Dexter is an American crime drama mystery television series that aired on Showtime from October 1, 2006, to September 22, 2013. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a forensic technician specializing in bloodstain pattern analysis for the fictional Miami Metro Police Department, who leads a secret parallel life as a vigilante serial killer, hunting down murderers who have slipped through the cracks of the justice system.
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Places The Writers Went Wrong:
5. Ending The Ice Truck Killer Story The Ice Truck Killer/Brian Moser storyline in Season 1 remains one of my favourite parts of the entire overarching Dexter storyline. It went on to inform major decisions for Dexter himself, as well as helping to flesh out Dexter's own backstory. The first season's storyline is lifted directly from the first novel, with a big difference being that in the book, LaGuerta is killed off and ITK escapes. In the series, we know Dexter kills his brother Brian knowing that the code cannot allow him to go free. It was a riveting finale to the first season and lets us know that whilst Dexter is capable of having deep connections, he will always put the code first. That all said, killing off ITK was a big mistake. If they had gone the route of the novel (though LaGuerta didn't have to die) they could have kept the ever present threat of Brian looming over Dexter for a while longer, and this could have helped in the latter half of Dexter's run Seasons 5-8) when the writers clearly began to run out of ideas. Bringing back Brian Moser has been done in the books to great success. He works as the devil on Dexter's shoulder, trying to make him forget the code and just give in to his instincts. This would have been great to see post-Season 4. With Rita gone and Dexter's mask slipping, this would have brought in some great tension to the series as well as showing Dexter dealing with the death of Rita in a manner we'd expect from him, rather than having him just jump into bed with Julia Stiles. Having him return for the final season as the 'big bad' would have been a great move too. A nice way to call back to the original season whilst bringing a genuine threat to Dexter and the life he has built for himself.
4. Repeating Storylines Dexter Morgan Once Rita died in the Season 4 finale, we all wondered how Dexter would cope, and if he would find someone else to use as cover. It was well established that whilst Dexter thought he had some kind of feelings for Rita, she was definitely there to help his 'mask'. She was little more than a piece of scenery in the façade that is Dexter's cover life. Season 5 introduced us to Lumen (Julia Stiles) who Dexter helps in murdering some pretty nasty guys. The introduction of Lumen was the first sign things where heading south for two reasons the first was that the teaming up aspect and letting other people know his secret had been done in Season 3 with Miguel Prado, and the second indication was that giving Dexter a 'partner' that he could reveal all to was subsequently repeated again in Season 7 and 8. So that's four counts of Dexter revealing his secret to someone. Miguel Prado, Lumen, Hannah McKay and Zach Hamilton. The idea of whether Dexter can truly be happy or feel emotion is another well-worn trope for the show. In the beginning it was genuinely interesting watching Dexter struggle with his emotions and over time the show itself, through Dexter's actions have shown to us that yes indeed, he can feel emotion and he is capable of loving another human being. We've seen this with Harrison, with Rita, with Hannah McKay and with Deb. So why can't Dexter figure this out? There have been so many instances (particularly in Season 8) of Dexter's inner monologue contradicting what we as an audience already know. Why the writer's feel the need to continuously drag this up is baffling. The concept of a psychopath being able to love another would have made great television, if they'd have actually ran with it from the first time instead of dragging the audience through the same repeated monologues again and again.
