"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Seriously, Showtime: Dexter-Debra incest? That’s what you’re banking on as you approach the season-six finale? Isn’t that why God created slashfic? What’s next? Ghost-y tussles between Dexter and Harry? Deb and Laguerta? The mind reels.
This week’s Dexter is all bent out of shape, peaking at the 20-minute mark, then limping along as it betrays sundry atrocities, anti-revelations and proof that Captain Laguerta (Lauren Vélez) is the Latina Cruella de Vil of the Miami police department.
After a recap in which Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) says that Dex (Michael C. Hall) is her one safe place — oh, great — the Miami police find the body of Travis’ latest murdered girl, along with the corpse of Doomsday_Adam (Kyle Davis), the one-time Travis fanboy, who was actually stabbed by Dexter.
Travis, meanwhile, has hogtied Angel (David Zayas), stolen his ID and given it to Doomsday_Adam’s batty wife Beth (Jordana Spiro). He’s also gifted Beth with a backpack bomb of wormwood poison, with instructions to deliver the package to Deb. She’d once interviewed the object of Travis’ passions, his sister (who he then killed, as these brother-sister love affairs never pan out). And so Deb and the Miami P.D. must die in the name of God. It’s simple, really.
Ready for your Deb/Dex incest subplot? No? Too bad — it starts with Deb spilling her guts to Dex about how Laguerta has been mind-fucking her about The Case of the Dead Call Girl. Dex, who for the last four episodes has been a distant jerk, suddenly becomes the empathic king of all siblings.
Remember last week’s relatively natural narrative style? Well, goodbye to that aberration. This week saw the return of the shameless Miracle Clue school of detective work. Check it out:
Beth the Bomber sits just outside Deb’s office, patiently waiting to blow up.
Dex decides it’s time to computer-search Doomsday_Adam. His office has a nice view of Deb’s.
An officer tells Deb some lady wants to talk about wormwood. Deb’s all, hell, yeah! And so Beth the Bomber steps into Deb’s office at the exact same moment that Dexter is greeted with a screenshot of Beth’s ID pic and BAM!
Dex hauls ass across the office and hurls poor Beth into a room to blow up and die. Dex describes his heroics as dumb luck. Deb super-foreshadows the coming boundary-cross with a swoon of “Fuck luck! I’ll take you!” and then falls into his arms like a bodice-ripper heroine.
Travis, of course, freaks when he learns the wormwood bomb was a big bust. He settles on a new murder project — Lake of Fire!
“My time has come!” he screams, jotting outlines on a wall next to some corpses. “I must pass the test!” It’s a Make it Work moment in Hell’s version of “Project Runway.”
Meanwhile, dinner with Deb and Matthews (Geoff Pierson) has the old mucky-muck guilt-tripping Deb: Yeah, he had carnal knowledge of the call girl, but she was totally on drugs and fell and died. How would destroying his career help her now. And did he mention he held Deb when she was a baby?
Deb relents — but you can see that slippery moral slope looming.
Meanwhile, Dex retrieves Gellar’s severed hand for use in a fiendish plan to get Travis’ attention. Deb has her therapy session with Dr. Ross (Rya Kihlstedt), whose understanding of psychology seems to have stalled at Oedipal transfer theory.
Deb’s super-vulnerable, so Ross decides it’s a great time to float the notion that Deb chooses unavailable men because she wants to do her brother. Deb’s aghast, enraged and outta there.
That is, until a couple of scenes later, when Matthews arrives, furious with Deb for ratting him out about the call girl thing. But it was the Queen Rat herself, Laguerta, who dropped the dime on Matthews so she can steal his job and make Deb’s life miserable in the bargain.
Freaked, Deb seeks solace from a now supernaturally sweet Dexter. They share noodles like they’re squiggly sex toys. “Deb,” he coos, “I’m always right here.” He presses her hand to her bosom, and kisses her on the mouth — as Deb wakes up and screams “Fuck!”
Indeed. Then again, confronting fantasies of ultimate intimacy prefaces ultimate separation. Or, uh, something like that.
Then the scene shifts to Louis the intern (Josh Cooke), who may or may not have his own Dark Passenger. We see him mail Dexter the hand stolen from evidence.
To get Travis on his table, Dexter creates his own “tableau” on a public statue, which he splatters blood, draws “666” and attaches Gellar’s severed hand. Dex also manages to send Travis a taunting videogram in which Dex purposely shows his Slice of Life yacht.
Travis sees it and gets pumped for some serious vengeance, but first must finish this painting of what looks like six evil cherubs sprouting out of Michael C. Hall’s giant demon head. No, really.
And then that incest stuff happens, but let’s cut to the chase — Dex sets up a kill room on a yacht. Travis shows up as expected. The two tussle. Travis sinks Dexter’s tranquilizer needle into his neck. He passes out and wakes up bound in a gasoline-filled dinghy surrounded by a circle of gasoline-covered water.
Travis lights the gas and it blows up real good — a Lake of Fire! (Well, an ocean if you want to be technical.)
Of course, this is “Dexter,” so blowing him up only means blowing him out of harm’s way to ponder, before the credits roll, “How did I get so lost?” Dude, let us count the ways.
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)