When last we saw him, Dexter was emerging from Biscayne Bay after putting Nick down for the dirt nap, only to come face to face with the manifestation of his brother, Brian, the Ice Truck Killer. Brian, of course, is dead as Dead Harry, only serving the polar opposite purpose: instruction on chaos, instead of order; encouraging Dexter to follow his bliss instead of acting responsibly. Sounds fun, right? The problem is that Dexter’s particular bliss is dangerous to others and himself, and the only way he’s been able to live the life he has without getting caught is by being reasonable and following Harry’s code. Brian had no such code, and…well, look what happened to him.
But Dexter is not in a reasonable place right now. With Brother Sam resting in peace and (hopefully) hanging out with the Big Man in the sky, Dexter is free to abandon his whole spiritual journey/good example/dark and light ponderings and embrace the hell out of his Dark Passenger. As he and Brian toss Nick’s severed head off the side of Slice of Life, Dexter feels relieved, unburdened, and more like himself than he has in about five seasons. He can stop searching for the light within himself now, he tells Brian, because he’s just proven it doesn’t exist.
The pink shirt kind of takes away from the whole “embracing the dark side” thing, though. Just an observation.
Deb calls, telling him to get his ass into the office, and once he’s there she shuts the door and delivers some jarring news: Trinity, the John Lithgow-shaped nemesis from season four, has struck again, apparently tracking his family to some backwater hole in Nebraska and killing his daughter and wife. Jonah, the son, caught him in the act and managed to fight him off, at which point he fled. Of course, Dexter immediately recognizes the story as a whole is bullshit, as Brian aptly points out, because Dexter himself killed Trinity, right before returning home and finding Rita doing her Jim Morrison impersonation.
Now Trinity, as we all know, is the one who killed Rita, and he was also indirectly responsible for the death of Agent Lundy, Deb’s geriatric late boyfriend, so both Morgans are more than a little sensitive on the subject. Of course, Dexter let the chase get way out of hand, which is what led to Rita’s murder and the unraveling of the family life he’d worked so hard to build. He did eventually get around to killing Trinity, but that was done on the sly, of course, and the official story is that Trinity escaped after Rita’s death and has been on the run ever since. His family was packed off into Witness Protection, and the FBI is presumably wasting all sorts of resources searching for a dead man. Brian and Dexter consult each other briefly and immediately peg Jonah as a copycat of his own dad. Dexter, stretching out the grieving, shocked widower card ever further, tells Deb he needs some time to process everything. She tells him to take the rest of the day off. Since it’s impossible to drive from Miami to Nebraska in an afternoon, I’m thinking that rest of the day will be extended just a little beyond what Deb expects. Road trip!
After unexpectedly growing a set last episode, Travis has withdrawn from EJO’s psychotic influence and is staying in his sister’s sunny, overly-yellow home. They’re bonding over crossword puzzles and home cookin’, and when he’s away from EJO, you can almost see how Travis would be a perfectly nice boy, if only he wasn’t incredibly, almost cripplingly, batshit crazy. Then Travis makes a jizz joke that is almost schizophrenic in contrast to his usual Soldier of God mien. I still laughed, though, and had a moment where I thought he could even be adorable.
Yeah, it disturbed me, too.
Ah, and speaking of batshit, EJO is at the door! Before he can even launch into his prepared speech (please, like he doesn’t have one), Travis tells him he’s done—done with EJO, done with the crazy Apocalypse scheme, done draining his own blood and branding people and gutting them and running them over with cars, and etc. EJO tells him that God is the one with the choice, not Travis, and Travis isn’t done until God says he is. He then pooh-poohs free will and tries to come inside, but Travis stops him. See, he says—free will. EJO informs him that God’s will doesn’t stop just because Travis is taking a detour. EJO vows to carry on with his inane TABLEAUS, with or without Travis, for both of them.
You were supposed to bring me the severed leg of a newborn infant this morning, like God commanded. I’m assuming you just forgot?
