Dexter Review: The Lowest Form of Storytelling

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Don't worry, Masuka, I braced myself for awful before Dexter aired tonight.

And, boy, did "Get Gellar" deliver just that, finally revealing the most obvious "shocker" in all of television: Professor Gellar is dead and Travis has been acting alone this entire time. The show has been airing scenes on a weekly basis that only took place inside Travis' warped mind.

A New Victim

I will try to be as succinct and as calm about this as possible, but this is simply storytelling at its worst and at its laziest. It's one thing to build toward a surprising reveal that is well-paced and nearly impossible to predict. Take The Sixth Sense, for instance, a clear model for this Dexter storyline.

At no point in that movie are we watching a character who does not exist. We are not purposely being misled by the writers, just so they can come back later and try to pull an "a-ha!" moment that changes the game. It's an intelligent movie, one with an engrossing plot that would have held up even Bruce Willis' character was NOT proven to be dead the whole time (ummm... spoiler alert?). The conclusion was not needed to make the movie; it was just needed to make the movie into the epic tale it has become. But the audience was never duped. Everything was witnessed was really happening. That is how one writes a true surprise. This, conversely, is the perfect example of a desperate, cheap imitation.

Let's forget the fact that Gellar's non-existence was more predictable than the Deputy Chief being the John in the room with last week's overdosed prostitute. Instead, let's just focus on how boring and uneventful the season has been, and how that's obviously been due to the fact that the writers were just waiting to play this pathetic ace in the manipulative hole.

Unlike The Sixth Sense, this season has been about nothing but this surprise. It's been a build-up to a development that everyone saw coming and one that makes it clear the producers are out of ideas.

You are entitled to disagree. If you found this to be a legitimately shocking moment, if you have no problem knowing you watched countless scenes with a character who wasn't actually there and if you don't agree this is writing at its absolute laziest... then I envy you. You will enjoy the rest of the season.

I, however, will be stuck wondering what happened to one of my favorite shows on television. But, hey, at least we have that enthralling Batista/Quinn feud to look forward to next week! Wasn't it hilarious when that stripper turned out to be an old, ugly mother?!? Hmmm... or did she? Perhaps Quinn was still drunk and that woman doesn't really exist...

What did you think of Dexter's big reveal?


Editor Rating: 1.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (282 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


I'm not denying that I absolutely saw this coming, I'm still interested though and you're being too harsh on the show. This has not been the best season, but Olmos was a great character, imaginary or not. The fact is, that Dexter seasons take a long time to come together, and I have strong faith this one will do. Since this is only episode 9 there are at least 3 shockers in the future. Dexter being seen by the police in the church? I don't believe this is the big twist since it has been quite clear it's going to happen. You think the writers are dumb, I think they're just building up to something better and bigger. It's clear from your review and the reactions that you don't represent the majority reaction to this episode. There is no way this is a 1/5. If you didn'y get Fight Club either ... that explains a lot.


I think it's more interesting that they're setting up the intern as a serial killer who worships Dexter as a rockstar not just as a blood spatter expert but as a killer.


Bryan - I wondered the same thing about how Travis could have possibly kidnapped and killed the athiest within the 2 minutes that Dexter was stuck in the elevator. But I think what probably happened is that Travis grabbed the athiest even before him and Dexter went to the school. Dexter left Travis alone for hours in that hotel room, so I think Travis did all his killings when Dexter would leave him in the hotel. Very disappointing season. I wasn't 100% convinced that Gellar was imaginary until last night's episode when they made it blatantly obvious when Dexter and Travis were waiting in the car and Dexter happened to close his eyes and rest his head back right as Travis saw Gellar walk by. After that, I thought, 'you've got to be kidding me'. There's just no way that they had Dexter do that as a coincidence. That was the tipping point for me when I realized that everyone who had predicted Gellar was imaginary were correct. I think I was in denial this whole time about it because I never thought the writers would follow through with something that they were making so obvious from the start. Lets hope next season is better!!

Matt richenthal

@Scott: You make a great point about Fight Club and my simple answer is, no, I did not like that movie for a similar reason. It was certainly done better than this was because this was SO obvious from the second episode of the season, but I am not a fan of overtly manipulating storytelling.
It's a lazy cop out to write scenes with a character who isn't actually there.


"You're wrong about this. I'm a lot smarter than you and I didn't see it as an obvious twist." no, you're blatently as dumb as a sack of hammers.


Although I too felt this was extremely predictable storytelling, hopefully it was meant only as a twist to Dexter and not the viewer. Now the biggest gripe, Dexter leaves Travis alone for 5 minutes and suddenly Travis abducts the atheist prof, hides the body, and comes back to rescue Dexter. Then Dexter drops off Travis and he has time to hollow out the atheist prof, stitch him, set up this elaborate bucket trap, all without Dexter being aware and before the crime scene is discovered. Reminds me of the Saw franchise with insane elaborate traps created in short periods of times with no witnesses.


The only thing i found shocking was that some people managed not to see it coming, probably one of the most obvious twists in TV history. This season has been the most boring of Dexter so far and the religion theme gets duller and less interesting every episode. Last season wasn't great but it beats this one by a mile.




I am curious to read the reviewers opinion of the movie Fight Club - which is a much better comparison. The Sixth Sense, Bruce Willis was as real as any other ghost/spirit that we witnessed during the movie, and he wasn't just part of Haley Joel Osment's imagination. He was a ghost that Osment had to help bring peace to his situation, so he actually was real and present to Osment whose eyes we were seeing the movie from. Fight Club is clearly the better comparison in that Brad Pitt's Tyler Durden was a part of Edward Norton's subconsciousness. We see Pitt and Norton talking to each other, even fighting each other. We see Pitt taking actions that later on we are told were actually done by Norton. Just wondering if you feel that this movie, and book by Palahniuk, is indeed the "lowest form of storytelling" as well.


I too agree that (the show) Dexter is getting slack, but hopefully, the ending to this has opened up a box of a magnificent ending to the last 3 episodes. Hopefully they can get it right. JUST hopefully.

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