Dexter 6.07 “Nebraska” Review

Kevin Fitzpatrick November 13, 2011 22

Dexter - NebraskaDexter season 6 returns to carve up its seventh entry with this week’s turning point ‘Nebraska,’as our favorite serial killer and his ghostly brother Brian take a road trip to Nebraska to investigate the apparent return of season 4′s Trinity Killer. After last week’s big twist, “Nebraska” proves an incredibly diversionary episode that stops season 6′s momentum cold.

Understandably, a great deal of commotion surrounded last week’s ‘Just Let Go‘and the dramatic return of Brian Moser (Christian Camargo), the Ice Truck Killer after Brother Sam’s death, and from a critical standpoint reactions ran the gamut. I myself approached with a cautious optimism, intrigued by what the return of such a revered villain could bring, even as a hallucinatory presence in Dexter’s mind, but sadly my optism proved unfounded. ‘Nebraska’isn’t the worst episode of Dexter, but it may be the show’s least necessary detour.

The question I find echoing most around Brian’s return is ultimately, ‘why now?’What about Brother Sam’s death and Dexter’s raging retaliation on Nick would take him specifically to Brian, and what does Brian add to the bigger picture of season 6? ‘Nebraska’allows Brian to act as something of a devil on Dexter’s shoulder, encouraging him to shirk responsibilities and Harry’s code for killing, but by the end hasn’t taught Dexter anything he didn’t already know. And if Dexter overcomes Brian’s influence to kill Jonah Mitchell (Brando Eaton), only end up right back where he started, what was the point of bringing in Brian in the first place, other than nostalgia?

Sadly, therein lies the other unnecessary detour of ‘Nebraska,’the return of the Mitchell family as Jonah apparently picks up his father’s mantle as the Trinity Killer. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with revisiting old ground or tying up loose ends left by season 4′s Trinity story, but the same question plagues Jonah as it did Brian Moser: why now? ‘Nebraska’feels like an episode that belonged somewhere in the beginning of season 5, when the impact of Trinity felt fresher. Beyond a moment or two of consideration on Dexter’s bloodlust being hereditary, or a lesson learned on forgiving one’s self, season 6 gains nothing from a trip to ‘Nebraska.’

There was a moment during Dexter’s tense standoff with the motel owner negotiating for his knives back, wherein I realized that never before had Dexter so arbitrarily set up pointless obstacles for its hero to overcome. Sure, it’s cute to see Dexter and Brian inadvertently recreating the famous ‘American Gothic’painting, but over and over it felt like ‘Nebraska’spun its wheels before making the (brief) points it set out to make. I felt like Milhouse, remarking to myself ‘okay, they have the knives, but when are they going to get to the fireworks factory?’

Dexter - NebraskaBack in the land of stories we actually care about, we’re still no closer to learning about the elusive Doomsday Killers Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks) and Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos), though Travis remains adamant he no longer wishes to take part in the massacres. By this point, we’re so spent on figuring out whether or not Professor Gellar is actually real, their interplay loses all its meaning. Whether or not Travis continues aiding the professor, Gellar will obviously continue the work and make cryptically menacing threats to Travis, so where’s the conflict?

Elsewhere Deb’s still putting together the pieces of her life as the sharks circle her career, but I appreciated that we’re dealing with a smart enough character to not fall back in with Quinn during moments of weakness. Dexter‘s working very hard to build Deb’s resolve this season, so hopefully there’s an equally strong way to test it come season’s end. Dare we say, Deb finds out?

In the end it’s all about the little detours we take, be they Dexter and Brian road tripping to Nebraska to deal with Jonah, Travis staying away from Professor Gellar’s Deb briefly sliding back into her relationship with Quinn, and some of the best stories come out of life’s little detours. This…is not one of those times. Don’t get me wrong, I like aspects of ‘Nebraska’and there’s plenty of fun to be had in the idea of Dexter becoming a cross-country killer with a ghostly brother for a conscience. With the looming threat of the Doomsday Killers and Brother Sam finally put to rest, now simply wasn’t the time.

