Tuesday, 29 November 2011

DEXTER, 6.9 – "Get Gellar"

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

I think even Stevie Wonder saw it coming. Finally, the writers' painfully unsuccessful attempt to pull of a WTF twist resolved itself seven episodes too late. It was a risky decision to portray a villain like Gellar (Edward James Olmos), who only existed inside the imagination of the real villain, and unfortunately for season 6's showrunner Scott Buck it didn't pay off. Most fans, including myself, smelled a rat as early as the second episode, simply by virtue of the suspicious way Gellar wasn't interacted with anyone except his protégé, and we've had eight weeks to confirm the theory through observation. Consequently, this episode's last-minute reveal that Gellar's dead and Travis has been storing his mentor's corpse in a refrigerator elicited groans instead of gasps.

The Gellar reveal was Dexter's attempt at a Psycho-esque twist, and provided evidence that such a trick shouldn't be attempted in a serialized television show unless the writers gauge it properly—especially one with a fanatical following who are very likely to have seen similar twists in the likes of The Sixth Sense and Fight Club.

"Get Gellar" also reminded me of how much season 6 feels like a formulaic direct-to-video horror. There were so many moments that could have come from a trashy '70s or '80s chiller—such as the grisly Carrie-esque bowls of blood splattering the detectives who discovered the gutted body of an atheist lecturer, to the clichéd moment when Travis walked into a bathroom to find a message written in blood across the walls and a dismembered hand in the sink. Yes it's all good fun, but it also feels beneath the Dexter I enjoyed back in the early days. Even season 5, which I wasn't a big fan of, took things more seriously. This year is almost playing the show for laughs and treating its audience like idiots. I mean, who puts the year's big villain in a thick cream cardigan?

Funnily enough, a few of the developments in the subplots came as a bigger surprise to me. We discovered that LaGuerta's (Lauren Velez) been such a bitch to Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) about her homicide tally because she's trying to protect Captain Matthews (Geoffrey Pierson), who was involved in the dead call girl situation. I didn't see that one coming, probably because LaGuerta's very presence causes my brain to enter cerebral hibernation.

Geeky intern Louis was also revealed to be an obsessive collector who purchased the Ice Truck Killer victim's hand that his predecessor Ryan stole and put on eBay. I'm not sure if we should be fearful of Louis because of this reveal, but it throws up a lot of other questions. Is he in cahoots with Ryan, or was it a bizarre coincidence? And if he's revealed to be something more than a collector of the macabre (like a serial killer who preys on young nanny's?), then this is a loose copy of season 1's situation with Brian and Debra (her part played by Jaime Batista). And however things play out, it's all very silly.

Oh, Angel (David Zayas) and Quinn (Desmond Harrington) also had a fight in the street while trying to find Quinn's missing gun—but I can't think why anyone would care about this. Slightly better was Deb's therapy session with her shrink, which is doing a decent but slightly unnecessary job of explaining her character's psyche as the mother-less daughter of a father who spent more time with her introverted half-brother. At this stage, this appears to be the only way Dexter's writers can get Deb to question how weird and suspicious her brother's life and behaviour is, which will hopefully be the upshot of this subplot. But we've been waiting for a major breakthrough with Debra for years now, and I'm starting to lose interest.

That's as much as I can write about Dexter for this week, which is clearly having its worst season ever. (And two more have been commissioned by Showtime, which fills me with dread.) To try and be optimistic, now that all doubt has been removed about Gellar's illusory nature, the show has three episodes left to do something creative with the simpler situation of Dex having to catch and kill schizophrenic Travis before the cops catch up to his investigation. We've been here many times before, so this isn't riveting material at this point in the show's lifespan, but I live in hope the writers have something up their sleeve... because if the misguided Gellar-twist was their big surprise, then we're in big trouble.


  • It's worth mentioning that I'm sure many people didn't see the Gellar twist coming. If you read this blog, or others, it was almost impossible to avoid that theory... but maybe more "casual viewers" who don't wish to analyze things had a better experience? A part of me envies viewers who had a genuine surprise when Gellar was found on ice as Travis picked up a machete.
  • I know America is a very religious nation where many people still believe in Creationism (they really do!), but are atheist lecturers really subject to death threats over there? If so, Professor Richard Dawkins must be Public Enemy Number One, right?
written by Karen Campbell / directed by Seith Mann / 27 November 2011 / Showtime