Sunday, January 6, 2013

DEXTER-ity: Season Seven Review & Analysis

DEXTER-ity: Season Seven Review & Analysis by ugo-strange

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Ladies and gentlemen and others, welcome once again to DEXTER-ity, a "Dexter" review and analysis as written by Ugo Strange. So for those of you outside of the know, let's recap.

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Right. Early behind the scenes promotion and articles revealed that this Season was going to be much like Season 5, in regard to picking up where we left off. However, I have to say that I wasn't too excited about Ray Stevenson's addition to the cast, don't get me wrong, I like Ray Stevenson but he's so much more of a physical presence than what we're used to on this show, furthermore the prospect of Dexter dealing with The Ukrainian Mafia didn't set too well with me. You see, I like Dexter going toe to toe with cerebal serial killers like him, which is what made The Skinner an absolute fail in terms of Dexter villains, I know, I know, I keep beating that drum but honestly, The Skinner sucked! This Season, the guest stars Ray Stevenson, as I've said before and Yvonne Strahovski from the NBC series "Chuck". Once again, Scott Buck takes over as executive producer, as I've said before Scott Buck has his name on a number of notable Dexter episodes, namely "The Damage A Man Can Do", which contains one of my favorite Dexter scenes. As I stayed on top of pre-production, I thought I've managed to inadvertently spoil myself for this Season, but I didn't and unfortunately, I really wish I had. Because this Season, after coming off the the poorly executed Season 6, was in fact the worst Season of Dexter in it's entire run so far. This is nothing I say lightly since I do indeed love this show but unfortunately every show hits a point where it's either going to prove that it has the ability to follow through on somethings or not, and sadly this season failed at nearly everyone of those but a few, so unlike previous Dexter-itys let me give you the good points first because unfortunately there is a multitude of bad points.


This could have been a REALLY long season if the entirety of the season was built around Debra finding out who Dexter was. I like the fact that immediately after her encounter with him, she slowly starts to put the pieces together. I love this for 2 reasons. #1: It shows Debra is actually an excellent detective as she was able to pinpoint certain phrases that Dexter used to make her question him and #2: It shows that Debra is unwilling to buy bullshit. One of the major issues I've had with people who talk about this episode is that people say that Dexter is such a good liar, when in reality, he's not, he's just very good at being vague. Example, let's go to Season 2, when Rita questions Dexter about Paul's boot, I offered a decent lie Dexter could have used to explain himself, but what does Dexter do ? He merely goes along with Rita's idea that he is a drug user himself. When Dexter told Miguel that Freebo attacked him, Miguel was already coming there to kill Freebo so Miguel was already open to the prospect of Freebo being dead and Dexter really didn't have to lie about it but chose to anyway and once again Miguel was able to detect that Dexter was lying. Dexter has NEVER been a good liar, he just relies on people's disregard as a means of escape. Since people have no reason to take a closer look at Dexter he can be as vague as he wants without having to deal with up close scrutiny, but when he does, Dexter immediately falls under pressure. Doakes caused Dexter a lot of distress and when Debra gets hip to Dexter, it causes him major distress as well. All that aside, Debra finding out who Dexter is immediately gets us where we need to be for the story to continue. Debra is not, fully aware but aware enough to know who her brother is and that's brilliant writing when you have such a brazen confrontation between two characters.

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There have been very few moment in the pass 2 seasons where I felt on the edge of my seat. I remember Seasons 2 and 4 being the most intense seasons in terms of surprising moments and genuine "Oh boy, Dexter's screwed." feelings. Every season features a moment where Dexter is on the verge of getting caught, none more frustrating than Seasons 5 and 6, where a man covered in plastic doesn't shout for help and Batista being lazy completely misses a mural of Dexter as Satan in the living room of a crime scene. All of that aside, This moment here, was a nice set up that I didn't see coming and very forward thinking on Maria's part. It's moments like this where I can see the writers are genuinely inspired and can still strike oil, it's just unfortunate that these moments where present the entire season which leads me too...

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That's The "I have made a profound mistake." Face.


