(VIDEOS) Dissecting 'Dexter': Oh Brother, We're Going to 'Nebraska'
(VIDEOS) Dissecting 'Dexter': Oh Brother, We're Going to 'Nebraska'
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Spoilers ahead.

Back when Dexter season 6 began, the producers and writers teased that this was Dexter's year to get back to his roots; that, after a season of serious moping, the serial killer would be "getting back to basics."

At the time, we interpreted those as thematic hints -- which, in a way, they were, as the beginning of season 6 not only brought on new religious quandaries for Dexter, but also a renewed, familar verve in his killings. A verve that then got sidetracked, thanks to the cleansing wisdom and light of Brother Sam, whose death this week solidified his role as Dexter's ideal: A completely cured, all-forgiving, reformed and redeemed killer. A beacon of hope for the hopeless Dexter -- a beacon that was all-too-soon snuffed out by one of the men he was trying to save. But even then, Sam never wavered from his message, telling Dexter to let go and forgive instead of seek revenge and enact violence. And so Brother Sam walked toward the bright light, his dying wish spoken and his purpose served -- but neither as effectively with Dexter Morgan as Sam hoped.

And that's how we got to the end of Sunday's episode, which showed just how literal those writers were being when they promised a "back to basics" story: Dexter decided (or discovered?) that for him, Brother Sam's message was unattainable, and he denied Sam's dying wish by killing Nick -- effectively choosing his Dark Passenger over his Light Mentor. And that's when Brian Moser showed up, just in time to be the devil on Dexter's shoulder, now that his flesh-and-blood guiding angel had died and gone to heaven. Back to basics, indeed.

Dexter the show has always had these sort of guiding spirits as part of the character's consciousness, casting Dexter's internal debates as outward ones in order to dramatize the constant turmoil going on in Dexter's head, usually against Harry's always reasonable and restrained advice. So I was happily surprised to see Dexter's blood-brother, because it seems fitting that Brian, the Ice Truck Killer, the man who first attempted to get Dexter to embrace his Dark Passenger, the man who started it all, would become Dexter's new spirit guide as he finally, fully takes a walk on the dark side. To me, it not only makes sense, but adds a truly interesting (if completely distracting) twist to the plodding Doomsday Duo storyline.

Watch the promo for "Nebraska," and two sneak peeks of Brian in action within Dexter's subconscious:

Episode 7 Promo: "Nebraska." I think Ausiello might have been intentionally leading us astray when he said Professor Gellar wasn't a figment of Travis's imagination. The longer the season goes on, the more I become convinced that Gellar, while once real, is now just a demon in his disturbed student's mind. And that mind now wants to fight back:

Sneak Peek #1: "Brother Brian." Brian helps Dexter dispose of Nick's body -- but more importantly, dispose of any thoughts he had that he could be more light than dark. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this clip? The goofy "Look who's ba-aaack" music playing as they toss various body parts out to sea.

Even more interesting, the return of Brian, our Big Bad from season 1, arguably the best season of the series to date, precipitated this week's return (at least in spirit) of the Big Bad from fans' other favorite season, season 4's Trinity Killer.

Sneak Peek #2: "Road Trip." The Mosers may not be the only ones who have murder running in the family. Time for a road trip! Dexter, you bring the snacks! (Because you're real and Brian's not.)

While I'm personally excited about these developments, as they harken back to the golden age of Dexter, I also understand why some viewers might be bothered by or worried about Brian's return. I am too, for a couple reasons. For one, Dexter's choice of Evil over Good seemed obvious enough without Brian's specter literally waltzing in to put that choice into words. And it sets a troubling precedent: If anyone, not just Harry, can come back from the dead and play with Dexter's mind, what's to stop the writers from bringing back Doakes, or Miguel, or Lila, or Trinity, or even Rita to play Jiminy Cricket for a time?

Even more troublingly, on a show that has often been criticized for returning to status quo at the sacrifice of story, such a major turn could quickly turn into a major disappointment. I doubt I'm the only one bracing herself that, after this trip to Nebraska, Dexter will suddenly realize that Brian's path isn't the right one, and he'll vanquish his Bad Brother's spirit and all his evil ideas and return to the light of Good Brother Sam -- just in time to kill the Doomdsay Duo, put right his temporary trip to the dark side and restore Miami's peace. At least until next season.

But those are just cynical concerns -- albeit, concerns garnered from five seasons of similarly-shaped storyarcs on a show that has never had the guts enough to allow its protagonist to go full-on Big Bad himself. If the writers really want Dexter to "get back to basics," the next few episodes need to choose a path for him, whether it's Good or Evil, and stick with it, letting the cards fall in a suspenseful and compelling way. That's all I ask. But I also don't think it bodes well for those episodes that the most suspenseful and compelling developments have nothing to do with the Doomsday Killers. But enough from me. What do YOU think?

"Nebraska" airs Sunday, November 13 at 9pm on Showtime.

(Image courtesy of Showtime)