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Dexter, Season 8 — Is a Happy Ending the Endgame?

(Warning: While everything I say is speculative, the first two episodes of Season 8 may be discussed, so there are going to be spoilers for those who haven’t seen them yet.)

Some things that happened in Episode II – Every Silver Lining:

Dexter learns more of his origin story, specifically that Harry came to Dr. Vogel (with whom he may or may not have been sleeping — the dog) with his concerns about Dexter, and she came up with the framework of the code.

Vogel shows Dexter the slice of brain she says was left on her doorstep by the brain-surgeon killer, and speculates that the killer is one of her patients. She asks Dexter’s help in bringing him down and doesn’t want the police involved because her “unorthodox” methods may come to light. Then it turns out that the killer of the last victim was coerced – forced at gunpoint to kill. We learn this based on a DVD left in Vogel’s house, presumably by the person who coerced him and later killed him.

Meantime in Deb-land – She goes to a storage locker and finds the jewels. El Sapo who has been following her, grabs them and beats her up, but he doesn’t kill her. He tells her he only kills people he’s paid to kill, and leaves her writhing in pain on the floor of the locker. Bad choice. Before he has a chance to drive away, Deb somehow ambushes him in his car, grabs back her gun (conveniently left by him on the passenger seat) and kills him, leaving evidence that Dex will have to clean up.

My assessment: My nose has that twitchy feeling every time I see Dr. Vogel.

Anybody else notice that everything she’s telling Dexter about the slice-of-brains that keep landing on her doorstep could be a lie? Anybody else notice that there was no sign of anyone else’s having been at her house when the DVD was “left” on her laptop?

Vogel may or may not be the brain surgeon. She may be manipulating someone else, but whatever is going on, she’s not in danger and no one is leaving her surprise packages. If she’s lying about that, she could be lying about anything.

I still believe (as I said last week) that Matthews knows about the code. She implied that only Harry and she did, but she’s unreliable. I’m not a 100% sure she knows that Matthews knows. He could have found out at Harry’s deathbed, but I stand by the idea that Matthews brought her in because of his concerns surrounding LaGuerta’s death, and whether the code was breaking down.

Vogel is an evil-genius, and certainly more sociopathic than Dexter ever was. She’s manipulating him in every way possible. By making it seem like she’s in danger, she’s appealing to his “sense of justice” and need to kill killers and protect the innocent. She’s teasing him with more hints about Harry and his past, and when all else fails, she reaching out to him in a way that’s quasi-maternal and little creepy.

Dexter did not become a sociopath or serial killer based on his being in the shipping container. He was a disturbed kid, probably suffering from PTSD, and acting out, especially when his adoptive mother became sick. While killing animals is certainly a sign of sociopathy, not all kids who kill animals become sociopaths and most sociopaths aren’t serial killers.

Vogel may or may not have known that her diagnosis was a crock. She seems genuinely surprised that Dex has real feelings for Harry, and Deb, but that may be because she thought her handiwork was so complete in “creating” him as a non-feeling monster.

(It’s even possible,that she may have manipulated the more damaged Brian Moser, who we know grew up in an institution. She may have viewed both boys as the perfect lab rats. Let’s wait and see if there are later reveals about a Brian connection.)

So if Vogel is a sociopath, interested in finding out if her pathology can be created and harnessed, and Dexter was her tabla rosa, what does she want now?

I’m not sure, but I think I have a guess about the writers’ endgame.

We want Dexter to get away with it. We like him. This does not make us monsters. After all Dexter only kills bad people (most of the time), and it’s just a silly television show, usually a dark comedy. Nevertheless, we would all feel better about Dexter getting away – or worse about his getting caught – if none of this was his fault.

What if Dexter was programmed to kill, and could be deprogrammed?

I don’t think Vogel is there to deprogram him. I don’t believe she’s going to say, “I did you a great wrong, so now let’s make it right.”

But I do think stuff will happen that will lead to his being “cured.” Deb’s being in danger will be a big part of the stuff. Yeah, we sort of went there with Brian back in season one, so I doubt it will play out the same way, but by the penultimate episode, Dex will realize Vogel meets the code, and she’ll wind up on his table, and she’ll be his final kill.

