It's rare I do this, but I can't summon the enthusiasm to tackle this week's Dexter with the usual structure and details. It's telling that three writers had a hand in this episode, beyond breaking the story in the writers' room, because it was all over the place. Now that the Gellar-twist is common knowledge, it's like the writers suddenly realised this season's built on shaky foundation, so here they struggled to give the story fresh impetus and new elements.
In the blink of an eye, Travis (Colin Hanks) is a deranged zealot who needs the help of two "fans" to complete his Wormwood tableau (despite having done all the previous tableau's by himself!); we were introduced to two horrible caricatures of religious crackpots, who wanted to help the Doomsday Killer bring about the End Times; everyone started communicating via Gellar's blog; there was a woeful scene where ghost-Gellar (Edward James Olmos) and Travis basically fed each other exposition to try and convince the audience this has been an astonishingly brilliant twist; Dexter (Michael C. Hall) was trapped in a spooky cellar by Travis, until he wasn't; Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) decided to have another heart-to-heart with her therapist, despite the DDK case reaching such a critical phase; and dullard Quinn (Desmond Harrington) bumbled around with a hangover and got soaked by a lawn sprinkler.
Here are the things I hated the least about "Ricochet Rabbit": the overall pacing (lightning fast compared to the previous stultifying weeks), some of the clever ways Dexter used to trace the runaway Travis's whereabouts without arousing suspicion from his workmates (although long gone are the days when you felt Dex is in danger of getting caught), and it was reasonably entertaining seeing Dex's relationship with his illusory father (James Remar) start to fracture. But I'm disappointed prodigious intern Louis appears to just be a serial-killer fanatic (explaining why he bought Ice Truck Killer "memorabilia" off eBay), although I guess there's time for that subplot to get back on-track. A part of me wants to believe Louis knows Dexter's the Ice Truck Killer's biological brother, and perhaps suspects Dex might likewise be compelled to kill people, so he's scouting him out as a fan of the macabre. But I could be very wrong.
The show's fallen into a desperate state of unintentional self-parody; a bizarre mess of malformed ideas, written with a growing sense of desperation for it all to be over. It still has entertainment-value, but I'm just grateful for the small mercy that Showtime have recently confirmed Dexter will be moving towards an end-date in two seasons time. I'm guessing this news was released to try and keep the fans on board what's become a runaway train. God knows what Dexter will even resemble in September 2013, given its rock-bottom status this year, but I sincerely hope the writers embrace this lifeline and do what they should have done way back in season 3: throw the playbook out of the window and start taking this show into uncharted water, where the fanbase can't predict your "shocking twists" two months in advance, and a sense of unpredictable danger is restored.
written by Jace Richdale, Lauren Gussis & Scott Reynolds / directed by Michael Lehmann / 4 December 2011 / Showtime