3. Too Much Focus On Sub-Plots We Don't Care About For me, one of the biggest problems with Season 8 (I'll go into more depth on the entire season later) was a massive lack of urgency and focusing too much on sub-plots. This has been commented on a lot and it's one of the biggest reasons for me that the final season hasn't worked. In an effort to try and flesh out some of the supporting characters the writer's devoted a fair chunk of the final season to them. The biggest offender in this was the Masuka storyline involving a long-lost daughter. Some of the exchanges between the two have induced outright face-palmage. Some of the dialogue has been awful, and whilst Masuka was always there for comic relief, it always worked in the bigger context of the scene around it. The scenes we've had this season often seem disjointed and felt like they were put in because the writer didn't feel that they had developed the character enough. Whilst it's great they're doing that, it's too late in the shows run for us as an audience to care about it. Especially when there's much more important things to be focusing on. Another major annoyance in this department came from Season 7, where entire chunks of episodes were devoted to Quinn being offered payoffs to turn a blind eye to dodgy dealings in a Russian gangster-owned strip club. He got involved with one of the dancers, perhaps a little more than he should. It wasn't a terrible storyline it worked okay in the context of the rest of the Season but it had absolutely no conclusion to it. It just didn't get wrapped up the stripper decided to go away and Quinn got on with his life. So what was the point in all of it? To show Quinn isn't as much of a dirty cop as we think? To show he is capable of banging a stripper? This whole storyline was completely bonkers and even led to a shoot out from which Quinn was investigated by Internal Affairs. Again, nothing came of this, and that's awful storytelling. If they're going to force us to watch a sub-plot like this, at least give us some closure. I couldn't finish this section without one statement. Dexter, stop letting people off your table! I mean seriously. Does he not learn? He let Hannah McKay go and she tried to kill Deb, among other things. Sure, things worked out well for them further down the line, but still, a lot of problems could have been fixed if he had just killed her. He did the same thing with Zach, with the exact same results. The biggest 'what the actual F*CK' moment' for me was when he didn't kill Oliver Saxon at the end of Season 8's 'Monkey In a Box,' an act which resulted in my shouting at the television for the first time. It baffled me that the writers had pulled the same thing yet again. How could they pull the same inner monologue realistation repeat that we've heard a million times, and have Dexter let the biggest threat to himself and his family go? It's just terrible writing. What makes some of these sub-plots even worse (let's take the Masuka/Daughter storyline, and the rather strange Quinn promotion elements) is that there was zero pay-off by the end of the final episode. Nothing came of Quinn wanting to be promoted and then dealing with Batista yanking it away from him. Nothing came of Masuka's daughter showing up out of nowhere. Seriously, what was the point in either of those storylines? It proves to me that the writers had no idea what to do with Quinn from the beginning. He was always just a red herring.
2. NO CONSEQUENCES TO DEXTER'S ACTIONS Over the course of the entire show's history we've seen Dexter narrowly escape capture or death multiple times. At the beginning these situations were tense and anything could have happened. However, after about the tenth repeated time, I got bored of it. It ties back in to the point about the writer's repeating themselves but with this particular issue it's much more annoying for an audience. We need to know there's consequences to the actions of Dexter, and whilst Deb does eventually die as a consequence of Dexter's selfish actions, it all felt too late in the story and too badly played out for us to care. There have been countless times where Dexter's selfishness and inability to work with others have caused problems the death of Rita was a prime example. If he hadn't been so focused on getting Trinity, he wouldn't have ended up getting Rita killed. If he had paid attention to what was happening, his wife would still be alive. Now Dexter obviously didn't learn his lessons and as a result his sister, who arguably means more to him, is now dead. However, this latter incident was diluted by so many fake-outs by the writers. The fact that Dexter makes it out of Miami alive at the end of the entire series just goes to show that you can literally get away with murder. Dexter has done awful things, not just in a moral way (killing people is bad, don't you know?) but to the people who care about him, yet nothing bad has happened to him in return. To have him just escape at the end by faking his own death was an insult to what the series built in the first season and particularly the second. When there are no consequences to any actions, it's hard for an audience to invest, and this is something Dexter has struggled with for a few seasons. Dexter lives. Hannah escapes to Argentina. Deb is dead because of Dexter's direct actions yet there is no justice. Therefore there is no closure. Deb's death was completely pointless in the wider context of the story. Season 5 onwards showed us that the writer's where running on fumes. The laziness of the writing proved this, and that brings me on to my final point in this article. The final season.