(Marion knows no one will ever pay for her opinions when she gives them away free on her blog, but you can show your appreciation by sampling one of her cheapie novellas or her novel here.)

Dexter Season 8 Premiere — Matthews Pulls the Strings

The first episode of the final season of Dexter is upon us, so I say, let’s all state our theories now. A good twist is one that most people won’t see coming, but it doesn’t come out of the blue. When it arrives, the viewer will not scratch his head and go, “Huh?” but lean back and say, “Of course.”

While some fans are certain Dexter’s decline began with Julia Stiles, it was Rita’s death that caused a tone-change. In place of the dark humor and occasional satirical jabs, we were suddenly meant to take this seriously. Dexter’s “lifestyle” had consequences. Innocent people we’d grown to care about (even if they were incredibly obtuse) were in danger. Season Five, with its his and hers matching kill outfits, quasi-religious self-help-murder-cult, and over the top misogyny, was an honest attempt to get us back where we belonged.

Then came the catastrophic Season Six and the transitional Season 7. It was in Season Six that Dexter’s internal monologues became deadly dull. Gone were the little asides that gave us a peek into his darkly dreaming mind, placing us in the backseat on a drive with Dex and Harry. No more experiencing the glitz of Miami as “Dahmerland.” Now his inner voice seemed to be providing an ongoing narration of his every waking moment. Its purpose was to tell us exactly what he was thinking because we could no longer get that from the writing or the acting, and needed to be diverted from figuring out “the truth” about the professor. Dexter was dumbed down, and we were expected to be in the dark as well. The whole season turned out to be leading up to the one big moment when Deb sees Dexter in the church.

Season 7 only existed to get us to the shipping container confrontation between Dex, Deb and LaGuerta. Anything else that happened was forgotten.

Now here we are in the home stretch. Sunday night’s final season premiere, It’s a Beautiful Day. Thankfully, the writing was tighter than it’s been for a couple of years. While picking up where they left off was necessary after the Season 4 and Season 6 finales, it limited where the story could go. Starting Season 8 six months later, was a smart choice. Deb’s leaving Continue reading Dexter Season 8 Premiere — Matthews Pulls the Strings

Dexter — Season 7, Episode 1 — Can O’ Worms

Warning: If you still haven’t seen the Dexter Season 6  finale, go hide someplace because spoilers are all over.

(Update:  This posts still gets regular visits, especially from outside the US where Dexter Season 7 may not have started. So to clarify for those for whom English is not a first language — this was written in December 2011 and is a parody NOT a review of the Season 7 premiere, any resemblance between the real  Season 7 premiere and this parody is purely coincidental.

For those of us who are watching the show, now that Season 7 is nearly done, what do you of my proposals?  There is a blonde in Dexter’s life, not Lumen, but also a killer.  LaGuerta is making a connection going back to the Ice Truck Killer.  Deb is still dealing with unresolved feelings toward Dex. Dex did figure out Louis’ role — although the series really copped out, making him out to be simple asshole and not a brilliant deductive sociopath.

I’m opening up comments again on this one, so have at it.)

What a disappointing mess, season 6 was.  They started off with a serial killer whose nickname was lifted from Thomas Harris novel, and if that wasn’t derivative enough, they moved from there to a plodding religiously-maniacal duo, whose big secret was obvious by the third episode to everyone who had ever seen The Sixth Sense, or Psycho or a dozen or so other movies.  They turned poor Quinn, into the most incompetent cop in Miami.  Remember when he was “the fucking witness whisperer,” or the only one since Doakes to see through Dexter’s facade? He might have been a little dirty, but he wasn’t stupid.

But those weren’t the worst offenses. They transformed our “neat monster” into a sloppy one, and managed to insult the intelligence of their viewers by ruining the once witty voiceovers that used to give us a glimpse into Dexter’s singular point of view.  Dahmerland, anybody? What we got in Season 6 were instant recaps for viewers who may have gotten up for a beer, or to channel surf because the pace was so slow.

And as for what they did to poor, Deb, I can only say oy vey.  Instead of picking up where Season 5 left off, with the hint that even if Deb didn’t go “behind the curtain” she was at least harboring a suspicion,  season 6 started with Deb as oblivious as ever.  And while Quinn, once upon a time, had had a photo of Dex and Lumen throwing black plastic bags off the Slice of Life, that too was never mentioned.

