What a dismal season it’s been! First, a Fight Club/Sixth Sense motif that anyone who wasn’t high should have seen coming by the third episode.
The sudden emergence of Travis as the sole big bad, able to persuade a fanatically religious couple to go forth and mass murder through the powers of the internets, was a continuation of a journey into the unbelievable. Travis’ “transformation” makes no sense based on the arguments we’ve seen him have with “the professor” throughout the season. Remember, his “waking up” in the hotel with the “writing on the wall”? He was startled. He didn’t leave himself chained up knowing Dexter would find him. He did it because he didn’t know what he was doing. So why does he suddenly know that the Professor is dead and that it’s all him? Why is this guy who is hardly able to speak to anyone, suddenly able to command others? It makes no more sense than anything else that’s occurred in the last 10 episodes.
The best thing about the season was Mos’ portrayal of Brother Sam. Mos’ off-beat line readings and acting chops forced Michael C. Hall to bring in his A-game. Brother Sam’s death is something from which the series hasn’t yet recovered.
The worst thing has been the dumming down of Dexter himself. In prior seasons, he’s not only been ahead of the slow-thinking Miami Metro squad, he’s been ahead of the viewers as well. This season, he was sloppy from his first kill — the double homicide of the medics. It was Buffy-like theatrics that made no sense. While two vamps dispatched in the Sunnydale cemetery would never be missed, the disappearance of an ambulance and its crew in Florida would cause some kind of investigation, if not a mass panic.
It even looked like there might be a threat or two close to home to keep Dex on his toes — Quinn still had those pictures of Lumen and Dexter throwing black plastic bags off a boat in the middle of the night, and the new detective appeared at first to be smart enough to be a threat to Dex’s extra-curricular activities. But the new recruit has hardly been seen, and Quinn has been in a drunken stupor for weeks, part of a different show, a comedy about Quinn and Batista the pot-smoking, stripper loving hound-dog cut-ups of homicide who due to the romantic tension of their bromance occasionally wind up punching each other out.
Also Louis is an idiot. That’s not completely implausible as he’s a geeky genius and those types sometimes are idiots. Even if he suspects that Dex is the Bay Harbor Butcher, which would explain his awe of the mild-mannered blood spatter expert/superdad, he also knows via the newspapers that Dexter’s wife was killed by a serial killer, and his sister held captive by one. Wouldn’t it occur to him that Dex might not think his game was the coolest thing ever?
The most interesting development is Dex’s statement that maybe Harry “made” him that way and he wasn’t a natural born serial killer. Dexter’s journey through every season has consistently involved his slow realization that he is more than Harry thought he was. Dexter of season one, would not have cared very much if all of Miami got gassed. He wouldn’t have been desperate to stop Travis as though he was some kind of superhero, and he certainly wouldn’t have called 911.
Brother Sam like him, was raised to kill, and did so, until he stopped and chose another path. Dexter thought he could save Travis. He hasn’t yet become aware that the only one he can save is himself, but that might be the writer’s end game, our hero’s recognition that not only was Harry a manipulative SOB, but that we all have to kill our fathers (symbolically) and choose our own destinies.
The problem is that the story can’t only be in service to its conclusion. The journey itself has to make sense, have some kind of internal consistency and logic. This season has been sloppy in a way that our “neat monster” would have found appalling. He, after all, has standards.