Posting for the third time in a week? What can I say, I just felt like it.
Over the past couple of days I’ve re-watched season 4 of Dexter, really just too confirm to myself that Dexter did use to be a really good show, that John Lithgow was great as the Trinity killer and that Dexter was a complex, satisfying character to follow.
To be fair, I think there always were problems with Dexter, but nothing that couldn’t have been solved by cutting maybe 10, 15 minutes off of each episode. I always felt there was definitely some fat that could be trimmed so that we stick with the core issues, which were seeing Dexter try to incorporate a normal life around his ‘Dark Passenger’. Seeing him juggle a wife and kids and all the questions that come up during his time tracking Arthur Mitchell was some great stuff.
When he finds out that Trinity has a family is a great moment, as is all the ensuing questions he asks himself about his purpose, if he can truly ever be normal. Also, the bit where the police take Trinity’s family away to question them and Dexter imagines his own family in that same situation one day, that’s the sort of stuff that made Dexter stand out, as well as all the times that Rita begs him to open up but he can’t, because essentially there’s nothing there inside of him, which when you really think about is incredibly creepy, him just faking normal human emotions, even though there are hints here and there that there’s something more to him.
For me they made a big mistake cutting Rita out of the show – it was that whole conundrum of how to juggle everything that made it special. She should have been there until the very end of the show – granted how she went out was one big moment of high drama, but how it looked like it was going to end would’ve been satisfying as well.
Dexter didn’t need 8 seasons, maybe even just one more would’ve done after Trinity, but with Rita gone, there was a large part of what anchors Dexter, what humanizes him, gone too. It’s just not as dramatic. Now I can’t remember a whole lot from season 5 but just from a story point of view with no mum around, it becomes far easier to palm the kids off to someone conveniently when he needs to do anything and if I remember correctly, he gets a babysitter right? It’s not the same tension is it? Not when before it was a loving wife who has put so much into their relationship and marriage and has taught Dexter a lot about what ‘normal’ responsibilities look like (despite some fans calling her too whiny.)
She should’ve been around for the big reveal that he was a killer, a much more well earned dramatic high point than having her death as a big ‘oh my god’ moment at the end of a season.
That in itself raises the question of just the hell would you end the series if Rita had found out – it doesn’t exactly lend itself to any kind of nice resolution, but hey, at the end of the day we’re still dealing with a serial killer here. I would’ve loved to have seen that fall out.
So yeah, Dexter, it probably falls short of shows like Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and The Wire, but not everything has to be the best thing ever. Dexter for me was always most interesting simply to see how the whole hiding in plain site thing would pan out and if he’d ever learn to leave the ‘dark passenger’ behind.
It’s just a shame about Rita.
As always, a song