Instead Deb and Quinn break up. Quinn goes into an alcohol fueled bimbo-binge and Deb goes to therapy.  Therapy had possibilities.  Deb might have begun to put the pieces together, dreaming about the conversation between the ITK and Dexter that happened when she was asleep on the table, and suddenly all the clues could have crashed into her consciousness and that “Oh my God!” we heard in the season previews would have made sense.  Instead the world’s worst therapist helps her come to the realization that she is (gasp) in love with her (adopted) brother.  While the best Dexter parodies had long ago glommed onto the uncomfortable closeness of the two, it worked much better as an implied piece of Deb’s baggage.  Now, it’s just something that will have to be dealt with and can’t end well.   If we are now supposed to believe that Deb’s rationale for not turning in her brother will be that she is now too besotted by him, I will kill my television.  They’ve already worked hard enough at getting her to accept life’s gray areas, and besides adopted or biological, ick. They were raised together, in Deb’s case since birth.  It’s still Jerry Springer territory.

So the question is, assuming they fire the writers and/or pay anything to get Melissa Rosenberg back, how can they dig their way out of this mess?  Starting the season off with Quinn taking a shower and waking up a sleeping Deb in their apartment, and then having her tell him about this crazy dream she had, is one possibility, but not a good one.  Which brings me to my idea for Season 7, Episode 1 — Can o’ Worms.

No, hastily written screenplay, just a few ideas, but if Michael C. Hall or any of the rest of the team want to get in touch with me . . .

Scene I –Deb barges into an in progress therapy session to tell Dr F-wad that she is fired (because in Miami Metro lieutenants can do that) and then goes on to rant about implanting ideas into people’s heads and being a “fucking lame-brained idiot.”

The nervous patrol officer patient (Gretchen Moll sporting her Life 0n Mars blonde wig) interrupts, “Wait a second, are you telling me I don’t want to fuck my son?”

In the hallway, LaGuerta stops Deb.
LaGuerta: Congratulations again, Lt. Morgan on closing the Doomsday case.
Deb: Thanks.
LaGuerta: It was pretty lucky that Travis decided to commit suicide in the church. Reminds me of the Ice-Truck-Killer.
Deb: Huh?
LaGuerta: He also killed himself when it looked like we were closing in.
Deb: Yeah, sometimes things work out.
LaGuerta; You seem more focused, Debra. I’m glad you took our heart to heart seriously. It’s all about Miami Metro.  What’s good for the job….
Deb: (Phone rings. She answers) Yeah, I’ll be right there. Call my brother. (To LaGuerta,) Got to go.

Crime scene — there’s a homicide somehow involving a can of worms, and Miami Metro is doing their usual stellar job with that.

Fade out.  The words: “Ten Days Ago” appear on the screen. Then there’s a flashback of Deb running from the scene that ended Season 6.   Dex runs after her.  Misses.  Goes back and stages Travis’ death to look like a suicide. Voice Over about at least giving Deb this one last gift, before disappearing. Dex goes home, asks Jaime to stick around as he may be going away “for a while”. He starts packing a bag and is in the middle of saying good-bye to Harrison when he gets a phone call from Deb. “We need to talk.”  They meet at her place, the beach house.  Maybe there’s a voice over as they chat or something to speed up the action but we get dialogue, mostly a very pissed off Deb, along the lines of:

“So did you kill Doakes or was that pyro-vampira’s work? And can I assume she’s dead at least?”

“Now you’re telling me Quinn wasn’t a fucking idiot and you really did have some bromance with Trinity that got Rita killed, and you killed Trinity, leaving yet another unsolved case for Miami Metro, fuck you very much?”

“And when ex-fucking-actly did you figure out that Travis was part of Doomsday? And why the fuck didn’t you think that was worth sharing?”

“Just how many of my cases have you fucked up?”

Dex: (looking at phone): It’s Jaime. I’ve got to take it.
Deb: (Nods.)
Dex: Yeah? Okay. I’ll be there right there. (Hangs up.)
Deb: (Looks at him, worried)
Dex: I’ve got to go.  Harrison’s fine.
Deb: Then what….
Dex: I’ll explain later.

