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If you’re reading this a brief time after it’s posted or just have some appreciation of how a calendar works in retrospect, you’ll notice that this review is coming pretty late. There is, however, a reason for that. No, my life isn’t so incredibly hectic that watching Dexter was put on the back burner this week. Rather, it took me this long to figure out if I liked “Nebraska” or not. In short, I’d have to say that I did, but it is entirely possible that this stems from an overall appreciation of the show and of all things Michael C. Hall, rather than because the episode was particularly good.
We had previously left off with an episode ending reveal that Dexter’s inner mentor had switched from his adoptive father Harry to his mass murdering brother Brian, who he had personally offed at the close of season one. After a brief appearance in season two, we hadn’t seen Christian Camargo on screen as Brian since, and as a bigger fan of season one than perhaps any other, I was needless to say, extremely excited to see where things were going. It is from that exact point that my conflict over whether the episode was actually good or not arises; Dexter and Brian on screen together is always good to me, so regardless of whether or not it sucked objectively, I might still enjoy what I’m seeing. In light of this, I had to approach the episode from both an objective and subjective stance to arrive at some ultimate conclusion.
Beginning objectively, what we got in terms of story wasn’t fantastic. The premise was strong enough, but its execution was perhaps best described as unexpected to the point of actual confusion rather than simply an internal debate over the merits of what occurred. After Deb informs Dexter that Becca and Sally Mitchell have been murdered whilst under witness protection in Nebraska by the Trinity Killer (father and husband respectively), Dexter takes a road trip to, investigate knowing without a doubt that Arthur Mitchell is dead. With the only survivor of the ‘attack’ being son Jonah who claimed to have fought off his murderous father, it is all but certain that he is the man actually responsible.
Pretty much everything that followed made just about no sense whatsoever. Ignoring the ‘investigation’ for a moment, upon his arrival in Nebraska Dexter has sex with a girl as a distraction to steal a gun from the shop that she works at. One would imagine that if you’re going to go to such lengths then you would probably have a practical use for the gun in mind, but the end result was simply to have Dexter facing down the barrel himself to make point of absolutely no sense number two matter at all. Dexter’s choice to reside in an out of the way shady hotel is one thing, but to all but hand over the contents of his car to an extremely untrustworthy hotel manager was just ridiculous. Once again, all that the entire plot thread served to do was to have point of no sense number three make even less sense.
The long and short of the hotel manager finding the fairly interesting contents of Dexter’s car was that Dexter killed him after having the barrel of the aforementioned pointless gun pointed in his face. Whilst it was an act of self defense in a technical sense, there was a clear implication that Dexter basically enjoyed the kill despite its lack of adherence to the code, making the need for an investigation on the part of Jonah Mitchell completely non-existent. Jonah is almost certainly guilty anyway, but Dexter must be sure. However he can kill a pot-growing stranger with no remorse and be bothered by it in no way whatsoever. Furthermore, this isn’t even the first time that this has happened, in the premiere of season five, Dexter violently ended a complete stranger just because, but still has issues with the code when it comes to an almost clear cut case?
Ridiculousness aside, things round out with Jonah and Dexter coming face-to-face with both having the intention of killing one another, only for Dexter to let Jonah live after finding out that things weren’t quite as they seemed. As he drove away, Dexter symbolically killed his brother again, which while it might seem profound, was an extremely underwhelming outcome to a story that should have had immense weight to it. One thing that is clear from all of this, regardless of how little it paid off as a story, is that from both an objective and subjective stance, Michael C. Hall and Christian Camargo can act. Their on screen relationship is completely believable and it is what makes the episode, without a doubt. Once again, basically nothing else happens aside from Travis continuing to stray from Gellar, something that probably should have gotten more screen time than it did.
While television is always divisive, Dexter is usually less so, but “Nebraska” appears to be the exception that proves the rule. If you hated it, you have many legs to stand on and if you loved it, it will likely have been because you like the show’s star. Anyone who gives any particular rating shy of 10/10 to this episode will easily be able to back up their argument, but for me personally, it was little more than a mediocre outing for the show. That being said, this is Dexter and mediocre still wipes the floor with a large portion of what makes it to our screens these days.