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Review #3119: Dexter 6.6: “Just Let Go”

Posted on the 09 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

Reviewing any serialized TV show can often be a difficult prospect. Each episode is only a tiny piece of a larger story, which has been planned out across either individual seasons or multiple seasons. Would my opinion of most of season 5 of “Dexter” have differed if I had known ahead of time how poorly the season would end? And should I now factor into my opinions of this current season the extremely likely possibility that it too will end poorly?

Review #3119: Dexter 6.6: “Just Let Go”

Somehow, I don’t really think that that’s the right approach. “Dexter” can be a frustratingly formulaic show, but there have been exceptions. The season 4 finale represents one of the show’s finest moments, thanks to its willingness to kill off a major character and significantly alter the status quo. There are a lot of directions I’ve wanted to see “Dexter” go in, such as Deb discovering Dexter’s secret or Dexter being found out by law enforcement, and all the consequences of that discovery. The season 4 finale wasn’t any of the things I’d imagined or hoped for, but it was still a major step in the right direction.

This season has been remarkably consistent so far, but this episode might constitute its first slight misstep. The most notable example of this is in the disappointingly cheesy final scene with Brother Samuel. I think the themes of Dexter’s “darkness” and whatever “light” might be in him are becoming a bit overly simplistic. The focus of the season seems to be on whether or not Dexter can put aside his darker impulses, and the idea is that religion might give Dexter the means to do this.

I’ve liked Brother Sam quite a bit so far, partly because it was interesting to see such a likable and somewhat admirable religious character in a show who’s stance on religion rests in an ambiguous zone. Whether Sam’s religious beliefs are misguided or not, it’s hard not to appreciate his willingness to see the good in people (like Dexter). But unfortunately, that last scene with Sam seems to have left a bad taste in my mouth. It just seems to have modified Sam from an imperfect human being into an almost supernatural guiding figure. And now that’s he’s gone, that’s pretty much what his role in the season has been simplified into for the remainder of the season.

Also, I’m not really sure what to think of Dexter’s murder of Nick, and the re-appearance of Brian Moser, apparently as a mental personification of Dexter’s Dark Passenger. In past seasons, the conflict has been more between Dexter’s humanity and his psychopathic tendencies. If anything, Dexter’s murder of Nick seems to render Dexter as being more human than usual, since it is essentially a crime of passion. The last time Dexter murdered out of anger, it was intended to be seen as part of Dexter’s grieving process and an example of how Rita and the kids had made him more human.

I’m not all that excited about Dexter getting another imaginary companion. It makes sense for Harry, who played such an important role in Dexter’s upbringing, to still exist in Dexter’s mind. But I don’t think a hallucination of Brian Moser can bring much of interest to the table at the moment. Harry’s appearances were never meant to be an enormously fundamental part of the plot. “Ghost” Harry was always intended to give someone Dexter to talk to about his inner thoughts. But Brian’s appearance is treated as some dramatic twist. And it doesn’t really make sense to me that this killing is enough to satisfy and bring out the Dark Passenger.

On a semi-related note, it’s almost going to be a disappointment now if there really is a twist revealing that Travis has been hallucinating Gellar this whole time, given how perfectly everything continues to support that theory. Dexter trails Travis, only to lose him just before Travis meets up with Gellar. And later, Lisa mentions that Travis is an excellent artist, leading one to believe that Gellar’s painting was actually done by Travis. At this point, it would almost be more satisfying if the twist theory turned out to be an intentional red herring. Though, the clues for it are still subtle enough that I highly doubt that they’re counting on the audience coming to this conclusion. After all, if I hadn’t read the theory online, I might never have considered the hallucination angle as a possibility.

Both Dexter’s and Miami Metro’s investigation into the Doomsday Killer movies a bit more slowly than usual. But we do discover a fairly important aspect of Travis and Gellar’s plans. Apparently, their intent is not to warn of the Apocalpyse, but to actually bring it on somehow by utilizing a Revelation code of sorts. The murders are basically the rituals one has to go through in order to cause the Apocalypse. It’s also confirmed (though not to Miami Metro or Dexter) that Travis and Gellar believe themselves to be the Two Witnesses of Revelation, so I was glad to see another one of my predictions fulfilled.

The Travis and Gellar scenes are interesting, as usual. But I wasn’t as interested in Dexter’s storyline. And I suppose I’m getting a bit tired of seeing Quinn acting like the asshole he use to be before he started dating Debra. Seeing Angel punch out Quinn was pretty funny, though. I think I generally feel more forgiving toward these supporting character subplots when Dexter’s story is stronger, so that might explain why I found them to be a bit more tiresome than usual.

I’m trying to give this season of “Dexter” a fair chance. And so far, it’s been a pretty strong season when judged by its own merits. Whether the season deserves to be judged solely on its own merits or not is another issue. But given how long in the tooth the show is getting, it’s surprising that it has remained as good as it has. It’s easy, for me anyway, to get drawn in by it and reclaim some of my hope that maybe this will be the season where the show finally does something ballsy with its storyline and dramatically changes up the status quo for a following (final?) season. The potential for this is always there, utilized or not.

Rating: 7/10

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