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'Dexter' Recap: 'Ricochet Rabbit' Sets Up Explosive Season 6 Stretch Run

by Alex Moaba, posted Dec 4th 2011 10:10PM
Last week's 'Dexter' twist revealed that Professor Gellar, who we thought was the mastermind of the Doomsday Killer's apocalyptic murder spree, was actually a frozen figment of his disciple Travis' demented imagination. 'Ricochet Rabbit' re-focused our attention on Travis, who emerged as a a fully-formed 'Dexter' villain, a worthy adversary for Miami Metro's own Bay Harbor Butcher.

Travis can no longer be seen as a confused, kind-hearted kid who fell under the influence of a deranged cult-leader -- he's a dangerous, deluded psychopath who's just as evil and crazy as we thought Gellar was. He spent much of this episode in the midst of a full-blown psychotic hallucination, talking to Gellar like he had blocked out killing him three years ago. We also learned he was diagnosed psychotic at an early age and probably murdered his parents. It's now clear just how how warped Travis' brain has been all along, and how good a job Colin Hanks has done of portraying what it can look like when a crazy person latches onto a violent religious ideology.

Like Travis, Dexter was also spinning out of control in this episode. After being initially fooled into believing that Travis would work with him to get Gellar, Dexter entered full-on vendetta mode. Obsessed with taking out Travis himself, he held out on his colleagues while tracking him by boat, tampered with evidence by moving Gellar's frozen corpse out of his church lair, and declined to share his hunch that Holly Benson was Travis' likely next victim.

But when he reached Benson's boyfriend's yacht, named Ricochet Rabbit, it was too late to stop her murder. Dexter found her dead body hanging off the ship's anchor, and impulsively stabbed Travis' new recruit. It's times like this when you wonder if Dexter could have saved this lady's life if he shared more of his personal intel with his colleagues. Probably not, but let's admit that as 'Dexter' fans, we're probably past asking that question. When Dexter's on a mission to stop a serial killer, he's prone to irresponsible decision-making that can leave collateral damage in its wake. But we keep rooting for Dexter because, as viewers, we also lust after the thrill-of-the-chase, suspense and violent justice that the show can deliver in its most climactic moments. Cataloging collateral damage and scoring our anti-hero's moral decision-making can be a fun past-time, but often misses the point when it comes to enjoying 'Dexter' for the morally ambiguous thrill-ride that it is.

Still though, watching Dexter deal with his unique moral dilemmas remains an important aspect of the show, as his moments of doubt and struggle help us relate to him in a crucial way. One of the strongest scenes of this episode was when Dexter paced the deck of the yacht, fuming that he had arrived to the too late to save Holly Benson's life, and had to admit to himself that he wouldn't be able to finish this mission on his own. After a heated discussion with his dad Harry (or his conscience, or hallucination, however you want to look at it) Dexter made the right choice and called 911 to tip the police to the boat's location and Travis' plans for the Wormwood attack. Dexter may often veer close to going off the rails, but Harry's code and his own common sense are always there to reel him in before he does anything that would jeopardize the audience's ability to root for him.

But back to Travis' latest act of bible-inspired violence, which he's calling Wormwood. According to Wikipedia, Wormwood is referenced in In the Book of Revelations in the following passage:

"And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon a third of the rivers, and upon the springs of water; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and a third of the waters became Bitter; and many people had died of the waters, because they were made bitter."

In the hands of Travis' delusional ideology, that becomes the basis for not just a grotesque murder, but a plot to use chemical gas (made from isopropyl alcohol and methylphosphonyl difluoride) to attack the Miami Metro Homicide Unit. The poison gas could could kill dozens of people, and heightens the dramatic tension of the final few episodes of the season to a fever pitch, as Dexter and the cops track DDK, not knowing that he's planning his next attack on them.

