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Dexter Season 7

Dexter: Season 7

What he said:

He

This review is going to have spoilers. If you have not seen this season yet and don’t’ want anything ruined, you might want to skip it. I will try and keep them as vague as possible for those who haven’t seen it yet, but I don’t feel I can give this season a proper review without delving into some of the events of this past season and the end of last. You’ve been warned.

The season opens up right where the previous one (review here) left off. For the first time ever, his sister Deb walked in on Dexter making a kill. It was one of the bigger moments in the show’s history. Dexter (Michael C. Hall) cares for Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) a great deal and doesn’t want to do anything to compromise her wellbeing or safety. Sure, he doesn’t want to get caught either, but she is one of the few people he truly cares about, and has kept his activities a secret to protect her.

Dexter Season 7

Deb is in total shock at the sight of this. She’s ready to arrest him on the spot. He talks her down and eventually has to confess this isn’t the first time he’s done this. He is hesitant to tell her (again for both her safety and his own) about his true nature, but is forced to as she catches on more-and-more and appears ready to turn him in. It is here that Dexter explains to her he is a serial killer. Naturally, she’s disgusted. He tries to calm her by explaining that their father (deceased cop Harry Morgan) knew and was the one who came up with the idea of Dexter only killing other killers. She is sickened by the whole thing, but still doesn’t turn him in. She has strong (and “complicated”) feelings for her step brother, and actually starts to warm to the idea of him killing killers. She doesn’t give it her blessing, but comes to understand why Harry did what he did with Dexter; especially as they encounter maniacs like Roy Speltzer. Speltzer is a violent murderer of women and Deb is almost one of his victims. As ashamed as she is by the revelation, she eventually realizes that the system doesn’t always work, as Speltzer walks free on a technicality.  She begins to think that maybe someone like Dexter is necessary to deal with people like Speltzer.

Things become complicated when Hannah McKay comes into Dexter’s life. Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) went on a murderous joyride across the country when she was in her teens. She copped a deal and got off with immunity for testifying against her former boyfriend (and accomplice). This was years ago, but law enforcement reaches out to her when her former boyfriend begins confessing the locations of the bodies of his victims. He claims he wants to make peace himself and she was brought in to help out with some of the details. She’s the perfect prey for Dexter. She fits the profile of his routine kills. The problem is that he hesitates when she shows very little fear of being his next victim. Unlike a lot of his victims, she isn’t scared. She seems to accept what Dexter is and what is about to happen to her. After years of being lonely, withdrawn, and having to hide his nighttime hobby, Dexter is intrigued by the fact that she sees him for what he is and accepts it.  He’s a killer and she doesn’t care. For the first time ever, Dexter lets one of his victims live. He knowingly lets a killer live. This is huge. Dexter hits a point in his life that he’s willing to compromise who he is if it means being truly happy.

This revelation was largely possible due to another nemesis from this season. Mobster Isaak Sirko (Ray Stevenson) says something that sticks with Dexter. Of all the people take advice about your love life, Dex chooses a mobster. Isaak tells him that there are few things in life that matter more than being happy and in love. It really resonates with Dexter. Taking relationship advice from a guy like Isaak is not the smartest thing in the world, but Dexter isn’t exactly the most stable individual. Dexter has always kind of had this dual aspect of his personality going on. He’s very calm as far as most people know, but his victims see the beast inside them when he’s about to kill them. He’s also very smart, but can seem almost childlike at other times. Dexter is an intelligent person, but is like a little kid when it comes to certain things. He’s always hiding things from people and when someone comes along that he can be himself around, he seems to not care at all who she is and what horrible things she’s done. It’s kind of a big change for a character who – despite the fact that he’s a pretty F’d up guy –has always been quite likeable.

Those conflicting aspects of his personality are a mirror for how I felt about him this season. You understand why he reacts the way he does, but you might not necessarily like it.

I did not start watching Dexter when it initially aired on Showtime. I had heard of it, thought it sounded pretty interesting, but didn’t have Showtime at that time. I’m also the kind of person who cannot start watching a show part way through. It goes against everything I believe in when it comes to TV/movie viewing. I don’t want anything ruined for me and don’t see why anyone would. Any references to characters or events from past seasons I have not seen would do just that. I believe all the chatter on Facebook about the season 4 finale is what finally did me in. I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I had to see what all the fuss was about, so I went out and rented the first four seasons the summer before season five. I have been hooked ever since.