(Dexter  drives home. No voice over.  Fumbles for the key as Jaime comes to the door.)

Jaime: She just showed up, I didn’t ….
Dexter: It’s okay, I … (He enters and sees Lumen sitting on the couch)
Lumen: Hello, Dexter Morgan.

(Dexter and Lumen stare longingly at each other)

Jamie:  Uh, I uh have to go study for a class. (She leaves).

(Dexter and Lumen embrace. Dexter starts to laugh hysterically. Camera pans to Deb in her car watching.  She sees Lumen and Dex through the venetian blinds.)

Deb: (hits head against steering wheel) Fucking family reunion.

(Next morning, Harrison walking in on a sleeping naked Lumen and Dex.  Lumen offers to make everyone breakfast.  Dex gets a call from Deb, which he decides to ignore.  Lumen finds the ITK hand on top of the fridge and shows Dexter.)

Lumen: What is it?
Dex: A message for me.
Lumen: What’s it mean?
Dex: I don’t know…yet.

(Phone keeps ringing.  Dex picks up.  Deb again. It’s another murder scene, same MO, Can of Worms killer.)

Dex: I’ve got to go.  I’ll call Jaime. Can you stay until . . .
Lumen: I can stay as long as you need me.

(Dex is beaming.  Kisses her, grabs his kit and puts the hand inside, and goes to the crime scene. Later we see him in the lab looking at the lines Louis has drawn on the hand, which Dexter tells us means that whoever sent it had figured out that Dexter had used Geller’s dead hand to plant his fingerprints in the church.  Dexter doesn’t know about the hand and the auction, so he’s figuring it could be anyone who works at Miami Metro who has access to the evidence room.  He suspects Masuka and they have some awkward dialogue.)

(Yadda-yadda-yadda more crap and it’s Dex and Deb just hanging out having a beer.  Lumen is out buying interview clothes for a job or something.)

Dex: Deb, I’m glad we’re ok with this.
Deb: Now that you’ve promised not to fuck up all my major cases, we can pretend it never happened.
Dex: Like that time when you were twelve and I walked in when you were…
Deb: Yeah, just like that.

(Deb then starts being very whiny about her childhood and all the shit she has to deal with what with her brother’s being a fucking serial killer and all, and how her placing him on a pedestal really screwed up her relationships and blah-blah-blah.)

Dex: Deb, why are you telling me all this?
Deb: (Hits him on the shoulder) Even if a could find a shrink who wasn’t a fucking moron, I can’t exactly tell her my entire childhood was a lie, and Harry was ignoring me so he could take you out for ninja assassin training.

Dex: (Voiceover:) It’s a relief knowing that Deb isn’t going to turn me in, but when did she get so needy?

(Scene fades out with Deb continuing to blah-blah-blah while Dexter listens politely.)

(Yadda-yadda and Dex at Miami Metro busy suspecting each co-worker of having sent the hand, sitting in his office with imaginary Harry, trying to deduce it, doing web searches with his new browser installed by Louis, when suddenly Dexter does a face palm, followed by a voiceover in which he puts together all the clues that Louis is up to something, and says something about how he can’t believe how stupid he’s been over the last few months. Really sloppy. It must have something to do with not having sex.)

Scene: Deb and Lumen having coffee by that place on the water where Lumen and Dex used to meet.
Lumen: So are you here to make sure I’m good for your brother?
Deb: I just don’t want to see him get hurt again.  He’s told me. I know you couldn’t handle the uh you know?
Lumen: (smiling, air quotes) ‘Dark passenger.’
Deb: Fuck yeah.
Lumen:  How’s your dating life?
Deb: Huh?
Lumen: You wouldn’t believe some of the losers I’ve met. I’ve thought about it, Deb. God knows. Dexter was best thing that happened to me.  I realize now that Dex is a  …..
Deb: (sotto voce) complete fucking sociopath?
Lumen:  …. a smart, funny guy with a great job and a killer body — no pun intended.  A super dad. Neat. Organized.
Deb: (stares incredulously.)
Lumen: Everybody has baggage.  I can live with his.
Deb:  Are you planning to … join him…
Lumen: Hell no. That’s his thing.  We don’t have to share everything.  I don’t think that’s healthy. I’m going to accept it.
Deb: It’s not going to bother you that you’re home taking care of Harrison, and he’s out ….
Lumen: Doing his ‘thing.’?  His thing saved my life.  Look, Deb.  I get it.  You and Dex are close.  Really close.  I’m not here to hurt your brother.  I’m here to build a life with him, and if that means accepting all his foibles, yeah, I’m in.
Deb: You’re not going to try to change him?
Lumen: I’m not saying I wouldn’t be thrilled if he gave up his hobby.  But then maybe he wouldn’t be Dexter?
(Deb stares at her a few seconds.  Has to answer her phone. )
Deb: I gotta go. Another homicide. Looks like the Can of Worms. That makes three. My brother’s wet dream.

