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Review #3099: Dexter 6.5: “Angel of Death”

Posted on the 01 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

I think what I liked most about this episode was how Miami Homicide’s investigation, Dexter’s investigation, and the scenes with Travis and Gellar all worked together to gradually reveal more to us about what’s really going on in Travis and Gellar’s heads. Interestingly, the episode continues to support the theory that Professor Gellar exists only in Travis Marshall’s head (a theory that I cannot claim to have come up with on my own), but never outright confirms it.

Review #3099: Dexter 6.5: “Angel of Death”

And at the same time, there’s a lot of evidence supporting Travis’s assertion that Gellar is the one doing the actual killings. So far, we’ve never actually seen Travis kill any of the victims. But on the other hand, we’ve never seen anyone in the show (other than Travis) interacting with Gellar. It could really quite easily go either way. Back in the premiere, when Travis walks up to the fruit vendor, the scene cuts before the actual murder. But we still see Travis pulling the ancient sword before the cut, presumably preparing to attack the man.

All we know for sure is that someone clunked the victim on the head from behind, while he was facing away from Travis’s direction. Then the victim (still living) was dragged down the embankment, behind the bush, where he was stabbed and then disemboweled with the ancient sword. Travis may have done the head clunking with the sword, incapacitating the man enough for he and Gellar to drag him down behind the bush, where Gellar did the actual killing and disemboweling. It’s almost as if the writers were worried that someone would come up with the “all in his head” theory, and needed to carefully orchestrate a red herring.

The thing is, red herring or not, it’s easy to believe that Travis wouldn’t be capable of committing the murders himself. Personally, I’ve found it pretty easy to sympathize with Travis. The writers have gone out of their way to make sure we understand how conflicted Travis is, and how pretty much everything he’s doing is intended to fulfill his need to live up to his father-figure’s expectations. Gellar is a textbook cult leader, using charisma and tried-and-true manipulation tactics to gain absolute respect and admiration from his followers. It’s not surprising that Travis assumes that there’s simply something wrong with him because he can’t hear God, rather than think that Gellar might be insane or delusional.

I was glad to see that I wasn’t off the mark with the “1260 days” thing, though it’s probably not as impressive a prediction as I’d like to think. Miami Homicide is aware of this now, thanks to Masuka’s new intern, so now they at least have a chance of preparing for whatever is coming on day 1260. And they know that Professor Gellar is involved with it somehow. Meanwhile, Dexter’s investigation is going extremely well. It didn’t take nearly as long as I expected for him to confront Travis, and I certainly didn’t expect him to just let him go.

Some might argue that Travis is guilty enough just for assisting Gellar. But Dexter’s decision makes sense, given the character’s history and his personal journey this season. Dexter may have slightly altered Harry’s code, but he still sticks to the basics of it. And Dexter wants to believe that people like him can fight their inner darkness. So when Travis confesses to being too weak to be able to do the killings himself, Dexter wants to believe it, and even leaves Travis with some advice. It helps that Travis most likely completely believes what he’s saying, whether it’s true or not.

During this episode, I was really starting to wonder if Brother Sam was some kind of evil super-genius with a sinister motive for getting close to Dexter, in part because he was just too nice and too likable to be relevant to the season arc in the long run. However, his shooting at the end of the episode completely debunks this theory. The timing for this is pretty good, I think. And even though (as I’ll often point out in these reviews) I’m pretty anti-religious myself, I much preferred the idea of Sam as a genuinely reformed individual whose friendship with Dexter wasn’t a complete lie. Even if the ultimate message of the season is that religion is bad (which is far from being a sure thing), it’s just plain bad storytelling to paint a conflict in such broad strokes, by making every religious character a villain.

Most of the other subplots aren’t enormously noteworthy, but they do progress at a logical pace. Deb decides to get a place for herself and move into it, and it’s implied that she’s not yet ready to accept that things are over between her and Quinn. Masuka’s problems seem to have been temporarily solved by his new intern. The Masuka subplot is odd, but I remain curious about where the writers are going with it. Will it tie into any of the other subplots or the main plot in any way? Have we really seen the last of Ryan Chambers? It really does seem like they’re going to need to do more with this subplot to make it worthwhile, but I’m optimistic that something interesting will come of it.

I’m finding very little to complain about in this season of “Dexter”, so far. It’s been at a pretty consistent level of quality right from the start. But that’s not too surprising, as most seasons of Dexter are pretty solid, right up until they fall apart at the end. So I’m really curious to see if this season will follow suit, or if it will offer a more satisfying season finale (like the season 4 finale that doesn’t rely on numerous contrivances to preserve the status quo). I really think the show needs to start preparing for its final season before it overstays its welcome. Ending the show with this season or the seventh season would make sense.

Rating: 8/10

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