The potential Wormwood attack also moves Travis' killing spree from the realm of serial killers to something that more closely resembles terrorism, and raises the stakes of the show's season-long effort to grapple with religion and the dangers of religious extremism. In the hands of sociopath who thinks he's talking to god, history has shown that religion can be perverted to justify the very worst impulses human nature has to offer.

Let's also talk about Louis Greene, Masuka's prodigy intern who's dating Batista's sister and making a homicide-themed video game that features murder police and serial killers as its characters. After we saw that Louis creepily kept the severed-hand evidence from the Ice Truck Killer case, speculating about what he may be hiding has become the next big mystery 'Dexter' fans are theorizing about.

Is he the Ice Truck Killer's son and Dexter's nephew, as CliqueClack TV posited? While it's wise to consider the possibility, it's also worth remembering that Louis has done a lot of great algorithmic detective work to help the cops track down Gellar, and seems, severed-hand-hoarding aside, to be a pretty decent guy. Maybe he's not the Ice Truck Killer and Deb's secret lovechild who studied computer science at the University of Tallahassee, where he fell under Gellar's influence. Maybe he isn't trying to get close to Dexter and Harrison so he can exact revenge against him. I think it's more likely that Louis is a serial killer enthusiast used his statistical analysis to isolate Dexter Morgan as the true identity of the Bay Harbor Butcher.

Louis' video game is beginning to serve an interesting metaphor for the show itself. When he told Dexter about the game and the "vicarious thrill" that he wanted it to capture, it seemed to be written with a wink-and-a-nod at the audience, a reference to the effect we get from watching this suspenseful, action-packed series where cops and a serial killer/forensic expert chase down a new batch of evil serial killers every season. 'Dexter' does at times feel like a video game, doesn't it?

Now let's move on to the gossip from Miami Metro Homicide Unit portion of the recap. Poor Sergeant Batista, who got knocked out and taken prisoner by Travis because Quinn was too hung over to show up for work. Quinn may be the drunkest cop I've seen on TV since McNulty bottomed out in Season Two of the 'The Wire.' Of course, McNulty had redeeming qualities, like being an excellent detective. Quinn is pretty much just a drunk idiot.

Deb's therapy sessions have her in a great state of mind, even after she had a panic attack in Travis' abandoned church. She's taken steps towards being able toward being less impulsive, and accepting Dexter's chronic secrecy and aloofness. She also let La Guerta's mind-games roll off her back after putting her foot down and re-investigating the case of the dead hooker. Of course, she later learned that Deputy Matthews was involved with her death, and will soon be faced with a choice about whether to sacrifice her integrity for the sake of her career. It'll be interesting to see how she chooses to play it.

What did you think of this episode of 'Dexter'? Leave your thoughts and theories in the comments.

You can contact Alex directly on Twitter.

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I definitely think Holly could've been saved if Dexter shared some intelligence, even by anonymous tip but, like you said, that’s Dexter and we’re all used to it. I really loved this episode but almost missed it. Thankfully, I work for DISH so I knew I would be able to setup a recording at the last minute through DISH Online. I use DISH Online to watch a bunch of shows On Demand all the time so am very familiar with it. Oh, and Lewis, you might be right; Deb seems to always be closer than she thinks.

December 05 2011 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"'Dexter' Recap: 'Ricochet Rabbit' Sets Up Explosive Season 6 Stretch Run"

Really? Explosive? More like a thud.

Colin Hanks can hardly play a psychotic killer if his life depended on it. He's as scary as a wet tissue.

This season has been worse than last season, and I hated last season. The clever writing of past seasons is gone, and I suspect that it is due to the departure of one of the show's Producers last year (before the show jumped the shark with the Lumen/Julia Stiles character)

Disappointing back-to-back seasons.

December 05 2011 at 5:13 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Lewis Metts

Dexter mentioned that he was going to hide Gellar's hand in the morgue for potential later use. Watch for Louis to play into this. And Deb revealing in therapy that she used to curl up on her brother's bedroom floor when he didn't know it coupled with her freak out in the church...she knows something that she doesn't know.

December 04 2011 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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