Dexter season 6 episode 5 review: The Angel Of Death

The mind games continue unabated in the increasingly disturbing world of Dexter. Here’s Billy’s review of episode 5, The Angel Of Death…

This review contains spoilers.

6.5 The Angel Of Death

There aren’t many TV shows I can think of where the writer’s art is actually the so prominent, even above the skills of the actors involved. But in Dexter, the whole show is a demonstration of the art of storytelling, where the viewer is invited on a journey that twists and turns its way, giving and taking with a consummate balance.Yet, now in the fifth story of the season, and almost at the half way marker, the mind game regarding the existence, or otherwise, of Professor Gellar is starting to have an impact on my sanity, never mind that of Travis Marshall.

What’s really worrying is that I’m supremely confident that, whichever way that sword falls, I’ll be thrown, because there is undoubtedly something exceptionally weird going on here that’s not all we’ve been shown. My guess is that it’s actually more disturbing than we realise, from the oddment of clues we’ve been provided.
The overall effect is that I’m finding this season of Dexter unsettling in a way that previous ones, with the possible exception of season four, haven’t. Surely it’s what we don’t know that really frightens us, a void often filled relentlessly by our own imagination.

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But back to The Angel Of Death. Right from the outset, the question of Gellar is thrust into the spotlight, as we see Travis see blood on Gellar that then disappears, supporting the view that he has mental issues in regard to his companion. That doesn’t mean he isn’t real, but his inability to act without Gellar suggests that their relationship is more subtle than just mentor/student.

Beyond that, however, the show managed to deliver at least two scenes that were genuinely disturbing, and also provided a more substantive reason for the inclusion of Brother Sam in these proceedings.

The best of the knife-edge presentations came with Angel and Joey’s trip to provide background information on Professor Gellar, where they run into the his ex-assistant, and lover. This season has focused on the negative side of Quinn’s character, and here his worst side comes to the fore when he goes after her irrespective of her involvement in the case.

Clearly she was massively influenced by Gellar, and when Batista comes to drag Quinn out of her bed, only to discover Gellar’s paperwork in her apartment, I wondered if Joey had become a victim. He hadn’t, but Clarissa Porter isn’t telling them everything she knows, quite obviously.That was great, but Dexter’s first physical encounter with Travis was also exceptionally good, as based on the testimony he’s given, he weighs up the case against Travis. Part of Dexter’s problem here is that Travis is so messed up, he’s exceptionally convincing as to his involvement, as though that personality takes no responsibility for events.

This is a much more complex killer than Dexter has previously encountered, and as such he’s on something of a mental back-foot. I’m sure he’ll work it out eventually, and cut to the chase.

If the episode has a weakness, it was how the narrative threw the brakes on the Doomsday Killer in the final scene, pitching instead to redirect Dexter towards the shooter of Brother Sam. I can’t imagine that this event is related to the bigger arc, so this is something of a stalling exercise for the rest of the season to work out more naturally, I’d suggest.

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That said, I really like what Mos Def has brought with the Brother Sam character, and I hope he actually survives the gun attack we witness, to deliver more perspective on Dexter’s dark passenger.

No LaGuerta this week, or her boss, but then I don’t see them as pivotal to the current narrative. What I did like was the Debra sub-plot, and how she’s beginning to gel with her appointment, Mike Anderson. They’re still working the running gag where Mike keeps putting his foot in his mouth, but his character is slowly emerging with each scene he’s in.

Overall, Dexter is looking strong at this point, and once we hit the centre space of the season, I can already feel the momentum building that will be converted into pure pace later on.

You can read our review of episode four, A Horse Of A Different Color, here.

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