Geller Has Seen Me Now…
Ok, this is starting to feel too much like watching The Sixth Sense knowing Bruce Willis is dead (sorry if you haven’t seen it!). But once the idea is in your head, there’s really no ambiguity about it, and the show becomes kinda silly to watch. I guess I thought we would get the reveal on Gellar=Travis’ Dark Passenger this episode, what with all the super obvious things they were doing (really Dexter, you think a portly old guy can fit through a tiny second story window and run away before you see him??). So it feels like we have two options: either Gellar is fake, but the writers didn’t think everyone would figure it out and we’re working our way towards some awkward big reveal of nothing, or Gellar is real and all these hints are going to seem really cheap. Either way, I’m starting to get a bit bored with the fake-outs! More interesting to me now, though, is the question of whether Travis is really interacting with Dexter or not (Dexter’s weird side-step from the other guy in the museum while he was talking to Travis made me wonder). Is Travis dealing with multiples influencing his decisions? Is his psyche expanding his experiences of Dexter into delusions beyond their reality? Although now this has occurred to me, any moves Dexter makes to avoid being seen in Travis’ presence are going to feel cheap too! Mostly, I’m just wondering where the real Gellar is at, and when he is going to make his appearance…I sort of wonder if it’s going to be in some ultra-creepy final tableau?
Dexter’s religious journey remains the center of the story for me, this season. Sure, it’s a little corny that he would “find answers” in Brother Sam’s Bible. But I actually found the scene with Father Galway to be quite endearing and theologically rich. My hunch is that we’re supposed to think the line that got cut off by Galway’s failing memory is that there is no forgiveness for a mortal sin without some serious penance (beyond mere confession) – but you’re the Catholic; am I getting my theology right there? As Dexter’s narrative arc is all about grace this season, how lovely that he would encounter a priest whose memory fails at the precise moment that would enable him to receive the absolutely free grace of an unwarranted absolution. But isn’t that what all Christians hope for when they face their sin, that the one hearing them – priest or God alike – will immediately forget it and thus erase it from existence? And as ever, Michael C. Hall played this with perfect ambiguity: somewhat comforted, perhaps, but also somewhat let down by the lack of a big sense of relief or fanfare, resulting in an appearance of mostly confusion…as usual. Again, isn’t this what forgiveness so often feels like in Christian life – a bit of a let down stacked up against the promises inherent in the process?
Indeed, I think this idea is at the heart of Travis’ inner turmoil – Gellar tells him he’s “too important” and that he “needs to do penance,” even though it’s “not his fault.” Whether it’s Gellar speaking of Travis’ sub-conscious, Travis seems torn between needing to think his actions matter, that they can be forgotten, that they aren’t even his and that they really are. There’s no freedom in this tension; only destruction. But there’s also no shape to forgiveness that can satisfy him either.
Given that the is Geller real or isn’t he? thing has already become boring, the questions that are really plaguing me now are who’s ass is Maria covering? What is going on between Lewis and Angel’s sister and how is that going to play out? What, oh what is going to happen to poor Quinn and his broken heart? These more minor storylines feel slightly more developed than the minor storylines of other seasons, but they all also feel like they’re heading for some crash where they might converge. I hope they manage to pull it off with some dignity, and not pull a whole Angel and Maria just didn’t make it crapbag again.
Finally – am I the only one cringing through all these scenes where Deb and Dex have to fight while Deb shares true feelings, talks about their failing intimacy while on the verge of tears and yells about how he’s letting her down? I know I shouldn’t let the real life divorce impact how I watch the show (and my goodness, I think Hall and Carpenter are doing amazingly at maintaining their sibling roles with each other), but don’t these fights start to feel a little too real? How exactly are these two holding it together in real life once the cameras stop rolling? Don’t you just wish you could see how they interact with each other as soon as the director calls ‘cut’?! I’m relieved Carpenter has gotten more of her own plotline this season – I continue to think she has the most impressive acting chops on the show, and I’m excited to be getting to see some range here.
Can’t wait to hear what you thought!
Yes, yes, and yes. Yes, the “is Gellar real” plot is getting old and obvious in exactly the way you name: once you think of the idea it is kind of all you can see. It would be absolutely fascinating if Travis were also imagining Dexter. The only reason I am not sure that is happening is that we’ve heard Dexter’s voice over during all their interactions, suggesting that he is really present and aware of the situation. And wow, I knew Lisa was doomed to be the whore of Babylon, but I have to admit I didn’t realize she’d be killed so soon. While I hope we get to the big reveal about Gellar sooner rather than later, I am at least impressed that they moved that obvious plot point forward instead of stringing it along, as much as I love Molly Parker.
And yes to Dexter’s religious journey. At first I was nervous about where they might go with religion and mental illness – but the genuine spiritual intentions and wisdom of Brother Sam helped mitigate that for me. And as it has gone on, I am really fascinated by the suggestion that these religious tropes and practices Dexter is slowly trying on might in fact fit with his own divided psyche. His psyche is fractured. He carries multiple presences with him that invade his conscious mind. If he can start to think of light/grace as another one of these minor invasions that is actually very fascinating and fruitful. In his case, maybe that is all he can hope for with forgiveness/light – little glimmers breaking up the darkness, like Harry’s more gentle voice overriding Brian’s. As for the absolution scene, yes, I imagine the priest was going to say that forgiveness depends on at least genuine contrition and probably penance. Though, technically speaking, penance is just an aid to contrition and the latter seems like it would be far harder for Dexter to engage. The absolution a priest can offer is predicated on the confessant being genuine sorry for her sins. Dexter is not sorry for his sins. He doesn’t really know how to feel remorse or regret for them. So in very old fashion Catholic theology terms, this puts him outside sacramental forgiveness (no Catholic would say it puts him outside God’s forgiveness, which could come mysteriously outside the sacramental moment, but isn’t the usual way God works, so to speak). So you are right, the priest’s dementia which makes him forget his moral injunction and skip straight to absolution was kind of beautiful and also kind of a let down. I am intrigued why Dexter even felt the need to say his real sins. Was it to test this far-gone priest? Is this his biggest problem with religion – that there is no way he can really believe in forgiveness to cover over his multitude of sins, especially since he can’t really feel what he does to be sin?
And finally, yes, to the Deb/Dex vs. Jennifer/Michael tensions. I definitely think of their divorce when I watch them, and like you, felt that ghost most strongly when Deb chases Dex onto the balcony and berates him for running off when she is trying to be present to him. I am also very intrigued by how the death of Travis’ sister will continue to impact Deb. It was a bit heavy handed when her shrink asked Deb if she worried Dexter would kill her, but it was also very plausible when she started describing her frustrations with Dex in almost the same terms Lisa described her frustrations with Travis without even noticing the parallel. There have been so many clues for Deb to worry about what is really going on with Dexter. I wonder if her guilt over Lisa’s death and her own need for Dexter just as he is absent once again will finally bring her suspicious to conscious light.
Final though: Maria is covering for Captain Matthews. Remember at the start of the season when she was promoted, we learned she got the job by blackmailing Matthews with images of him with prostitutes. Something tells me he didn’t learn his lesson…
Only 4 episodes to go…