Dexter is doing all sorts of research on the deaths of Trinity’s daughter and wife. Rebecca, the daughter, was found in the bathtub with the signature slashed femoral artery—the same treatment Trinity gave to Rita, incidentally. The wife, Sally, was found bludgeoned to death and pushed down the stairs, I guess because his usual second-floor ledge was unavailable. Dexter doesn’t understand, though: Jonah loved his mother and sister. He certainly took enough abuse from his father for defending them over the course of his life. Why would he kill them now? Brian scoffs at Dexter’s wide-eyed wonderment: Since when has love ever kept people from killing one another? Considering all the real-life news stories out there involving parents killing their kids, kids killing their parents, spouses killing each other, and on and on ad nauseum, it seems that old Brian might be onto something. Wow, that’s depressing.
Brian details how things must have gone down in the Mitchell household, and he admires the planning that must have gone into Sally’s bludgeoning: Jonah killed her on the stairs, he muses, so the blood splatter would be consistent with Trinity’s height. Just like good old dad! Dexter seems a little less enthusiastic, because suddenly all he can think about is Harrison, and how the life he chose for himself is not one he would choose for his son. He deposits Harrison in his room, suddenly eager to get the kid away from the sociopathic hallucination that is Brian.
Brian, of course, is raring to visit Nebraska, which is probably a first for Nebraska. He’s plotting the entire trip out loud, and giving Dexter all sorts of shit for stalling, mocking his ordered, domesticated life. Dexter is worried that Miami Metro will catch EJO in his absence, for one, depriving him of that kill. Also, there’s Harrison to think of, not to mention work. But it’s his responsibility to get to Jonah, Brian says. When Dexter killed Trinity, he gave Jonah the perfect cover to become a copycat. Since no one knows Trinity is dead, Jonah could theoretically go on killing for years, and as long as he stuck to his father’s M.O., the blame wouldn’t stick to him. When was the last time you had fun? Brian asks, and with that, Dexter is off. Leaving Harrison with Jamie, he packs his kill tools, rents a car, and hits the road.
Dexter and Brian drive through the night, cruising through the wasteland of the southeastern United States, leaving Deb with no more than a voicemail informing her he’ll be back in maybe five days. Damn, she’s going to hit the roof.
As if she didn’t have enough on her plate, we see Deb is all dressed in her uniform, presenting pie charts and such to a hearing board. LaGuerta is hammering her with the tough questions and not giving her a chance to explain. Afterward, Deb jumps on her, reminding her that six of the open case murders happened on LaGuerta ‘s watch. It doesn’t matter, LaGuerta says, because the numbers represent a running total, not a personal tally. They bicker back and forth, each convinced the hearing was worse for themselves than the other, and LaGuerta reminds Deb that as the captain, the crap numbers are hers, too. They have a few honest moments within their weird little mentoring bond, and LaGuerta reminds Deb to keep the numbers totally impersonal, or the stress will eat her alive. Yeah, but if we don’t catch DDK, Deb says, we will crash and burn. Kind of hard not to stress over that, I guess.
Never mind my part in things, these numbers are shit. If I had any say at all, you’d be so fired.
Dexter and Brian have made it to some desolate highway, and Dexter gets a voicemail from Deb telling him not to take four days off, that she needs his help solving those pesky murders. Of course we know Deb is SOL on this point, because what kind of episode would it be if Dexter just turned the car around?
Then we get this totally bizarre scene from out of left field that shows us a side of Dexter we haven’t seen since Lila kicked it. During a gas and nacho stop, Dexter overhears the barely legal station attendant having a blatantly sexual phone conversation, so he decides to hit on her, delivering one of the creepiest, least likely to arouse pick-up lines I’ve ever heard:
“I, for example, would never fuck anyone if my mom were home—or, I should say, if my adoptive mother were home. I could never have fucked anyone if my actual mother were home, ‘cause she was murdered in front of me when I was three.”
Well, OKAY THEN. Nothing gets the ladies’ undercarriage steamy like talk of toddlers and dead mothers, that’s for sure. Wow. The attendant, though, is clearly a fucked up freak, because this actually does it for her, and Dexter proceeds to hump her in the employee break room. While she’s getting dressed, he bolts, lifting the station’s gun from behind the counter and grabbing his nachos on the way out the door. Way to embrace that dark side, Dex. Damn.
Your penis is interrupting my vicarious murder spree.
