If last week's Dexter was more of a standalone episode, this week's throws us right back into the season-long arc, inducing squirms and gasps in equal measure.
Dexter's decided to go to the baptism Brother Sam invited him to after all, even though the idea of religious faith goes right over his head. It's too bad that they don't have time to have a discussion, because it might've come in handy when Dex is called out to deal with the "wicked rodeo" we saw at the end of last week's episode. New guy Mike (Billy Brown) quickly points out to the Metro team that it has something to do with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. You can practically see the lightbulb clicking on.
Mike's theory starts to slot things into place for our heroes, who set off looking for the now-named "Doomsday Killer." Deb questions how successful she'll be at catching anyone when she's being told to give a press conference and finish her post-shooting therapy. The press conference doesn't go all that well, particularly with LaGuerta still meddling, but Matthews doesn't seem bothered, so it's no harm, no foul. Of course, he might not be so supportive once the shine wears off.
Harrison suffers a ruptured appendix, needing immediate surgery and understandably startling Dexter. Though the little guy pulls through just fine, the situation causes Dexter to reconsider whether or not he believes in a higher power, particularly when Sam shows up to support him and we learn more about Sam's background. Mos Def has done a really great job so far this season; we want to be suspicious of Sam but there's something in his nature that also makes us want to trust him. He may turn out to be Dexter's biggest ally this season, and I can't say that I'd have a problem with that.
Travis (Colin Hanks) gets a date this week, and it's incredibly unsettling to see Gellar (Edward James Olmos) watching him bed her. It's one of those moments where while I understand why it exists, it's something I would have preferred not to see. I'm convinced this season of Dexter may ruin many of my good memories of Battlestar Galactica.
In the comic relief department, Masuka finds out that pretty blonde intern Ryan has been busy swiping evidence and putting it up for online auction, so he fires her. Meanwhile, upon discovering a joint in Batista's new Trans Am, he and Quinn spend part of the episode high. I have a feeling that was supposed to be funnier than I actually found it.
Yet Dexter, while it has its funny moments, isn't really funny like some drama series can be (such as Justified). It makes its bones on startling the audience, which it does in its final moments as we find out the waitress who slept with Travis has been strung up in a greenhouse. When one of the uniformed officers trips a wire, the poor girl's jugular gets punctured as she's spread out to look like an angel in a swarm of locusts. It's truly squirm-inducing, and we're even left with something to think on as in the resulting chaos, Dex gets his first look at Travis.
There's still a lot of work to be done, as we're only about a third of the way through season six of Dexter. Yet we're getting to that point where all the disparate pieces are coming together. In terms of how uncomfortable the show is to watch, season six might rival season four at this rate - but I'm not so sure that it's going to end up being as great as season four, or even season five. My stomach is turning but I'm not necessarily scared of Travis and Gellar the way I was of the Trinity Killer or Jordan Chase. We'll have to see how the arc develops to rate where they fall on the scale of Big Bads.
While I like the character development we're getting for Deb this season, I also hope it's not all the development we get. LaGuerta is pretty much one-note right now, not that she's missed much. I'm really not sure what the writers have in store for Quinn, who's spent the last two episodes reverting to the immaturity he showed when he was introduced. As I've said previously, I'm a fan of the character and even moreso of Desmond Harrington, so I hope that season six doesn't undo the progress he made in season five - and even if he never reunites with Deb, that's no reason he can't find some sort of growth on his own. Unfortunately, I'm sure that it's going to get worse before it gets better.
There's only one way to find out. Now that Dexter and company are pointed in the right direction, we should really see some sparks fly and some twists develop. I'm looking forward to seeing where things go, because when Dexter is great - and it often is - there's nothing else like it on television.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.