Thursday, January 5, 2012

DEXTER-ity: Season Six Review & Analysis

Dexter-ity: Season Six Review & Analysis by ugo-strange

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Ladies and Gentlemen & others welcome once again to DEXTER-ity, a Dexter review and analysis as narrated by Ugo Strange. So yes, it's been awhile and I apologize for this review coming out so late, for those of you who don't know my computer recently crashed and I was uncertain if I was going to be able to continue this series in a timely fashion. But thankfully fortune smiled on me and I was able to get a new laptop before the New Year. But I still had to wait to release this because I lost several episodes and all of my notes on this Season so I had to re-watch a few episode just to re-familiarize myself with certain moments I reference in my notes. I appreciate the fan support for this series and I like that you guys are eager for these reviews. Thanks. With all that being said, let's dive into this Season.

Before I begin we have some behind the scenes clean up to do. Chip Johannessen only signed on to Produce ONE Season of "Dexter" which was Season Five. Despite the common consensus among fans, Season Five was a VERY necessary Season, if not for the sole purpose of allowing Dexter to deal with the death of his wife and discover more of his humanity. Taking over for Chip is "Dexter" veteran Scott Buck, who's name is on several pivotal "Dexter" episodes since Season Two. It wouldn't be fair if I didn't address the rumor mill right away. For those of you who don't know, Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter recently went through a separation in August of 2010 before Season 5, so rumors generated that Season Six would see the demise of Debra Morgan. Which wouldn't be too much of a stretch for the imagination considering Michael C. Hall is an executive producer on the show. However during a broadcast of Fresh Air on NPR Michael C. Hall stated that Debra was going to be around for awhile and despite the divorce they're both still very excited about the series and thus the show goes on.

Unlike last Season this Season doesn't have a long list of guest stars BUT that's not to say that it's without star power. Joining this Season is Edward James Olmos coming down from "Battle Star Galatica" fame, Mos Def, who many don't know started off as an actor BEFORE turning to rap music, one of his earliest gigs was playing Bill Cosby's side-kick in "The Cosby Mysteries", and finally the casting choice that had me ABSOLUTELY stoked for this Season, Colin Hanks, the son of established actor Tom Hanks. With a promising cast of established actors and a nice clean break from Season Five, it looked like the show was going to revitalize it's self by returning us to a slightly altered state of Season One. Not to mention the producers have said that they're bringing Dexter back to a comfortable place. They delievered on that part but overall this Season, for all it's good and bad points is probably the worst Season since Season Three. And to be perfectly fair, I liked Season Three a lot and it only failed because The Skinner was such a horrible final villain. This Season however is riddled with mis-steps and problems that will be addressed. So like all things let's address the BAD POINTS first before we get to the GOOD POINTS.


I have NO clue why the producers chose to do this but this was a BAD call! Considering the first time we meet Joey Quin he's a rather smooth, former Narc officer who just so happens to be a bit of a playboy. It was NO great shock that Quin & Debra would hook up, and alas. Quin would find himself on the scrap heep of Debra's failed relationships when the poor bastard proposed to her. Look, I understand the guy's heart was broken and all but seriously, Quin went from being relatively bad ass to drunken idiot in ONE Season. NO! That was COMPLETELY out of character for Quin, this is a guy who turned his girlfriend in when it was revealed that she knew more about The Trinity Case than she was saying, THAT hurt but he got over it. You mean to tell me that Quin is so much of a softy he'd be completely ruined without Debra ? Not buying, not buying it all! What's even worse is that his brokenheartedness is COMPLETELY effecting his job, so now not only is a drunken idiot, but he's a drunken idiot with a badge and basically a punchline at the end of every frat boy's one night stand story. It's embarrassing...

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Hang Your Head In Shame!

