Dexter Review: The Lowest Form of Storytelling

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Don't worry, Masuka, I braced myself for awful before Dexter aired tonight.

And, boy, did "Get Gellar" deliver just that, finally revealing the most obvious "shocker" in all of television: Professor Gellar is dead and Travis has been acting alone this entire time. The show has been airing scenes on a weekly basis that only took place inside Travis' warped mind.

A New Victim

I will try to be as succinct and as calm about this as possible, but this is simply storytelling at its worst and at its laziest. It's one thing to build toward a surprising reveal that is well-paced and nearly impossible to predict. Take The Sixth Sense, for instance, a clear model for this Dexter storyline.

At no point in that movie are we watching a character who does not exist. We are not purposely being misled by the writers, just so they can come back later and try to pull an "a-ha!" moment that changes the game. It's an intelligent movie, one with an engrossing plot that would have held up even Bruce Willis' character was NOT proven to be dead the whole time (ummm... spoiler alert?). The conclusion was not needed to make the movie; it was just needed to make the movie into the epic tale it has become. But the audience was never duped. Everything was witnessed was really happening. That is how one writes a true surprise. This, conversely, is the perfect example of a desperate, cheap imitation.

Let's forget the fact that Gellar's non-existence was more predictable than the Deputy Chief being the John in the room with last week's overdosed prostitute. Instead, let's just focus on how boring and uneventful the season has been, and how that's obviously been due to the fact that the writers were just waiting to play this pathetic ace in the manipulative hole.

Unlike The Sixth Sense, this season has been about nothing but this surprise. It's been a build-up to a development that everyone saw coming and one that makes it clear the producers are out of ideas.

You are entitled to disagree. If you found this to be a legitimately shocking moment, if you have no problem knowing you watched countless scenes with a character who wasn't actually there and if you don't agree this is writing at its absolute laziest... then I envy you. You will enjoy the rest of the season.

I, however, will be stuck wondering what happened to one of my favorite shows on television. But, hey, at least we have that enthralling Batista/Quinn feud to look forward to next week! Wasn't it hilarious when that stripper turned out to be an old, ugly mother?!? Hmmm... or did she? Perhaps Quinn was still drunk and that woman doesn't really exist...

What did you think of Dexter's big reveal?


Editor Rating: 1.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (282 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


@Dexterfan224 When you watch as much movies and tv shows as the rest of us here, you tend to be on the lookout for whatever kind of twists so noticing that Gellar is a figment of Travis' imagination comes much easier to all of us who are trying to foresee all the twists and turns the show can bring us. Because I'm not in your shoes, I'm still finding it REALLY HARD for anyone to not notice this type of obvious twist. But then again, I might never know how being a casual viewer would feel like. I'm a TV-Fanatic...


Rudy made it for Dexter to remind him of their Mother in the first season. Does anyone remember this? I really thought that Dex was going to lose it when he had blood all over him like he did as a child..wish they would have shown him come a bit undone there.. ALso liked the twist with the hand at the interns house.. I have had a weird feeling that something bad is going to happen to Batista's sister for a while now. Really want to see what happens with this intern guy. Could he be a killer? Did NOT see the Gellar twist coming..very reminisent of "Fight Club" if you ask me..


@Watch&Tell Excellent point! Now that you mention it, seeing how Dexter is going to deal with this is what I'm looking forward to most.


Hey Matt,I'm surprised that you are so angry and disappointed about this "revelation". The way I see it,the shocker is not for the viewers at all. I could also see where the story was headed weeks ago, and I was not surprised when the last scene was shown. But isn't the point to finally build the season climax and see how Dexter will react when he found out the truth? The surprise was for Dexter, and not for you.


@Jordana, How were these "clues"? Honestly, before I started catching up with reviews online, I actually believed the season was ABOUT Travis' schizophrenia and Dexter being unaware of it. When I started reading the reviews, I saw that people actually believed this was only "speculation". But it was not speculation. There weren't little hints or clues... it was ridiculously obvious. I I feel pity for the writers. It is very sad and even pathetic that they think they were fooling anyone with this storyline. If you watch Homeland right after Dexter, you know there DEFINITELY is a way to fool your audience, but the Dexter writers failed at it. The episode's ending was made to feel like an epic twist, but it would have been just as suspenseful to end the show with the big reveal that Dexter is a serial killer. What? Everyone already knows that? Are you sure? Because maybe that's still speculation in some viewers' minds.


One person's lazy writing is another's surpise. I did not see this coming, mostly because EJO's wooden acting method gives that much away in every character he plays. (Facebook post-joke: Olmos'acting method summed up in Walking Dead's season finale "Pretty Much Dead Already.") OTOH, I knew that Bruce Willis was (spoiler alert) *dead* in the dreadful "Sixth Sense" before the opening credits had stopped rolling.
I was insufferable then (suffering numerous gouges to the ribs to keep me from spilling THE OBVIOUS). You get to be insufferable now.
Besides, I am far more interested in Deb waking up to who Dexter is than this DDK nonsense. The Nebraska ep was the low point, IMO.


