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Deeply Discussing Dexter: A Casual Conversation

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Deeply Discussing Dexter: A Casual ConversationThere are only four episodes of “Dexter” remaining and as it gets down to the wire, it’s been the topic of much discussion. Last week, I had an extended IM conversation with a good friend of mine regarding the show’s last few seasons and the result was interesting.

Suffice to say, my buddy Shaun and I don’t agree on much when it comes to the Morgan family, and so it usually makes for a lively and amusing discussion. Once the show wraps up, I’m contemplating doing a daily column here called “Dexter-a-Day” (inspired by my good friend BC who undertook a similar journey a few years ago with “Lost”), where I’d watch all 96 episodes and review them daily.

That’s where this conversation starts but definitely not where it ends. And if you’re a fan of the show, you might be interested in reading along. Please note this was a casual IM conversation and it’s definitely not intended to be anything more than that.

There are very few spoilers for the current season, and I’ve marked each line with a spoiler tag so you don’t need to skip the whole meandering thing should you be so inclined to read.

Matt: I was toying with the idea of doing “Dexter-A-Day” and watching/reviewing an episode daily. Except for weekends. Probably take those off. But it would be interesting to get through all 96 episodes and give each one an in-depth look.

Pretty much shamelessly stealing what Collins did with “Lost.”

Shaun: Of all the shows you could choose from in this world …

Plus, what if the finale is an abomination? You’ll still be able to do it?

M: Of all of the shows, this would be among the most interesting. Because it got so topsy-turvy in the middle.

S: Would you do it from the perspective of someone who has already seen the show?

M: Who the fuck would want to read ANOTHER analysis of “Breaking Bad” or “The Shield?”

Yeah from a ‘second time around’ perspective. It would be fun to look at the earlier seasons, when Dexter’s VOs were satirical, sarcastic and great. Lamenting what they would become.

But also point out some of the things that people regularly bitch about as being mainstays in the show from the very beginning.

S: Well, yes, Miami Metro has always been incompetent. You can get away with it for a couple seasons (at least Doakes was suspicious) . But 8 seasons later, and everyone is still oblivious?

Especially after Rita is killed, Harrison is kidnapped by Travis, and Dexter has been involved with Hannah, Miguel, etc.

It strains any and all plausibility .

M: That’s fine. I can let that stuff go. I’ll admit, it’s become the kind of thing where you either accept it or you don’t. That’s obviously the point where we diverged.

S: Yeah, i mean i guess that’s the problem though. You can’t have everyone on the show find out… then the show is over.

M: I go with it ’cause I still have fun . And I love the characters. But in some ways it’s become the kind of show where you have to kind of preface your enjoyment with that kind of disclaimer. And that is kind of too bad.

S: At some point, you have to accept that Dexter will stalk and murder someone in a busy airport, with cameras everywhere.

M: It’s like I said before, and I kind of think the show has done a terrible job with making it feel organic because every season is treated like a soft reset, but I always liked that the show is Dexter’s journey toward humanity.

People get hung up on things like, ‘oh a serial killer wouldn’t do that’ but that’s the point. Sure he’s dumber now, less careful. And when you look at season 1 he was a lot creepier and crazier.

I think they’ve done some great stuff in making him into a human being – but for some reason they never really build on the things Dexter learns each year. They just kind of end the season with a lesson learned and that’s the end of it.

And I think that’s too bad in some respects.

But I dig that stuff, as flawed as it is.

S: Yeah, there’s a great concept in the 2nd half of the show’s life. But miserable execution.

M: This is why “Dexter-a-Day” could be fun. Reviewing every episode from the beginning would be interesting in chronicling the show’s missteps.

…which I still say is the curtain call (Deb’s failure to look behind it) in season 5.

Deeply Discussing Dexter: A Casual Conversation

S: Do we have a timeline for the show? How many years between seasons 1 and 8?

M: ’cause I still remember watching the [season 5] finale unfold and being in such suspense. And then being like, “are you fucking kidding me!?”

