Dexter Review: The Trail of Travis
One week removed from the Most Obvious Twist in the History of Television, Dexter kicked off its final quarter of episodes with "Ricochet Rabbit," an hour that saw Dexter go on the hunt for Travis; Deb uncover a secret about her boss; and Quinn continue to drink.
Having already outlined my problems with the season in general last Sunday, I went into this outing with a clean slate, happy to give what has long been one of my favorite shows a fresh start for its final three episodes of the year.
And that mindset allowed me to mostly enjoy the most tense, tight installment of the season. It delivered an intriguing cliffhanger and left me legitimately anxious for what's next.
But it also left me regretful.
There was definitely missed potential here with Travis. If the writers had only aired the Gellar reveal after just a couple episodes, gotten Dexter more involved with Travis from the start and wasted less time contriving ways to delay the increasingly-clear fact that Gellar was dead... this storyline could have been saved. Travis could have gone around gathering more disciples to do the dirty work, Dexter could have felt ever more guilty about the mistake he made in trusting Travis, we wouldn't have spent as much time on Brother Sam and a fruitless visit to Nebraska...
Alas. Here we are, and at least it's someplace that might lead to an exciting conclusion. Batista's life in danger? The Miami Police Department as the target of a gas attack? Deb between a rock and a hard place? Or a hard Deputy Chief, to be more exact? All enticing build-ups for next week. There are actual stakes here.
Moreover, Dexter isn't wondering whether or not he can control his Dark Passenger anymore. He's not questioning whether or not there is a lighter side to his being. Both of those avenues have been explored to death (pun... intended!) and I've been urging the series all season long to just get to the action.
Here, he's accepting of his Passenger's presence and lashing out at the man largely responsible for it: Harry. This is an especially welcome development. Harry has become more and more of a narrative device over the years, seemingly around just to spell out for the audience exactly what his son is thinking. But now we see Dexter wonder why he even listens to the person who set him out on this path, which is a nice parallel to Travis telling off Gellar. Of course, we learned this week that Travis has been a mess since childhood and essentially used Gellar to justify his killings.
Has Dexter been doing the same with Harry? Might Dexter be afraid he'll end up like Travis someday, unable to listen to his rational father figure? Unable to abide The Code, his own type of Bible? Again, these are questions that could have been at the forefront of the season, if the show hadn't taken so long getting us to this point. Sorry, I'm back to being bitter, I know.
At least I can end on a positive: Deb. It seems hard to believe that her therapy sessions aren't setting viewers up for the only real storyline remaining on Dexter: the discovery of her brother's murderous secret. It makes the most sense for this to take place when she's at her most understanding and appreciative of Dexter, as she is now, in order for her to truly struggle with the revelation of who he really is.
We've been told that the final two episodes of the season will set the stage for the final two seasons of the series. Those kick off next Sunday. Meet me back here to discuss.