This is a pet peeve but why did Mike have to die ? Sure, he gets the story going but in all seriousness he was a nice addition to the cast, he was competent, smart, able and was all about handling the task. The reason why I feel "Dexter" is in a bit of a rut is because the show fails to bring in some new faces. I love Quinn and he's a great replacement for Doakes, but unfortunately Quinn sub-plots are getting tired and cliched and it'd be nice to deal with someone who isn't a complete dumbass or one dead body away from burning out. What I'm saying is in a show about police officers, it'd be nice to actually see one for a change and Mike WAS one. But alas...

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You will be least by me.

This...pretty much blew the entire season for me and I am NOT kidding at all. When Louis was first introduced last Season I really didn't take any notice of him until it was revealed that he was in fact the buyer of The Prosthetic Hand. This led to a wide range of speculation about Louis' exact nature, and to make things even crazier, Louis had created a video game where players get to be Serial Killers. If that didn't spell potential trouble maker, I don't know what would. The Writers REALLY had a chance to do something new and exciting with a character like Louis who wasn't a serial killer but was interested, perhaps overtime we could see him evolve into one. However when it was announced that Louis was NOT going to be the main villain for this season, I was VERY skeptical as to how they would address him...and unfortunately...

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I have NEVER seen such a waste of potential IN MY LIFE! Why build up an interesting and mysterious character for no reason. Louis had ALL the signs of potentially being a major player in future seasons of Dexter, but no, instead the writers decide to dump him for no good reason. I could see if Louis was a useless character and we'll get to that in a second, but he wasn't. He proved his worth last Season by helping out with the investigation and around the lab was a very good at his job. Not to mention he gave Jamie Batista a bit of business to do, but ultimately all of that being good at his job and being interested in serial killers ultimately amounted to absolutely NOTHING. This story could have easily been "Dexter's" take on "Mr. Brooks", with Louis becoming Dane Cook's character looking for that "vicarious thrill". I'm going to be an optimist and believe that The Writers DID in fact plan on having Louis be a major player but perhaps maybe an executive or something nixed that decision for the purpose of aquiring bigger actors. That'll help me sleep at night at least...but still...words cannot express how truly disappointed I am in this.

I have now sat through 7 Seasons of Dexter, that's 84 episodes of "Dexter", 84 episodes and I CANNOT for the life of me think of a character more useless and annoying than Hannah McKay...except for maybe The Skinner, but in all honesty, The Skinner was a MUCH better villain than Hannah, because in all seriousness...Hannah was NOT the villain, which will bring me to my later point in this video but we'll get to that. Unlike most of the killers on "Dexter", they all had some sort of pathology to them. Brian Moser witnessed his mother get hacked to bits by a chainsaw, not to mention he was Dexter's brother. Brian was obsessed with recreating his nightmare because he grew to enjoy it. Lila, although NOT a killer was a vicarious sort who lived through others, she was a manipulator, a user and insane. Season 3, Miguel was power hungry man who wanted to take the law in his own hand, much like Dexter. Trinity, much like Dexter was a man with a dark past who grew to like his nightmare much like Dexter. Dexter was fascinated by Trinity because Trinity was seemingly able to maintain a perfect cover for several years. Jordan Chase was a man who believed in a world without boundaries and saw himself as untouchable, the grand puppet master who could get people to do whatever he wanted. Travis Marshall was a religious wack-job with multiple personality disorder who sought to end the world...but who was Hannah McKay really? What was her pathology? She didn't have one, she killed out of necessity...which is why she killed that old lady and took her house...and her husband...Really?

I said it once and I've said it a million times, Dexter DOES NOT NEED A GIRLFRIEND!! HE DOESN'T NEED TO HAVE SEX, DEXTER NEEDS TO KILL! That's what he needs to do and I'm getting really sick of these Dexter in love stories, especially since considering in Season One, Dexter was afraid to have sex with Rita because he'd reveal who he was to her, now all of a sudden Dexter is in love with Hannah? Did we ever get a solid reason as to why he's in love with her? I mean aside from the fact that she's attractive? Because in all honesty I feel like that's the ONLY reason the writers put her in this season. I know a lot of people don't like Season 5 or Lumen, but Lumen at least made sense. Lumen was saved by Dexter's Dark Passenger, and anyone coming out of an experience of constant rape and torture would fall head over heels for the person who rescued them. But for Hannah...seriously why were they "in love"? Getting off that topic, I hate the fact that Miami Metro appeared to be stupid when it came to Hannah. You have a woman who was associated with a killer when she was younger, and now everyone around apparently just dies...her husband, the old lady, the guy who was writing a book about her, oh and the police officer after visiting her has a violent car accident...yeah that's more than a little suspicious. And I understand that Debra was trying to catch her BUT she's the Head Of Homicide, why didn't she have an officer watch her? I mean hell, get a warrant, get a botanist, get something! I'm getting side tracked here...