He and Brian have a blast (heh) with the gun that night, shooting holes in all the billboards and road signs they see, whooping it up, headbanging, and generally bonding in various disturbing ways. Remember that, assuming he woke up around 7 a.m. the morning Sam died, Dexter has been awake for almost four full days now; the Brian hallucination is probably the most lucid thought he’s capable of forming, so it’s just as well it’s able to do its own talking.
And its own headbanging! Metal!
They roll into Kearney, NE in full daylight, and it’s everything you’d expect it to be. Dexter drives straight to the hardware store to find Jonah. And Jonah, seeming totally unsurprised to see him, walks right up and greets him with his real name. The family, not being utterly sheltered and illiterate, had figured out that “Kyle Butler” was Dexter when they saw him identified in the news following Rita’s murder. In light of the fact that “Kyle” had tried to help them, though, they’d decided not to report the connection to the FBI. Jonah still wants to know why Dexter lied, though, and Dexter tells him he was trying to collar Trinity under a fake name in order to protect his family. Wow, that totally worked according to plan, didn’t it? He asks Jonah what happened with his family’s murders, and Jonah feeds him the same story he fed the cops—which Dexter knows, of course, is a giant lie. Brian reappears as Jonah walks away, excited at the prospect of making him pay.
You don’t suspect little ‘ol me, do ya? Land sakes!
Back in Miami, Batista and Deb are taking a statement from Holly, EJO’s escaped whore, who recounts her time in captivity from a hospital bed. Holly tells them she heard two voices, one of which called the other Professor, but never saw any faces. According to her, young voice apologized a lot, and the Professor voice belonged to the guy who held her mouth open and made her drink a cold, metallic-tasting substance that made her puke. Refrigerated Travis blood, anyone? P.S. Ew. FUCKING EW.
Batista and Deb don’t hold out much hope of getting a sample of that blood, probably because they’ve allowed Holly to brush her teeth at some point during her hospital stay. Deb asks Batista if Jamie knows where Dexter is, and Batista says he doesn’t know because all Jamie was talking about is her date with Masuka’s intern. Deb calls Dexter, and he continues to ignore her. Brian asks if Deb was worth killing him for, but Dexter avoids that conversation by getting a flat tire. They pull into a terribly shitty little roadside motel, and Dexter has a surprisingly hostile interaction with the proprietor, who is blunt and rude and nosy on the level of Norman Bates. And his name is Norm, too, which is either too obvious an homage, or too coincidental to forgive as such. Fuckin’ writers. Anyway, Norm offers to patch Dexter’s tire, and they have another awkward moment when Norm mentions that Dexter’s lily-white hands are nice and smooth for a landscaper. I can only chalk that totally unbelievable lie up to sleep deprivation, because Dex really doesn’t have much of a plan here. Dexter and Brian walk to town to get something to eat, detouring into Norm’s cornfield and stumbling across a little match of marijuana. Dexter could give a shit about this, of course, but Norm saw him take the detour, so things might be a little strained between them when he gets back.
Turndown service is at seven. Also, I’ll be peeping in on you in the shower while dressed as my dead mother. What? That’s totally original.
Travis, carless for some reason (maybe to appear more wholesome?), bikes by the church, where EJO is busy gutting an alligator. No joke. Travis doesn’t go inside, though, so he has no way of knowing what fuckery is in progress. At the station, Deb is being briefed on the DDK by Quinn, Batista, and Chicago Mike. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t “Doomsday” usually a single word? If so, the DDK thing is wrong, and that bugged me the entire episode. Anyway, Chicago Mike’s research has unearthed a beast with seven heads (probably something to do with the dead alligator) and a whore drunk on the blood of the saints. And of course, we can always count on Quinn to do the heavy thinking—he makes the astronomical leap to the younger voice Holly heard belonging to one of EJO’s former students, and Deb looks like she might cry—to narrow down a suspect, they have to sift through around 2,400 possibilities. While she’s lamenting the inadequacy of the word “fuck” to properly express herself (for once), Louis has perked up. 2,400 isn’t that many, he says, and scurries off to apply geek skillz to the issue.
