Religion and Father Trouble in 604: “A Horse of a Different Color” & 605: “The Angel of Death”

DyingAngel5 Brother Sam comes into Dexter’s life to show him the light; the Four Horsemen killing is investigated, as is the tableau of the Angel of Death. Dexter apprehends Travis Marshall and goes after Professor James Gellar. Masuka fires Ryan and hires Louis Greene. Debra questions her role as she has a Fit for Duty therapist appointment and buys her own place. Religion and monsters are discussed.

“Surrender to Something Greater than Yourself”: Religion in Dexter

“I do believe that I don’t have all the answers.” – Dexter

Whether it is science or God, Brother Sam reminds us that we all need to believe in something. Dexter reports that religion sprang up in response to ancient civilizations’ need to explain natural phenomenon; contrary to Dexter’s rationale, religion did not disappear upon the emergence of science. Dexter does realize that science cannot explain everything, but it still resistant to believe in a higher power. Brother Sam insists that a second car accident is “someone’s [way of] trying to tell you to slow down, brother.” Despite his resistance, Dexter cannot help but utter “Jesus Christ” in the presence of the Four Horsemen killing crime scene.

“Go for a swim; come out a new man. If only it were that simple.”

Brother Sam recognizes how difficult it is to have faith, especially when Dexter sees the horrific acts that are committed in God’s name by the Dooms Day Killer; he doesn’t see the point. Dexter draws the parallel between Brother Sam turning to the Bible for answers and the way in which he studies blood for answers to crimes. 604

“God gave us free will for a reason.”

Professor Gellar stresses the importance of being able to accept one’s consequences for his or her behavior. This, coming from a notorious man, seems ominous; however, if we view this statement in terms of Dexter’s condition, perhaps there is room for Dexter to change. Brother Sam highlights the DDKs as possessing dark faith, a faith which is no less real, but different from Brother Sam’s faith. If Dexter is ever in a position where he is to be incriminated for his dexterous crimes, Harrison will pay the price. Dexter seems willing, as he threatens to beat the coffee vending machine into submission, to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of Harrison. Furthermore, the fact that Dexter spends his time in the waiting room researching the effects of anesthesia on children under three further signifies Dexter’s emotional development. Brother Sam’s gift of the white toy lamb reminds us that Dexter is Harrison’s sole shepherd, and he must not screw up, for Harrison is the light in Dexter’s life.

“There’s no darkness that the light can’t overcome.” Baptism

Perhaps if Dexter never had a son, he would not be thinking in terms of morality and spirituality. Dexter has only ever known one baptism – his birth into blood – and it is dubious whether he will ever know a second baptism. Brother Sam insists that  his mother’s light exists within him and is emanating, despite Dexter’s beliefs about his own Dark Passenger. Debra reminds us of the Ice-Truck Killer when emphasizing the brutality (or imagination, as Dexter thinks) of DDK’s necessity to send a message through his tableau. Go look at the website. Just for giggles.

When it seem as though Dexter is about to kill Travis Marshall, as he chokes him on his night drive home, we encounter an interesting twist of events. Dexter attempts to convince Travis, in a Brother Sam-like fashion, that Professor Gellar is pulling him toward the darkness rather than the light. In yet another interesting parallel, we observe Professor Gellar and Travis Marshall in the kitchen immediately before a scene of Harry and Dexter, suggesting the idea that Gellar appears to Travis the way that Harry appears to Dexter. I’m surprised I did not pick up on this connection my first time watching the series. What is even more compelling is the parallelism the set dresser draws between Travis and Dexter with their apartments, further reminding us that Dexter could have just as easily been instructed to commit senseless, evil deeds, or had grown up without instruction at all.

Dexter, en beige.
Dexter, en beige.

While Dexter is suggesting that a serial killer may be born due to the instruction of a brilliant professor, the series also suggests that one can be too passionate about his or her art or field of study. Professor Porter, Gellar’s former TA, suggests that he was brilliant and liked to “stir the pot,” but never intended for these killings. While she is 200% certain that Gellar is not the DDK, she is rather alarmed when Batista discovers The Alpha of the Omega of the Enesserette diary, which makes yet another artist a “nutjob serial killer,” or at least another “sick fuck” with demons (Deb refers to DDK as a “sick fuck,” just as Walter Kenney, the Tooth Fairy, called himself and Dexter last treatment). Gellar’s need fora spectacle, just like Brian Moser’s, is a sign that they are trying to send a message, just as artists and authors do (I’m not saying I’m a serial killer, but I’m sure my proclivity for writing about Dexter is healthy .  . . ). Travis Marshall and Dexter share yet another peculiar similarity that I hope you all picked up on. Dexter’s mother issues are no secret: every woman he has picked to love has looked like Laura Moser. I have also hinted at Debra and Dexter’s strange brother-sister relationship, one that sometimes threatens to cross into incest land; however, we see this in full-swing with Travis. We learn that Travis’ sister, Lisa, basically raised him, making her both a mother- and a sister-figure. The fact that Travis dates a woman who looks like his sister gives us yet another reason to question his relationship with his sister.