Let's touch on this whole "in love" Dexter turns her in and she doesn't immediately spill the beans about Dexter being a serial killer? I bring that up because by Hannah's own admission she said she can't spend the rest of her life behind bars, which she will. BUT if she spilled the beans on Dexter, her sentence would be reduced SO MUCH! And I know she said that no one would believe her but all she'd have to do is mention the fact that Dexter wanted to go after Astrada. How would she know the information about Dexter if she wasn't telling the truth. Sign, sealed and delivered, The Police would have the drop on Dexter and he'd be none the wiser. I mean after all Hannah's whole philosophy has been "Doing what she had to do to survive.", she sure as hell couldn't kill Dexter, so if she's going down, why not take him with her? Honestly, her whole flimsy excuse of not telling the police because she "loves" Dexter is the biggest piece of Deus Ex Machina I've ever seen. I mean if she told her lawyer that he'd tell her point blank that she's an idiot. I know what you're all thinking, Trinity could have done the same thing and spilled the beans about Dexter when he arrived at Miami Metro, well you'd be wrong because at that point in time Miami Metro didn't know who Trinity was, Hannah however was already caught and if she REALLY doesn't wanna go to prison for the rest of her life she'd turn in Dexter...after all he did turn her in, and by her own words he should have killed her. Her reasons for doing this is completely illogical, and NO, I refuse to accept the "in love" reason. Debra not immediately arresting Dexter after catching him, THAT'S LOVE! Hannah not telling the police immediately about Dexter, THAT'S BULLSHIT!

And worst of all, the WORST thing about this is the fact that THIS is the character who gets to survive, not Louis, a multi-faceted character who had potential building SINCE Season 6, only to get a gun shot in the head, no a painfully one dimensional character like Hannah gets to survive for another Season, excuse me while I go vomit. I'm serious, I honestly don't give a crap about her, I really don't. She honestly has no potential to be interesting, NONE WHATSOEVER! Unless she's revealed to be Dexter's sister because hell at this point in time the writers can throw in everything and the kitchen sink since the Series is ending this season. For more reasons to hate Hannah, check out my blog "Why We Hate Hannah McKay".

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Limp Knife Syndrome...happens to every Serial Killer from time to time...

You know a character is COMPLETELY useless when he's introduced and killed in the same episode. As if this show didn't have enough glaring issues, glaring but excusable because the writing is good, the characters are engaging and we let a lot of things. Example, Astor and Cody were pretty much deus ex machina'ed out of the series and while it helps the plot immensely it makes perfect sense! After all they aren't his biological children, they do have grandparents both on their mom and father's side, Dexter is a father, he going to need to focus on Harrison, without Rita, so it made perfect sense that they'd leave the show. But Hannah's father...okay, just to back track, at this point in time Isaac Sirko is dead and the show has NO VILLAIN. Then out pops Hannah's Father who simply appears JUST to get the plot started again. And I'm sorry but you know your story is bad when you have to introduce a new character just to get it going. Because if he hadn't have shown up, NOTHING WOULD HAVE HAPPENED! NOTHING AT ALL. Debra would still be TRYING to get Hannah and failing miserably at it and that'd be it. Furthermore, his switch from Daddy Dearest to Drunk Red Neck is so jarring it's almost laughable if it wasn't so painfully obvious that he was there for other reasons. I am serious in saying this that I strongly believe the writers had NO clue what they were doing this season and wanted to try something new, hats off to them for doing so but they really dropped the ball, and Hannah's Father is clear example of that.