That evening, Louis has taken a break from geeking out at work to geeking out on his date with Jamie, during which he shows her the rough prototype of his forensic video game. For some reason, he thinks show a girl his virtual interpretation of her brother will help move things along to second base. Gotta love a nerd.
He made him on the thin side, didn’t he?
In the middle of all that, Deb barges in and demands to know where Dexter is hiding. Since he won’t pick up calls from her number, she calls him from his own land line, and of course he answers, thinking it’s Jamie. After eating an appropriate amount of Deb’s shit, he fakes a dropped call and hangs up, and he and Brian rush out to case Jonah’s house. Brian is anxious to get inside and start prepping a kill room, but Dexter hesitates. He doesn’t know for a fact Jonah is guilty, he says. There’s no motive, and no confession. What the fuck, Brian wants to know. What difference does it make if a person is good or bad? It makes all the difference, Dexter says—living by Harry’s code is what’s kept him from getting caught and given him a life. A life that’s a big fat lie, Brian says. What proof does he need that Jonah’s guilty? Dexter wants to case the house, though, and check for any mistakes that might present themselves as evidence. When he opens the trunk, however, Dexter discovers his kill tools and forensic kit are missing. Fuckin’ Norm!
He dons some latex gloves and heads inside anyway, easily entering through an unlocked door. Do people still really do that? Anyway, Brian is yelling at him to cut the shit, but Dexter smells bleach; bleach possibly used by Jonah to get rid of the blood in the hallway. By recreating an estimation of the scene, Dexter notices some missed blood on the ceiling archway, so he makes a compound to test for bleach residue. When he returns to the stairwell, however, who does he see but Jonah. When confronted with a description of his story, Jonah’s alibi falls apart under Dexter’s analysis. When Jonah realizes Dexter not only knows he’s lying but knows because he killed Trinity, he takes off. Dexter and Brian take off to go set up a kill room, and Brian reminds Dexter not to forget his knives.
When they return to the motel, Norm is not in the office, but it doesn’t take Dexter long to find him in a storage shed, fiddling around with the knives and forensic kit. Norm, paranoid about his own grow operation, is convinced Dexter is with the government. Thinking he has the upper hand, Norm tries to sell Dexter’s stuff back to him for ten grand, because blackmailing government officials always goes over without a hitch. When Dexter tries to take back his knives, Norm pulls the gas station gun on him, and in a really satisfying moment, Brian grabs a pitchfork and skewers Norm. The camera swings to the side, and we see it’s Dexter holding the pitchfork. Nicely done.
Well, that was cathartic.
Then the two of them stand there looking like that American Gothic painting, and Brian exalts in the thrill of the kill. He knows, he says, that Dexter wakes up his victims on the table not to make them face their fate, but because he likes to see the light in their eyes fade as they die. Sicko. Dexter doesn’t deny it, but he admits that he feels like anything is possible. Next on the list is Jonah, he says, then they keep going. They dump Norm down a grain silo and head out to deal with Jonah.
Travis, meanwhile, is packing up any and all remnants of EJO’s influence, including a photo of them at graduation. Instead of just chucking them or setting them on fire or whatnot, he pulls a confrontational ex-boyfriend move and brings the bag to EJO, making a big production of getting closure. EJO calls him on that, and says he knows Travis is there because he wants EJO to beg him to come back. He then mockingly begs him and starts recounting a bunch of horrific news stories, which I guess is supposed to illustrate the favor he’s doing humanity by ending the world. It all sounds nuts, but it’s clearly worked on Travis before, and all it does now is upset him. He yells and threatens EJO with a poker, telling him what he wants is to be free—of him, of God, of the whole thing. EJO says he’ll talk to God and that Travis can consider himself released. Travis, proving that he’s still EJO’s bitch at least a little bit, asks if he can leave. You know where the door is, EJO says, then calmly returns to fiddling with whatever the fuck he’s working on.
Are we done here? I have to get back to dismembering this endangered snow leopard and attaching its head to the body of a snapping turtle, if you don’t mind.
