Dexter (Season 8)
(Showtime, Sundays, 9/8 Central)
Jun 30, 2013
Season 8 is set to be the last for Showtime's Dexter. Probably a good thing, too. Dexter has had some tremendous peaks during its run—the gripping first season, John Lithgow as the Trinity Killer, and the gut-punching Season 4 finale, to name a few—but it's also spent a little too much time slogging around in a mess of uninspired plots and redundant conflicts. Hopefully, this season can bring some closure to a series that desperately needs a healthy dose of finality.
It's not that Dexter has nearly worn out its provocative premise—that docile forensics expert and family man Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is secretly a deranged serial killer who manages to control his killer instinct to only target other deranged killers—nor is it that Dexter occasionally crosses over from upper-tier cable shock-drama into daytime-soap corny, but the show has stretched suspension of disbelief to risky new distances. Miami's bizarre serial serial-killer problem, for instance. Yet, while the show has been grinding down on some of its most overused tropes and themes, we're just barely getting under the superficial layers on some of its most interesting characters.
For example; Dexter's foul-mouthed sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) has been his constant connection to humanity throughout the show's first seven seasons. But aside from a repetitive arch of hooking her up with the wrong guy, she's disappointingly lacked depth. Until Season 8, when she's finally in a crisis that drives a wedge between her and Dexter—who, of course, finally understands something his sister is going through.
Hopefully, the final season of Dexter answers the questions the series has been avoiding over the last few years. Are Dexter's homicidal tendencies the result of nurture or nature? Did his father harness the power of a homicidal maniac, or did he create one? The welcome inclusion of this season's guest star Charlotte Rampling as Evelyn Vogel—a psychologist who specializes in psychopathic behavior—could finally lead to a thorough exploration of Dexter's real psyche. That seems promising, but promising characters don't always get to live up to their full potential, and it's more often than not that guest stars end up on Dexter's cut table.
The biggest question looming as the series finale of Dexter approaches concerns his fate. By all rational moral arguments, Dexter should be caught and put on trial. Yet we want him to get away with it. Michael C. Hall's consistently subtle and engaging performance over the series should be applauded for keeping us invested in and pleasantly surprised by this complicated psycho killer. We can only hope that this final season will do justice to such a compelling character. (www.sho.com/sho/dexter/home)
Author rating: 6/10
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