If Brother Sam was the angel in Dexter's life, Brian (Christian Camargo) does a great job of being the devil on the other shoulder. "You don't turn the other cheek, you slice it," he reminds Dex, whose world is further rocked when Debra informs him that Arthur Mitchell's wife and daughter have been killed. She thinks it's the Trinity Killer striking again, but Dexter knows better. He suspects the only surviving member of the family - son Jonah - and elects to take a road trip to Nebraska, where the Mitchells had been relocated, to handle the unfinished business.
With Brian over his shoulder, Dexter's behavior takes a turn for the more reckless. He starts ignoring Deb's phone calls, then very bluntly picks up a girl at a convenience store, has sex with her in the back room, and then swipes her gun to take a few shots while speeding down the road. He eventually finds Jonah (Brando Eaton), who reveals that after Rita's death, the Mitchells were able to connect the dots and realize that Dex wasn't Kyle Butler. Brian needles Dexter, insisting that Jonah must be the guilty party, and Dex gets ready to put Jonah on his table.
When he goes to make his move, however, he discovers that the manager of the motel at which he's been staying has stolen the gun, his knives and forensic kit from the trunk of his car. He confronts the man about the theft, and the manager makes the mistake of trying to extort money from him. Dex runs him through with a pitchfork and kills him. Brian takes that opportunity to encourage Dex yet again to abandon Harry's code and give into his Dark Passenger.
Confronted by Dexter, Jonah tells him that his mother blamed the kids for everything that happened after Arthur's death, and that drove his sister to commit suicide. When he found his sister's body, he exploded and killed his mother in a fit of rage. "I'm my father's son!" he snarls, and Dex realizes that Jonah is hoping that he kills him. But Jonah has a conscience, and so over Brian's objections and taunting, Dex lets him live, advising him to "forgive yourself." That kid is going to need a whole lot of therapy.
Meanwhile, Travis continues to dig himself a bigger hole. After his act of kindness last week, this week he tells Gellar that he's done with their scheme. Gellar menacingly tells him that "I will carry on...for the both of us." Travis makes the mistake of coming back to Gellar's lair to get closure, which only gives the older man another chance to prey on his weaker mind. At episode's end, he finds a photo of himself with the professor that he'd given back stuck behind the toaster - a warning from Gellar that it's not going to be easy for him to get away.
Debra gets undermined by LaGuerta during a presentation to department brass, and as if that wasn't enough, LaGuerta makes a comment about her failed relationship with Quinn, too. As antagonistic as LaGuerta has been at points this season, it wouldn't surprise me if something nasty befell her - it's easier to bump off a major character when that character isn't quite as liked as they once were.
And finally, the moment I've been waiting for finally arrives this week: Quinn stops being a tool. He apologies to Deb for his behavior, and she admits to him that the last good day she had was the last one they spent together. But just when you think they might get back together, she tells him they can't. It looks like the final nail in the coffin of their relationship, which is sad, but at least Quinn has finally sobered up, smartened up and hopefully can get back to being a great character.
The scene also gives Jennifer Carpenter something else to play other than Deb's work woes - she shows a lot of vulnerability in a short moment, and that's the layered Deb we know and love.
"Nebraska" is somewhat of a surreal episode due to the constant presence of Dexter's dead brother - I wouldn't have been all that surprised if Dexter had woken up at the end and the whole thing had been a dream. But it does a great job of showing the constant internal conflict that our titular hero goes through; he might look calm and collected, but there's a lot going on in his head. We see what he could be like without all the positive influences in his life, like Rita and Deb, and that's a very scary idea.
What's also unnerving is how vulnerable Dex is depending on who's whispering in his ear. We saw him start to reconsider things with the guidance of Brother Sam in a positive way, and after losing him, it didn't take too long at all for Brian to push him in the other direction. His psyche is kind of fragile after everything he's been through, and that's not what we want to think about when we're talking about a guy who's also armed and dangerous. Could it be foreshadowing for the end of the series? Will we see Dexter Morgan finally crack? That would certainly be a distinctive way to end things. But that's looking farther down the line.
We've got five more episodes left in this season of Dexter, and I'm still wondering how things are going to play out. "Nebraska" is also a reminder that season four of Dexter is still the one to beat. Season four was uncomfortable and terrifying; for me, season six has been more stomach-turning than outright scary. That's not to say it's a bad season, but I'm waiting for that one big, jolting moment to come.
What do you want out of the final five episodes?
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.