And Another Thing…

  • Confusing Professor Gellar evidence of the week: the escaped victim never claims to have actually heard Professor Gellar speak, and while Gellar talks to Travis about atrocities he’d read in the newspaper, the first image of Travis in ‘Nebraska’shows him holding a paper, albeit the crossword section.
  • I would think it rather difficult to bludgeon someone with a hockey stick, no?
  • The scenes of Dexter and Brian road-tripping all seem rather out of place with Dexter‘s usual music, but who doesn’t love them some Iggy Pop?
  • How sloppy was Dexter this week? The convenience store likely has Dexter on video stealing the cashier’s gun, and he even showed his face and waved to Jonah’s neighbor while wearing his latex gloves!

What did YOU think?

  • kelly

    Ha ha he took his glove off to wave i think..lmao…
    I think gellar is dead…Travis looked at the photo of those two…and then looked in the yard…i think that is where he is buried…

    I never wanted it to be like that….that was basically my whole focus on the episode…

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      I maintain, what is that woman supposed to think? Her neighbor (whose entire family was just murdered) flees his house like a bat out of hell, and then a stranger in latex gloves smiles and waves at her? ASKING to be caught.

      And at this point, I hope that the twist is that Gellar actually IS alive.

  • Dave

    in the previews for next week, dexter says "it appears Travis has a dark passenger of his own, but unlike mine, his can be killed" plus the victim said she heard two voices; one young male, one older male. Geller is def alive and well

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      Well, Dexter is still operating under the ASSUMPTION that Gellar is alive, he has no reason to suspect otherwise. And actually, the woman never said she heard Gellar speak, only that "one of them kept calling the other 'professor.'" The only one she heard speak for sure was "the younger guy," who apologized for forcing her to drink the blood. The debate continues!

      • Dave

        all good points..I stand corrected haha

      • Rollbelly

        I too noticed she didn't really say that she heard the Professor speaking. But it raises another question: If the victim didn't hear Gellar speak and she couldn't see him, how did she figure out that there was a ''younger'' and ''older'' guy ?

        • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

          Presumably she heard Travis referring to or even talking to "the professor," even if she didn't hear him replying, and would likely assume the professor was older. But at this point, I don't think the writers expect us to be poking this many holes in their logic!

  • http://www.travelerahoy.com Alouise

    Your review pretty much summed up my opinion about Nebraska. I had high hopes with Biney being back (and some parts were good). But on the whole nothing new was really found out. Everything Dexter learned in Nebraska he learned in previous seasons. Only thing I really found interesting was that (besides Lumen obviously) Jonah is the only person alive that knows Dexter has killed. I sort of wonder if that will come back to get Dexter, but I have a feeling the show won’t go there.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      Honestly, there were some enjoyable parts of the episode, it just didn't have anything to do with the rest of the season, or bring back Brian for anything important. But yes, if you thought the Mitchells were a loose end before, what will they do with Jonah left alive, and aware Dexter killed his father?

  • eyal

    maybe one good nail in the "is Gellar there" is the art. We saw Gellar's drawings in his notebook, and they don't look like the ones we see "him" doing in thier "lair".

    one interesting point may be the third tablue "they" did, Travis wakes up in an empty bed and is suprised to find his "date" tied up, and the two talk over her. ofcourse Gellar not being real would explain how he got into the house, althought in Dexter, we know that locks never really stop anyone.

    just had an idea for a twist ….. Gellar is alive, tied up and chained somewhere ……

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      That's how crazy this is! There's almost no rules for imaginary characters, as we saw Brian stab the motel clerk with the pitchfork, even with a quick cut to confirm it was Dexter. And what of when Colin Hanks rode his bike up to the church without going inside, but we still "saw" Gellar handling the alligator guts? But I did find it interesting back then that Travis' psyche could wake up, tie up the woman, and throw himself back into bed!

      I would love it if Gellar were actually alive in any capacity, that's the only twist that'd be surprising by this point.

  • http://www.squidprocrow.com Seth

    I disagree somewhat that this was a pointless episode. I feel like the theme of the season is Dexter being drawn to his light side, and I think in order to find it he had to put his darkness to the test. Like the author of this review says, Brian represents the devil on Dexter's shoulder, acting as a counterpart to Harry's guardian angel. Dexter's rejection of Brian as a potential spirit guide is an important turning point in his journey to embracing the good that's inside him. If anything, I felt like this episode would be a detour going in, and had my mind changed by the end.

