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This season of Dexter has been a pretty strange one. While the show has never had an incredibly deep story that needs to be dished out rapidly to reach a convincing conclusion, perhaps more so than ever, it has been a pretty slow year. Add to that the fact that we’ve stepped somewhat outside of the usual parameters of our story (we spent nine episodes with an imaginary friend) amongst other things and the abnormality is compounded. Whilst I maintain that the show is still fundamentally strong, I concede the widely held belief that season six isn’t really matching up to the usual quality we’ve come to expect. Personal opinion will dictate the cause of the show’s downfall in your eyes, but for me, it comes down to that pacing problem once again.
On that front, this week’s “Talk to the Hand” didn’t really have a problem. The episode only really followed one key story line, but it was comprised of several elements, each with their own payoff that drove the episode through its running-time. Whether or not they were worthy of making it to screen however, was another question altogether. The key story was of course the continuation of the now Gellar-less Travis attempting to bring on the apocalypse. Last week closed out with Dexter bringing the police into the mix after discovering that the Wormwood tableau was going to be a poison gas attack and Angel falling into Travis’ hands, because Quinn is a drunk. In a fairly strong positive for the episode, Angel’s captivity was dealt with fairly quickly instead of it being drawn out until next week’s finale, with Travis escaping the mini-manhunt that ensued.
The attention was then shifted to the implementation of Wormwood, which sadly failed to live up to expectations. Last week, we were teased with the idea of the attack and in the days following, I had been playing out scenarios in my head. What came to the front of my mind was season five of 24, in which the CTU headquarters was attacked by a nerve agent and people actually died. With Jack Bauer at the helm, it was fairly easy to believe that things were going to be fine, and although most of the key players survived, the casualties made the episode hit a lot harder and the finished product was a very good episode. While I wasn’t expecting anyone that we actually liked to die, I saw the attack as the perfect opportunity to clear out the garbage that is LaGuerta, along with a few red shirts.
What we got, however, was essentially the opposite of 24. Returning to the office after analyzing Wormwood’s birthplace with the rest of the homicide department, Dexter noticed Travis’ disciple laying in wait for Deb’s return and managed to seal her in a room by herself as she set off the device. The attack failed so badly that the homicide department didn’t even need to be quarantined or shut down for a day. Whilst Dexter inhaled a small amount of the poison himself, leading to potential nosebleeds and dizziness, all it succeed in doing was killing the messenger. Worse still. I actually contemplated that scenario as a joke in my head, thinking that no writers could possibly be that lazy, but alas, they can.
With another tableau upcoming and the possibility that Travis would target Debra specifically again, Dexter sprung into action against doctor’s orders in a move that probably made the episode for me, as well as whoever came up with the title. Needing to get his attention, Dexter mocked Travis’ work with a tableau of his own, using Professor Gellar’s severed hand to drop news of Gellar’s death to the rest of the world in the process. Giving away his location with a well-shot video, Dexter then laid in wait as Travis came to end him, but fell victim to Wormwood and got dizzy at the worst possible moment. The episode then closed out with Dexter narrowly escaping death in the final tableau, but despite its drama, it wasn’t really the part of the episode that mattered the most.
Last week, the incest vibe from Deb hit an all-time high and much to my amazement/disappointment, it was actually addressed in “Talk to the Hand.” Based on the promo for the episode, I gathered that something might be happening, but before we got to the good/horrible part, Deb’s therapist didn’t pull any punches. Rather than Debra reaching some realization about her feelings by herself, her therapist all but told her that she was in love with her brother. Whilst she somewhat denied it, we then got a dream sequence in which her feelings were indeed confirmed. It was probably supposed to be a shock reveal that the kiss was just in Deb’s head, but I and I’m sure many other people immediately saw it for what it was, as Dexter taking time out for dinner, but none for the hospital seemed a little implausible.
While nothing physical actually happened, the implications of Deb’s new found feelings are pretty big for the show, perhaps more so than anything that Travis is doing right now. On the one hand, Deb may just quietly soldier on and keep her feelings to herself turning her into an even more annoying character than she already is, but conversely, she could go for it and find reciprocation. It’s possible that she goes for it and is shot down, making for an incredibly awkward family dynamic and I’m sure there are other ways that it could play out too. One thing is for sure though, despite it being possibly the strangest approach to a game change that the show could have taken, the game is set to be changed.
As a closing thought, I’m going to hazard a guess and say that option D is going to be taken and Deb’s love is going to fly out of the window when she finds out her brother’s secret. With the kiss being nothing more than a fake-out and Travis’ storyline wrapping up (although if you see next week’s promo, we’re definitely not done yet), the only plausible move for the writers to take to salvage the season would be to reveal Dexter. He dropped in a line about people having secrets worth keeping this week and Deb’s love now puts her in the perfect position to let it slide when she finds out. All I can say is that despite what has come to pass so far, there is still hope for a mind-blowing season finale.