Father Trouble

“I used to believe in my dad, too.”

Brother Sam reveals the way in which his father used him as a young child to carry out his own work and as an accessory to murder. Although Dexter never pictured his father as using him for his own vengeance or for selfish purposes, the parallel is undeniable. Harry clearly instructed Dexter to right at least some of the wrong in the world in killing murderers that escaped the law. Just as Dexter’s psyche was forever stained by his mother’s blood, Brother Sam’s Super-Man shirt was stained by the blood of his father’s victim.

“You did a good job.” – Brother Sam’s Father

Debra continues to express how she continues to try to please Harry, even though he is dead. Dexter’s vigilant attention to Harry’s Code reflects the idea that he, too, acts and thinks to please his father, even though he has been dead nearly ten years. Perhaps there is a case for Brother Sam as a victim of a narcissistic family, just as there is evidence for the Morgans. Brother Sam reports being angry and how he nearly choked a man out in the prison chapel before seeing the light. Dexter, too, will have his moment of light at the end of this season, although the light will be more of a figurative fucking nature, if you catch my drift. From then on, Brother Sam reports wanting to change. Harrison’s procedure can only inspire us to believe that Dexter is ready to surrender his darkness in favor of protecting Harrison and even Debra. In a voice-over, Dexter admits that he hates lying to Debra – in the moment, he may have meant hiding evidence that prevents her success, but we can also see this as his way of hating that he has to hide his Dark Passenger, his true self, from her. Dexter has always tried to protect Debra from the truth, but how long can he keep up the charade?

“Maybe I do need to go to therapy.”

Whereas Dexter’s sensitivity to his hobby was once questionable, it is Deb’s judgment that comes into question when she  has the Angel of Mercy killing photographs sprawled out on the coffee table when Harrison comes over to give her a goodnight kiss. It is clear from Debra’s consecutive near-meltdowns that things have been troubling her, and her appointment with her therapist, Michelle Ross, is certain to help her work out those things . . . and perhaps open some locked doors. Just as we see Debra needing to vent, we should try to imagine Dexter. How would you feel if you had to lock up all your anger, resentment, and worries inside? Although he narrates to us, does he really have an outlet, other than killing? Other than the last few moments of truth before he kills yet another man or woman who deserves to die? Oh, and an innocent woman died before Deb’s eyes, too.

“There’s a reason I’m an aunt, not a parent.”

Dexter and Debra have been playing house, and Debra’s territorial issues flare up when Jamie yells at her for treating her like a maid. There have been several hints throughout this season as to Debra’s feelings toward Dexter; however, they become clearest regarding the brother-sister boundary when the two are riding in the elevator. Although her “crotch asphyxiation” comment is a comic delivery, it serves to lighten up the content of that joke: the truth which Michelle Ross is about to uncover.

Dexter: A Comedy

[Searching the intestines for a number clue.] Dexter: “Kind of reminds me of looking for the prize in a cereal box.” Dexter: “You’ll figure it out. You always do.” Deb: “Quinn always used to say that when I went into meltdown mode.” Dexter: “He saw you in meltdown mode and he still wanted to marry you?” Jamie: “Poop explosion.” Dexter: “Harrison?” Deb: “If it’s Jamie, you’ve got bigger problems.” Deb: “Goddamn pantyhose. Has anyone ever died from crotch asphyxiation?” Dexter: “You have now crossed the line into inappropriate brother-sister exchanges.” Quinn: “We’d already be on our way if you’d let me eat in the car.” Batista: “No, you’re not getting grease on Norma . . . What?It was my mother’s name.” Quinn: “Now I think I know why you’re divorced.” Quinn and Batista’s subsequent weed smoking. [Feeling up Quinn’s chest.] Batista: “I can feel how much your heart hurts for Deb.” Quinn: “Dude, get your big, fuckin’ sausage hands off me. That’s terrible.” [Deb on TV at press conference in waiting room of hospital; curse is beeped out.] Deb: “Oh, fuck.” [Kids and disappointed mother look in her direction.] Matthews: “Keep up the good fuckin’ work.” Brother Sam: “O.G. for G.O.D. Know what I’m sayin’?” Dexter: “Yup.” Dexter V.O.: “Nope.


And now to put a “number” on this episode. Dexterity (neat-handedness, puns, trickery, clever sayings, placements, etc.) will judge all of the small things that I pick up on. The higher the score, the more fun I had picking apart the episode for hidden clues. Entertainment (how much I laughed and enjoyed the episode) will judge how excited I was on average throughout the episode, as well as after it for the upcoming episodes. “Xtremity” (how dramatic, but also how believable the episode was, edge-of-the-seat, white knuckles, the “holy shit” factor) will judge just how jaw-dropping the episode was. Dexterity: 9 Entertainment: 10 Xtremity:  9 DEX-Factor: 9.66


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