First, the bright side. Long-suffering Season 6 viewers were spared the nonstop God talk and general religiosity on "Dexter" last night. Director S.J. Clarkson brought a sinuous sense of purposeful movement, mood and narrative flow. My anxieties regarding Dexter’s sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) being downgraded to a typical flavor of cop-show vanilla proved unfounded. She’s back, cursing up a storm and even allowed a full-blown monologue on how it blows to be a lone square peg in a department of paperwork, careerists and creeps.
But style and spunk aside, this was an episode in which someone in need of a clue happened upon it by picking up one book in a room full of hundreds. Where a bad guy’s identity is discovered courtesy of a quick stroll into a big museum. Where another clue is discovered on first try from selecting one manuscript out of thousands. And so on.
So multiple deus ex machina aside, what’s up? Miami P.D. has dubbed creepy Travis (Colin Hanks) and Doctor Gellar (Edward James Olmos) one "Doomsday Killer."
So far, the gruesome twosome have gutted one man and filled him with snakes, used his intestines to decorate a fruit stand, created a human doll out of body and mannequin parts, and crafted an angel-winged Rube Goldberg killing machine that slices a girl’s throat open.
New homicide detective Anderson, who’s really good with radical interpretations of the text, says this has to do with the Bible, Revelations 8-10, plus an under-studied numerology section that explains the small slips of numbered paper stuffed in victims’ bodies. Deb says it’s “more Apocalypse bullshit.” Nobody disagrees.
As for Dexter -- last week he saw Travis in a crowd. Didn’t know him from Adam but just knew he was no damned good. And just like that, any "Breaking Bad" fan annoyed with people questioning how Gus Fring just knew somebody was on that roof ready to do him harm can go, “You thought our show was full of it?”
Anyway, after investigating the angel wings for at least three minutes and finding them sewn with an art restorer’s care, Dex goes to a museum where they just happen to be showing a film on art restoration starring Travis. No, really.
Half expecting Dex to wipe his hands together and say, “My work here is done!” he instead ends up kicking it with Brother Sam. Brews and back stories are shared — Dexter severely edits his. Brother Sam wants Dexter to know he doesn’t have to live in darkness, to appreciate the light he feels when he’s with his son Harrison. And as this sweet inspirational continues — and when did Mos attain such a fine sense of quiet gravity? -- you just know Brother Sam’s time is limited.
Anyway, Dexter finds out where Travis lives, sees his library of biblical works, randomly picks out one Bible and ta-da -- it’s the one with the page numbers cut out as victim-stuffing. No, really. The writers have that little shame.
Meanwhile, another lead has Quinn (Desmond Harrington) and Angel (David Zayas) down at a university in Tallahassee where they meet Professor Morris (Mariana Klaveno), a comely brunette who used to be Doctor Gellar’s teaching assistant. She says that Gellar was brilliant, charismatic and, yes, his ideas were kind of extreme and yeah, she totally slept with him but all the brunet students slept with him.
The next day, Angel shows up at Professor Morris’ book-packed abode, grabs a random, leather-bound, hilariously fake "ancient" manuscript like Giles would consult on "Buffy" and — right. It’s a diagram for Gellar’s killer-angel-girl contraption.
Meanwhile, we’re learning that Travis isn’t totally evil yet. When Gellar needs him to whack another girl for his Whore of Babylon project, his heart just isn’t in it and the girl escapes.
So with Gellar at the wheel, the two hunt down another attractive couple. Travis demurs, saying the guy sure looks big. Olmos freaks and screams, “HE’S NOT AS BIG AS GOD!!!” and drives over the both of them.
Really, if you’re going to have an idea as loony as Dexter the Holy Seeker vs. Olmos as the Jesus-freak Doomsday Killer, I’d say that bringing on the big crazy? Great idea.
Later, Dex finds and semi-strangles Travis but by now he understands that the younger creep is at the tipping point between minor and major league evil. Travis accidentally saves himself from Dexter’s table by blubbering about what a loser he is being unable to kill people — but that Doctor Gellar, now there’s a man of God!
With Brother Sam’s godly admonitions still ringing in his head, Dex spares Travis, although in voice-over, he says, “In my experience, darkness usually prevails” -- and indeed it does. Back at Brother Sam’s garage, some hoods shoot him, and this season’s best "Dexter" addition dies in the murk.