Deb is in her office late, pissed at Dexter and hating life, when she notices Quinn lurking outside her door. He actually has shown up to apologize for three things: being an ass at her party, banging the key witness in the DDK case, and proposing marriage way back in the second episode of the season. Deb seems to skip over the first two and land on the third, and they have a sad, touching moment when they agree they had a good thing going, at least at one point. Quinn clearly still misses her like crazy, getting the shock of a lifetime each day he returns to a clean apartment (instead of the piles of clothes, dirty dishes, and trail of turds that signify Deb’s residency, apparently). Deb admits she wanted to tell Quinn about her promotion before anyone, and that she feels real remorse for hurting him. They get closer and more emotional and finally fall into a kiss, and we get a rare glimpse into what their home life must have been like, and the true tenderness they shared. It’s over, though, and they can’t go back. Too much has happened to make amends. Also, Quinn would need a full battery of STD tests before Deb could safely admit him into her bed again. He kisses her on the cheek, flashes an adorable little grin, and backs out, leaving her alone.
“So Deb, if it’s really over, does that mean I can sleep with other people?”
Back to the action in Nebraska! As Dexter and Brian make their way to Jonah’s, the boy himself calls Dexter, and invites him to the hardware store for a chat. Of course we and Dexter know that Jonah’s idea of a chat likely involves the business end of a scythe, and Brian nearly pops a boner in anticipation. Sure enough, Jonah is waiting with a weapon and some fightin’ words, but Dexter hasn’t taken care of the Ice Truck Killer, the Skinner, Miguel Prado, Lila, Trinity, Jordan Chase’s Barrel Girl crew, and countless other hardcore psychos to end up beaten by a troubled teenage yokel. Dexter wants to know why Jonah isn’t more appreciative of being set free of his father, and Jonah says he wanted to kill him himself—then he attacks Dexter, who easily disarms him, but when Jonah begs for death, Dexter is brought up short. Jonah actually wants to die, as penance for what he did. Turns out, he didn’t kill his sister; she killed herself, and Jonah blames himself for not getting her out of that house and away from his crazy mother. His mother, instead of embracing life without her hideous brute of a husband, blamed the kids for his disappearance, spending all her time lamenting and wishing he would show up to take her away. Stellar parenting, Sally. No wonder your children are fucked up.
When Jonah found his sister dead, he freaked out and killed his mother in a fit of rage. Recognizing his father’s behavior in his own actions, Jonah has been eaten up by guilt, and provoked a fight hoping Dexter would kill him. Dexter, however, sees too much of a parallel between Trinity and Jonah and himself and Harrison. Jonah regrets this, he argues, when Brian tries to goad him into killing Jonah; he doesn’t deserve death over a (frankly understandable) crime of passion. He storms out and Brian tries to stop him, accusing him of being weak. “I’m stronger than you,” Dexter growls, throwing off Brian’s hands and influence. As for Jonah, Dexter tells him in order to live with what he’s done, he must forgive himself. Then he runs over Brian, watching as Brian evaporates in the rearview mirror.
Look, I said I would give you gas money, okay? Don’t leave me in Nebraska, for the love of God!
In the much less intense light of the next day, Louis’s computer skills have narrowed the list of students to 200, using methods that are not quite legal. Deb is sufficiently impressed. She shuffles through the papers, and we see Travis’s smiling face among the suspects. They are indeed closing in.
Speaking of Travis, he’s getting ready to attempt another normal day, when he finds the picture of himself and EJO behind the microwave in his sister’s kitchen. EJO must have broken in and put it there! Or, you know, Travis put it there himself while embodying the EJO side of his personality. It’s really a toss-up at this point.
Dexter, on what must be at least Day 6 of zero sleep (that we’ve seen), arrives back in Miami, ruminating that no darkness can exist without light—therefore, there has to be light within himself, waiting to be found. I guess we’re back to that, then. He sees Dead Harry thumbing at the side of the road and pulls over to pick him up. Dexter is back home, but how will his little odyssey affect things?
Son, we need to talk.
Next time, EJO is back, wanting Travis to help him find another whore. Deb shows up on Travis’s doorstep, and Dexter confronts him about EJO—who is back, and in action! I don’t know about you guys, but I dug this episode. I hope Brian shows up again at some point, too, because I loved their exchanges. Brian is way more interesting than Dead Harry. What did you think?
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