kill a whore.” —Travis putting the DDK initiation ritual into its proper Biblical perspective for Steve

Debra Morgan Vulgar Outburst of the Night: “Holy Christ on a stick. Sorry.” —reacting to the church crime scene, then realizing she is, in fact, standing in a church

Kill Tools: fuck-pad knife

Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime