Dexter 6.11 “Talk to the Hand” Review

Dexter - Talk to the HandDexter season 6 returns to raise its eleventh entry with this week’s devastating ‘Talk to the Hand,’as our favorite serial killer races against time to find Travis Marshall before the Doomsday Killer can stage his next deadly tableau, and Deb comes to an frightening realization about her relationship with her brother in therapy. “Talk to the Hand” may have some wriggling in discomfort, but ultimately does a good job setting up the climax of Dexter’s sixth season.

Okay, so let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way.Dexter and Debra made out, or at least in her dreams they made out, because Deb’s therapist planted the idea in her mind that she might be in love with her brother. Yes, this is really happening, and happening just as we’d finally stopped shuddering from the image of Boardwalk Empire‘s Jimmy Darmody f$%king his own mother last week.

Once you get past the obvious squick (and curiosity what would push the Dexter writers to create such a bizarre story for Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter to play, given their fairly recent divorce), we have to look at the deeper implications. I don’t for a second believe that the Dexter writers would honestly expect us to buy into a story about Debra legitimately falling in love with her brother (even after they expected us to be surprised Gellar wasn’t real), but rather that their extremely close (now borderline incestuous) relationship allows Debra to come around to a new way of thinking on morality.

Dexter fans have chomped at the bit for Debra to finally learn the secret of her brother’s murderous night job, and putting a microscope to Dexter and Deb’s relationship this season has lain some important groundwork for the big reveal. Several episodes now we’ve been teased with the idea of what a sister (like Lisa Marshall) might do knowing a sibling commits murder, and twice in ‘Talk To The Hand’we see Dexter attempting to coax Debra into a new state of mind. In the first instance even prior to therapy, Dexter implores Debra not to dwell on Matthews’call-girl case, noting that ‘there are worse secrets you can have,’something she takes to heart by ultimately agreeing to let her boss and mentor off the hook.

Dexter - Talk to the HandIn the second instance during Deb’s disturbing dream, Dexter reminds his sister that ‘everything isn’t always so black and white.’Could the message really be that once we’ve put aside the ridiculous notion* of the two becoming an item, Dexter and Debra’s relationship might have evolved to the point that she could accept, even (platonically) love her brother as a killer? That perhaps their bond has grown past brother and sister, to the point of understanding, and embracing the insanity?

(*) And before everyone flies off the handle about Dexter introducing such a strange plot development so close to the end of the season, remember what a tricky business TV writing can be. When you introduce a thread too late, people will complain it wasn’t built up enough, and when you introduce a thread too early people will dismiss it as a one-season gimmick. Everybody breathe, until next week.

The burden of ‘Talk To The Hand’mostly lies in carrying us to the epic finale, and a final showdown with Dexter and Travis, making things in the meantime seem somewhat like an exercise in futility. We know the writers will save the best for last, and certainly won’t wrap up the main storyline for another week. It’s of interest though, that ‘Talk to the Hand’actually goes as far as to stage Travis’seventh tableau, meaning next week’s ‘This is the Way the World Ends’will focus entirely on Travis’presumed defeat, and realization that his efforts to create the apocalypse have failed.

Dexter - Talk to the HandCertainly, ‘Talk to the Hand’does an excellent job of ramping up the tension by creating such personal threats to our main characters and even going as far as invoking Homeland Security, though I wish Wormwood itself had proved a little more deadly than simply taking Beth (Jordana Spiro) with it. Granted this isn’t 24, and I’m not certain how Beth and Travis’slow-spreading gas mechanism could have caused more damage, but given the ominous tone struck for Miami Metro in ‘Ricochet Rabbit,’I had hoped the tableau might have at least destroyed property*, or taken a few redshirts with it. With the true nature of Travis and Gellar finally out in the open, there’s a palpable sense of excitement and dread for season 6’s climax, sorely lacking before.

(*) Dexter pointed out last week that Travis wasn’t exactly performing literal interpretations of the seven tableaus, but the ‘meteor’mentioned in Wormwood, and the gas’preparation on the boat had me believing their plan was to crash the ‘Ricochet Rabbit’into Miami Metro from its dockside entrance, which might have been a little over budget for the show.

Dexter - Talk to the HandEven the side stories don’t seem as woefully tangential this week, as we’ve finally put a cap to the call-girl case and Deputy Matthews sinister game, LaGuerta having outed him herself in a power-play. From the very beginning of season 6 I’d wondered how LaGuerta would fit into the department after her promotion from Lieutenant, and with Matthews gone she’s right back in the seat of power, from a narrative standpoint. Similarly, I’m glad we’ve finally wrapped up Quinn’s spiral into drunken incompetence, even if the characters seem to have gotten off a bit lightly. We’d miss him terribly, but losing Batista to Quinn’s behavior and the Doomsday Killer might have given the season a little extra punch, and if we ended up losing Quinn instead…I think we’d all get on with our lives.

Unless they’re looking to speedily wrap up the thread next week, we’ve also still got Louis and his Ice Truck Killer fetish to address, here seen drawing palm lines on the hand and carefully mailing it to Dexter. Based on his video game design, and talk with Dexter about wanting to get off the sidelines in life, perhaps we’re looking at a potential student for Dexter to train in his dark arts? I’m still fuzzy on what Ryan (Brea Grant) had to do with things in the first place, as the first to express interest in the hand, but hopefully the writers take their time in constructing their plans for Louis, an admittedly intriguing character now.

It’s safe to say that Dexter should have quite a bit to answer for next week, why the Doomsday killer would have absconded with his boat, or have painted a portrait of Dexter as the devil (assuming someone finds it), so here’s hoping our creepy shock at Deb’s sudden affection for her brother has not been in vain.

Bring on the end of the world!

And Another Thing…

  • As I mentioned last week, Travis (and Colin Hanks as well) has become far more interesting without Gellar, and I felt genuine deranged menace in his coaxing of Beth into essentially becoming a suicide bomber.
  • I try not to nitpick about Dexter‘s more questionable plausibility issues, but I have to think Beth should have had a more difficult time entering Miami Metro, and waiting around with a suspicious backpack for Deb.
  • I’ve never rolled my eyes more than at Michael C. Hall’s reading of ‘it’s time for my Dark Passenger to take the wheel.’And sure he’s always worked around Miami Metro, but shouldn’t Dexter be more cautious competing with Homeland Security? I’m pretty sure their business cards read ‘We Tend Not To F$%k Around.’
  • Incidentally, it feels like a narrative bump in the road to delay the investigation through Homeland Security, only to have them disappear by the end of the episode, but we’d probably ask even MORE questions if a supposed gas attack didn’t trigger a higher level of government.
  • Where did the blood for Dexter’s tableau come from? And Masuka can analyze fingerprints on the scene, but not tell that that hand’s been dead for years?
  • Granted there weren’t many options to get the Slice of Life on Travis’radar, but what is it with this universe and video messages, blog comments, and texts? It’s called typing, people!
  • Granted we’re not privy to its exact location, but was a ring of fire on the water really Travis’final tableau? Would that fire even last long enough for people, or Miami Metro to even find out about? And wasn’t it supposed to be in another few days?

What did YOU think?

  • Joe Chaos

    I was hoping it would be the end of Quinn. The whole “Wormword” plot seemed to fizzle out too quickly.

    • Joe Chaos


      • Kevin Fitzpatrick

        Didn't it? It was so exciting compared to Dexter's usual threats. Oh well. And who knows, maybe Quinn will die yet!

  • Hunier

    You said about Jimmy Darmody and him having sex with his mother in BE, well, I think it's a perfect example of something that is pretty f**ked up, but not surprising, I mean it's a reveal that viewers might have expected, we all see how does the relationship of those two look today, it isn't normal. But Debra and Dexter, that's just stupid and out of the blue. Writers are trying to complicate things, but they have NO grounds to make up stuff like that.

