Revelations in 612: “This Is the Way the World Ends”

Debra sends all available reinforcement to the tallest skyscrapers in Miami, for she believes this is where Travis Marshall will enjoy the apocalypse and bring in the new world; after believing he has killed Dexter, he abducts Harrison from the Noah’s Ark pageant at his preschool, intending to sacrifice him as the innocent to be sacrificed as the first blood spill of the new world. Dexter runs into questions of karma, fate, and God. Travis Marshall reveals his true crazy as the alpha (Α) and omega (Ω).

The A and Ω: Karma, Fate, or God’s Will?

“If some God or some force did save me today, I’m sure it was for you and not for me.”

Brother Sam at the start of this season began Dexter’s moral and ethical journey; when he’s saved from the middle of the ocean, five miles off the coast of Miami, nearly dehydrated, which would have ultimately led to death, it is clear that someone or something, a “higher power,” is watching over him. Dexter knows that he should not be afforded another chance at life, given his pass-time; however, he chalks up his fate to having to be there to be a shepherd to Harrison, his little lamb. John Kenneth Muir, in making his case for Dexter as a superhero, asserts that Dexter’s “sheet of plastic billows like a roiling wave before him, not at all unlike Superman’s majestic red cape. The wind, we must assume, is at both their backs” (5). It is only by luck that Miami Metro did not enter the house before Dexter, for they would have seen his face, painted larger than life, on the wall of the victims’ living room. One cannot help but think there is some sort of Divine Intervention taking place here.

While  Muir makes a stronger case for why Dexter is afforded additional chances at life for his just work, Dexter believes that his son has saved him this time. If we recall from season two, Dexter’s sense of fate was more narcissistic in that his Doakes problem was taken care of for him, which, to him, clearly encouraged his killing. However, we do see Dexter get incredibly territorial with Rita, Astor, and Cody when Lila abducts her children, a reaction very similar to what happens when Dexter catches Travis with Harrison. The season two reaction was more primordial than season six’s; we see a glimmer of helplessness in Dexter’s eye; however, this does not stop him from screwing with Travis’ logic to get what he wants.

“I’ve almost lost you twice.”

When it seems as though Dexter takes a leap of faith in Travis’ word by injecting himself with M-99, we discover that his needle was empty. Faith, for Dexter, is not nearly as strong as certainty and precaution is. Dexter knocks out Travis, saves his son, and sneaks him back to the abandoned church for his own playtime and sacrifice.

Side note: An additional parallel between Travis and Dexter emerges in the position in which Travis assumes to kill Dexter: a sword right into the heart.

“I am a Father, a Son, a Serial Killer”

“No one is innocent.”

Travis Marshall’s sacrificial altar on which he planned to kill Harrison, dressed as a young lion rather than a lamb (and interestingly, Dexter’s lion costume is his kill suit plus as lion’s mask: practical and metaphorical), recalls the manger of Jesus’ birth. Whereas the star of Bethlehem led the Wise Men to see the baby Jesus, we have an anti-star, the solar eclipse, guiding Dexter and Miami Metro to the site of a foil of the birth that began the world, according to Christian belief.

“One thing I have faith in is the staying power of animal tranquilizer.”

Dexter sets up Travis’ kill table where the altar of the abandoned church used to be, further perverting the religious intent of Travis’ acts. This kill is personal, something Harry warned Dexter against, and “half sick with the thrill” (as Dexter so deftly admitted in Narcotics Anonymous in season two) of the kill, Dexter airs on a God-complex as he takes profound pleasure in his ritual with a most-desired victim on his table. Dexter not only “gets off” on Travis believing he has brought about the end of the world, but the way in which he tries to systematically destroy Travis’ faith and his religious beliefs.

Dexter is “playing God” in this moment, as he does with all of his kills; his table is purgatory where his victims must confess their sins. This metaphor is solidified when he responds to “Hello, Jesus,” and steps into frame to replace where the crucifix was. As he interrogates Travis, his voice booms through the church the way the Wizard of Oz sounds once Dorothy and her friends enter the premises; he is meant to sound like the thundering voice of God. This is not the first time the writers have suggested a Christ-like quality to Dexter. If you recall in season one, Oscar, the young boy who hid in the trunk of a car in Jorge Castillo’s junk yard witnessed Dexter taking out both of the Castillos and desposing of their bodies; however, when he was interviewed about who saved him, rather than providing a sketch of Dexter, his description suggested that Jesus saved him.

“How can you believe in that?”

Oscar from season one.

 

“God has nothing to do with this.”

Perhaps this is the strongest suggestion we will ever get of Dexter’s God-complex. Of course the holy trinity consists of three people in one, so we can drag Harry into this as Dexter’s advisor, the God-figure, making Dexter Jesus. The Holy Spirit, then, is fate. Given that Jesus died for God, we can see how Dexter is hung up about Harry’s push toward the serial killing path. Dexter’s chance at humanity and a normal life “died” because of Harry’s will and teachings.