I wanna start by saying that Issac isn't on this list because he's a horrible character, in fact he's an excellent character and that's the reason why he's on this list as a bad thing. Confused? Let me explain. "Dexter" has had a list of consistent big bads for the Series. Brian Moser, Dexter himself for Season 2, Miguel Prado, Trinity, Jordan Chase, Travis Marshall, but who was the big bad this season? It wasn't Isaac. Granted Isaac possed a threat for awhile in the season but he was taken out at a very awkward time in the series so he couldn't be the big bad guy. Which was ultimately my reservation when I heard that Ukrainian mafia would be involved in this season. The Ukrainian Mafia is WAY above Dexter's ability to handle. So let's speculate if Dexter did indeed kill Isaac...well then he'd have the rest of the Ukrainian Mafia on his ass, and Dexter is good but the mafia is the mafia and they'll bomb your car, shoot up your house, kidnap your children, basically they're not pathological killers like Dexter is used to. He'd essentially be taking on a freakin' army, and I love Dexter but that's not a fight he'd win. Basically what I'm saying is Isaac was a wasted character who really didn't need to be in the season because his story ultimately amounted to absolutely nothing. Isaac just vanishes the police say nothing about it and he just goes mean no one was going to follow up with that? I mean seriously he was the only highest profile criminal Miami Metro ever arrested being a central figure of the Ukrainian Mafia...but ya know, whatever...I wanna be clear that this isn't a commentary on Isaac, this just a commentary on how he was used. He was unfortunately a useless sub-plot villian that somehow become more.

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"Ray, you're kinda too good for this show." "Yeah, I know."

I can't think of a single episode this season that has frustrated more than "The Dark Whatever", why? Because we already did this in Season Two. Season Two had it's faults, specifically Lila BUT the main thrust for Season Two was Dexter coming to the realization that he is who he is and Lila helped him accept that. Dexter has this wonderful speech about his false mask becoming real and his humanity comes out. The Dark Passenger was NOT some sort of other Dexter or other part of him, that's NOT how The Dark Passenger was introduced, The Dark Passenger is Dexter without the mask, who he really is at his core, the point of Season Two was the dual nature between Dexter and his humanity. Hence why Dexter is unnerved when he realizes that he is able to exhibit real human emotions. So the reason why this episode pisses me off, is because it completely undoes the entire concept of The Dark Passenger by making Dexter suddenly realize that;

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Wait, I'm responsible for all those people I killed? WHAT?!

OF COURSE YOU ARE! HOW WAS THAT EVEN IN QUESTION?! Dexter was NEVER not under the impression that it was him doing these things, he never blamed his Dark Passenger, not as an actual being. So this stupid little revelation is meaningless because it's leading us to believe that Dexter since Season 2 didn't think he was responsible for the murders he committed? Seriously? Seriously? Put it like this, Travis Marshal wasn't even aware he killed his own sister, that guys was delusional, The Phantom blamed someone else for his crimes, he was delusional, Dexter has ALWAYS been aware of what and when and how he was going to do something. One of the quirks Dexter had is that the ONLY people he's completely honest with are his victims and it's in those moments where the writing of the show is really reflective as many great revelations were revealed in the kill room, so Dexter's Dark Passenger was just another way to refer to himself. Season Seven wants us to believe that The Dark Passenger is some other side of Dexter and not Dexter himself...BULLSHIT! And no thank you.

I'm really getting annoyed by bashing Quinn because when he first came on the scene he was swavee, mysterious, clever and dashing, he was a former narc who was willing to get dirty, but over the years he's been with the show, Quinn quickly became a frat boy cliche', Season 6 being his worst showing yet. All that aside he's at least got his stuff somewhat together in this Season. So my issue isn't with Quinn but rather why the writers feel like he's the secondary character we should care about? After all, Season 5 Batista/LaGuerta romance did nothing but annoy people, Quinn's drunken heartbroken idiot shtick was completely stupid, and this Season just takes the cake with the MOST USELESS SUB-PLOT EVER! So to make a long story short, Quinn meets this stripper, they fall in love, okay, no problem so far...but here's the kicker, Quinn risks his job not once but TWICE to save this girl's life, takes a bullet for her, and the end result of this is...she breaks up with him with a note and goes to fuckin' Vegas. Look, I get that in real life, sometimes people just leave, but this is a story and a sub-plot damnit! In theory a sub-plot is supposed to address the characters in another fashion so that other characteristics are enhanced. Perfect example The Santa Meurta Brothers in Season 5, they opened up Debra to the concept that sometimes killing bad people is a good thing, so when Debra decides to let Lumen and Dexter go, that action is justified because of Debra's experience in the sub-plot.

