Tuesday, 1 November 2011

DEXTER, 6.5 - "The Angel Of Death"

Tuesday, 1 November 2011
For the majority of this hour, the story felt like it was coasting. I wouldn't say "The Angel Of Death" was filler, per se, but there was a certain amount of wheel-spinning going on. Travis (Colin Hanks) and Gellar (Edward James Olmos) plotted their next kill for a "Whore Of Babylon" tableau, while Dexter (Michael C. Hall) found adhesive evidence on an angel wing from the latest crime scene that led him to an art gallery—which, by chance, was playing a demonstration video featuring Travis as restorer of antiquities.

The one encouraging aspect of this episode was how quickly Dexter appears to have found The Doomsday Killer (about as quickly as he found Trinity in season 4, right?), but it felt very strange that he was so easily dissuaded from strapping Travis to a kill table. Having snared Travis around the neck with a length of wire, while sat in the backseat of his target's car, Dexter simply accepted the young man's excuse that he wasn't responsible for any actual killings. By pinning the blame solely on Gellar, Travis walked free, with Dexter hoping he'll lead him to Gellar.

As I still believe Gellar only exists in Travis's head, as a hallucination of visualization of a split personality, it seems that the intention of the show is for Dexter and the Miami Metro to be chasing two different suspects who are actually the same person. That's actually a fun idea, but it hasn't really worked because so many people have theorized Gellar isn't real, so I just hope the story reveals this "twist" so we can move on. Here, Gellar let his protégé stalk their selected "Whore", but a solo Travis is fairly inept and attracted unwanted attention during his attempt to kidnap a drunken party-goer.

I have to admit it's been a good idea to have Angel (David Zayas) and Quinn (Desmond Harrington) become partners, as the two actors work well together. Maybe both were being dragged down by their connections to LaGuerta and Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), respectively, or the writers just enjoy writing them some lighthearted "buddy cop" scenes. The pair's investigation into Professor Gellar's background, finding an old university colleague/lover of his that Quinn took a shine to, felt like decent use of their time—but then got incredibly stupid with Quinn making moves on someone who may be connected to a case he's working. It also felt odd that Carissa Porter (Mariana Klaveno) hadn't noticed Gellar's old journals contained elaborate illustrations of the "Revelation Killings" that are plastered all over the news. And is the fact that Gellar went missing three years ago our first nod towards the likelihood Travis killed his old teacher, but has coped by creating an imaginary-Gellar he can offload his guilt onto? But if so, why did Travis kill Gellar? Is it possible the real Gellar was a good man, who discovered Travis's sick fantasies and tried to put a stop to them?

(Incidentally, my apologies if the bulk of so many reviews this season turn out to be pointless, because so much has chewed on the evidence for Gellar not being real. If he turns out to be alive, a lot of what I've written about this season will have been a complete dead-end.)

The subplots this week weren't terrible, they just felt silly and unsubstantial. Masuka (C.S Lee) had a computer whizz help him remove internet traces of the fact he lost archived criminal evidence—but it's hard to know if this story's going to lead anywhere important, or is just a way to kill some time. My guess is the latter, based on how seasons of this show usually flow. Meanwhile, Debra decided to move out of her brother's apartment and get her own place, which happened to be the scene of an icky murder-suicide, which resulted in a cut-price rental fee from the sandal-wearing landlord. Hardly scintillating stuff.

Beyond the success Dexter had in finding Travis, the only other big moment was the shooting of Brother Sam (Mos) in his garage. It looked fatal to me, but it would be a shame to see the back of Sam, seeing as he's the only new character with some intrigue surrounding him. Mos has been one of the better elements of this season, and I enjoy his interactions with Dexter (who appears more willing to open up to Sam about his family history than anyone else I can remember), so I'm hoping he'll survive and this attack will open up a new storytelling front. Didn't Lundy get shot round about now in season 4? This year seems to be following the structural shape of the Trinity storyline. The aforementioned situation with Quinn chasing Carissa even echoed some of what happened between Quinn and the reporter who was Trinity's estranged daughter.

Overall, "The Angel Of Death" was resolutely average and it's a shame the plotting isn't doing much to shake this season into life. There are a few welcome elements that have been introduced, but this is ultimately a show that's going through the motions, and it doesn't help that you feel several steps ahead of it (certainly regarding the almost inevitable reveal that Gellar isn't really there). I'm also irritated whenever Dexter starts solving cases through luck (the museum art demo video), and in general this episode didn't really move things along to any worthwhile degree.


  • The camera lingered on Carissa's tattoo rather conspicuously. What's the betting it's a sign she believes in Gellar's teachings, just like Travis?
written by Scott Reynolds / directed by SJ Clarkson / 30 October 2011 / Showtime