Dexter – Episode 7 “Nebraska” Recap and Review
Some weeks your just find yourself absolutely amped for Dexter. Even during the weaker moments of seasons 4 and 5, all it takes is a tense ending in order make a viewer turn into a fiend overnight. With the current season taking such a slower character building less-is-more approach for so many episodes, the closing moments of last week’s “Just Let Go” saw a dip into Dexter’s dark side with the return of his brother Brian, making the anticipation for tonight’s episode all the more satisfying. But did this uncharted territory bring us somewhere we didn’t know we wanted to go?
Tonight’s episode, “Nebraska,” was written by my absolute favorite Dexter writer Wendy West. I’ve raved about her before, she wrote both the “Hungry Man” episode where Dexter joined Arthur Mitchell’s family for Thanksgiving*, as well as season four’s finale “The Getaway” and the episode that turned an up-until-then lackluster season five around “Everything is Illuminated.” It was also directed by Romeo Tirone who has been a cinematographer with the show since season one (he’s responsible for the shutter effect on infant Dexter covered in blood) and directed last season’s “Take It” (where Dexter and Lumen killed Jordan Chase’s head of security Cole Harmon) as well as has been the director of photography for a good chunk of HBO’s True Blood. With two longtime greats for the show tackling both the return of Dexter’s brother as well as digging up the Trinity Killer murders, tonight seems not only like baiting longtime fans with the promise of everything they’ve ever liked crammed into a single episode, but the promise of it being among the show’s all time greats. The results are close, but for such a stellar season, a touch underwhelming.
We begin with Dexter and his brother Brian reunited on Dex’s boat “The Slice of Life,” disposing of the murderer we saw killed off at the end of “Just Let Go.” It’s so refreshing to see Brian (the delightfully sinister Christian Camargo) discuss Dexter’s favorite hobby without the whining of Harry or the immediate end of one of his victims. Not only have we gotten rid of Harry’s neediness dragging down the episodes, but now we have a much cooler devil on Dex’s shoulder giving a sadistic play-by-play not heard since the days of Tom Servo. I have to think Brian speaks for the fans in this episode, from cheerleading Dexter’s efforts to even telling him to make a killroom, I found myself a few times hearing my own thoughts on screen. Plus his referring to Deb as “the one that got away” and wearing a “Nebraska is for Lovers” t-shirt was just too gleefully demented not to love. Brian unlocks Dexter’s hedonistic side as they road trip to America’s heartland to kill Arthur Mitchell’s son who appears to be the “new” Trinity Killer, getting Dex some tail along the way and being forced to kill a weed-growing rest stop attendant who attempt to extort Dex for $10,000 in order to get his knives back. Tirone’s direction here is stellar as the sequence of Dexter disposing of the body into the mill is one of the most haunting images the show has produced.
Meanwhile, in other stories we have Travis seemingly breaking-up with Professor Gellar as he returns all of his belongings CW Teen Drama style. We also have Deb and “The Ishy” Quinn having a private heart-to-heart until Quinn attempts to kiss her and Deb respectfully ends things for good. The fact that Deb managed both that and subtly putting the now always-irritating LaGuerta in her place WITHOUT CRYING shows how much she’s grown this season and the show’s all the better for it. Plus, Masuka’s intern made a video game of Miami Metro, impressing Batista’s sister. With the exception of how I’ve come to dread every moment of airtime LaGuerta’s been getting (nothing against Lauren Velez who is great, but the one dimensional character hasn’t had a single worthwhile payoff to a storyline in 4 years), none of the b-stories got in the way and actually kept the show’s momentum going.
As for tonight’s conclusion, I do feel a little let down. Having Mitchell’s kid be “justified” by having a conscience, regretting killing his mother seemed like a weak reason for Dex to let him off the hook, especially considering he’s killed a guy with an anchor for dissing his wife (Season 5) and an innocent photographer for NO REASON (Season 4). There was so much great suspense the entire episode leading up to not only a blowoff, but seemingly writing Dexter’s brother out of the show and ending with Dexter picking up Harry, effectively returning us to the status quo this season has worked so far to get us away from. They better be going somewhere special with this because, as it stands, there hasn’t before been such a gap between episode quality and the closing five minutes that wasn’t a season finale.
We give Nebraska a Four out of Five
So until next time…let’s agree to agree!
*Possibly my favorite episode of the series.