This is a personal one for me, but I still have to list it here because it was looking very promising for a hot second with the introduction of Masuka's intern Ryan Chambers. When it was revealed she wanted to see the evidence from The Ice Truck Killer Case and other famouse Dexter cases, fans everywhere speculated that Ryan was some kind of Serial Killer fetishist who got off the morbid and disturbing, much like Masuka. The idea of a vicarious Serial Killer idolater using Masuka to have access to such things would be an EXCELLENT place to take Masuka's character...but when it was discovered that she simply sold The Prosthetic Arm on eBay to pay her rent all our hopes and dreams, along with a potential Masuka sub-plot was thrown out of the window. However this did provide Masuka with SOME character depth, revealing that despite having feelings of Ryan and being involved with her he was still focused on his job and unwilling to sacrifice it for her, and to be fair this DID open the door for Louis Green, a character I'll address much later on. But I still call this a bad thing because there are easier ways she could have paid her rent and stealing crime scene evidence was not only a round-about way to do it, but it was also a false-hope giver to fans that her character would prove more interesting than she actually was...but alas...we may never know...

Last but not least on the bad list is the OBVIOUSNESS OF PROFESSOR GELLAR! I hate to be that guy but as a writer myself it's fairly hard to have the wool pulled over my eyes, I mean after things like "The Usual Suspects", "Fight Club", "The Outer Limits" and things of that sort you kind of become numb to plot twists. I don't know if this was the same for everyone but for me it was fairly obvious by the 5th episode. I admire what the producers were TRYING to do with the character BUT they messed up by having us see too much of them. This was a MAJOR deviation from their usual treatment of bad guys on the show which is we see as little of them as possible. Considering in the First Season we didn't meet The Ice Truck Killer until the 5th episode and we didn't know he was The Ice Truck Killer until much later. Season Two was different so we won't get into that, in Season Three Miguel didn't reveal his darker nature until the 8th episode, in Season Four we followed Trinity around SURE BUT that was while he was in the process of either seeking a victim or killing said victim. We didn't get the full scope of his character until the 5th episode. Jordan Chase was once again a different villain but he didn't reveal his darker nature until episode 5...

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"Take care, Lumen."

Still a damn good scene. Basically what I'm saying is we never watched the bad guys do mundane things like get coffee and paint with their sister, why ? Because it's more involved than we need to be with them. The great thing about this show is that we discover the killers along with Dexter, THAT'S what makes the bad guys interesting, their relation to Dexter. Keep in mind that nearly each main villain had some relationship with Dexter...except for Season Three...The Skinner is still a major disappointment. The Ice Truck Killer was Dexter's brother, Lila was Dexter's N.A. sponsor, Miguel was Dexter friend and the brother of Oscar Prado, the man Dexter killed in self-defense in the beginning of the Season, Dexter was fanscinated by Trinity's ability to seemingly maintain a family while maintaining a constant killing cycle for several years. This matched Dexter situation in that Season as he was wondering how such a thing was possible. Season Five found Dexter inadvertantly wrapped up a ring of murdering rapist during one of his routine kills when Lumen becomes a potential witness. Each season offered us a bad guy who was interesting and developed along with the season. Travis however...just doesn't cut it. The idea that Professor Gellar wasn't actually there became inadvertantly clear by the 5th episode when it was pointed out that Angel of Death victim didn't react to Gellar's touch. The reason I'm calling this a bad thing is for the simple fact that it was supposed to be a surprise this season and failed completely at it.

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Each Season features a moment when Dexter is on the verge of being caught and just in the nick of time Dexter manages to save himself by some great force of luck, no luck more better than the scene in Season Five which still drives me nuts BUT THIS SEASON featured probably the dumbest save Dexter ever had. The Dexter-Satan Painting...and this ONLY saves Dexter's ass because Batista and Masuka were waiting for Dexter to show up...WHICH IS THE BIGGEST DEUS EX MACHINA I'VE EVER SEEN!! THE ONLY THING that saved Dexter's ass was a few minutes...this isn't like in Season Two when Dexter had to pull the fire alarm and then go in, find the footage and delete it from the records, NO Heaven forbid we should EVER have Dexter ACTUALLY doing something to cover his ass NO, let's just have the characters sit around and wait for him...LAZY!

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That's actually a good likeness of Satan...I mean Dexter.


