Warning: this review contains spoilers.
6.12 This Is The Way The World Ends
Some shows aren’t as good as Dexter, and yet they don’t have the issues that have plagued this one. I’ve been mulling that conundrum for a while, and I’ve eventually classified it under the title ‘Rita effect’.
Season four of Dexter was so good, on so many different levels, that what’s come along since has paled by comparison. Many people didn’t care for the Lumen plotline of season five, although I’d be the first to say that, in retrospect, it was superior to what we ended up with in this sixth run.
Having just watched This Is The Way The World Ends, I’m both excited by the prospect of season seven (and eight), but at the same time, concerned that standards appear to be slipping. In all fairness, this was possibly the best episode of the season, and certainly got the adrenalin flowing, as Travis and Dexter faced their interpersonal demons.
But before Dexter can get to that, he’s got the small issue of being miles off shore in shark infested waters. How this was dealt with didn’t appear to make much sense, even if the idea of Cuban refugees is one the show has used before. Given that they no longer wanted the boat, why didn’t they beach it, rather than having to swim to shore?
What really didn’t fit was the physical condition that Dexter was in once he’d got back to dry land, given that he’d spent a very long time clinging to the remains of the boat. He’s a fit guy, but nobody’s that fit.If that seemed clunky, then Miami Metro correctly guessing where Travis was going to perform his last tableau was also unbelievable, given they’ve been well behind the curve for the whole of the season.
And, like the bad guy of last season, when it came to it, Travis wasn’t really much of a challenge to Dexter, because he was more insane than hardcore serial killer. How quickly this was wrapped up just pointed a long finger at the slow smoulder that we experienced in the early- and mid-season, and highlighted just how pointless most of it was.
As if to distract us along the way, we had a small bag of unresolved sub-plots, with La Guerta being uncomfortably nice, Debra intent on telling Dexter she’s in love with him, and Louis acting just creepy. And, right up there in the annals of the weird and wonderful, CS Lee doing a Yoda impression.
Then, when all seemed lost, they threw a Hail Mary Pass of having Debra walk in on Dexter and Travis, leaving her in no doubt who he really is… Breathtaking, yes, but I reserve the right to say that this stroke of narrative brilliance does not redress the horrible imbalance that season six as a whole represented.
But before I, Dexter-like, put the blade through the heart of the past 12 episodes, I’d like to say that there were some good things in here. The stand-out for me were the acting performances, one from a show regular and the other from a guest star. I’ve not been a huge fan of the character in previous seasons, but Jennifer Carpenter really brought Debra Morgan to a whole new level this year, and she got some of the best scenes to strut her acting stuff. And, a total surprise, Colin Hanks was great as Travis, and actually out-acted Edward James Olmos. In Olmos’ defence, he was given a very limiting role, and not used well, in this writer’s opinion. Mos Def was also good, although his character was dispatched way too early.
On the flipside of those good things, we were given the painful task of determining the reality or otherwise of Professor Gellar, which went on far too long and was ultimately a huge letdown. I’d have liked to have seen Geller carry on appearing after we knew he was dead – he could have been a brilliant observer in Travis’ eventual death scene. But once he was revealed to be dead, the writers had little further use for him.
Yet none of these were the killer blow – that was entirely due to the season’s pacing, which was way, way off. The build-ups were all overly long, and the pay-offs painfully short. The show didn’t twist and turn enough for my liking, and the obsession with the ice truck killer demonstrated that the creative people wished to return to past glories, rather than construct something new and imaginative.
In the greater scheme of things, this was better than season two, but only marginally, and way behind the rest. I can only hope that Dexter’s better understanding of his spiritual universe makes for a more interesting adventure next year.
You can read our review of episode 11, Talk To The Hand, here.