    In last few seasons there wasn't even any great relationship as a brother and sister between them, I actually think that things that Debra is saying to her therapist about it aren't really that much believable, we don't see dexter as a saviour to her, at least not till 2-3 last episodes, when writers WANTED us to see it. It's really stupid, show losts much of it's credibility ;/

    About Travis, I think it's a strange direction, that writers took. Dexter is becoming a show that could be shown in movie theatres all over the world, among Steven Segal movies and, I don't know, Transformers or something o.O Dexter jumping to the water with explosion behind his back, some kind of racing against the time with a bomb and global threat, it's pure action for masses! I think show runners really lost what was Dexter's main asset and focused on creating an action show, which is so not what I expected, what I wanted, and I guess many people can relate to that. Ofcourse not all of the fans agree with this, but I heard a lot of complaining about it among my friends. Last time I felt this was was when I saw Star Wars 1-3, that stands for a lot ;)

    I really, really didn't like this episode and I hope the finale will positivly surprise me.
    Sorry for being all grumpy, I've watched all Dexter seasons for five times, actually I don't like anything in the world as much as I like this show, so please understand my frustration ;)

    • Kevin Fitzpatrick

      I'm trying to give the writers the benefit of the doubt on this one, that they're not seriously expecting us to buy them as a couple, but willing to explore the deeper meaning with Dexter and Deb. And sorry the show isn't living up to expectations, but the finale looks pretty cool!

      • Hunier

        Yeah, but the thing is I know it's not going to be like "Dex <3 Deb", but even without thinking about the future, this episode was insane. The dream, Deb looking for an answer about her feelings, it feels strange on it's own, cause we really haven't seen many scenes with them being close, or at least talking to each other. Only time they interact is when writers want us to believe something, for ex. that Dex doesn't open up. It's not a thing that viewers can think of on their own, it's more like "She loves her brother, really, please, believe us!" from the show runners. It reminds me of Lumen, when Dex was saying stuff like "She really gets me, I feel free with her, we are great as partners, I can trust her" and I was like "Um… No, you're not! Where is this coming from?"

        Again I will bring up The Boardwalk Empire, the last episode was something that we could have seen coming. It was being builded up since the beginning of the season, even if it was a bold move. I'm not specific, maybe someone didn't see last night ep and is reading this ;)

        But here Showtime might as well reveal at some point that Harrison isn't Dexter's son, Debra is really his sister and Darth Vader is his uncle. It would have as much sense. But you know, just an opinion. I'm pointing it out, so noone will feel ofended ;) (and sorry for my english once more)

        • Hunier


  • elsol69

    I think Deborah is confused… The writers are not putting that out there hard enough. She's not in love with Dexter; she's being pressed on all sides and had a good relationship blow up in her face. She is holding on to the ONE thing she still has and confusing the desperate need she has for Dexter to be on her side and by her side with a different emotion. Yes — the series needs to end with Deborah finding out and making a pivotal decision, maybe even with Deborah being the cause that Dexter finally puts down the knives. They've already brought up the issue of putting the knives down with Lumen and even more so this season with the conversations of the light being used to subsume the Dark. I think (hope) Deborah's sanity (so to speak) is the last impetus that Dexter needs to control his urges.

    • Hunier

      I couldn't agree more, except that I don't think writers are aware of it. We racionalize everything, try to find a meaning in Dexter's sloppiness, strange decisions etc. but show, as you perfectly put it, isn't "putting that out there hard enough". I mean Deb's emotional problems make a good topic, but it came out of nowhere in this season. Yes, she had a f***ed up life, but in 5 seasons she mentioned it twice or so, as a joke. And yes again, this season brought up new problems for her, but it's not written the way we could see it by ourselves. Hope you get what I mean ;)

      • cgwmorris

        Deborah has been in one f*ed up situation after another, and more often than not people keep their true feelings buried, I mean, isn't that how Dexter is a serial killer in the first place? Over 6 seasons Dexter and Deb have been through a LOT together. After Rita's death, Dex and Harrison moved in with Deb, she always talks to him about what's going on in her life, they have shared countless beers together, they would celebrate their dad's death day every year, season two with Lila, Deb confronted Dexter about that while she was living there. And this is now the SECOND time that Dexter has saved Deb's life! That in my mind is a lot to go through together. And every conversation Deb has with the therapist makes a lot of sense considering all that she has been through.

        It would make a lot of sense that she would find out about Dexter's secret life, even in season 5 the writers were setting us up in the finale when Deb had Lumen and Dexter (unknowingly) at gunpoint and let them go. Things weren't so "black & white" then either. It would be way to crazy if Deb and Dex were together, I think the writers have a little more sense than that.

        What really interests me is Louis, what will he become? In my mind he MUST know that Dexter is the Bayharbour Butcher. Dexter is always leaving trails on the computer about his victims, and considering what the writers have shown us already about his abilities with the internet, Louis would be the one to pick up on that. Clearly he admires serial killers, and so time will tell. What's up with the lines though? Whose hand was he tracing?

        AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO HARRISON!?!? Killing someone important off the show would undoubtedly add some needed excitement in the finale, but let's all pray that it is anyone BUT Harrison. I truly believe that it would kill a lot of the growth that we have seen in Dexter, and would bring the show backwards.

        I just watched the show today, since we don't get showtime here in Canada, so my excitement may cause my thoughts to be slightly haywire, my apologies. Anyone know how or where I can stream the show online when it's live next week? The added suspense is not welcome anymore.

  • J Pedro Veiga

    Your reviews are always great.

    Things that bother me now:

    – Dexter made the "anonymous" tip regarding the Wormwood threat. I remember in previous seasons all of them reunited listening to an "anonymous" tip over and over again. I think it was season 3. I mean, Dexter didn't even disguise his voice. Isn't it so convenient that NO ONE in the Miami Metro asked to listen to it? I mean… really? And he called from his cellphone. Am I alone on this?

    – Then there is the thing of Batista. When Travis is about to kill him he says "Let me just say one prayer" and at the same time he tries to unravel the ropes. Isn't it too obvious what he's doing? I mean… Wow!

    And on that same point…. so Travis was about to kill Batista, then he heard a noise, then Quinn entered the house (with ONE kick he knocked down the door………………….), then Quinn goes into the room, which is FULL of smoke. Are we supposed to believe it all happened between the time Travis heard a noise and the time Quinn discovered Batista? Why didn't Travis just shoot him, instead of leaving a witness? WTF? Am I alone on this too?

    What disappoints me the most is that the dialogue is too cheesy. Dexter used to be more subtle. Now it's like they treat us like we're morons. For instance… the close-up to the backpack and the scary tune that says "This backpack is where wormwood is".

    I mean… while the characters are talking (especially Harry) they are too explicative. Now the direction itself is made for children. Yes, we know the wormwood is in the backpack, you don't need to make a special reference to it.

    • Hunier

      You're not alone on anything, I agree with you 100%. ;)
      I think it's natural to make mistakes sometimes, but hell, there was no episode in this season where we wouldn't point out something stupid.
      And dialogue IS cheasy, couldn't agree more…

      • Steve

        I have to admit shooting him would be a dumb move because then Quinn wouldn’t check the rest of the apartment he’d run straight into the room and not bother trying to save Batista he’d go straight after Travis but the rest I agree with :-)

    • Doakes

      How about we just say Dexter used a disposable phone that has the ability to disguise his voice.

      • Hunier

        That exactly the razionalizing I was talking about ;) Yeah, let's say so!

        • Hunier


          • Guest

            Yeah, and what about the phone Dexter gave to Travis – it was new alright, but Dexter put his number on it. Plus, he sends a picture message of himself (and his boat)? How would he explain that, if the phone were seized by a cop?

  • Hunier

    I think we always look for complicated and reasonable storyline when there isn't one. This season looks likes it's written bu 12-years old Dexter fans, which really makes me think, that all the reasonable explanation we come up with are too much for the writers.

    You know, it reminds me a little bit of a poetry, where author sometimes writes a poem about birds and trees and then you analize it and it comes out he hated capitalized world. Even though there really was no second bottom and you are overthinking it.
    That's why I think that all the STUPID ideas in this season are just this – stupid ideas. I don't believe in writers that much, so I can look for any cleverness in their work.

  • duster

    Dexter Deb Kiss – a bad move. Period. C'mon Dexter writers! this show is not for teenage kids. Let them be bro and sis, as they have been so far. Leave at it.

  • duster

    I thought about the fire when Batista is all tied up. The only rationale explanation would be that Travis wants to delay him being pursued by Quinn. If Quinn finds Batista dead, Travis knows that Quinn's gonna chase him.

    • Hunier

      I'm not sure that seeing Angel dead would make Quinn run after Travis, we would probably try to help Angel, resuscitate him, or even cry over his dead body, but I'm sure he wouldn't just look at him and then jump through the window and chase Travis.

  • Magpiejay

    I'm wondering if Ryan and Louis are really a couple, she gets him the hand. They kill Batistas sister next week and start a Bonnie & Clyde spree season 7.

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