This season of Dexter promised to provide an exploration of faith and the potential pitfalls of giving yourself over to a higher authority. But after 12 episodes of muddled, incoherent references to religion, it became clear that only one religious element would be given any serious exploration: redemption. And not for the characters; for this season. Would such a consistently sub-par Season 6 have any redeeming qualities? After “This Is the Way the World Ends,” the surprising answer to that question is… yes! Season 6 had at least one, and she dropped a lot of F-bombs:

That’s right, despite all our complaints about how far this show has fallen from its earlier heights, one surprising element rose to the occasion in a big way: Deb Morgan. Credit where credit’s due, Deb’s promotion single-handedly made the office politics of Miami Metro interesting again and her sudden lack of narcissism allowed her to pay better attention to those around her. Despite all the Doomsday Killer shenanigans and Dexter’s devolution into a bumbling part-time vigilante, Deb spent the season quietly progressing from a surly detective into a nuanced, tragic woman whose strengths and weaknesses make her one of the more compelling characters on TV. Not to mention pretty damn good at her job. (Don’t you wish Deb and Carrie from Homeland could go grab a drink together sometime? Preferably at a redneck dive bar?)

Unfortunately, not even Deb’s ascension could go unmarred by the Dexter writers, who have now saddled her with this truly unfortunate incest plotline (and yes, you guys, incest is about relationships, not genetics). It was one thing last week when Deb subconsciously entertained the notion of kissing her brother (dreams are not our fault!), but this week she actually sort of believed that she loved Dexter romantically, even blurting out “I love you” during a semi-shirtless hug. While I admit I’m impressed by the audacity of the writers to do this, I can’t help but think Deb’s better off dropping this thread entirely. Because yuck. “I don’t wanna see that!” –Valerie Cherish.

But the bigger story is that Deb has better things to worry about now. Because one major thing Dexter‘s finale did right was leaving us with a killer cliffhanger on par with Rita’s death: Deb walked in on Dexter just as he murdered a saran-wrapped Travis. Whoops! You got some ‘splainin’ to do, Dexter! Now, readers of the novels knew that this development was a long time coming (and ALMOST happened in the Season 5 finale), but Dexter has not necessarily been a show willing to shake up the status quo too much. So while a large majority of this season has been a waste of time (trust me, in retrospect this season will not age well), it deserves credit for taking chances like this. It’s about damn time Dexter was found out for real, and Deb’s shared knowledge of his identity as the actual Bay Harbor Butcher promises to lead the show into some darker, more interesting places for both Dexter and Deb. (Looks like an apology note to Quinn might be in order.)

As for the Doomsday Killer… Do we seriously have to spend more time on this? Okay, in brief… [DEEP BREATH]… Dexter survived the Lake of Fire tableau by hopping onto a tugboat full of Cuban immigrants, murdering a pirate, then swimming ashore. Later on, he arrived at that crime scene where Travis had murdered the elderly couple and painted an enormous mural of Dexter on their living room wall. In an outrageously dumb moment, no detectives or uniformed police officers had even entered the living room, which gave Dexter a good ten minutes to literally deface the mural with a hammer, which apparently one can do without making any noise. Meanwhile Travis busted into Dexter’s house, tried on one of his shirts (which don’t look as good on Colin Hanks, FYI), discovered Dexter had a son, and then conspired to kidnap him. Which he did later on during a Noah’s Arc themed pageant while conveniently never noticing that Dexter was still alive. Travis then brought Harrison atop a skyscraper in time for a solar eclipse, Dexter found them, and Travis made Dexter inject himself with a syringe, but Dexter faked it and then punched Travis out. Then apparently Dexter carried a grown man to his car in broad daylight, and finally when Travis woke up in his old church, there was some religion-based dialogue and then Dexter stabbed him just as Deb entered. Whew!

Mixed in with all that was the occasional suspenseful moment, some truly despicable imagery of a sword being held to the throat of a toddler, and more face-palming moments than an ordinary human should have to put up with. Like, so now the Doomsday Killings will remain unsolved? And Travis staged his Lake of Fire tableau so that only a random airplane could snap a cell phone pic of it? He also left a super crucial piece of evidence in a wastebasket at the crime scene? Dexter had to single-handedly do a “forensics sweep” of a crime scene several weeks after it was discovered, at night, and on his own time? Very sensible, writers! I promise, this is my final complaint about the Dexter writers, but if this season were well-written, I’d probably not even think about the existence of its writers. I’d be thinking about story, characters, ideas, and theories. But nope, all I’m left with now is the image of a group of fifth-graders playing Nerf basketball rather than doing their rewrites. Dear Showtime, can you upgrade to at least high schoolers next year?

Back to the episode at hand, newly revealed weirdo Louis’s plotline inched forward as we learned that his internship was almost over and he pleaded with Masuka to let him stay on. We knew he’d mailed the Ice Truck Killer’s mannequin hand to Dexter (and also hand-wrote the address label in a total genius move), but Dexter still hadn’t seen it yet so we still don’t know what’s going on with that. Elsewhere, LaGuerta assured Deb they’re on the same team despite Deb repeatedly calling her out for being a conniving B (which, to her credit, LaGuerta mostly agreed with). Finally, Batista attempted to get Quinn transferred out of the department, which means they’re probably not going to be friends anymore. And in a development I truly wasn’t expecting, Jamie survived the season! I did not see that coming.

Unlike the conclusion of Season 5 (which, if I’m being honest, I thought was pretty decent up until the ending kinda blew it), this lackluster season actually left us with a strong and tantalizing hook for next year. I’m very interested to see how Deb handles her new situation and I’m holding out hope that she’ll continue to make up for what the title character has been slowly losing lately: our interest.

RANDOM BLOOD SPLATTERS:

… Did Miami P.D. run out of binoculars? Or helicopters?

… Was any part of you hoping that Deb would throw LaGuerta off that building?

… How easy is it to fake an arterial injection?

… Can we all pretend most of this didn’t happen, up to and including my recaps? I think we’d all be better off. Hey, let’s all go out for pizza and talk about other things! Like pizza!

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