“Whether you’re a lion or a lamb, I’ll always love you.”

Dexter concludes that the most important thing he could pass onto his son is unconditional love. Dexter likely does not feel that Harry loved him unconditionally, given the way he dealt with Dexter’s signs of sociopathic tendencies. Perhaps Dexter wants to change the pattern and raise Harrison in a loving, supportive environment.

Starting Over?

“I guess it’s fitting that I end up where I’ve left so many others.”

Dexter’s floating in the Atlantic affords him some time to think: according to this quote, this watery grave is where he belongs because he has killed outside of the Code (Camila, notably as well as Oscar Prado). In a way, that makes Dexter  his own victim. The fact that Dexter is preparing for death affords him a rebirth when he is saved by the immigrant tugboat (fittingly named the Milagro, which means “miracle” in Spanish). This sets the stage for Dexter’s disappearance/”death” in the series finale before he disappears to Lumberjack Land. Dexter can only wonder “if the world will be a better place without me.”

“God is looking out for you.”

While there is no change in attitude (for he still believes he does good in killing bad people), there is a change in mindset. He thinks of “the life I’ll miss: Harrison.” Once he’s afforded another chance, Dexter takes out the rogue human trafficker on the ship as he attempts to rob the passengers, threatening to kill them if they can’t cough up some dough. He reaffirms his position in this world by taking the man out, much like he took out Jorge Castillo. He takes control and brings the ship in close to the Miami shore. He saves innocents, just as he saved the people of Miami Metro in the Wormwood attack.

“Maybe there is a place for me in this world . . . just as I am.”

Dexter questions whether he could really start over; given the fact that he lost his keys, wallet, and phone, it’s like he does not even exist. In expecting death, and being afforded a second chance at life, he kills Travis to ensure that his son will not be in danger any longer. The fact is that there are too many dead bodies and too many hurt feelings to start over; his relationships are solidified, just as the deaths he has caused are.

The Season (Book) of Revelations

“Oh, God.”

This season provided quite a bit of revelations; not only was Travis Marshall enacting the Book of Revelations, but we learned quite a bit about the players in Dexter’s world.

Dexter and his serial-killing colleagues are not the only ones to use people: Deputy Chief Thomas Matthews put Deb into the Lieutenant’s position to get back at Maria LaGuerta, who then used Deb to get Matthews fired; Louis Greene used his position in Miami Metro to get an inside-look at a homicide division to improve the video game he was developing; Quinn reports alcoholism in order to prevent the transfer that Batista put in for him. And finally Travis uses God as an excuse to kill (contrary to his claim that God is using him as a “chosen one” to bring about the end of the world).

The truth is we all have our own Dark Passengers, and they manifest themselves in different ways. Whereas we are used to Dexter’s, seeing Travis in his clothes, in his kitchen, and eating Cheerios is meant to draw attention to Dexter’s own truth. He’s a monster in his own home; he just knows how to blend in well. Masuka’s disgusting taste makes him just as likely to be a serial killer as Dexter is.

Debra reveals the truth about her complicated relationship with her brother; however, therapy has played varying roles in the lives of the Morgan family. Deb is not too proud to admit that she needs help and that she is “broken,” whereas Harry and Dexter took a more proud and private approach to therapy. They seemed to suffer silently, but Dexter’s need to confide in their victims just before they die is a mini therapy session in itself, and Harry (as we will learn in season eight) goes to Dr. Vogel for a twisted version of therapy himself.

The Closet of Serial Killing

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s ground-breaking queer theory text, Epistemology of the Closet, discusses how the process of “outing oneself” drags the confider into the closet. Our season six finale fits into this pattern for now it is not only Dexter keeping his secret, Deb must do so now as well.

As Martha Stout contends, “since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless” (qtd. in Reisch xi). Being as close to Dexter as she is, it is once again plausible that she was able to overlook this truth for so long.  In fact, the people who he holds closest to him are damaged, according to Muir:

“The dramatis personae who orbit Dexter are all psychologically damaged to one degree or another. Dexter recognizes this most clearly in Rita . . . but Deb is seen to be damaged too. She is so lonely and has such low self-esteem that she ends up constantly pursuing the wrong man. This almost gets her killed. She’s the walking-wounded, perhaps because she feels Harry always preferred Dex.” (12)

I have already argued that Dexter’s loved ones vouch for Dexter’s character and provide him with the perfect mask for who he truly is, just like Arthur Mitchell (Trinity). He has brought others inside of his closet before (Harry, Jeremy Downs, Lila Tournay/West, Miguel Prado, Lumen Pierce, and Jonah Mitchell as well as each of his victims) and upon Deb’s recent induction into this club, we are left to wonder what will happen to her, since all who have known have died, with the exception of Lumen. Camila has always known, but Dexter did not enlighten her, so she has been a secret roommate of Dexter’s closet for some time.