In fact, I’m trying to think of something else that has ever been as narratively dishonest as that.

S: “Sons of Anarchy” season 4. The finale.

M: I think the first four seasons were a year a piece? Then 5 was right after 4 . Six months or one year between 5 and 6. And then 7 was right after 6. And I think they said six months between 7 and 8?

So 5 1/2 years?

S: Isn’t Harrison like 4 or 5 though?

M: Yeah.

But I think that was just blatant disregard for the timeline .

S: Yeah, I still wonder if there is a reason for that . If he plays a role in the last few eps.

M: He must.

S: They needed someone with expressive eyes, for the final freeze frame.

M: Hahahaha.

S: But yeah, end of s5 was the beginning of the end.

The botched Deb reveal.

The botched resolution of Stan Liddy.

And Quinn just shrugging away his suspicions of Dexter.

The orange vendor…

M: I’m a broken record at this point but S5 was actually quite good. When I re-watched, I found a lot of great stuff in there.

S: The first half bored me, from what I remember.

M: Those last two eps are just abysmal. Jordan Chase becomes a “24” villain.

S: Lumen was kind of a void.

M: Well that’s the thing. Julia Stiles is dreadful. With someone capable of giving an actual performance, it would’ve been great.

S: I dont recall exactly, but it seemed like the Rita aftermath was too quick.

Kind of like the Deb stuff this season.

M: It’s better than the Deb aftermath from this season.

Dexter’s pretty broken up for the first few eps and then he throws himself into helping Lumen – like how some people cope with loss by throwing themselves into their job. Lumen is another person who was the victim of monsters and it was Dexter’s means of “working through it.”
Season 5 clicked/flowed better for me the second time. I don’t think they should’ve had a romance though.

One thing I’m torn on that happened before S5 is the killing of Lundy. Great moment, though it sort of feels like a huge mistake in retrospect.

That character was cool and it would’ve been interesting to have him float in and out of Dexter’s trail.

I don’t know why shows (not just “Dexter”) are so quick to ditch their supporting characters .

S: Right. They burned through everyone in s2-5. It’s like they were afraid to allow someone to stay on Dexter’s trail.

M: Lundy would’ve been cool because they wouldn’t have needed him consistently. They could’ve brought him back as the guy who, as a result of all the stuff that happens (Trinity, Travis, etc), starts to notice Dexter’s ‘tangential’ involvement in everything and realizes it’s more than a coincidence.

Probably would’ve been awesome – and still allowed the writers to be nearly as episodic as they like to be now. Which is fine. I don’t have a problem with that.

S: Lundy could have outed Vogel in 2 eps.

SpoilerM: I guess that’s the role that Elway will start to fill? Since Deb told him about Hannah?

S: LOL

M: I like Elway.

S: Elway can start to fill that role… with 5 eps to go.

Quinn needs to out Dexter. Not some guy they just introduced this year.

M: Does Quinn need to out Dexter? I want Quinn to find out, and confront him/Deb, sure. Not necessarily sure he needs to out him.

S: It’d be more satisfying.

M: I’d be curious to see what he does. How he handles it.

S: Him or Batista.

M: I feel like Quinn could go either way .

S: Who else should out him? if he’s outed at all?

M: I don’t necessarily think Dexter needs to be outed. I’m not opposed to it. I’m just not one of those people who thinks, “this is what NEEDS to happen.”

S: It’d be pretty unsatisfying.

But again, I don’t really know what the show is trying to say about Dexter.

M: Yeah, and again, I’m glad the show doesn’t make a moral judgment.

S: But he fucks everyone life up. LOL

M: hahaha

S: Like Vic (“The Shield”), Walt (“Breaking Bad”), etc.

Vic had to pay for his sins…

Walt will…

“Dexter” writers are just like, “eh…”

Did Tony Soprano?

M: I will love it if Dexter doesn’t.

Tony’s fate is debatable.

S: Dexter should. Regardless of if you like him or not, a lot of innocent people die because of him. Even if he mostly kills bad guys.