    As for the "Gellar being real" debate, I think a very telling moment came in tonight's episode, when we see Brian grab the pitchfork, and seconds later it's actually Dexter that's holding it. Add to that all the moments where Brian apparently interacts physically with his environment, and it seems very plausible that they're foreshadowing a reveal where Gellar is just in Travis's head. I half expected it to come tonight while the pitchfork scene was still fresh in our minds.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      I agree that "Nebraska" does make the point of Dexter choosing not to kill Jonah, thus confirming his ability to choose light and "forgiveness" instead of darkness, but I don't know that we needed to take him to Nebraska with Brian to make that point.

      You're probably right, that all Brian's physical interactions were likely to get the audience thinking about Gellar, but at this point the argument could still be made for either side.

  • Txurce

    Harry has rarely been an "angel" on Dexter's shoulder – he is closer to being his superego. Brian, on the other hand, was more clearly a "devil" – one that Dexter didn't need. Why would he pop up to encourage Dexter after Dexter does what he always does: kill an unrepentant killer? Killing Brother Sam's murderer wasn't even remotely the worst thing we've seen Dexter do, or any sort of betrayal, literal or figurative. (Dexter is much darker than Sam imagined.) As the reviewer said, Dexter is back where he's always been after one episode – or even at a healthier place, having spared the murderous Jonah (who also tried to kill him).

    On a side note, Dexter's come-on to the Nebraska cashier was totally out of character. I didn't buy that Brian's influence was strong enough to alter the way he talks.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      That's exactly it, that what happened in Nebraska didn't really teach Dexter anything we haven't seen him go through before.

      Wasn't that creepy? Worse yet, was that she didn't bat an eye at Dexter telling her his mother was murdered in front of him as a child! Or how about Brian wanting to have sex with her AFTER Dexter had killed her? New low…

  • Peter Miller

    I've seen every episode; some more than once, and this episode was the first time I ever questioned Dexter's sanity. That tells you how unrealistic I thought this was. Ca mon; Dexter driving 100 mph on Hwy 95 SHOOTING billboards and road signs with a stolen gun?? WTF?? Who greenlit this filler garbage to see the actors mouths?? Kill *that* guy please!

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      Well, that was the point, we were seeing the uninhibited side of Dexter, blowing off steam. I thought it was an exciting, and interestingly composed sequence, it just didn't add anything to the story.

  • Robokop

    Lets face it our favourite show is dead.meaningless now.the writers have run out of topics.the nebraska episode is just the writers getting to do what they ever wanted.dexter n brian kill together.at the end.harry isnt dead.he will be back.thats the twist

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      It was a misstep, to be sure, but if the writers were willing to COMMIT to any of these bold new directions for Dexter, or dramatic changes to the status quo, there'd be plenty more for Dexter to mine as a series.

  • hamip1212

    Yes you can bludgeon someone to death with a hockey stick. Not that I have done so, but the heel of the blade is pretty darn hard. I am sure it can be done. Ask any hockey player.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      Just seems like it'd be troublesome to swing with killing force in such an enclosed space. Cumbersome, if you will.

  • Bayli

    This episode had me literally laughing out loud with how ridiculous it was, which is a bad sign for me, because usually I'm on the edge of my seat with anticipation during episodes of my favorite show. Brian's return, as you said, was utterly pointless, and the episode as a whole seemed like an unnecessary filler. All that Brian seemed to do was irritate the hell out of me, as he seemed to enjoy adding commentary to things every five seconds. "I can't wait to hear this!" (during the Dex/Jonah conversation) The shooting-signs-from-the-car scene was one that made me laugh. It just seemed so out of place. And hitting on the cashier? So out of character for Dexter. Dexter was incredibly stupid, socially confident, sloppy, and irresponsible this entire episode: four traits that are the complete opposite of our serial killer hero. I was severely disappointed, and I hope the writers step up their game by the end of this season. This entire season seems out of place to me in comparison to the rest, honestly.