Warning: this post is spoilerific from the outset!
So that’s Dexter over for another year – though arguably to many people’s surprise not for good. Having had 24 hours to digest the series finale I thought I would jot down a few of my feelings about it.
On the positive side the acting delivered by all the central characters was, as always, superb with stand-out guest roles from Julia Stiles (Lumen) and Johnny Lee Miller (Jordan Chase). I really enjoyed the relationship with Lumen and was surprised how successfuly they managed to evoke empathy without creating either a martyr or villain of her. Several of the episodes were extremely tense (though nothing has yet managed to rival the Doakes showdown in series two) and on the whole the Barrel Girls plot line was entertaining – if not as elegant or gothically beautiful as The Ice Truck Killer or Trinity.
On the other hand I can’t help wondering where Dexter – as a character and a series – has left to go. Between Rudy, Rita, Lila, Miguel and now Lumen I feel like we have explored the gamut of credible relationships for Dexter. Other than some sort of Lila / Lumen hybrid Natural Born Killers scenario (which would feel like a huge retread) then I think it’s safe to say that Dexter is on his own now. The end of this season was incredibly downbeat (far more so than Rita’s death for me) and sort of dumped Dexter right back where he started – disconected, bewildered and completely alone. Where do you take a character like that other than further down? Part of Dexter’s stregnth has always been it’s delicate tightrope between light and dark – murder scenes scored with salsa music – but increasingly the character is travelling a road where humour feels unwelcome.
The one thing that I expected to happen in this series that didn’t was for Dexter to begin to drop the code and go a bit wild and trigger-happy after Rita’s death – it seemed to hint at this in the first episode too when he beat up the guy in the gas station bathroom. I was expecting to have his character pushed in a more chaotic and unsustainable direction to force the inevitable end – be that Deb catching him in the act, a boat-ride into the sunset or some grizlier demise.
I couldn’t help feeling let down that Deb didn’t whip back that plastic sheeting instead of hitting the great plot reset button and leaving. Deb is now really the only character left that Dexter has any meaningful relationship with – the kids are more like plot props than characters the viewers actually care about – it surely has to be her that either brings him in or set’s him free in the end..
Obviously Showtime have a massive cash cow on their hands and although the plot has been feeling the strain since series 3 the show is more popular now than it’s ever been. I can’t help being concerned that they will continue to eak it out until Michael C Hall decides to throw the towel in.
Dexter’s bad is still better than most show’s brilliant and it would have to get far, far worse before I would even consider not watching it. However, like a great meal no matter how good it tastes I will get full up eventually.