'Dexter' Season 6 Autopsy


I have had a few days to process the season finale of Dexter, and I think I have calmed down. I am not accustomed to cliffhangers from Dexter (in fact, most TV shows have done away with season-ending cliffhangers for a variety of reasons we won't get into here). But boy, this one was a doozy. After years of speculation and anticipation, Deb has finally seen Dexter murder someone. I think the scene was brilliantly done: it was simple, it was understated, it was logical. And it took my mind off an otherwise subpar season.

I have come to expect a lot from Dexter, and I am rarely disappointed. Even weak episodes are still some of the finest hours of television programming, thanks to engrossing characters, phenomenal acting, and tight scripts. But I've got to say, season six was not the best reflection of Dexter.

The overall arc of the season - religious murders paralleled by Dexter's curiosity in the subject - was a good place to take the series. Interestingly enough, it was Brother Sam who had an impact on Dexter, not the religious rhetoric he offered. It was a good way to get Dexter thinking about religion, because The Bible just won't do it for him. I don't think Dexter was "enlightened" this season, but I do think it will be interesting to see if going to a Catholic school will give Harrison a different point of view, and how Dexter will deal with that (I have a ton of questions about how a serial killer raises a child).

It was the subplots and sub-subplots that were interesting but didn't go anywhere. The Ice Truck Killer was prominent throughout the season: the hand evidence was stolen, sold, found, lost, and mailed. It obviously will play a role in season seven; but what? Before this season began, I theorized that Travis was somehow related to Brian, the Ice Truck Killer. That didn't pan out, but maybe Lewis is the blood relation? He could just be some crazed "murder groupie" but I feel like there needs to be a deeper reason. If next season goes back to Ice Truck territory, will Brian return as the devil on Dexter's shoulder?

Then there were the one-offs that were promising, but went nowhere. I am specifically thinking of Trinity's kid, Jonah. That could have been a really intriguing loose end that was tied up in one episode. It was like a filler episode. It had nothing to do with the overlying theme (religion) or "big bad" (Travis) of the season. It came and went in a single episode. Then there was Walter Kenney, the aged serial killer. Another great storyline that came and went in a single episode. That one happened early enough in the season that it didn't feel too out of place; the pieces of the season hadn't quite settled into place.

Let's turn now to Deb, and where the show is going in season seven. First off, I am still creeped out by the whole "Deb is in love with Dex" thing. They are not blood-related, but they were raised as siblings. It is just creepy. It makes sense, but it is still creepy. How do you even introduce the concept to Harrison? "Harrison, you remember your Aunt Deb right? Well she is also your new mommy." This has to tie into Deb's discovery that Dexter is a murderer. Is it the only way she can convince herself to not arrest Dexter immediately? And what would Harry say about all this?

The "Deb knows" plot has to go one of two ways. First option is that Dexter explains that Travis kidnapped Harrison and he snapped. She would buy this excuse, but in the back of her mind, she would always have a nagging suspicion that Dexter is a far more sophisticated killer with a higher body count. After all, Dexter's "tableau" with Travis, while not as involved as Travis's tableaus, was certainly premeditated. The second option is that all the pieces fall into place for Deb and she realizes that it was Dexter, not Doakes, who was the Bay Harbor Butcher and she realizes (or Dexter spills) that he has a large kill count to his name. Then it is a matter of Dexter convincing her that he is doing a public service - and perhaps Deb has a hard time seeing him in the wrong.

Either way, this is going to be a long, painful hiatus, hopefully with a stellar light at the end, after a truly "meh" season.