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TV Review: Dexter – “Nebraska”

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In “Nebraska,” this week’s entry on Showtime’s Dexter, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) tells Dexter (Michael C. Hall) that the Trinity Killer has returned, murdering his own wife and daughter. Knowing that Trinity is actually dead, and egged on by the ghost of his brother, Brian (Christian Camargo), Dexter travels to Nebraska to dispatch the likely killer, Trinity’s son Jonah (Brando Eaton, The Secret Life of the American Teenager). But the truth is more complicated, and Jonah admits only to hurting his mother during a fight, after his sister kills herself. Determining that Jonah feels guilt, and is not a monster, Dexter refuses to do the deed, leaving Jonah pleading in the rearview mirror for Dexter to end things.

It is neat that Dexter revisits a former recurring character, which stems from a very dark period in Dexter’s life. And while Trinity is one of Dexter‘s best foes, the current story applies very centrally to Dexter’s life as it is now, rather than just dredging up the past for nostalgia’s sake. Following his murder of Brother Sam’s (Mos) killer, Dexter is poised on a precipice. Should he follow in his brother’s footsteps, embracing his inner psycho, and killing anyone that he wants? Or should he remember the teachings of Brother Sam, a better Brother than Dexter’s real brother, finding mercy for those who have done wrong, and searching for inner light?

At first, Dexter goes fully over to Brian’s side on his trip to “Nebraska.” He steals a gun and screws a convenience store worker. Confronted by a potential blackmailer (Scott Michael Campbell, The Event), Dexter takes him out, breaking his own code, as the blackmailer has not killed anyone. Dexter is also very tempted to take out Jonah without satisfying his need for proof that Jonah deserves it. This is Dexter on the edge, rebelling against the kinder, gentler man he is these past few weeks with Sam’s friendship. A backlash is natural and expected. Brian is the perfect manifestation of such feelings.

But then, Dexter is a very complicated guy, and Sam has touched something inside of him that cannot be ignored. Dexter tries to deny having any light to combat his darkness, but seeing Jonah, and thinking of his own son, he realizes that is simply not true. Without light, there can be no darkness. Dexter isn’t going to stop killing all together, as Sam surely would prefer. But he will remember the code that Harry (James Remar) taught him. And he compares Jonah to Harrison, both kids of serial killers, and can’t help but feel sorry for the lad. Fittingly, as Dexter returns home, his mission reavowed, it is Harry that climbs into Dexter’s car, replacing Brian, whom Dexter has run over. Wonderful ending to a really cool plot.

Too bad Dexter spends four days in “Nebraska,” though, especially right now, because Deb could really use him. Throughout Dexter’s road trip, excused to babysitter Jamie (Aimee Garcia) and Deb as dealing with the grief that Trinity’s “reemergence” triggers, Deb can’t afford to allow him the break that he seeks. Not that Dexter gives her a choice. Maria (Lauren Velez) is coming down hard on Deb to find the Doomsday Killer, or DDK. This is make it or break it time for Deb as the new Lieutenant, a position she is struggling with, and without Dexter’s expertise, her job becomes much harder. It may not be completely out of character for Dexter to not be there for Deb when she needs him, despite their “closeness,” but it’s unfortunate under these circumstances.

Maria goes back and forth between being a good or a bad character. Fans will have trouble finding much to like about her this season, though. With her promotion to an office not situated in the department’s main area, she becomes much of what she despises in her boss. She turns her back on now ex-husband, Angel (David Zayas), and worries more about politics and public image than actually catching bad guys. It’s deeply regrettable, and while Maria is never the most likeable character to begin with, it seems as if she will not recover from the latest changes.

Quinn (Desmond Harrington), on the other hand, is trying very much to divert from the bad path he is on. Sleeping with random women and making a fool of himself at a party, Quinn goes to Deb in “Nebraska” to apologize for his recent behavior. Unlike Maria, Quinn has a good excuse: he is suffering over the loss of his relationship with Debra. Now that Debra is his boss, she cannot go back to being with him. But they do seem to find some sort of peace and balance in the closure-filled conversation, leading to the impression that Quinn will clean up his behavior, and go back to being a pretty good guy.

The key to catching DDK may just lie in a new character, Louis (Josh Cooke). Vince’s (C.S. Lee) third intern this season so far, Louis shows Jamie, whom he is dating, a video game he is creating based on the homicide department. He also writes some code to help Debra narrow down the list of suspects for the DDK’s student. With DDK himself known, but seemingly vanished, Deb turns her attention to finding his assistant. Louis is valuable in that effort. Viewers know, though, that he has other motivations, given his video game career. Will he remain helpful, or end up causing more trouble than he is worth?

This plan only works if DDK, a.k.a. Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos), can lure the student, Travis (Colin Hanks), back to his side. Travis releases their potential sacrifice, and tells Gellar he is done with their dark deeds. But Gellar shows up outside Travis’s sister’s (Molly Parker, The Firm, Swingtown) house, and leaves a picture of himself and Travis in the kitchen. Travis appears wavering, returning Gellar’s things in person in “Nebraska,” bringing him back to the lair. How strong is his vow to resist “God’s will?” Can Dexter take out Gellar and Travis before Deb catches them? A race to the finish is brewing, and will break out soon.

Dexter‘s latest season starts slow, but is now quite excellent, raising some interesting philosophical questions. Don’t miss any more episodes, airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com