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Dexter and the "Home Stretch"

this blogpost is a reply to a comment made on how Dexter now, in S7, has too many plotlines

There's not really that many plotlines. There's four major ones;
* Dexter and his sister
* Serbian Mafia + Police Department
* Dexter + Louis
* Laguerta + The Bay Harbor Butcher.
...though all of them have wriggle room where they put in side-characters, Dexter's morality issues and so on. All these plotlines are probably going to move forward and get intertwined, complicating Dexter's life more and more as we head toward the season finale and the final season.

Me? I see these two episodes as a huge improvement on the piece of shit that was season 5, not to mention the clusterfuck that was last season. It seems like we're finally rid of "main villain being a "through a glass darkly"-version of Dexter" (i.e. the family man + killer, the imagined mentor + killer) and going into a different way of telling the story. There's no main bad guy for Dexter this season. The bad guy is starting to become Dexter himself. And if things go the way I think they will, Dexter's going to have to become that bad guy to save everyone this time - including himself. But he's going to have to choose it. And afterward, he'll be done with this stuff. I'm thinking a "one more for the road"-type of thing.

Instead of main villain this season, the writer's are starting to tell a really serialized story, weaving characters and plotlines together and apart, some at the center of this thing, some out in the fringes of the tale. I find this type of storytelling really interesting and when it's done well over the course of a season, it can lead to great results as there isn't one central villain or conflict that's being led up to - the conflicts come each week instead, albeit smaller ones that pile up on each other rather than one big. It worked very well for Grimm in season one, particularly toward the end, and it'll probably work even better for Dexter; he can't be in all places at once, something that, eventually, is going to break him. He can't deal with Debra, his dark passenger, LaGuerta, Louis and the Serbian Mafia all by himself. He needs help now. He can't see it yet, but the odds are stacked against him, not by one huge enemy but by a lot of smaller ones.

The issue last season was that we all saw that twist coming. The show really failed to make something interesting out of it, in addition. The last two seasons have been very stale, almost like a waiting room. Now we're getting to the meat of it; we're being shuffled out of the waiting room and into the Doctor's office, where shit goes down, secrets are revealed and things must be dealt with.

The show and the writers have been teasing the final season 6 reveal for so long that we, as an audience, were just hanging around to see if they were going through with it, if they actually were diving head in this season. Now that they have, things can get interesting, although I still think they failed massively by having Dexter meet the Preacher and thinking he could've gotten better. The way this should've gone (and hindsight's 20/20, but still) is this; Debra should've known the truth sometime during season 5. That would've added a lot more stakes and made that whole season much more interesting. Then, when they restored a normality at the end of season 5, Debra would've known about it and started to see Dexter as the complicated figure he is; killer, father, brother, lover (to Rita). We wouldn't have had this "falling in love with Dexter"-plotline, they would've respected each other instead, and Debra's experiences in season 5, not to mention Dexter's situation at the time, having just lost Rita, would've grounded their new relationship, as a team, as two siblings who trusted and knew all of each other's secrets, much better. Then, in season 6, we could've had the religion-plotline, adding Brother Sam to the mix and getting Dexter on to the idea of quitting. He could pitch it to Debra, who would almost immediately have jumped on it (she still would've thought it wrong and disturbing, of course) and we could've had an interesting story about religion, about faith and normality, about healing and recovery, about change. This change would've meant that both Debra and Dexter were more involved in the same parts of the Travis-killer-thing, which would've opened Debra's eyes to how fucked-up Dexter could become, further fueling her devotion to making him "go clean". This way we would've had much more conflict and much less secrets - secrets on shows are great, but only till a certain point; they have to come out and be in play to be thoroughly interesting. Just take a look at Castle, who had a stale and tired case-of-the-week-season in its fourth year, but exploded into greatness (or at least "more interesting-ness") during its last episodes, where all the secrets the characters had kept from each other came out of the dark.

If the Dexter-writers had done this, they could've had their cake and eat it too - all the same characters, the same plots, the same reveals and the same story, just a little skewed so that it all would've come together. Season 6 could've even ended the same way, with Dexter giving in to his "dark passenger" after Brother Sam's death, with Debra rushing to stop him, but just not making it. Cue the opening of Season 7, which would be different, but not that much. The Serbian Mafia could've then sent someone to kill the guy Dexter killed at the airport, before commencing "operation clean-up" which seems to be what they're doing. If not, Dexter could figure out where Mafia Guy was going, rushing after to kill him but being stopped by Debra, who would then call it in. He'd be taken alive or dead, perhaps killed by Debra even, and Ray Stevenson (head of Serbian Mafia) would've held a grudge towards her during this season, further complicating matters.

It's not the pieces that's wrong in Dexter - it's the way they were assembled. Here's hoping that by changing the structure this season, they're able to assemble the pieces a little differently this time. Think of it not as having too many plot-threads, but that it's entering the home-stretch now and this is the way to do that; not with "one villain vs. Dexter + complications" story, but with more plotlines, more things for the characters to do, more things that will, after a while into this season, come together. Hopefully.


final note: I think a lot of these problems came from the executives. I don't have any specific information, but I think they probably weren't allowed to let Debra know about Dexter until they knew where to end it and, as its numbers were steady on the rise until season 5/6, that time had now come. This is, however, pure speculation from my end.

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Reader Comments (2)

Interesting read indeed. I skipped season 5-6 due to little interesting content ( yes, I did the mistake of reading a spoiler (did I, now?)) and a lot of blabber. In my opinion the two really badass seasons are season 1 and 4, the Ice Truck Killer case being totally mindfuckblowingly awesome and I found the Trinity Killer to be one sick fuck absolutely deserving the attention he got in the show. Season 7 has so far proven solid and interesting (in the creepy way) and looks very promising to me. Now I'll have be kept in suspense until Sunday "fill in profanity here", before Ukranian hell breaks loose

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJosef Yo

Well, not much happened in the two last seasons; at least not anything that's very important now. Totally agree with you regarding season 1 and 4. Am a little wary of season 7 yet, but it currently looks like it's shaping up nicely.

Thanks for reading and commentkng! Very appreciated. :)

October 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterWatchingPreacher

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