Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dexter - Revisited

In 2009 I posted my review about Showtime's dramatic series Dexter after it had run through a few seasons. I think it is high time that I added an update now that it's begun season seven.

First of all, I never expected the show to get through four seasons, let alone seven. It just seemed to me that the premise of a forensic blood-splatter analyst who moonlights as a serial killer would run out of good plot options sometime within the first few years. Some might argue that I was right about that.

Season Two
This season is by far my favorite. Dexter faces an awful lot of danger with having his underwater graveyard discovered, a big-shot FBI special agent on his case (who also starts dating his sister Debra.), his girlfriend Rita insisting that he goes to AA because she believes he's a heroin junkie, and his AA sponsor Lila turns out to be a complete psychopath. All this, and he has the pleasure of constantly being followed by his nemesis Sgt. Doakes.

The season was wonderfully crafted and very believable. I very much enjoyed it.

Season Three.

I've heard a lot of folks complain that Season Three is where Dexter started going downhill. I have to disagree with that, simply because it did seem like a natural evolution for the character.

In this season Dexter finds out that Rita's pregnant, which is enough to scare the bejeezus out of a normal guy, let alone a serial killer. Since we already know that Dexter has a soft spot for children, it's perfectly understandable why he'd have reservations about being a father himself...and be afraid that he might do more damage as a daddy than anything else. He also faces the obstacle of trying to figure out how to execute a perfectly believable marriage proposal when he's seriously lacking in the emotional department.

The season also touches on something that has been a common theme ct for Dexter... the loneliness in him when it comes to his big secret. This year a very popular district attorney catches on to his darker activities and wants to turn serial murder into a buddy activity. Unfortunately, his new friend plays a little loose with Dexter's sense of right and wrong.

I won't say that I loved the season, but I understood why it was a necessary part of the character's development and nothing really seemed forced or out of the realm of possibility.

Season Four... now here is where I start raising my eyebrow a little.

Dexter and Rita now have baby Harrison and they've settled down into the typical American Dream... and Dexter is getting a little frazzled with trying to balance that with his favorite nocturnal activities.

Enter the Trinity Killer, who has the honor of being one of the most successful serial killers in the country with a spotless 30-year record. Dexter sees him not so much as a rival but rather a role model. You see, Trinity is also a respectable family man and pillar of the community. Hilarity ensues and Rita winds up being collateral damage.

The biggest problem I had with this season is how sloppy the Trinity Killer really was, which made it hard for me to buy the idea that he'd been successful in evading capture for 30-odd years. And since we've had it pounded into our heads over the past three seasons about how important a killer's ritual is, it seemed completely unbelievable that Trinity would stray from his long-established one just to piss Dexter off.

However, it did open a door for a very scary situation for Dexter to be in for the next season.

Season Five.

So now Dexter is a widower and Rita's parents have conveniently taken her two older children away and left him to raise baby Harrison by himself. Sounds logical, right? Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Things spiral further down the rabbit hole of improbability as Dexter's latest murder is witnessed by Lumen, a woman held in captivity. Unsure what to do about having a surprise (but completely innocent) witness, Dexter eventually wins her trust and they pair up to hunt down the remaining members of a rape-and-murder club. Did I mention that the leader of this charming little gang is a very popular television self-help guru?

For once, Dexter teaming up with someone else for his recreational murder did not end badly... and the season ends with what I can only refer to as shark-jumping.

Season Six. Dexter Dabbles in Religion.

I think at this point the writers have begun to struggle with what other aspects of humanity could Dexter struggle with, and so set their sights on religion. Probably not the best thing they could have done in the first place, but then it goes way over the top. It turns out that this season's big bad black hat is a religious nut.

So Dexter begins to hop between seeing the light and embracing the darkness for a few episodes, then tries to turn the other cheek and help a killer see the error of his ways while turning a blind eye to the truth of the matter. Typical results when you add too much faith to anything.

On the plus side, Debra finally stumbles into Dexter's playground and witnesses him commit premeditated murder. This really should have happened in Season Five when there was a beautiful chance for the show to change course there.

Season Seven. Enter the Godfather.

First of all, I'll agree that this was an apology for the lackluster of the previous season. Much of this has everything to do with the addition of ruthless gangster Isaak Sirko and pretty poisoner Hannah McKay. Dexter has both a nemesis that presents a challenge and a love interest who is perfectly matched for him.

Actually, there are quite a few interesting bad guys wrecking havoc in Miami this season, so Dexter is pretty busy juggling everything.

The season also focuses a lot on Deb's struggle to accept her brother for who he really is, which does take an unexpected turn a the end.

Season Eight. Final Season

This season started off very well with the introduction of Dr. Vogel, who helped Harry Morgan develop the code for Dexter's up-bringing and who has a murderous son of her own to deal with. Things continue to look up for Dexter when Hanna McKay comes back into his life and Deb finally decides she can live with her brother being a serial killer. Life is good...

Well, for a while anyway. Dr. Vogel is too sentimental, Hanna's a hunted fugitive, and Deb is about as stable as a champagne flute on a bucking bronco.

I really loved how there was an "anything can happen" feel to the whole season right up until the last episode... and then they choose the worst possible option for an ending.

Dexter fans, I'm sad to report that you will probably be really disappointed with this one.

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