If he doesn’t get outed, then what the hell was the point?

Serial killer goes 8 seasons, kind of finds some humanity?

M: What if he doesn’t get outed, but dies? Or what if everyone around him dies? I’m just saying, there’s other ways to make him pay without outing him.

S: Yeah, that’s fine. He needs to have some kind of punishment. Besides the Rita thing, I’m sick of him getting away with everything. And having no consequences.

M: I’m just arguing that it shouldn’t have to take the path that everyone would like to see it take (ie – Miami Metro chasing him).

S: Makes me not give a shit.

M: And again, I’m not saying they shouldn’t do that. Just that I’m sure Dexter will suffer some consequences by the end of this.

S: Right, i just don’t want it to end with Dexter in the same spot he was in at the beginning of the season.

That would be miserable storytelling.

I’m sure they (the writers) are at least aware of that.

M: I bet it won’t [end in the same spot]. Regardless of the middle of this season, my feeling is that it will finish strong. For some reason I feel like Deb will be the one who pays the most.

S: She kind of deserves it too.

I think Deb is the best character, but she let her love for Dexter cloud her judgment. And I’m not entirely sure i buy her killing LaGuerta, but she did.

M: She deserves death for that disgraceful “family that kills together” line in ep 5.

S: hahah

M: That was worse than any line in the Star Wars prequels.

Spoiler S: She deserves death for her emotional recovery being 90% off-screen .

M: I would almost prefer it to end with some kind of Greek tragedy. Deb’s poor judgment (shooting LaGuerta) takes them all down in one way or another: herself, Hannah, Dexter, etc.

Make it a fucking bloodbath.

S: Vogel is kind of a mother figure this season.

Speculation M: Vogel will be killed by Ryan Gosling Brain Surgeon. There’s no doubt in my mind.

And the more I think about it…

S: It’s just dumb that Yates might not be the brain surgeon? And he had brain surgery himself. LOL

What a fucking god-awful red herring.

Speculation M: …they’re trying to “remake” season 1. With the serial killer turning out to be a superfluous character in the 3rd act.

S: Most likely. I guess… I’m still not sure why/how the whole thing makes sense.

If it wasnt Yates then how did the real brain surgeon frame him?

Why did he stop killing?

Spoiler Up until the neighbor , that is. And he didn’t kill her by removing her brain.

Fuck this show.

If they do offer a coherent explanation for it all, I’ll be impressed .

The brain surgeon would have to know about Zach…

Speculation M: Zach’s a goner too.

S: He’s like this omnipotent being that has been following Dexter all season?

M: Just not sure if Dexter or the surgeon will kill him.

We’ll see.

Speculation I’m actually kind of excited at the Ryan Gosling reveal …

S: I’d be more excited if it was something that hasn’t been theorized.

M: Yeah, it’s pretty predictable.

S: I hope the whole past 3-4 eps have been a ruse to lull us into thinking it will all suck. Then our socks are knocked off this weekend.

It ends up being better than the final 5 eps of “The Shield.”

M: hahaha

At this point I’ve reconciled with the show’s weaknesses. I will never wash my hands of “Dexter” unless they completely blow the finale.

S: I want you to do “Dexter-a-Day” just so i can read your defense of s6.

M: I heard this next ep is all about Dex and Hannah. So 90% of the Internet can complain about it.

I haven’t re-watched 6 yet so grain of salt. But, as of right now, I would say I liked 6 more than 5. Brother Sam and Nebraska were more compelling to me than anything in 5.

Deeply Discussing Dexter: A Casual Conversation

S: You should write about the recurring pattern of Dexter writers having strong 1st halves…

M: And the “twist” (in season 6) didn’t enrage me like it did you .

S: …and then destroying them prematurely by midseason.

Brother Sam…

Deb this season…

Isaak…

M: Completely disagree with you about Isaak. Season 7 is great all the way.

S: He was a non-factor by mid-season.

M: Yep.

