“Dexter” Season 6 Review – I Think It’s Time to Let Go
Back in June, I wrote a column pleading with Showtime executives to restore “Dexter” to its high quality season four prominence, while also offering suggestions as to what could make for a killer sixth season. I asked for a finale that packed a bigger punch than the melodramatic season five finale, which focused more on personal relationships than dealing with the season’s bad guy, Jordan Chase. I asked for a villain who could hold a candle to John Lithgow’s diabolical Trinity Killer, a villain who would be a worthy competitor to Dexter’s brains and brawn.
Most importantly, I asked the Showtime execs to remember that every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end — that “Dexter” shouldn’t just be kept alive for countless seasons solely because of the revenue that the hit show brings in annually for the network. I suppose one out of three isn’t bad, considering that Showtime has decided to end “Dexter” after renewing the show for two more seasons to give the writers time to conclude their story. The problem is, after watching the season six finale on Sunday night, it’s clear that the show’s narrative direction and reason for remaining on the air actually ended two seasons ago.
The Dexter Formula
A large part of the problem with season six is that the show has been adhering to the same stale method of storytelling since the first season aired back in 2006. In every season, Dexter realizes that there is a void in his life that killing does not fill, and this coincidentally mirrors his relationship to the villain of that season.
Season three focused on his need for a friend, so Miguel Prado represented what would happen if Dexter had a friend who became aware of his dark passenger. In season four, Dexter wanted to know how he could be a father and a husband as well as a serial killer, and Trinity represented what would be required to successfully navigate all the roles in his life. The fifth season’s villain, Jordan Chase, was a motivational speaker who focused on healing the broken psyches of his followers. This happened just after a seemingly shattered Dexter felt responsible for Rita’s death in season four.
Season six kicks off with Dexter realizing that he doesn’t want to pass on his dark passenger to his son Harrison. So what should Dexter pass on to his son? The writers picked religion, so predictably, the season six bad guy just happens to be a religious nut job convinced that by staging the events of Revelations in the Bible, he will bring on the end of the world.
Okay, I get it — we as viewers aren’t smart enough to follow Dexter’s exposure to religion without the season’s villain showing us the perils of faith gone wrong. Unfortunately, Travis Marshall ended up being another villain who did not measure up to the Trinity Killer in terror or believability. What resulted were 12 episodes that dragged along, as seasoned fans waited for an uninteresting, nonthreatening villain to end up on Dexter’s table in the finale. The mid-season twist that Gellar was imaginary was actually detrimental to the season, as James Olmos’s character was far more interesting than Colin Hanks’s Travis. Putting Harrison’s life at risk in the last episode seemed like an ill-conceived last-ditch attempt to make viewers believe that this was a high stakes finale.
Just Kill Me Already…
Showtime casted Mos Def to play Brother Sam, a religious friend to Dexter who would instill him with faith that he could overcome his darkness and be better than the murderer we have grown to know and love. Brother Sam’s mid-season death seemed poorly timed considering that Dexter’s internal struggle with faith and belief seemed to end with Brother Sam’s life.
So in reality, we have a season that started with strong religious undertones but essentially amounted to nothing in regards to character development. Ironically, Brother Sam’s death seems to convince Dexter that he and his dark passenger will be inseparable until death do they part. Counterproductive, to say the least.
Then there is the horrible inconsistencies in the writing. For example, in Sunday’s finale when Dexter shows up at the crime scene where Travis has painted his likeness on a giant canvas, it just so happens that the officers on scene are waiting for Dexter to arrive before they go inside. So all of a sudden, after six seasons of the show, everyone — including Masuka — is going to wait for Dexter to first enter a crime scene which just so happens to contain evidence that would link him to Travis Marshall? Okay…I guess.
And then there was the incest. I don’t know what else can be said about the writers pushing us towards a Deb/Dexter hookup, except for the fact that they have clearly run out of ideas. During a breakthrough session with her psychiatrist, Deborah is told that the reason that she has made horribly stupid relationship decisions in her past is because she is secretly in love with her adopted non-biological brother. Since we are made to believe that Deborah and Agent Lundy would have lived happily ever after if he hadn’t been killed, this seems to be another afterthought plot line from the writers room. And, as a side note, it’s just kind of creepy. All that coupled with Deborah’s last second realization that Dexter was a killer just seemed like I was being force-fed last season’s should-have-been finale after the carrot had dangled for way too long.
According to Wikipedia, “Jumping the shark is an idiom used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery.” It is synonymous with the phrase, “The beginning of the end.”
My friends, the shark has been jumped. Although this revelation is sad, it is also freeing. I know now that “Dexter” as I knew it is over. I’ve read a lot of an opinion on the finale since it aired, and although there seems to be a rift on its level of quality, everyone is in agreement that season five and six of the series have not measured up to the quality of prior seasons. And Showtime knows this, which is why they have already signaled for the curtain call before the ratings inevitably plummet. Thank God it is almost over.
F MY L.