Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dexter Season Six Review

Dexter holds a special place in my heart as one of my favorite shows of all time. It has featured incredible performances by Michael C. Hall and various guest actors, incredible writing, and an extremely interesting plot. But I am sorry to say that most of that slipped away this season.

If you have not finished season six yet, and do not wish to read spoilers...now is the time to stop reading,

The conceit for season six was exceptionally intriguing: two serial killers reenact the Book of Revelations to warn of the end times. With the various apocalypse theories that have circled around this year, the idea of Bible-serving murderers appeared to be the perfect idea for this season.

Unfortunately the idea was flawed by remarkably disappointing subplots, cliche writing, and un-Dexter like moments scattered throughout the season. Let's begin with the first episode.  Let's skip past the corny dialogue, and focus on that cheerleader that 'forced' a blow-job on Dex.  Really? No resistance?  Well, I guess we're over Rita then...

It was about that time that I asked the question...where are Aster and Cody?  Season 5 ended with them allegedly coming to live with Dexter for awhile...so where are they?  This is a question that would never be addressed during the season.  In fact, and correct me if I'm wrong (and I'm sure someone will)  I cannot recall a single mention of Dexter's adopted kids in any of the twelve episodes this season.

So Dexter begins to question if religion has a place in his life, awesome!  I've always wondered what would happen if Dexter really delved into this issue.  Enter one of the best parts of the season: Brother Sam.  Mos (formerly Mos Def) gave a surprisingly impressive performance as Brother Sam, who had, I think, some of the best writing of the season....but they killed him off halfway through!

However, his death did lead to what I thought was a necessary adrenaline boost to the season: the return of Brian. His appearance after Dexter's vicious drowning of Nick kept us all theorizing for a week....only, at least in my experience, to be completely let down.

Brian probably had the most cliche dialogue of the season, starting with calling Debra 'The one who got away'. His character existed only in one episode ('Nebraska') and then vanished once Dexter overcame the darkness Brian brought with him. Meanwhile, in this episode Dexter did incredibly out of character  actions.  Number one: he hooked-up with some girl at a gas station to get a gun (Guess we're really getting over Rita now, huh?) and then shot that gun all over the place as he sped down a country road.  Number 2, and most importantly, he killed a potentially innocent (as far as murder is concerned) man without properly disposing of the body. (Not to mention, if you look at that scene, there is no way Dexter, not Brian, but Dexter could have reached behind him, grabbed the pitchfork and stabbed the man with it before he got shot...just saying). Then he just returned to Miami and, essentially, we returned to the season after a very strange break.

The big twist of the season was that Travis was the only doomsday killer, and had killed Professor Gellar before the season even began. The unfortunate part of this twist meant losing the delightful performance of Edward James Olmos for the final three episodes, but that was well-balanced with the accelerated, and captivating one Colin Hanks turned in.

But while Hanks' performance was great...I question what happened to the character at the end of the season.  What happened to the struggle between his good half and his dark half that occurred throughout the season?  When was his switch made permanent?  I assume it was when he came to terms with the fact that he actually killed Gellar, but that was never really made clear in the writing.

What was made clear, however, was that the new writers want the show's name to be changed to Debra. Anytime the show has focused on Deb for too long, it drags the series down...and this season was all about Deb. From her cliche therapy sessions to her promotion to Lieutenant to her break-up with Quinn, most of the show seemed to concentrate on her, rather than the protagonist.  And let's face it, she's had some great moments throughout the series...but Jennifer Carpenter's acting chops cannot handle carrying this show.

But, ultimately, all of this was forgivable to me. I was disappointed with what seemed like a great story idea wasted with predictable and, at times, painful writing, but the show itself was still good.

Then, with one episode remaining in the season...they introduce yet another Deb storyline.  Incest.

How can I put this mildly? Are you fucking kidding me?!  The storyline, of course, was incredibly rushed, presumably it will continue next season, but as for this one it left me wondering...why the hell is this happening?  Her 'confession' to her therapist about her love for her brother made me yell at the screen. I simply couldn't believe the idea was being taken seriously.  I thought it was going to be written-off, resolved as quickly as it popped up...but no!

And what's worse, this plotline made the season's cliffhanger, one we have been waiting six years for, not only predictable...but...almost delayed.  The moments leading up to Deb seeing Dexter kill Travis were...annoying.  No shock.  No awe. I knew what was going to happen as soon as she assigned him to clean-up that church.  And Dexter knew that...so why would he kill Travis somewhere he was also expected to be?  It just doesn't make any sense with the character we have gotten to know over the last five seasons. it ruined a pivotal moment of the series: Deb finding out who Dexter really was.  We all knew it would happen from the pilot....we just didn't know when.  And now, it will never be known as a 'jaw dropping moment'.  Instead, just a comma.

And what do they cap that off with "Oh God!"


See what they did there?

This shortly following 'I am a father, a son...and a serial killer'.  What the hell is this shit, Dexter? The writing was the one thing that never failed this show.  Even when supporting actors were...shall we say...lackluster, the writing was still crisp.  Not this year.

And yet, I am left wondering other questions:  Why didn't Dexter's syringe work on himself?   What did Travis do with the Ice Truck Hand? Why am I supposed to care about this? What's Louis going to become? How long until Angel's sister dies?

But...at least now we can theorize about next season...which, despite my complaints, couldn't have a better set-up.  We've waited a long time to ask this question:  now someone knows...so what happens now? The producers announced that the finale would begin the series 'endgame'...but with two season to go, I'm left wondering how this will be possible.

What jumps to mind is pretty clear.  Sure, Deb will be conflicted about what to do with Dexter. Not only is he the person closest to him...but now she is apparently in love with him as well. But, if the writers were to stay true to her character...she would absolutely try to turn him in.

And this leads me to a very interesting idea: Dexter on the run. No Bay, no Boat, no Harrison, no job. But perhaps that will only be the eighth season. Maybe the next twelve episodes will be Deb debating what to do.  Cause there haven't been enough 'filler episodes' over the last two seasons.

I wouldn't be surprised if Dexter manages to 'convince' her that he only killed Travis as a 'gift' to her the way he made his second kill for his father...but let's not forget that made him kill himself.  So will Dexter's true identity send Deb down the same destructive path, thus causing Dexter to really break away from the world he's set-up for himself?

Lots of speculating can be done, and there are plenty of options.  And with this shot to the arm I'll try to put my disappointment aside...but I am far from satisfied with the end of this season. The series hasn't been the same since Trinity was killed, but hopefully, all will be restored with Deb discovering who her brother really is: The Bay Harbor Butcher.