(More crap leading to cliffhanger ending involving Louis, maybe.)

Dexter: Richochet Rabbit — From Bad to Meh

What a dismal season it’s been! First, a Fight Club/Sixth Sense motif that anyone who wasn’t high should have seen coming by the third episode.

The sudden emergence of Travis as the sole big bad, able to persuade a fanatically religious couple to go forth and mass murder through the powers of the internets, was a continuation of a journey into the unbelievable. Travis’ “transformation” makes no sense based on the arguments we’ve seen him have with “the professor” throughout the season. Remember, his “waking up” in the hotel with the “writing on the wall”? He was startled. He didn’t leave himself chained up knowing Dexter would find him. He did it because he didn’t know what he was doing. So why does he suddenly know that the Professor is dead and that it’s all him? Why is this guy who is hardly able to speak to anyone, suddenly able to command others? It makes no more sense than anything else that’s occurred in the last 10 episodes.

The best thing about the season was Mos’ portrayal of Brother Sam. Mos’ off-beat line readings and acting chops forced Michael C. Hall to bring in his A-game. Brother Sam’s death is something from which the series hasn’t yet recovered.

The worst thing has been the dumming down of Dexter himself. In prior seasons, he’s not only been ahead of the slow-thinking Miami Metro squad, he’s been ahead of the viewers as well. This season, he was sloppy from his first kill — the double homicide of the medics. It was Buffy-like theatrics that made no sense. While two vamps dispatched in the Sunnydale cemetery would never be missed, the disappearance of an ambulance and its crew in Florida would cause some kind of investigation, if not a mass panic.

It even looked like there might be a threat or two close to home to keep Dex on his toes — Quinn still had those pictures of Lumen and Dexter throwing black plastic bags off a boat in the middle of the night, and the new detective appeared at first to be smart enough to be a threat to Dex’s extra-curricular activities. But the new recruit has hardly been seen, and Quinn has been in a drunken stupor for weeks, part of a different show, a comedy about Quinn and Batista the pot-smoking, stripper loving hound-dog cut-ups of homicide who due to the romantic tension of their bromance occasionally wind up punching each other out.

Also Louis is an idiot. That’s not completely implausible as he’s a geeky genius and those types sometimes are idiots. Even if he suspects that Dex is the Bay Harbor Butcher, which would explain his awe of the mild-mannered blood spatter expert/superdad, he also knows via the newspapers that Dexter’s wife was killed by a serial killer, and his sister held captive by one. Wouldn’t it occur to him that Dex might not think his game was the coolest thing ever?

The most interesting development is Dex’s statement that maybe Harry “made” him that way and he wasn’t a natural born serial killer. Dexter’s journey through every season has consistently involved his slow realization that he is more than Harry thought he was. Dexter of season one, would not have cared very much if all of Miami got gassed. He wouldn’t have been desperate to stop Travis as though he was some kind of superhero, and he certainly wouldn’t have called 911.

Brother Sam like him, was raised to kill, and did so, until he stopped and chose another path. Dexter thought he could save Travis. He hasn’t yet become aware that the only one he can save is himself, but that might be the writer’s end game, our hero’s recognition that not only was Harry a manipulative SOB, but that we all have to kill our fathers (symbolically) and choose our own destinies.

The problem is that the story can’t only be in service to its conclusion. The journey itself has to make sense, have some kind of internal consistency and logic. This season has been sloppy in a way that our “neat monster” would have found appalling. He, after all, has standards.