I have to admit that this was probably the best thing about this Season. Why the character of Ryan Chambers being out of Masuka's good graces, Louis Green was the next to step up to the plate and I have to admit I was actually surprised when it was revealed that he was in fact the buyer of The Prosthetic Arm. Despite this, Louis was just a great character all around, he was useful to the plot in aiding The Doomsday Killer investigation and was also gave Jamie Batista a bit of business to do when she's not watching Harrison. For some reason fans of the show speculated that Jamie and Dexter were going to hook up but veteran fans would immediately dismiss the idea for the sole purpose that Dexter is smarter than that and Jamie was just a way to address Harrison and nothing more. But with the addition of Louis Green it intergrated him into Dexter's life, and with his increasing fascination with Dexter and his video game, titled "Homicidal Tendencies" it's very clear that Louis is going to be a MAJOR player next Season, especially with him sending the prosthetic arm to Dexter complete with...well..I'm not entirely sure what it is he's doing here...Nonetheless it's very risky for any television series that isn't a serial to have a set up this far in advance and with his character it gives me the impression that the writers and producers have thought well and hard about how they plan on moving forward. One can only hope he lives up to the build up....

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I see nothing but good things coming from this.

I have to eat a bit of crow here but it's for a good reason. For those of you who've seen my Season Five review, I mentioned that Quin was sloppy about how he went about trying to identify Kyle Butler by trying to get Jonah to identify him. Much to my delight any approach wouldn't have worked at all because The Mitchell Family mutually agreed to protect the identity of Dexter as Kyle Butler, which I thought was a nice way to address unanswered questions in Seasons 4 & 5. Although having Jonah kill his mom...and his sister commit suicide in the same manner Trinity kills his female victims was...well...a bit shoddy as I can't imagine The FBI went into much detail as how Arthur went about these murders. Despite the fact that that will never sit right with me, it was good to see things being addressed.

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"Hello, Dexter Morgan."

Having ran for all of 72 episodes, I've often wondered if there would ever be a point in time where Dexter would see someone else besides Harry. It wouldn't be outside of the realm of possibility and some even speculated that Dexter would be seeing Trinity in Season Five. It was often believed that Harry Morgan was a representation of Dexter's Dark Passenger, you'll note that I never mention that in my reviews because I completely disagree with that idea. Harry Morgan represents exactly what he represents The Code Of Harry. Essentially Harry Morgan is the moral side of Dexter that channels Dexter's Dark Passenger in a positive...okay relatively positive direction. He's there to keep Dexter from flying off the hinges and when Dexter DOES fly off the hinges who better to represent his Dark Passenger than his own brother Brian Moser. I have to say that this is kind of a double edged sword because using Brian as The Dark Passenger & having Dexter lose it would have been a great idea for a future season...potential next season since a lot of the Ice Truck Killer stuff it being bought back. But for what it was this Season the interplay between these characters was great however the resolution to this was less than climactic. But I still add it to my list of good stuff because from once it changed things for Dexter.

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"Hey Little Brother, miss me ?"

Okay, it's time address new characters introduced this Season and as I said before they were very few. First and foremost we have Mike Anderson, taking over the role of Detective since Debra graduated to the big seat of Lieutenant. In cases like these whenever a new character is introduced to an already effective team they either go one of two routes.
#1: The New Character comes in and prove themselves to be more bad ass than entire crew therefore making the crew look ineffectual and complains about how bad they are.
#2: The New Character comes in and prove themselves to be completely incompetent and slow down the entire team and the team complains about how bad they are.
Mike walked the fine line of route one, but it wasn't undeserved considering Quin would make Barney Fife look like Jack Bauer with the way he's been acting this Season. Despite the initial confrontation between Mike & Debra, he quickly learned his place and became something of her go to guy as the season progressed. I really like Mike Anderson because he gelled well with the show as if he's been the entire time, he's not a hot-head like Doakes and he seems to be very focused on doing his job and doing well. Plus, I like flamingoing.

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"You be cool."

Jamie Batista as I've said before was a good character if only to address Harrison and integrate Louis into Dexter's life. There really isn't much I could say about her except...

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"I wanna have a relationship with that ass!"

