Figments of our imagination
Well, I can’t wait to hear what you thought of last night. I have to imagine you are a little disappointed. All the promise that Brother Brian was going to send us back into Dexter-nihilism, or at least give us a few episode arc where Dexter goes off the rails… and it all turns out to be an aberration, a momentary departure from the Code. Worse still, the road trip, the spontaneous sex, the spontaneous kill were all part of a moral/spiritual lesson building on the motif of the season. Darkness, Dex muses before he picks up a hitch-hiking Harry, cannot exist without the light.
I suppose this is only “worse” if the best scenario would have been to see what might have happened if Dex really had gone beyond our sympathy. Even his off-the-books kill with a pitch fork did not devastate his moral cred – I mean, Norm was a blackmailing drug dealer (and *love* the cheeky Psycho reference, more about which later!). In fact, the episode wrapped up so tidily I now wonder if it wasn’t meant to clue us into a bigger revelation to come. I haven’t thought this through all the way, but what if there is no Professor Gellar? We’ve never seen him interact with anyone but Travis, right? I mean, he had to exist at some point since there are pictures of him and he kept a web site and all that. But what if he is already dead and everything exists now in Travis’ head? I started to suspect something weird when Travis’s face flashed with paranoia upon discovering the photo of him with the good professor back in his office. And then when the last victim whom Travis let go never said she heard the Professor directly, but only that the younger one talked about someone else and called him the Professor sixth-sensey alarm bells went off. Now that I’m thinking of it, Professor Gellar wanders around a crowded market after his picture is on the front page? And he picks out the costume fabric but makes Travis pay for it. Hmm… Also, Travis’s sister clearly has deeper concerns for him, like maybe this isn’t the first time he’s kind of gone off the deep end.
If there is anything to this theory, this episode might be cluing us in by having Dexter explore the co-existence of darkness and light within himself. Unlike Harry, Brian seems to be eating and it is actually Brian who first stabs Norm, only the camera rotates and we realize that Dexter is acting out himself what he imagines Brian is doing. He has never done that with Harry, so maybe this is reminding us that figments of the imagination can sometimes have very real effects. And by naming the creepy hotel owner Norm, it is hard not to think of Pyscho and immediately of schizophrenia and split personalities.
Dexter’s own temporary road trip into darkness might help him understand and figure out what Travis is up to. Would this being true mean that religion is going to get equated with schizophrenia and delusions? Actually, if by “religion” we just mean the wackado version the Professor ((real or figmenty) expounds, that is OK with me. This episode also proved Brother Sam’s alternative – religion is not all about doomsday and damnation. It is also about grasping at hope and light and relationships in the midst of darkness.
I’m clearly fixated on my new theory so feel free to shoot me down and tell me why this episode is about so many other things! Whether the Professor walks among us in his own flesh or not, how much do you want to bet that Travis’s sister is about to be cast as the whore of Babylon?
And once again, as a final thought and almost side note, I was totally moved by Deb and Quinn’s goodbye. They are both such basket cases but it reminded me of the solace and joy they gave each other for a short while.
p.s. I try not to read other TV blogs before I post so as soon as I finished this, I read around. Turns out my theory is old news to most bloggers. So much for originality! I suppose I should be grateful to have cottoned at all before the big revelation. See Joshua Alston’s post for The AV Club and Richard Rys at Vulture. Or maybe we’re all wrong?
Well I’m bummed to hear that your theory is old news, because I absolutely love it (no shooting you down here!). I too was struck by how much more in line with multiple personality disorder Dexter’s relating to Bryan seemed – yes in terms of Bryan eating (brand new, I agree), but also when Bryan helped Dexter physically dispose of the body on the boat, and when he said “let’s f*ck her” or “can we f*ck her?” or something that involved them both engaging in the gas station tryst…and yes, mostly in terms of him being the initial forker. It was so unlike Dexter’s usual apparitions of Harry that for a moment I got confused and thought, “Oh my goodness, that’s really Bryan and he never really died!”
So this leads to some ruminations on multiple personality disorder – a disorder Showtime has already tackled in great detail with The United States of Tara. I know you never watched this show, but I was absolutely fascinated by it (and as running through corn fields with one’s alternate personality played a vital role in the imagery of that show, I couldn’t help but wonder if we had some Showtime self-referencing going on there). In USoT, when a personality dies – it dies. Tara loses that part of her self forever. And so whereas Harry disappeared (and thus was able to return), Dexter actually killed Bryan…again.
So is this his killing of his own dark side? Was he exorcising a demon in this episode? And if he is now without demons, will he even be recognizable to us? You’re right, I was a little disappointed. I wanted to see him go more off the rails here so we could engage that nihilism…I guess the show couldn’t sustain it. I just hope it offers something as compelling for the trade.
Harry didn’t get there for me – nevertheless, his “Welcome home son” provided a lovely bookend to Dexter’s mistaken monologue at the beginning about reconnecting with Bryan wherein he quoted the hymn, “Amazing Grace”: I once was lost…But now, I’ve been found. In the end, Harry – who I cannot believe has come to represent the light!! – has become the home, the safe place for the lost son (hmmm, Prodigal Son reference?) for which Dexter has been searching.
And all this leads to your theory about the professor – I love it! If that’s the case, and this narrative is mirroring Dexter and Bryan, can we assume that Travis once killed Geller in real life? Because you’re right – it’s so strange that no one can see him and that he seems so inactive. But this leaves me even more worried for the sister…while also even more intrigued to learn some more of her own backstory.
I agree, the exchange between Deb and Quinn was so lovely. I just wish those two crazy kids would get back together. I also appreciated Maria’s counsel to Deb in the elevator. I was so angry at her for screwing Deb over in the hearing. And then when she gave the explanation I realized how quick to judge her I can be. Maria is still a strong woman trying to survive (with some underhanded tactics, for sure) in a male-dominated world – and I guess that scene made me realize how much I miss her from the center of the action. Finally – what the what is going on with Vince’s lab dork video game guy and Angel’s sister?? Why is this happening and why do I find it so ominous?