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I really don’t know where to begin with “Just Let Go.” Brother Sam’s shooting last week was an unexpected twist in the story to say the least; the character has been an interesting one from the start and the possibility of losing him so soon was honestly something that I hadn’t begun to consider. The more I think about it however, it was kind of inevitable. Yes, if you haven’t seen the episode, Brother Sam did die, but his death wasn’t really about him dying at all. Over the last five episodes Sam has used what little screen time that he had to drastically alter Dexter’s outlook on life, and with his death, that part of the story was truly allowed to come full-circle.
Ignoring the religious side of things, Sam taught Dexter that there can be goodness or “light” in all of us. His own story was definitive proof of that fact - a murderer turned honest-to-god (literally) saint. With the prospect that such a light exists within him, Dexter began to question quite a lot of things, most importantly his relationship with the person that he has known as himself for his entire life. If light exists within him and people really do have that capacity to take such a drastic change of direction with their lives like Sam, then why can’t Dexter do the same thing: hang up the killing tools and assimilate to normality.
It isn’t the first time that the question has come up in the show’s run. At the close of season three when Dexter faced almost certain death at the hands of Jorge Orozco, he found within himself an unprecedented desire to live and be a father to his son, the emotional baggage that goes with such a thing being at least a nod in the direction of Dexter becoming more human. This time around however, when really facing the question instead of some warped version of “can I really be a normal person?,” Dexter was given a test. There was to be no lingering will he/won't he implications. Just an answer.
Whether or not the test was from God rather than simply Brother Sam is probably too deep a question to get into in anything less than a novel’s worth of words, but what Dexter got was simple: after finding out that Nick was Sam’s assailant, Sam asked him to forgive instead of avenge. The scene that followed was just about everything that I could want from the show. Dexter really has emotions at this point and his turmoil was strong enough that I honestly wasn’t sure which path I’d take were I him. He ultimately chose to grant Sam his final wish and forgive Nick for his sins, which would have been an acceptable conclusion for me, but what we ended up with was just a whole lot better.
After delivering Sam’s message of forgiveness and beginning to walk away, Dexter was subjected to Nick gloating over having gotten away with the murder of someone who has tried to save him. In an awesomely poetic and extremely rage filled way, Dexter then proceeded to mercilessly drown Nick in the water in which he was baptized by Sam, noting that like Nick, there was no light in him. Whilst Sam’s shooting was a shock, just about nothing could have prepared me for the very end of the episode, when instead of Harry, Dexter saw his brother standing over him following the murder. Endings like that are the reason that I don’t look around the internet for spoilers, as I’m sure Christian Camargo’s return wasn’t kept under wraps, but with that ending I was compelled to check out the promo for next week’s episode. (I won’t go into it now, but insert capitalized profanity here...)
It seems to be a fairly consistent theme for me to finish by talking about what went on with Dexter in any given episode and then say “not much else happened this week...” and that really is just as true this time around as any other. Travis had some more screen time as did his sister, and there was a fleeting appearance by Professor Gellar, with that whole thread ultimately leading Travis to let his latest victim go. After being let go himself upon falling into Dexter’s hands, it was fairly obvious that Travis had begun to question his and Gellar’s divine mission, with his love for his sibling being all he needed to sway to the side with the light on. Things obviously aren’t over, but with tension should come some much better scenes between Travis and Gellar next week.
The only other things even worth a mention once again revolve around Deb as she continued to struggle with the balance between her former and present lives. Now that she’s everyone’s boss, her friendships are strained, but with the episode's end, that was just about resolved. Quinn’s night with the material witness last week came into the mix, but really didn’t cause as much drama as I was expecting, as it seems that Deb really didn’t like him all that much anyway. When it comes down to it, “Just Let Go” was as good as the season has been all year. Best episodes are always going to fall to personal preference. I’d probably still back “A Horse of a Different Color” as that title’s holder right now, but anyone who says that “Just Let Go” was a great episode has several legs to stand on.