I don't blame you Quin. Now it's time for me to address sub-plots so let me address the latest news with our foul mouthed femme fatale Debra Morgan, who was bumped up to Lieutenant after single handlely taking down a restaurant shooter. Because of this, Debra was ordered to take a psychiatric evaluation, MUCH NEEDED in my opinion and LOW AND BEHOLD the revelation that ALL OF US had finally came to light; DEBRA IS IN LOVE WITH DEXTER! It doesn't take a shrink to see, since this has been building since she unknowingly slept with his brother. Oddly enough this makes the most sense for her character since for all of 6 seasons she hasn't been able to find a boyfriend. Let's look at Debra's relationships and you tell me what you see. Her first relationship was with Brian Moser, Dexter's older brother who turned out to be a Serial Killer who wanted to kill Debra. I'll cut her some slack there because she wasn't aware of this. However her next relationship she has no excuse, Special Agent Frank Lundy...

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"Frank Lundy?! He's a rockstar."

Yes, I am going to do that very time I say his name because Special Agent Frank Lundy is THAT BAD ASS! Special Agent Lundy was (by Debra's own admission) old enough to be her father and his occupation was chasing Serial Killers. So Debra goes from nearly marrying a serial killer to getting into a relationship with a guy who hunts them for a living. Her next and possibly the most normal relationship she had was Anton, which that was the reason WHY she didn't like Anton, because he was too normal...and when Special Agent Lundy came back into the picture it was BYE-BYE Anton. She spent the vast majority of Season 5 relatively single despite having a love/hate thing with Quin, and stupid me, I actually thought this relationship would work considering they're both foul mouthed ass-holes who generally say what's on their mind. But someone in the writer's room got it their heads to make Quin a drunken idiot and well...I already covered that. My main point is that for all of the crap Debra has gone through, damn near being killed by Dexter's brother, dating a man who hunts serial killers and then having him die before her eyes, having her next boyfriend partially skinned alive, the ONLY man who's been there in her life consistently is Dexter. Not to mention the fact that she keeps mentioning how Harry paid Dexter more attention than he did her and how her mother wasn't around much because she died, it would only be logical that Debra would have ONE of TWO emotions concerning Dexter, #1 is Jealousy and #2 is Fascination. Debra's entire life and career choice has been built around the idea of gaining the approval of her father, but since Harry is dead she needs the approval of the next best thing, Dexter. I won't defend this for fans who are adamantly against this, namely Paul Tassi of Unreality Magazine, BUT regardless of how you feel about it, you can't deny that the proof was there from day one, and regardless of the real life split of Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, I'm interested to see where they take this plotline in Season Seven.

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In terms of guest stars the most interesting character this Season wasn't Dexter OR Travis Marshall but Mos Def's character of Brother Sam. This is kind of murky territory because the sub-plot of Brother Sam is integrated into the Season's overall theme. So forgive me for not saving this for the end but we need to talk about theme and the sub-plot and the main plot all at once. This Season's theme was religion...or at least it TRIED to be. The unfortunate thing about religion & TV is the fact that it has NEVER been handled WITHOUT being hamfisted! And by "Hamfisted" I mean that the theme is made so obvious that it's almost pointless to even call it a theme. The beginning of this Season almost showed promised with the introduction of Brother Sam. What made Brother Sam such a great character for the Season and the overall theme was the fact that Brother Sam was a REFORMED killer. Note, this is THE FIRST TIME Dexter hunted someone who WAS NOT going to kill again. Dexter has NEVER met a reformed killer. So naturally Dexter is fascinated by Brother Sam because Brother Sam was once a monster and now is a monster no longer. Brother Sam says it was his faith that changed him and considering that are MANY reformed criminals Brother Sam isn't an unrealistic character. And considering the fact that Dexter is wondering if he will ever be free of his Dark Passenger, it'd only be natural that Dexter would find some kinship with Brother Sam. What clinched it for me was when Dexter drowned Nick after Nick expressed joy at the fact that there was no evidence linking him to Brother Sam's murder.

That wasn't Dexter expressing rage out of revenge, that was Dexter acting out what he has been doing his entire life. However in this case Dexter was MORE offended. Because this was the ONE time where Dexter ran into someone who was not only no longer a murderer BUT was urging others to not be as well. Brother Sam in a way was the reverse Dexter. While Dexter is a killer that kills killers, Brother Sam was an ex-killer who helps killers become ex-killers. THIS I believe should have been the central focus for the theme of religion. Despite being a Christian myself, I'll rue the day that Dexter breaks down and converts to Christianity...heck I even gritted my teeth when Dexter made a "pact" with God when Harrison was sick. BUT if the show was going to use Religion as the thematic backdrop for this Season they should have handled it evenhandedly. And I'm sorry, despite the theatrical nature of the kills in this Season, having a bad guy who bases his kills on the book of Revelations and genuinely believes he's going to cause the end of the world is just WAY TOO OBVIOUS! And unlike other Seasons this Theme doesn't get addressed any fashion.