S: Once Hannah takes over…

M: The Isaak thing was brilliant.

S: It was terrible.

M: You think he’s going to be the badass cleaner you see in every single show. The “take no shit” professional. And he wasn’t that at all.

S: His whole purpose was teaching Dexter it’s okay to love.

Fucking awful.

M: What he boiled down to in the end was exactly what was motivating Dexter by mid-season. It was cleverly done.

Just because it didn’t go the route you wanted it to…

S: Cuz it was another example of them creating these situations…

M: That’s one of the show’s back nine moments where it did something clever and unpredictable by circumventing the idea of that character trope.

S: …then just brushing everything under the rug.

M: I will give you that the Quinn consequence was typically brushed away.

But what they did with Isaak was great.

S: Oh, Iasak is going to relentless pursue you for 6 episodes, then just shrug everything away.

Let’s resolve Isaak’s storyline with 3-4 eps to go so we can focus on the phantom arsonist.

M: He was hardly the focus of anything.

And fuck you, Jim Beaver [Hannah’s father] was awesome.

S: Now you are trolling me.

M: I forgot about that. That was weak, I’ll admit.

S: I’m looking at the ep summaries for s7. Did they ever say what happened to all the surveillance DVDs of Deb at the gas station that LaGuerta had? I guess we assume it all got boxed up?

M: Nope [never explained].

S: Batista just has everything.

M: It’s in the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse.

S: Even though im fine with the time jump between 7 and 8, I would have loved to have known how Deb explained the LaGuerta thing. Maybe she did, and I don’t remember.

M: They never explained the strange circumstance of her leaving the party.

S: But the whole thing reeks of the writers just wanted to gloss over it.

M: If they did that, and had them trying to steal evidence, etc., it just would’ve been redoing stuff that “Breaking Bad” did so well at the start of last season.

S: Yeah, and I don’t need another episode of Dexter casually walking into Miami Metro evidence room and stealing stuff. Cameras be damned.

Remember when he did that, at the end of s7?

Planted evidence to make it look like Doakes was in fact the BHB? From the cabin that Matthews told him about. LOL

M: Yeah?

S: Season 7 was awesome!

Deeply Discussing Dexter: A Casual Conversation

M: It was. You get TOO hung up on minutia sometimes.

S: I’ll wage a 10 year war over the second half of that season.

No, even big scope of the season…again, you need to be forgiving of all of that if are going to watch the show and not go insane.

So Dexter can finally be “himself” around someone (Hannah) – but then she tries to kill his sister, so he has to have her arrested (even though he should have just killed her, instead of having yet another loose end).

M: Yeah, and I would argue that people get all messed up over love all the time. He loved her, which is arguably a first for Dexter, so locking her up would be punishment because he…just…couldn’t…kill…her.

S: It doesn’t translate well to someone who tried to kill your sister, and knows your secret that you are a serial killer.

And it goes against your code.

M: His code? That’s gone. LOL

S: It’s gone, but he still tries to follow it. It’s not like he is mass murdering scores of innocents, especially when it is for self-preservation, and Hannah would have fit that.

And they cant even ring tension out of if she will rat him out of not…

M: He ratted her out to protect his sister and I thought it worked. He just…couldn’t kill her. I found it oddly touching.

S:…cuz she instantly escapes prison.

M: They didn’t do what I think they should’ve, so it’s bad!

S: I dont want to be able to predict it.

M: Just saying, because they didn’t use Hannah that way at the end S7 in a “will she or won’t she rat on him” kind of way, but she left the vague flower on his door…that was pretty interesting. Is she angry? Hurt? We talked a lot about that as I recall.

S: It’s a pattern. The writers cop out at every turn.

M: They cop out?

Season ends with Deb shooting LaGuerta!

Cop out.

S: Yeah and everything as a result of it has no lasting effects.

M: …OK

S: That’s why I loved the beginning of s8…

M: I’m defending S7. I don’t disagree about some of S8’s choices.