I think the thing that caught me off-guard was just how much I liked Dexter (the character). All I knew about the show was that it was about a serial killer. I didn’t know who Dexter was and what he actually did. If you haven’t seen the show, Dexter is no ordinary serial killer. Yes, he does kill people, and he does it often.  However, he only goes after killers who escape the justice system. Dexter only kills killers. That’s not the worst thing in the world….right? In fact, deep down, how many of us can say we actually kind of like the idea of that? Come on, admit it. Who wasn’t livid when Casey Anthony walked free last summer? Whose jaw didn’t drop when OJ was acquitted all those years ago? You quietly hoped that one day someone would give them their comeuppance didn’t you? You wouldn’t be human if you’ve never had some kind of feelings of revenge at one point or another in your life. So when a fictional character came along that actually did just that, I had to smile at this sinfully delightful concept. Yes, Dexter is a disturbed guy. He kills people, cuts them up into little pieces, and dumps them into the ocean when done with them, but he is our disturbed guy. He represented that dark part of our personality that wants to see the wrong thing done for the right reasons. You start out kind of appalled at yourself for thinking that way, but come to accept it the more you watch the show, especially the more you are exposed to some of the terrible people he encounters. There are some truly disturbed people in this world. Just turn on the  TV and you’ll see examples every day. So the idea of someone who takes care of those who escape from the law appeal is such a guilty pleasure.

He’s also a likeable guy. Dexter is a pretty awkward and this often makes for some amusing social interactions with his colleagues. He’s also got a soft spot in his black heart for kids. His tolerance for crimes against children is nonexistent and he takes extra pleasure in delivering justice to those who commit them.

That all changed this year though when Dexter decides he wants to be with Hannah and actually protects her when new investigations are brought against her. Things get even worse as the season progresses and pressure from the law – particularly Captain LaGuerta – start to threaten his secret identity. I won’t say what happened, but I will say this season finale was one of the most shocking   moments in the show’s history. I think the show is making a logical decision by heading in what seems like a very dark direction for Dexter and others around him. When you live by the sword, you die by the sword, you know? It makes sense to me that Dexter is unlikely to have a happy ending. I just didn’t see this particular route coming, which is good because it surprised me, but saddens me a little as characters I have genuinely liked are changing.  It’s realistic, surprising, but kind of a bummer. For the first time ever, I can say with confidence I’m not on Dexter’s side anymore. You can bet your ass I’ll be tuning in to see how the show wraps up in next year’s series finale.

In the last few seasons Dexter has had some shoddy writing at times. Some of the side stories/characters are forgotten part way through the season, or handled in a very rushed and frankly bizarre manner. There’s times where these storylines and characters seemingly go nowhere. Sometimes Dexter’s kills are a little too unbelievable. He should have been caught a few different times now. But the show has an interesting concept and strong acting. Michael C. Hall is always good. His portrayal of this character that has many layers to him is always solid. That’s only magnified as he comes under more stress than ever, as people are catching onto him. Jennifer Carpenter is usually good as his stepsister Deb too, but she really stood out this year. I wouldn’t be shocked if she wins an Emmy this year. At the very least, she should be nominated. Ray Stevenson was a great guest character. Isaak starts out pretty stereotypical, but the more you get to know about him, the more you appreciate the performance.  I also have to tip my hat to Lauren Vélez and her portrayal as Captain Maria LaGuerta.LaGuerta is not a very likeable person. She never has been. She cares about her career more than anything and will do anything she can to keep climbing that ladder. However, you might find yourself conflicted as you watch her inch closer-and-closer to discovering Dexter’s true identity. You might not like her, but you can’t hold it against her that she’s trying catch a killer. She’s not doing anything wrong at all by following her instincts and being a good cop. Whether we like her or not is irrelevant, but just like this season, it makes for some conflicting feelings.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on December 27, 2012.

What she said:

She

Dexter Morgan has come a long way.  Actually, I should clarify that statement.  Dexter Morgan has been through a lot.  However, on many levels he’s been regressing of late.  He’s a sloppier killer than ever before, constantly breaking the rules that he and Harry Morgan laid out for him.  His failures have also begun to hurt the ones he loves most—his son, his colleagues, and worst of all, his sister Debra.