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You're a disgrace, Quinn.

This sub-plot however was nothing but padding. But it also served a 2nd purpose which brings me to the theme this Season...Love, and for my money this was the most half-assed execution of a theme since Season 6 attempted to tackle religion. Look, it's nice that the writers want to have a theme when writing a story, but when you write a story with a theme in mind, more often than not, addressing the theme becomes paramount and the story suffers and this was the case here. I'm not against Love stories, I'm not, I actually like them if they're well done and not completely mushy. But unfortunately the theme here was not addressed in a fashion that was believable. I still don't quite understand why Dexter was in love with Hannah and why Hannah is in love with Dexter...I mean he did try to kill her and all. Long story short every character this season was in love or dealing with love in some form or fashion. Debra's love for Dexter caused her to aide Dexter is covering up Travis' murder and killing LaGuerta. Quinn's love for Nadia caused him to jeprodize his job. Isaac's love for Victor caused him to become alienated from his organization. LaGeurta's love for Doakes lead her to discovering Dexter was The Bay Harbor Butcher. Every character was dealing with a concept of love. However unlike every other character Dexter's love story was forced and unnecessary and I'm sorry to say it, but Isaac and Victor was a MUCH better love story than Dexter and Hannah. And I've said this before but I'm getting tired of the Dexter in love story, ever since Rita died the writers have been trying to pair Dexter up with someone, and pairing him up with another serial killer is just stupid and forced and the conclusion to their "romance" is also stupid and forced.

In conclusion this Season was a failed project and a missed opportunity of epic proptions, missing the opportunity to really build and use a character like Louis and failing at creating a compelling and interesting character Hannah. Considering the way Season 6 ended, we were set up for a tour de force of balls to the wall action we haven't had since Season 2, instead the story immediately loses focus in the middle of the season, has to introduce a new character to get the plot moving and the resolution just comes down to probably one of the dumbest most anti-climactic moments in Dexter history...Debra shooting LaGuerta...excuse me while I stiffle a Yawn. With the prospect of Hannah returning for the 8th and final Season of Dexter, I can honestly say that I'm not exactly interested in what's going to happen but I'll tune if for no other reason than to put this old dog to sleep. I love Dexter very much and despite my frustrations with this Season, it's still a great show, but I have a feeling that I'll be treating this like I treat "24" and that's pretty much disregarding everything after the 4th Season. I'll see you guys next time.

Hope you guys enjoyed that and be sure to check out my blog "Dexter Season 7: The Season That Wasn't". I'd like to conclude with a post from Zydoxison, who pretty much summed up everything wrong with this season, kudos. Enjoy:

"I think it’s the worst thing the writers could possibly be doing, but I can honestly say I do see a common thread that connects all of these arcs together: they all force us to see how inept Dexter is and how unrealistic it is for us to believe he could get away with what he’s doing. It seems like they’ve devoted this entire season to undoing the suspension of disbelief they’ve instilled in us this whole time so they can set up for the last season, which I’m sure will be Dexter’s last fight for survival as his true identity is revealed to the world.

Think about it: in just this episode he killed off Hannah’s father and disregarded everything that has kept him safe from the law so far and he let the police arrest a man he tried to kill even after the man saw his face. Before that he told Deb, Isaac and Hannah (maybe more) who/what he actually is, and he’s let LeGuerta conduct her investigation more or less completely unhindered even though he knows she’s on to him. Combine this with all the shortcomings and mistakes they’re forcing us to relive through LeGuerta’s findings and random mentionings about Lumen still being around, etc and we’re now viewing Dexter as an idiot rather than the criminal mastermind we’ve been expected to believe him to be.

It’s as if the writers are using these things as plot twists for their own ends instead of plot holes that most of us were willfully ignoring in order to enjoy the greater story at hand. They’re pointing at us, laughing and calling us stupid for not catching these events, even though everyone I know discussed those same things ad nauseum after each episode. It’s actually pretty insulting when you really think about it.

In conclusion, yes, I will watch the rest of this season, and yes, I’ll even watch the finale season. I’m too invested not to see it through when they’ve announced next season will be the last. I’m just hoping they do something spectacular to recapture the feelings I had for this season in the beginning. As many problems as it’s had, Dexter definitely deserves to go out on a high note."

Truer words have never been spoken...

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