Debster

“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“You do?”
“Of course I do.”
“I don’t think you’ve ever said it before.”

Debra asserts that Dexter  has never said the actual words, but it is likely that he has said it to Rita, given the fact that they were married and had a child together. His disguise would be completely thrown off by a lack of professing love; even Rita is too strong to tolerate that kind of B.S.

Deb’s need to tell Dexter that she is in love with him forces Dexter to admit that he is a serial killer, but not on his own terms. All of this time she wanted him to let her in, but when she steps into his kill room, she realizes that perhaps there was a very good reason why Dexter never divulged any of his personal life to her.

“Is this just . . . horribly wrong?”

Deb’s love for Dexter somehow does not pale in comparison to Dexter’s deep, dark secret. Perhaps we are willing to accept a murderer more readily than we are willing to accept one woman’s incestuous love for her FOSTER brother. Now who’s the f****d up one? Perhaps all of the information Deb gave about her sex life, Deb being tomboyish, was a way to become like a brother to Dexter, someone who he could get closer to. All of these attempts, while bordering on Deb’s darker truth, were earnest stabs at trying to be accepted and loved. Is Harry to blame for this, too?

“It makes my whole life . . . every man I’ve ever loved — make sense. It’s like I’ve always been looking for someone like Dexter or someone who’s the opposite of Dexter as a way to avoid the fact that I’m in love with him. That’s just clear to me now. And I want it to be clear to him.”

Michelle Ross wants Deb to realize that she can control her own emotions, but she should not except to control Dexter’s reaction to  her;  however, we will see Deb go on to try to control Dexter and his urges next season, just the way Harry did. We know how Deb’s love interests have resembled Harry and Dexter; she’s even got as close as being engaged to his blood brother. Whereas the world seems to be pushing Dexter along in his mission, everything that happens seems to be a set-back to Deb and her career as well as her love life.

Loose Ends

The first time I watched Dexter, my friend Billy and I were discussing how the topic of Harrison’s abduction never came up again. What I failed to see was that nobody except for the nun at the pageant knew that Harrison had been abducted, which makes sense why it was never picked up again. I just have to say that the fact that Harrison so willingly went with Travis, even after he took off the lion mask, is alarming. We know that Dexter hands Harrison off to a lot of different people and nannies, but the fact that he hasn’t taught Harrison stranger-danger is a problem.

What doesn’t make sense is the plot point of Louis Greene drawing love and life lines on the palm of the Ice-Truck Killer prosthetic that he bought off an online auction and sending it to Dexter after he bashed his video game and “inspired” Louis Greene to continue on in the field of forensics. The way he leers at Dexter should make us uncomfortable; given his computer skills, it is likely that Louis can find out just as much about Dexter as Dexter finds out about his victims. Travis Marshall intercepts this package at the apartment, however, and it is unclear what actually happens to it.

If Dexter received the package, Dexter would basically be chasing his tail. It wasn’t enough that Brian had to reappear to him, and for Travis Marshall’s kills to appear to take pages out of “Brother Brian’s playbook,” but for a hand to show up at his door? Who knows what kind of havoc this would cause? How would Dexter track down the sender? To me, it seems like the writers abandoned this, for they knew it would complicate and interfere Dexter’s new-found closeness with Deb in season seven.

Dexter: A Comedy

Deb: “I’ll never get used to that.” (The stench of dead bodies.)
Masuka: “Ah, the sweet sell of hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and methane all liquefying into a frothy treat.”

Masuka: “In other words (switches to Yoda voice), Finish training you must. Save you it will, Luke.”

Jamie’s exasperation at Dexter leaving out a knife on the counter (which is actually Travis Marshall’s as he’s hiding). It seems like Dexter does this on the regular.

Overview

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: 9
Xtremity:  10
DEX-Factor: 9.33

Works Cited

Muir, John Kenneth. “The Killing Joke.” Dexter and Philosophy. Ed.  Richard Greene, George A. Reisch, and Rachel Robinson-Greene.  Vol. 58. Chicago: Open Court, 2011. 3-13. Print. Popular Culture  and Philosophy.

Reisch, George A. “Know Thyself?” Dexter and Philosophy. Ed.  Richard Greene, George A. Reisch, and Rachel Robinson-Greene.  Vol. 58. Chicago: Open Court, 2011. xi-xiv. Print. Popular Culture  and Philosophy.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Epistemology of the Closet. Los Angeles: U of  California P, 1990. Print.

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