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Dexter Review of Season (6) Episode (4): A Horse of a Different Color

Updated on October 24, 2011

How is Colin Hanks doing as Travis Marshall?

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By: Time Spiral
October 24th, 2011, Tampa - **SPOILERS**

Previously, on Dexter ... In my review of Episode (3) Smokey in the Bandit, Dexter goes off on a side-mission to hunt down the Tooth Fairy. Travis and his Dark Shepherd terrorize their victim and then mutilate his body for their next display. The Brother Sam story arc was largely ignored. And Dexter drops his box!

In Dexter's 6th Season, Episode (4): A Horse of a Different Color we see a few trends. (1) Episodes with Brother Sam tend to be better than ones where his arc is downplayed. (2) The Doomsday killer(s) are pretty hard to take seriously and (3) Quinn is reverting to a near comedy-relief role. Now, let's dive into an Episode that I thought pulled some momentum back into this season.

Who's the sloppy one? And is that a painting of the bloodied dead angel, or is he painting a scene for later in the series?
Who's the sloppy one? And is that a painting of the bloodied dead angel, or is he painting a scene for later in the series?

The Dark Shepherd, also known as Professor Gellar.

Dexter is called onto the scene. Four horses, adorned with grotesque mannequins and dead-jogger amalgamations, shocks Dexter upon his arrival. The shock and awe (of a truly spectacular scene!) quickly steps aside and allows elation, and even inspiration, to creep onto Dexter's face. Dexter is learning that this new killer is wildly imaginative and it thrills him!

The team finally learns that they're dealing with a Biblical nut obsessed with the Book of Revelations. Some clever investigation work, and likely a little luck, leads them right to the wacko Professor James Gellar himself. He even comes equipped with a nut-job website and an ancient Biblical sword!

The Doomsday duo is not really working for me ...

My favorite part, and what I think could be the saving grace here, about the Travis / Professor relationship is that it is obviously being strained by Travis' apparent super-naivete. Several episodes have revealed him as a human, with very human needs and desires, with a near 100% disconnect from his murderous zealot-like tendencies. This is strange, but the strain it is causing on his relationship with Gellar is very interesting to me!

The latest killing by the Doomsday killer(s), the falling angel, is just riddled with problems. And maybe this is not a bad thing, but the chink in their armor that will allow Dexter to catch them. For instance:

  • They didn't kill the girl. They rigged a trap.
  • The killing was 100% reliant on them walking through that one entrance and then tripping one of the wires. What if that didn't happen? What if they came in the side, or spotted the wires? They'd be identified and shut down so quick.
  • Such egregious errors seem very unlikely for such methodical and meticulous killers.
  • They killed a girl who was publicly seen with Travis. She was literally with Travis the night before and now she is dead. That is a direct relationship that should be easy enough to uncover.
  • Travis was at the crime scene! WTF?

There is clearly some big Revelations-inspired plot going on here, but what is it? Does Gellar think that they are going to usher in the end of days? I mean ... Come on. What is really motivating them? Travis seems like a complete and total tool. Why is he so motivated by Gellar? I don't get it. The whole concept behind this killers is taking a little too long to make sense. But, maybe that is by design and everything will come together as they get closer to these wackos.

Deb is doing well, and Quinn is, well ... comedy relief?

Deb, surprisingly, is knocking it out of the park. Mike Anderson, her new detective is sharp, professional, and already earning brownie points. During the press conference she drops the F-bomb, cuts straight to the chase, and inadvertently increases her prestige with the DC. All of this to the chagrin of LaGuerta who is getting what is coming to her.

Quinn ... Oh, Quinn. If you've read my previous reviews, you know that I'm waiting for Quinn to pick back up on Dexter's trail. It's such an obvious plot-point. It almost makes less sense that he would give it up, especially now that he and Deb are through, than it does that he is just willing to let it go. Or, am I really being led to believe that he bought into Dexter's flimsy ploy in the last season and truly thinks he had it wrong all along?

Who knows ... What we do know is that Quinn has been shuffled to the back burner in this episode and is essentially serving as comedy relief and a stressor for Mike Anderson. But, the scene with him and Batista toking on the grass was pretty ridiculous and I got a good laugh out of it. But, I want Quinn back on Dexter's trail! But, it looks like my theory my be a bust.

Quinn - Get back on the F*in trail! But, they are a pretty good comedy relief team.
Quinn - Get back on the F*in trail! But, they are a pretty good comedy relief team.

Brother Sam and Dexter making deals with the ...

The strongest element of the Horse of a Different Color episode was the Brother Sam story arc. Mos Def (playing Brother Sam) is doing a fantastic job and his interplay with Hall (Dexter) is genuine and believable.This season is pushing Dexter into new character territory. He cares more for his son and his legacy than ever before.

Dexter's son gets appendicitis. It is a fairly common, but brutally painful condition. They rush to the hospital. Brother Sam catches wind of the incident and heads to the hospital by his own volition. Dexter is vulnerable and touched by the unexpected company. While waiting, and after hearing an extremely revealing story about Brother Sam's tortured past, Dexter makes a deal with God in his lowest moment. God happily responds and lets Dexter drink his coffee.

