Channel Guide: A Column About TVI mooch Showtime off of family, friends, and strangers so it wasn’t until earlier this week that I was able to finagle my way into someone’s home to watch the Dexter finale. This is less of a personal confession and more of a warning. Yes, I will be breaking in to your house this Christmas/Hanukkah to jack cable TV from you but more importantly, if you don’t always watch Dexter finales when they originally air and still haven’t seen the shocking yet, in many ways, inevitable conclusion to season 6, then I suggest that you stop reading this right now. Though, before we address those last couple of minutes, let’s look at the season as a whole, which was the most ambitious, heavy-handed, and ultimately weirdest to date.

This year, the Dexter writing staff chucked subtlety out of the window and decided instead to pound us all over the head with their theme: religion. Baby Harrison begins attending a Catholic preschool, prompting Dexter to compare “The Code” to the precepts of Christianity. Meanwhile, criminal turned minister Brother Sam (Mos Def) befriends Dexter, introducing a light into his life that temporarily neutralizes his “Dark Passenger.” And then, of course, there’s this season’s main baddie(s), the Doomsday Killer(s)—whose deceased victims are placed into elaborate tableaus that allude to passages from the Book of Revelation. At some point Dexter, who believes that he’s justified in killing killers, was probably going to have to contemplate religion but the way that Christianity was interwoven throughout this season just felt oppressive and contrived—how fortuitous it was that Harrison should be enrolled in Catholic school right when the DDK murders start.

But maybe I’m just being nitpicky. The theme was definitely overwrought, but perhaps can be forgiven because without it, we may have never known how truly creepy Colin Hanks is. In a Shyamalanian twist, we learn that the DDK murders are being carried out by Travis Marshall (Hanks) alone. Marshall’s mentor, Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos), who we are initially led to believe is pushing Marshall to kill against his will, was dead the whole time—Gellar, like Dexter’s dad Harry, was only a subconscious projection. This role gave Hanks the opportunity to showcase his talents, I think, for the first time. Hanks begins the season timid and ends it with the kind of loony self-assuredness of a true sociopath. His transformation is so seamless that from here on out, he will no longer be known simply as Tom Hanks’ son. He’ll be Tom Hanks’ son who played that crazy guy on that season of Dexter where Deb fell in love with her brother.

Oh yeah, Deb is in love with her brother. Ugh. Yes, I understand that Dexter is adopted, so they aren’t related by blood, but still, ugh. I don’t want to get into all of the minutiae of incest—what constitutes incest, what doesn’t—but Deb’s romantic feelings for her brother are disturbing. At the same time, this development is far more shocking and compelling than the final minute of the season where Deb witnesses Dexter killing Marshall because that was always going to happen—the series has been pointing toward that moment since it began. Yeah, I gasped while watching Deb watch Dexter but who really believes that she’s going to turn in her brother? I can’t say that I’m a fan of the direction that Deb’s character has taken but I more interested to find out how her feelings for Dexter are going to play out next year than I am to see how she deals with learning that he’s a killer—though, I suppose the two things will develop concurrently.

In general, this season wasn’t horrible—Dexter dancing at his high school reunion was pretty great and Marshall’s “I see dead people” moment genuinely caught me off guard—but it wasn’t the best. My biggest gripe was that the writers tried to cover too much territory—there were callbacks to seasons 1 and 4, all the DDK and Brother Sam stuff, Quinn was spiraling out of control, interns were stealing prosthetic limbs, Deb was having wet dreams about her brother. Even though season 5 didn’t end with some exciting cliffhanger, I appreciate how focused it was in comparison to this season.

 Stray Thoughts

  • Did you notice how quickly Hanks’ character painted that extremely detailed mural? You know the one with Dexter’s perfectly rendered face right in the center of it?
  • I’ve never really cared for LaGuerta but I didn’t think that she was evil until this season.
  • I still don’t understand what was up with Louis, Masuka’s second intern. I can appreciate the mystery surrounding him and what he drew on that prosthetic, but I wish that we could have gotten just a little bit more information about him.
  • Man, there are a ton of serial killers in Miami.
For more thoughts on Television, check out the Channel Guide archive.

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