1. The Entire Final Season Clusterf*ck? That's one way to describe Dexter's final season. The writers had a golden opportunity after the end of Season 7. They had the chance to craft a story about a serial killer on the run for his crimes, someone paying the price for a horrible life. They could have given everything that came before it real consequence. Instead, what we got was about 9 episodes of absolutely nothing that couldn't have been done halfway through the series run. Certainly, the content we got was not worthy of a final season. Dexter has never been a show that has taken many risks and the cracks with this philosophy began to show through almost immediately in Season 8. The story that played out in Season 8 begged to be more dramatic. If the writers were truly brave, they would have had Deb's drunken confession actually play out and we'd have begun to witness Dexter behind bars, or on trial, or on the run. Instead what we got for the majority of the season was a re-tread of past storylines, twists that you could see coming a mile off and terrible decisions by the writers that completely take you out of the show. This is all in conjunction with some of the worst directing and dialogue ever put into a major television show. If this was not the last season, then fine, this brain surgeon storyline would have been okay. But still, there was never any real pay off to that story it was all just filler and an excuse to bring Saxon into the mix so that Deb could be killed. Honestly, one of the few positives in Season 8 was Jennifer Carpenter's portrayal of Deb. She acted her arse off all season but the character's anguish seen at the beginning of the season ended all too quickly. Michael C. Hall phoned most of his performances in but he was given no great lines of dialogue and no brilliant monologues, so who could blame him? The writing for this season has been at best okay, and at worst down right awful. Some of the lines in the last couple of episodes have made me cringe, or laugh unintentionally. The final episode was yet another nail in the coffin and a direct insult to Dexter fans. There was so many logical inconsistencies. Not to mention some utter ridiculous storytelling. For fun, let's list the worst parts of the final episode. Hannah McKay once again going out in public with no disguise. Seriously? She's a wanted women yet she strolls into an airport, then strolls onto a bus packed with people. There's also likely to be a myriad of law enforcement officials around given it's somewhat of an emergency situation because of the storm. I guess the writers didn't care enough any more to force it to make sense. Dexter strolling into the hospital, disconnecting all of Deb's life support equipment, then waltzing out with the body to his boat. So wrong on so many levels. Firstly, I'm no expert, but I'm sure the second Dexter turned that machine off it would have set off some kind of alarm, and the same goes for when he disconnects the other devices. Doctors surely get some kind of page about this? Also, no one at all noticed Dexter wheeling out his sister and then picking up her body and carrying her to his boat? I get there is a bit of a panic because of the storm, but still? One thing I did like was Dexter wearing his kill outfit when he pulled the plug, and his dumping her over the side of his boat was all greatly symbolic. Yet it portrayed Dexter in an almost child-like fashion and forgets all the growth he's had as a character. It also wasn't too subtle, but I'll give it points for at least trying. So Dexter fakes his own death? Okay, would have been cool if it then flashed forward a fair bit later and we see Dexter finally reuniting with Hannah and Harrison in Argentina. What instead we got was some daft monologue about wanting to protect his family from himself. Haven't we been over this a million times? Aren't all the people who could possibly harm Dexter gone for good? No one knows his secret, everyone in Miami thinks he's dead. Why isn't he just going back to the original plan? At least Harrison would grow up with his father. There's plenty more wrong with the episode but those are the bits that stuck with me. Being fair, there were some positives watching Batista pull his gun on Saxon was a nice touch, and Deb's final moments with Dexter hit all the right emotional notes. Also, it was great seeing Hannah get one over on Elway, though I don't think anyone actually expected her to get taken in by him. Unfortunately, there was no great conclusion to the series. Dexter is leading the life of a bearded lumberjack...somewhere. Does he still kill? Is he in America? How did he fake his death? Seriously, how? He drove into a storm. Even if he jumped out and swam, how did he survive? That storm was right on top of him, he would have drowned. I call shenanigans. The entire final season was a stark contrast to what we've seen in Breaking Bad, which shot out of the gates and is delivering something truly sensational. Now it's an unfair comparison sure, but why shouldn't Dexter's writers have been striving for the level of Breaking Bad? They had a great set up at the beginning of the season and a bevy of excellent storylines. Yet what they eventually went for was boring, contrived and down right offensive to those of us, like myself, that have stuck by this show. Do you agree with what I've written? What do you think the writers could have done differently? Let me know in the comments.