But did he make a deal with God? Is something or someone going to force his hand? Dexter dropped his box in the last episode and that was left completely untouched in this episode. I was a little disappointed by that, but maybe this is a representation of the chaos brought about by that event.

Dexter's elation when he first learns of the horsemen scene was mirrored while Travis stands by while his one-night stand is brutally executed.
Dexter's elation when he first learns of the horsemen scene was mirrored while Travis stands by while his one-night stand is brutally executed.

Closing thoughts on a Horse of a Different Color

As I was wrong about my Quinn theory, it appears I am also incorrect about Brother Sam. It appeared, for a while, that he was merely a wolf in sheep's clothing. But now, he appears to be positioned as a Biblical expert, one that Dexter will almost certainly call upon to help him catch the Doomsday Killer(s).

The Doomsday Killer(s) are getting sloppy and Colin Hanks (playing Travis Marshall) is utterly unimpressive in his role. I simply don't buy it. He is murdering people with ancient swords and managing his love and family life all with the same demeanor. It just feels so disingenuous. But, then again, that is pretty psychopathic. However, the interesting dynamic discovered by Dexter is that one of them is inherently sloppy and aggressive, while the other is fastidiously concerned with detail and perfection. But which is which?

My guess is that Travis is the sloppy one. But, it could go either way. I feel like this episode was stronger than last weeks and is pushing the series in a stronger direction, but next week really, strongly, needs to work on defining the Doomsday killers and why they're doing what they're doing.

Be peaceful on your way,


Closing thoughts and looking forward ...

  • CG locusts? That felt really weird.
  • So, Quinn is just lost and confused? He's really abandoning the Dexter trail?
  • Well, the hot intern arc completely fizzled as a non-issue. Oh well.
  • Is Deb getting propped up as a fall-guy? What's the deal here?
  • Is Colin Hanks doing well in his role? What do you think?
  • See you next week!


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    • SinusSister profile image


      7 years ago from Montreal

      (blush) Achoo!!! Can't wait for the next episode, where I hope something meaningful happens with that intern...

    • Time Spiral profile imageAUTHOR

      Time Spiral 

      7 years ago from Florida


      Thanks, SinusSister.

    • SinusSister profile image


      7 years ago from Montreal

      Blackwidow8 and Time Spiral, you two are warming my heart. I thought I was the only one with a critical eye on Dexter this season... This silly intern character is simply eye candy, but she's not the big problem. Moss Def is the saving grace, but he's doing all the 'heavy lifting', carrying the show!!! To amuse myself, I wrote a 2-minute Dexter tribute script on my blog, Sinus Sister. Here's a link, if you want to check it out and maybe leave a comment. NO PRESSURE.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I will most definitely be back next week. Waiting anxiously for tonight's episode to begin!

      Looking forward to your post tomorrow.

    • Time Spiral profile imageAUTHOR

      Time Spiral 

      7 years ago from Florida


      What a fine and interesting response! Thank you so much.

      Use your own discretion when leaving comments. If you genuinely feel like your theory could potentially spoil something for someone, maybe it's best you keep it to yourself, but, when people read reviews they are expecting to glean insight into the show.

      May I ask, have you read all of my reviews this season for Dexter?

      One of the challenges in writing reviews, I'm discovering, is keeping them short enough to actually be read. It is SO tempting to go off and discuss all of the nuances, but I've determined that, that is what the comment section is for. So, good job!

      You're absolutely right about Travis and Dexter being mirror images of each other. This has been apparent from the first episode, and I've written about it (which is why I asked if you read the other reviews), the difference: Dexter is the lead role, so he's had a long, long time to develop his character. Travis has not been given any legit opportunity to develop his character and at this point it is pretty unbelievable, imho.

      I love the idea that Mike Anderson could sniff out Dexter, but what if instead of joining forces with Quinn this drives yet another wedge between them? Quinn is obviously threatened by Anderson. Maybe this could be the force that draws them together? Either way, I think this is an interesting dynamic that could be expanded on.

      I will be supremely disappointed if Dexter is not punished, in some way, for his extreme sloppiness in dealing with the Tooth Fairy. What a missed opportunity for the writers ...

      Thanks for the response! Will I see you next week?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      To begin with, really nice job on your reviews and analysis of Dexter. You definitely put a lot of time and thought into them.

      I really enjoyed this week’s episode and think the story has progressed nicely since the season premiere. After the first episode I was somewhat wary about where this season would head, but the show has been getting progressively better week by week, in my opinion.

      I completely agree with your assessment that the episodes that feature Brother Sam are far more interesting than the other episodes and I think much of it is simply the chemistry between Hall and Mos. I’ve never seen Mos act before but I must say I am highly impressed.

      However, I think what makes these episodes stand out is also due to what Brother Sam’s character represents in relation to Dexter’s continual quest to figure out who his is, who he can be – and who I think Dexter really wants to be. (Until this moment I never thought of Dexter as an existential character, but I suppose he is.) Throughout the series, we see Dexter questioning … can I be this “monster” but still be a boyfriend, be a husband, be a friend, be a father? In all the previous seasons, Dexter is shown trying to fit the “monster” into a “normal” life. In the character of Brother Sam, Dexter has discovered the option of changing who he is – to discard the dark passenger – and to actually have a chance at a “normal” life.