In Season One, the theme was Family, and Dexter despite finding his REAL brother in Brian, Dexter chose his adopted family and killed his brother. Which showed that Dexter has a sense of family about and is able to recognize that. Season Two was about Duality, where the phrase "Dark Passenger" was coined and Dexter realized that he had two natures inside of him and he needed to keep control of both of them and realized that part of that nature was actual humanity which comes out everynow and then. Season Three was all about Having It All, Dexter and Miguel were both men who were at the prime time of their lives, however both of them wanted something, Miguel wanted to deal out his own sense of justice and settle his own vendettas, while Dexter wanted to be able to share his life with someone who understood him. This didn't work out for Dexter but he did realize that he does want it all, (ie, the wife, the house, and to see his son Harrison come into the world). Season Four was all about maintaining, everyone in Season Four was trying to maintain something and by the end of the Season Dexter loses his grip and becomes careless, thanks to his carelessness Rita ends up dead because Dexter couldn't maintain control. Season Five was all about fixing that problem by helping Lumen. Season Five's Theme was Change, Dexter's life was dramatically changed due to Rita's death and I think Dexter had a moment of revelation before he killed Boyd Fowler.

 It isn't about a NEED to kill, it's about justice. It's about avenging the lives of people who were innocent. Brian Moser asked Dexter why he wakes his victims up before he kills them, he says it's because Dexter wants to see the light go out in their eyes, but I think it's because Dexter wants them to know that they're being punished for what they've done, hence why he takes the time to prepare the Kill Room with photographs or momentos from their victims to remind them. This is what the Season should have been, Dexter realizing that in some fashion he and Brother Sam are in the same business. Not to get Biblical on anyone but in The Bible God uses The Assyrians to conquer Israel when they disobeyed, and anyone who knows anything about ancient history knows that The Assyrians were known for violent acts of barbarism, it wouldn't be out of the question that Dexter would speculate that he is being used in a similar fashion, and ultimately the only thing Dexter can pass on to Harrison is what Dexter has been doing his entire life, protecting the innocent. Brother Sam being the driving force of the revelation would revitalize Dexter into realizing that despite the fact that he doesn't believe in God, he can still appreciate the idea that faith does have positive effects for people. But instead we lose Brother Sam early on in the Season and the whole Season just become a commentary on how religious people are crazy and religion is ridiculous. And I'm sorry, but I've seen that happen in TV shows SO many times I'm tired of it. Brother Sam was the ONLY time I've ever seen a religious character who wasn't a pompus psychopath who wasn't made out to be a big fat hypocrite in the end. He should have stuck around for a bit longer because the Season COULD have had a good Light Side/Dark Side thing going for it. Brother Sam representing the Light Side of religious ideals while Travis represents the Dark Side of religious ideals, both sides claiming to do God's work but through VERY different ways. I can't express how disappointed I am in this Season, which is only PARTIALLY saved by the last 10 seconds of the final episode;

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As I've said in my Season Five review, in order for this show to last one of two things need to happen, Debra needs to find out OR Dexter needs to get caught. And Debra knows! With the set up of Louis Green mailing The Prosthetic Arm to Dexter and Debra now discovering her brother's secret Season Seven is definitely gonna be explosive and I for one cannot wait. It wouldn't be fair if I didn't say that in the books Debra already knows and is more or less okay with it despite having a few moral objections. Meanwhile with in the series Debra openly admitted that she wouldn't be able to handle such a revelation. For those of you who don't know, "Dexter" has only been renewed for 2 more Season. Seasons Seven & Eight so that means Dexter is going to end soon. I find it rather odd that despite this the book are still on going, with the series coming to a close, it's anyone's guess what's next for our Dark Defender but needlesstosay, the game has indeed changed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a great review just got done watching the whole thing