Sunday, November 27, 2011

TV Recap: Dexter, "Sin Of Omission" S6E8

Dexter's characteristic narrative picks up the episode expunging on the innocent nature of children -- trusting everything and everyone -- but maybe what he really should have been expounding on is the relationship between a brother and sister. That's certainly what Dexter's Season 6, Episode 8, "Sin Of Omission" seemed to be circling around, while Dexter circled the DDK killer.

Having newly returned from his unscheduled hiatus in Nebraska, Dexter attempts to apologize to his sister. He uses his newly minted -- and perished -- best friend's death, along with that of his wife, for his weepy doe-eyed defense, while Debra points out that his unauthorized but unpunished vacation will make it appear like he's being given preferential treatment. Plus, you know. The maniac out there offing people. But Dexter's careless use of Debra's blinders when it comes to her brother is more the touchy subject. And it's truly a tough situation for both of them. Their pointedness, and her sighing acceptance of his apology (how many of you could tell she knew she was going to forgive him?) continues their relationship as one of the better parts of the show.

But things aren't going to be getting easier. Because let's jump to Travis being affectionately adorable with his own sister -- a clear indicator that everything's going to end poorly. It's a tried and true process, especially since Professor Gellar has nothing better to do than stand around in people's backyards. He's clearly suffering some kind of separation anxiety, but Travis wants none to do with it. His age-old attempt to get his sister to take an impromptu vacation tanks on the usual note. Because that worked out so well for Dexter, too.

Meanwhile, our sad sister-lying anti-hero has found himself at a funeral where he gains a particular twitchy nose as Brother Sam's ashes are spread. It looks vaguely like he may be feeling emotions. And is drastically allergic to them. Also, his curiously proud thought that Sam's message may have helped him because he didn't kill Jonah seems to fall vaguely flat when considering that he did, in fact, kill Kyle, the actual person Sam asked him to forgive. But good try, Dex. But... no.

So Dexter decides to use his newfound powers of not killing certain people when it's emotionally convenient to approach Travis, laying out such blatant lies as "I'll take care of it" and that the police don't need to know. Gives you strange visions of a future where Dexter works for hire. Got a problem? Not anymore you won't!

At this juncture, "Sin Of Omission" offers us a side case to take a breather on. A call-girl has gotten herself dead, thanks in all part to the solid combination of drugs and slippery surfaces. Dexter proves that he's still actually really good at his job when he decides to show up, and new black detective proves that he's starting to fit in by showing displeasure at LaGuerta's surprise appearance. For lecturing Debra so hard on how a lieutenant doesn't go to the crime scenes, she's not really setting a great example. No one's surprised.

Back at homebase, some things happen with Dexter's new fanboy -- that guy from the righteously cancelled "Better With You" -- which are mostly throwaway, and even more likely to have bearing later when things explode in a dark and morbid fashion. This is "Dexter", after all, and lest we not forget that Fanboy is working on an alarmingly accurate 3D version of the station. More importantly for our episode theme, however, Batista's sister arrives with an agenda her overprotective brother can't quite accept. Their banter is somewhat predictable, but continues the thread of siblings and their -- occasionally convoluted -- attempts to shelter one another. But whereas Dexter or Travis' is born of the need to shield from darkness, Batista is shouldered with the common dating problem.

As Dexter indulged in a bit of illicit research, concerned over the police's ability to actually do their jobs, it has to be pondered how poorly Dexter's habits reflect on the station. His somewhat selfish aim to off the city's most infamous serial killers continuously leaves the police out in the cold, appearing crippingly unable to catch even the slightest one. He should possibly be concerned with how the public is going to run him and everyone else out of there with pitchforks if they don't catch somebody once in a while.

In some filler, LaGuerta confronts Debra with some more of her passive-aggressive bullshit, and Travis is forcefully reunited with his mentor, but the most poignant, again, is Debra's questioning of Travis' sister. In just a few words, the woman gets across exactly what situation Debra can look forward to -- is in now. It should've been slapping her across the face. When faced with early trauma, brother shuts himself off and won't speak up about his feelings? Debra thinks that the woman probably knows something -- not necessarily that Travis is a killer -- but is hiding it? Does this blind-spot for a brother's darkness resonate at all with her? Cause it should. Her later joke with the therapist about believing Dexter will one day kill her can be laughed off, but not by the viewing audience, who might feel a bit of a jar for that potential foreshadowing. "Sin Of Omission" makes it feel as though we are temptingly growing closer to that inevitable moment when Debra accepts -- because, in a way, don't you think she knows something's up? -- that her brother is not who she thinks he is. Oh, and he kills people.

And, of course, her therapist has a point -- but not one that will serve Dexter. Driving Debra home to give her brother some potential venting time only causes her to see him as he leaves for parts unknown, unable to explain to her where he's going. His continued "something's come up" and "gotta go somewhere" are no longer going to cut it, as Debra feels increasingly let down by a relationship she's coming to depend too heartily on. Her need to stand over Dexter and vent to him every single tiny frustration in her life gives her a crutch that she'll soon pick up and beat him over the head with for not reciprocating. It feels definitely like she's no longer going to let him get away with as much shit as before.

But this episode manages to mix the sweet with the bitter. Her emotional "It's not a burden for me to be there for you" rings heartfelt and thoughtful to the family condition. Too bad she forgot that she has an emotionless lump for a brother. Dexter hasn't though; he has no compunctions leaving her in the lurch to go hunt down Gellar. On the bright side, he manages to phrase it as going to "rescue Travis", so we manage not to hold it too much against him. This time. Or else we are merely reminded that we are rooting for a guy whose urges to kill are stronger than his human feelings.

Oh, and, Quinn is drunk (he should realize he's at his lowest point when even Masuka displays more restraint and better judgment), LaGuerta has some dirty laundry (no one's surprised), and Batista scares Better With You off of his sister.

But perhaps the most gut-wrenching part was also the most inevitable: the reveal of Travis' sister as the whore of Babylon, Gellar's latest victim. The episode strung it out as long as possible, pulling away at the curtain, only to have her trussed up in a mask. Debra's reaction was meant to be our own: a gasp of recognition and guilt. And here ends the line of Travis' attempts to protect his sister, the last powerful emotion he was able to cling to, and begins an even more dangerous one: vengeance. In trying to get back his disciple, Gellar has created a powerful enemy -- whose allegiance with Dexter marks the end of the episode.

One sister down. What does this say about Debra's chances?

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