Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dexter - Season 4 Finale

Reflections on the Season 4 finale and it's "game-changing" denouement ...

Okay, so the first 48 minutes of the season finale were lethargic, out of character and almost perfunctory. Dexter finally(!) dispatches Arthur "Trinity" Mitchell (congratulations on your upcoming Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor - Drama, John Lithgow ... who knew?) which was to be expected. Debra Morgan was actually doing all the heavy lifting and Jennifer Carpenter has been superb the last two episodes (congrats in advance on your first Emmy nomination). It was flat and uninspiring.


Then the show pulls an astounding last three minutes out of the bag - Dexter returns home to find Rita murdered (yes, by Trinity) and his baby son sitting in a pool of her blood (echoing Dexter's own "birth in blood"). A truly shocking and visceral moment ... that almost makes me think they deliberately made the preceding 48 minutes so banal to rachet up the "oh my ****ing god!" factor because it was a genuine jaw dropping moment.

The internet forums subsequently melted down. It was interesting reading the reaction as Rita was not a much loved character. But there is a "gut punch" factor at work here regardless of how you felt about her.

And there was the usual nonsense:

NO, it wasn't a dream! That would be one of the biggest "F*** you!" (to the audience) decisions in television history and the writers aren't that stupid. If they played that card I would switch off quicker than an Entourage Season 6 episode.

YES, of course Trinity killed her in a John Doe "Seven" 'beyond the grave' triumph kind of way (without the box). One theory espoused that the new FBI agent did it? Hello, are you INSANE?

NO, Rita will not appear as a Harry Morgan style ghost dressed in Number 6's red dress from Battlestar Galactica.

Okay, I made that last one up.

What now for Season 5 which will be the last 12 episodes ever?

There won't be a guest star like Jimmy Smits in S3 and Lithgow in S4. There won't be a new serial killer.

Debra Morgan is the key and they have been moving the pieces slowly into place. She now knows Dexter is Brian "The Ice Truck Killer" Moser's brother. The police know someone set up Stan Beaudry as Trinity with DNA evidence (forensics background anyone?). Dexter has to explain Rita's death, Arthur Mitchell's presence at Homicide (Angel clearly saw him) and various other inconsistencies. Every season harks back in one way or another to previous events in S1 (notably Dexter's "birth" as a "monster") and he has now lost whatever moral compass he might have had with Rita gone.

Season 5 will be Dexter Morgan v Debra Morgan. How far is he prepared to go to keep his secret? How far is she prepared to go to reveal it? The stakes - Dexter either kills Debra or Debra reveals Dexter (leading to his execution). How much does he want to remain in the shadows, a monster? How much does she want to learn the truth in all its horror? Where will Harry Morgan's allegiance lie?

Usually each season starts with a time lapse from the previous season. I'd start S5 immediately from the drop-off point of S4 and watch Dexter dangle in the wind as he tries to cover tracks that tenacious and talented detective, Debra won't be able to help herself but uncover. Brother v sister, serial killer v cop, Dexter Morgan versus Debra Morgan.

Now THAT could be a sight to see, I tell you ... a sight to see ...

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