      When he first met Brother Sam, Dexter was highly suspicious of him and asked if a man can really change. Can a man really cast off that part of himself that perpetrates evil deeds and eventually become a man of “goodness”? Right now, I think that Brother Sam is just he’s been described, a good shepherd – the face of “good” that juxtaposes with the “dark passenger” in Dexter’s life – who we’ve come to associate with Harry. Think about it … Brother Sam tells Dexter that change for the good can come IF you believe and IF you fight the evil impulses within; whereas, Harry told a young Dexter that he could NOT ever change … that he was a killer and there was nothing he could do to change that … the only recourse was embrace the killer but kill according to a certain code. And not only does Brother Sam talk the talk … it appears that he also walks the walk. And Dexter finds that intriguing, because he never considered it as an actual possibility.

      Do I think that Dexter will cast off his dark passenger? No … that would be the end of the show as we know it. But I find the Brother Sam story arc from this perspective interesting nonetheless.

      Likewise, I think Brother Sam’s version of “good” offers a direct contrast with the Doomsday killer(s) who commit horrific acts in the name of “good.” I can see where you are coming from when you say that there is something not adding up when it comes to the Doomsday killer(s). However, I do like this storyline and will be interested in seeing how far the writers go with it. I actually have an interesting (well I find it interesting LOL!) theory about Travis/Gellar but I don’t want to step on any toes. As a series long fan of LOST, theorizing and guessing is second nature to me … but I’ve seen people get extremely upset when theorizing and guessing actually turns into reality and I most definitely don’t want to anger anyone or spoil anyone’s enjoyment of the show. However, if you give me the green light, I will be more than happy to share.

      You ask “Does Gellar think that they are going to usher in the end of days?”– Actually, I don’t think this is too far from the realm of possibility. If Gellar/Travis truly believe … and I mean truly believe … that Armageddon has arrived … then yes, they could most definitely think that they are assisting – they maybe even feel bound by duty or a “higher calling” - to help it come about. Real-life killer Charlie Manson attempted to hasten an apocalyptic race war by going on a murderous crime spree in the 1970s. In the 1990’s a group called Heaven’s Gate committed mass suicide due to their belief that the world was about to end and the only way to save themselves was to kill themselves. So I think that, yes, someone can believe in an idea so strongly that they do completely irrational (at least what seems irrational to the rest of us) things. And we are dealing with some psychotic characters here LOL!

      I found the following comment interesting: “Colin Hanks (playing Travis Marshall) is utterly unimpressive in his role. I simply don't buy it. He is murdering people with ancient swords and managing his love and family life all with the same demeanor.” But I have to ask, isn’t this what Dexter has been doing all along? Managing love and family life while murdering people? I think that ol’ Travis and Dexter have an awful lot in common. But I think that Travis/Gellar upped the ante and this is what excites Dexter and why we see him in a state of awe with each successive murder by Doomsday. Dexter has been murdering people by the code Harry taught him … with cold rationality … how did Deb phrase it? “Like how you train a puppy.” The Doomsday murders have meaning attached to them … and meaning is what Dexter has been searching for this season. And I think this is why Dexter’s killing of the Tooth Fairy seemed out of place with typical Dexter killings, he attached meaning to it where, in the past, he used logic to rationalize the killings that satisfied his “dark passenger.” Like I said above, I don’t think Dexter’s going to all of a sudden find religion and stop being a serial killer. But I think he can certainly evolve into a new type of serial killer.

      I do like Colin Hanks’ character. And I loved, just loved, that he was there at the scene at the end when the locusts were flying about. I was like … is that Travis there looking around in fascination or am I imagining things? And it was him … and Dexter recognized him … and it was almost like he found his soul-mate … and perhaps that is exactly what we were seeing. Perhaps Dexter will track him down before the police do (as is typical for Dexter to do) and Dexter will question and examine and analyze Travis/Gellar much like he is doing with Brother Sam at the moment. What I wonder is if, when the time comes, will Dexter be able kill Doomsday? Or will his quite obvious admiration give him pause?

      As far as the rest of the characters … I’m loving Deb. Her character has definitely grown on me over the years and I like to see her finally coming into her own. Is she being set up for a fall? I hope not … but I don’t see things going easy for her … nothing for Deb ever comes easy. Batista and Quinn getting stoned had me cracking up this week but I hope the writers go easy on the comic relief with those two. Personally, I find more comedy in some of the things that Dexter says/thinks than in the gimmicky comedy that is sometimes given to the minor characters (with the exception of Masuka) … but that’s just me. You’ve mentioned Quinn picking up the trail to uncover Dexter … I would not be surprised to find Anderson and Quinn joining forces in this pursuit. Anderson doesn’t have the history with Dexter that most of the other characters have so a new set of eyes may just be useful to Quinn.

      Gads … I can’t believe I’ve gone on so long here! Thanks for giving me the opportunity!


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