Dexter may never be my favorite execution of a television series, especially as of late. But it’s the heart of Dexter I’ve always been attracted to, where I could find redeeming qualities for the killer and the show. Season 8 has been sloppy and disjointed; the season of the mobsters has questioned my faith in the series as each character becomes less and less familiar; rather than acting like the characters I’ve grown to love they have become shells of once better beings.
I hardly recognize Dexter any more. The once moral menace has rapidly become lost in lust of the bloody and carnal kinds. Dexter’s dark passenger was once his guide; he only killed when necessary and he followed a strict set of rules. Now his victims are convenient plot devices: dumb, sloppy killers with ludicrous excuses for their barbarity. What’s more, his love interest—also a plot device—lacks any redeeming qualities. She is there to be the next sympathetic passenger; like every season, Dexter wants to trust someone. Ultimately his empathy runs dry and even Hannah will meet Dexter’s knife, at least I hope.
Unfortunately, Hannah is not the only candidate in this season, so even Deb or LaGuerta might end their lives on Dexter’s slab. Dexter’s moral compass is unraveling in a not even remotely interesting way. He’s lost touch: up until “Argentina” Dexter has been mostly without a family. With Rita gone, the kids have landed in their grandparents lap with not so much as a mention in Dexter’s day-to-day life. To my thinking, Dexter was most interesting when he had children relying on him and a family to come home to. It seems as though the lack of the family unit has sent him down a spiraling, self-destructive path. He’s too free to do what he wants, and now not even Deb can keep him under wraps. He’s gone too far down the rabbit hole. My only fear is that their reintroduction will lead to their danger. I can’t handle any more death for Dexter’s family. I just can’t.
Perhaps what has made Dexter so interesting as a series was not just the moral dilemma of the protagonist being a vigilante serial killer with a code, or even the serial killer who genuinely cares for his family? Dexter has always been a show about secrets, even in this season: Dexter as killer, Hannah having stabbed a woman to death, Deb’s romantic love for her brother, Isaak’s sexuality, LaGuerta’s search for the real Bay Harbor Butcher, and Quinn’s mix up with the mob. The secrets are rapidly becoming leaked, and each secret is deadly. Everyone wants to relieve their secret burdens and become transparent, because in actuality most of them would be safer if they could simply be honest. But they’re all in far too deep. It was Isaak and Deb’s admissions that brought Dexter back from bad-TV hell. Their vulnerability was captivating.
Deb, who has also become a shell of a once great heroine, revisited her former self by admitting her romantic love for her brother. Deb is a character of ferocity and passion. She may have a bad mouth—one that might be considered morally wrong—but she always fights for justice under the law, all the while wearing her heart on her sleeve. She is not weak, but she is emotionally fragile. She finds her strength in helping the victims of depravity, but can never keep her own life together. It was a shame that she had asked Dexter to kill Hannah McKay; her request felt terribly out of character. Family bonds are strong, but her trust in the legal system is stronger. Deb should have arrested Dexter on the spot when she first saw him kill. I haven’t believed for one second that her character would have protected Dexter. Her beliefs mean too much to her. But perhaps her romantic love for her brother has been what has kept him safe, and her reconciliation with his newfound love for Hannah will set her back on the path of justice.
As for Isaak, his admission regarding his sexuality was powerful. It is somehow refreshing to have a diverse killer, especially one who understands the danger of his own sexuality within a patriarchal society of assassins and drug smugglers. He is one of the most dangerous villains the Kashka Brotherhood can offer while also being the biggest threat to the sanctity of their own repulsive morality. How odd that a group of men should feel so threatened by consensual love yet feel no remorse for sexual slavery, addiction, and murder. This admission on Isaak’s part, in conjunction with Deb’s semi-incestuous mea culpa, and the return of his children have placed Dexter in a sort of temporary Elysium purgatory.
There are only 4 more episodes of this season to fill the remaining shells. I hope that Dexter is next.