Writing Problems: Dexter getting sloppy with his killings. Killing in public Ex. Murder at the ocean. How did he get rid of the body? This is the most recent example but more sloppiness has resided. Walking around with Travis at the college and not be seen on a video camera. Did Travis pull the fire alarm to stop the elevator? Gellar watching Travis have sex with the whore of Babylon. Travis never acknowledged Gellar so how would we know he was imagining him, which is unfair writing. Dexter getting a blow job from a stranger, remember he said sex seemed undignified. The ice truck killers hand, for some strange reason one of the interns stole it and then the other intern purchased it off the internet, are their fetishes linked in some way? These are just some of the problems I'm starting to have with Dexter. Oh yeah and Quinn, get over it! I have been a Dexter fan since season 1 but please I plead to the writers don't make Dexter someone who is invisible and cant get caught by the police. Allow him to be witty and out smart the detectives so it's believable. The more sloppiness in his killings the less this show will appeal to the viewers, guaranteed!!


Funny. We've been a few weeks behind on episodes, just catching up last night. So I haven't followed any recaps or speculation online. As a result, I genuinely had no idea that Gellar was not a real person. Honest. The only odd feeling I got was when Dexter and Hanks finally went back to the church and there were some odd shots where Dexter had his back turned to Hanks' character but you couldn't quite make out what he was doing. In hindsight, it could have been predictable, but I certainly didn't do so (although I did think it was very odd that none of those people in the nightclub recognized a serial killer whose face was plastered on the front page of the paper right outside...). And I don't mind that I watched all those imaginary scenes. Funny that the Sixth Sense was brought up as a comparison, which I thought of as well watching the last episode. But unlike Matt, apparently, I knew Bruce Willis' character was dead all along. I haven't seen many Shalaman movies, and I am aware of, but not familiar with his trademark twists. I thought it was pretty damn clear that the guy got shot in the stomach and died. Every interaction (or lack thereof) confirmed the fact that the movie was about a dead guy who didn't know he was dead (and not a dead guy that the audience didn't know was dead). Anyway, I think I will enjoy the rest of the season, TYVM.


Just because one can predict the ending doesn't make it poor storytelling. Anyone who spends enough time thinking about the plot and reading the boards would predict this ending. It also helps that we have precedents like the 6th sense or the Fight club. I agree with Scott. The average viewer watching the show casually might not necessarily predict the ending. It doesn't make them "dumb". It just means they have better things to do with their time than obsess over a show. A good storyteller will leave enough clues for the viewer to figure things out if they pay enough attention. I thought the script was well played and I liked the fact that the actors were not told about the conclusion (although they may have figured it out too...). I've watched murder mysteries where the viewers know the killer, and the suspense lies in wandering when the protagonist will find out. I don't see the big deal. I'm still enjoying Dexter. Plus I'm sure most people didn't expect to see the "hand" in the apartment. By the way, I predicted this review. Saw it coming from a mile.


Mur - Am I the only person shocked by the Computer wiz turning out to own a human hand? Anyone?" - Thank you!! I wondered if anyone else had ANYTHING else to say about this episode besides the I-knew or I-didn't-know the Gellar thing. Personally, I saw it coming, but thought it was done pretty well - obviously, or there wouldn't be such a debate about it. A couple of thoughts: First - I agree that this is NOT the best "review" I've ever read. But I can understand how Matt may have just been reacting to his obvious disappointment in that plot point. Sometimes one idea can just make you obsess - I've done it myself on a college paper, so I get this, but I think there are a LOT of things in this episode that haven't even been mentioned, like... How AWESOME was that Carrie-esqe blood-bath scene? Even though you felt it coming, it was still shocking and gruesome! And was it just me, or did Dex look just a bit giddy as well as shocked? As usual, MCH's performace is subtle and nuanced, and just brilliant. Plus, he looks AMAZING! Then there was Deb, who I felt really had the penultimate moments in this epi. First, it was her complete vulnerability in the therapists' office after the blood-bath, THEN she finally stood up to Laguerta! HUGE character advancements, in my book. There were a couple of bad spots (again, besides the Travis/Gellar thing) - like what the hell is going on with Quinn already?? He had that moment a couple of episodes ago, and it's like that just never happened. And now he's lashing out at his partner and just being an ass... enough of him already! Maybe he should transfer to another division... I truly thought the shocker of the show was the last scene when we see that Louis has the ITK hand in his house! I knew he was sort of a Dex-o-phile, but that was a nice touch. If anything, I think he's going to discover Dexter's secret. Plus - how cool was that apartment? Aside from all the collectibles, that is... Long-winded, but my two cents...

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