Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dexter Slowly Becomes Unhinged in Character and Quality

This past Saturday evening I finished the sixth (most recent) season of Dexter on with my friends.  I remember reading about Dexter back in early 2006 when the show was announced.  I remember thinking the premise of the show was brilliant, and casting Michael C. Hall was a great choice.  The show had a slow start ratings wise, but drew in a cult following, and with strong word of mouth has become one of Showtimes highest rated series ever!  As my friends and I watch the entire season together (in only two sittings) two things became apparent to me, and to some of my friends. 1) Dexter has started to become sloppy and has become less precise in his work 2) the show's quality has followed the same pattern as Dexter.

Personally speaking Dexter has taken me on more of roller coaster ride throughout all six seasons.  I thought season one started a path.  Season one had the ice truck killer, and there was this back story to understanding who Dexter was.  Season one ended strong and created an incredibly interesting second season (the best season of the show-in my opinion), where Dexter was forced to question himself, his code, and his deceased father.  This season was about Dexter confronting his own past and not a "big bad" throughout the whole season.  With a strong build up at the end up of season two, the third season of this took some dips in quality, but it was also fun to watch Jimmy Smits unhinged and crazy.  Season four was incredibly strong, the "big bad" was the best the show has ever seen, I never knew John Lithgow could be so scary outside of telling teenagers they could not dance.  Then there is the twist at the end of the fourth season which is a jaw dropper.  The show hit its peak and of course there were high expectations after but season five and six took a big plunge in quality.  Season five focused on Dexter as a father, and connecting with Lumen through her traumatic experience.  As season five came to a close Dexter's emotions started to make him much sloppier, and this continued throughout the season six where faith became the central story.

Season six started to focus on Dexter understanding why people believe in God, and how religion and faith influence their life.  Dexter has never had faith, and while bringing his son Harrison to a pre-school in Miami a nun asks him "What do you believe in?" Dexter believes in avenging the deaths of people.  This sounds noble, but Dexter is a bit of a sociopath, and his double life as a blood spatter expert for Miami Metro by day, and a killer by night, causes him to remain robotic.  This most recent season involving religion and the role it plays with the context of this show makes perfect sense.  Even though Dexter has never seemed to care about anything, having a son has changed his character.

The show has moved forward, and I like that the show has not kept Dexter one note.  The problem with this season was the fact that the one character who made Dexter question his faith left mid season.  Mos Def played Brother Sam, and his role was one that created a disturbance in Dexter's life.  Brother Sam was meant to be one of Dexter's victims because at one point he was a criminal who got away with a crime.  Dexter changed his mind as he got to know Brother Sam, and found out that this man's faith helped him to change his dark ways.  Mos Def was the best part of this season and his character provided interesting context the help develop Dexter's character.  The other problem with with this season was the episode "Nebraska" where Dexter finds out some interesting information about the Trinity Killer's (Season 4 big bad) family.  Dexter shucks his responsibility to his sister, and listens to the Ice Truck Killer from the first season and heads on a road trip to Nebraska.  The episode was out of place, and was the worst the show has ever produced.  Season 6 did have a few high points of course, the killers this season were interesting, and the last five minutes of the season were jaw dropping.

While don't mistake the fact that I will still watch season seven this show has started to rely on gimmicks, and tells fans to hold out for the last episode where they around to get a shocking surprise.  I remember an interview where michael C. Hall talked about the this last season being the last.  Now Showtime has a huge hit on their hand and they like basic cable networks just are not saying no like they used to.  The network has the same problem with Weeds, the show that lost its oomph many seasons ago.  As much as I would hate to say goodbye to the team from Miami Metro Dexter has appeared to overstay his welcome and this upcoming season should be the shows last.  With season six's big reveal at the end there is no reason the writers should not be able to reign in this show, and end on more of a high note.

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