Season 7 really is about Dexter and Debra.  His secret has now been revealed to her, and it’s interesting to watch how she reacts.  Debra loves Dexter more than she can even comprehend, but she’s also the Lieutenant at Miami Metro, and her career is like her baby.  More than that, she’s a cop to the core.  How can she continue to live her life normally knowing that Dexter kills people, even if they aren’t exactly upstanding citizens that he knocks off?

There is nothing normal about Season 7.  You’ve got Debra heavily conflicted—in love with her brother and yet hating him for what he does—, Dexter falling in love with a known murderer, Hannah McKay, and the rest of Miami Metro struggling to close any of their cases.  Batista, Quinn, and Masuka feel like non-players this year.  There’s a storyline involving Quinn, the Ukrainian mob, and a stripper, but that background to the Dexter/ Debra drama.  Batista also struggles with the notion of retiring and focusing on starting his own restaurant.  Masuka, well, I don’t think he really does anything in Season 7.

Dexter Season 7

LaGuerta is more unlikable than ever.  Upon discovering a blood slide at the scene of Travis Marshall’s murder, she begins to realize that the Bay Harbor Butcher may not be dead, something she has long suspected and hoped for.  You see, LaGuerta has a blinding love for her former partner and the now deceased Doakes, and she’ll stop at nothing to clear his name as the Bay Harbor Butcher (you’ll recall Dexter set up).  As she secretly investigates, she collects circumstantial evidence that points to Dexter, and this puts Debra in an even more awkward position, as she’s forced to decide if she’s willing to stand up for her brother.  Dexter and Debra have to stay one step ahead of LaGuerta, which becomes increasingly difficult as she begins to foil them at every turn. 

And then there’s the story arch of Hannah McKay.  She’s probably the one person that you’ll grow to dislike more than LaGuerta.  Hannah is a beautiful black widow.  She’s been involved in several murders, and even was an accomplice to an admitted serial killer, but she’s always able to keep herself out of jail by hiding evidence just well enough.  Dexter knows she’s a ruthless killer, but he’s entranced by her, and the two begin a relationship.  Dexter actually believes that he’s falling in love, and it’s hard to figure out if Hannah feels the same way or if she’s just using him. Either way, you don’t want Hannah around, because she’s a threat and downright dangerous.  Debra takes a particular disliking to Hannah, and is committed to finding the evidence that will nail her once and for all.  Again, she struggles with this because she cares for Dexter and wants his happiness, but she cannot bring herself to let Hannah walk free.  So this all weaves into the bigger question for Debra—where does she draw the line?  Is it ok for Dexter to be a murderer while it’s not ok for Hannah?  Do we really differentiate based on who they kill?  These are some of the big questions that Season 7 asks. 

Dexter Season 7

Ultimately, Debra begins to unravel.  There are no winners in Season 7.  Everyone is now flawed and no one is perfectly likable.  Dexter has become self-serving and flagrant.  Debra is falling apart.  LaGuerta is a raging b*&#^, and the rest of Miami Metro seem like shells of their former selves.  The plot of Season 7 is going to carry over into Season 8, the last hoorah for Dexter.  It will be interesting to see where everyone ends up.  This much is clear; it’s not going to be a clean finish for Dexter.  Lives are going to be lost and tears shed.  And there’s no turning back from here.

So, how did I feel about Season 7?  Overall, I liked it more than both Seasons 5 and 6.  There was more at stake this season, which made things very intense and interesting.  Unfortunately, things did get pretty sloppy.  There were some storylines that I think were started and then abandoned, and others that, as a viewer, I just didn’t care much about.  I also don’t like how much of a joke Miami Metro has turned into.  Let’s be honest, they never were the brightest bunch of detectives, but they’re worse than ever before.  Are they out there solving any crimes?  I’m not opposed to the direction that the writers decided to go in with several of the characters; however it is difficult to want to root for anyone.  That’s ok, but notable.  I imagine a lot of people probably hated this season.  The relationship development between Dexter and Debra might be a huge turnoff for some, and it can be taxing at times.  But I think that the superb acting of Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter made up for the writing lapses. 

Season 7 definitely had its flaws, but I admit that it was wholly entertaining.  For that, I give it a thumbs up.

Thumbs up.

 

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