S: I thought, “wow…”

So yeah, s7…they have all of this evidence stacked against Deb and Dexter. LaGuerta / Matthews. And again, nothing comes of it.

M: Let’s see. Matthews still has a part to play.

S: How do they write themselves out of it? Dexter plants evidence in a one minute scene.

Deb shoots LaGuerta, and they skip over all the aftermath.

Regardless of what i wanted to happen, the way it DID happen, is lame.

And we just always disagree on Hannah. I never bought that romance. I liked the idea behind it.

M: I liked it a lot. Oddly, my least favorite thing about it was the over-the-top table sex. The rest of it was really soft key and sweeter…that’s what I really liked.

Deeply Discussing Dexter: A Casual Conversation

S: There’s certain things you can take away from the season, and say, that was decent…

But the Quinn stuff…

The Louis stuff…

That’s objectively bad.

M: Louis getting his brains blown out was awesome.

S: The Hannah stuff, i can see why you liked it, but i just don’t agree.

Yeah, but again, Louis was another build up to something.

Who is Louis, what will he do??

M: Sure, kind of baffling.

S: Oh, just get hilariously murdered.

M: Not sure what they could’ve done in a situation where the actor wanted out, but at least they gave him the send off he deserved.

S: “Breaking Bad” did it with Tuco in a much, much, much better way. And that was the same situation – the actor was leaving to go to another show. Hell, “Sons of Anarchy” did it better with Half Sack. Hahaha

Well, maybe not.

M: lol

The Quinn stuff was weak because it went nowhere.

S: Let’s not forget, prior to this season, Quinn was awful for a long time .

Wasn’t he just drunk the entire season in season 6?

M: Yes, and I actually disagree about S6. The whole “Quinn and Batista don’t give a shit” subplot was good. Smoking weed in Batista’s bandit car. It felt real and was funny because both guys plateaued professionally.

S: It was funny, but Quinn lamenting his breakup with Deb was more overkill than any Jesse Pinkman scene in BB.

M: Batista lost the promotion to Deb. I liked the “fuck this job” mentality.

S: Batista retires, buys restaurant. Rejoins the force a week later.

But yeah, at least his midlife crisis storyline was better than his shitty romance with LaGuerta .

M: Yeah. Which was in S4. The “best” season. Which is what I said earlier. There have always been unfortunately subplots in “Dexter.”

The Batista/LaGuerta stuff is probably the worst stuff the show has ever done, but you didn’t care ‘cause Trinity was brilliant.

S: Right, the Miami Metro stuff can usually be forgiven if the “A” story is great. If Deb had found out Dex’s secret in s5, maybe we could all pretend the Spanish brothers thing never happened…

M: HAHAHAHA

S: I dunno, i kind of treat the show like I so “Sons of Anarchy.” That’s why s7 pissed me off. A lot of it reminded me of s4/5 of SOA.

Especially with Juice. That was not brilliant either.

M: That was not.

S: Don’t build this stuff up then cop out.

M: S7 of Dexter does not compare to that shit at all.

S: Although at least the end of s5 started making s4 of SOA a little easier to swallow.

M: The new trailer was good. I still want Jax’s brains blown out by the end of the series.

I should just save this conversation and post it to Dread.

S: It’s good, I enjoy a heated TV discussion.

Especially over “Dexter.”

I hope we disagree on the finale too. However it ends.

M: We will.

S: It will be a hilariously passionate talk. Especially if I love it and you hate it.

Not sure how that would happen.

M: I can’t imagine that happening so that would be awesome.

S: Maybe Masuka’s daughter will play an important role.

Maybe she’s the Brain Surgeon.

M: Sigh.

S: That would be great.

I think I’d prefer something like that. At least it’d be a surprise.

Deeply Discussing Dexter: A Casual Conversation

If you want to agree or disagree with myself and Shaun, follow us on Twitter, or tell us in the comment section below.

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Matt Serafini

Author (Under the Blade, Feral), slasher movie enthusiast, N7 Operative. Plays games, watches movies, reads books. Occasionally writes about them.