Tag Archives: michael c hall

Looking Back On “Dexter”: What made the show so great and frustrating all at once?

22 Sep

dexter-poster(Spoilers for the whole series) We’re near the end, folks. After 8 seasons and 96 episodes, the once beloved serial killer drama is at the finish line. I thought I’d take a second and reflect on what place this show has in our cultural landscape, as well as offer a final evaluation of the show sans finale.

Let’s head back to October 1, 2006, the day of the Dexter series premiere. The show premiered in that space right after the end of “The Sopranos”, during the run of “The Shield”, and before the start of “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad”. It was, and still is, a television world dominated by anti-heroes. Dexter Morgan fit right in.

Michael C. Hall, fresh off of “Six Feet Under”, was cast as the titular character, a likeable blood spatter analyst that spent his nights offing criminals. It was an intriguing premise, and we were asked to think about our morals for a second: Is this right? Is this a person I should be rooting for? Yet, most people overwhelmingly said yes, choosing to ride along with Dexter as he navigated the fine line between crime and clean up. We watched as the first season, filled with so much potential, threw us into this world, exploring the relationship of Dexter and his brother. We watched breathlessly as the second season forced Dexter to cover his tracks more than ever before, playing off the tense, darkly comedic dichotomy of Dexter and Doakes. We watched Dexter find someone else like him in season three, and we watched Dexter deal with a terrifying family man (and one of the best villains of all time), the Trinity Killer, in season four. We then watched as Dexter went downhill from there, and here we are.

What made people stick so long with the show, though? Why did we even get into it? I’m sure everyone has a different answer, but here’s the main foundation: this is a guy that never wanted to be this way. He was always an outsider, and he has had to act his whole life. Yet, the show also plays off the idea that every single one of us has a Dark Passenger, just like him. The character of Dexter Morgan is a safe place to turn those thoughts to, and we don’t suffer the consequences. We can sympathize and relate, and it makes him much more compelling.

Dexter-cast-says-goodbye-at-Comic-Con-3Back to 2006. Dexter-mania swept across the nation. We nominated the show year after year, we bought T-shirts and other products, and we idolized the character. He was always a steady force, never changing, Yet, this is what hurt the show in the long run. “Dexter” is a show that is able to sustain itself for eight seasons, but it’s a show that shouldn’t do so; this is especially the case for a show in which the main character is pretty much the only interesting character (with the exception of Deb and several villains). I knew Showtime was going to milk as much money out of it as possible, and I accepted that it would overstay its welcome. I was right.

In fact, the show was starting to show signs off this at the end of season 2. Doakes was killed, and Dexter got off without facing consequences. That would’ve been fine there, but year after year afterwards, he never had to truly come to terms with his life and its consequences. Even after Rita’s death, we didn’t feel as many reverberating effects as we should have. Debra Morgan, played by the magnificent Jennifer Carpenter, found out about Dexter’s secret, and then what? At first, that arc was brilliant; Deb had to struggle over whether or not to side with her brother or the law, and her choice made sense. The thing is, when that storyline still hasn’t come to a resolution, you know there’s been a lot of wheel spinning going on. The first few episodes of this final season dealt with this, but Deb eventually wandered off on her own.

While we’re at it, let’s come back to the present and look at the final season. It is a season of wasted opportunity that started near the end of season 7, the season that wasted the brilliant Isaac Sirko and introduced the middling Hannah McKay. I don’t buy Dexter and Hannah’s relationship, and I wish it never came to fruition. In fact, he had more chemistry with Lumen. Dexter should’ve been on the run by now, and his biggest problem shouldn’t be whether or not he catches his flight to Argentina. He shouldn’t have to be dealing with the multitude of new characters; he should be facing both his inner demons and his friends/family. He was never a monster, but he does have to pay.

seriesfinaledexterPerhaps I’m being too nitpicky about an idealistic show in which a regular guy goes around dispatching baddies. Still, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for one of my favorite shows to actually have an endgame. Whether or not the finale is a convoluted mess (more likely) or a masterpiece, one thing is for certain: “Dexter” will always remain one of the most iconic shows of all time. I’m not sure how I feel about that argument, and I wish I could agree…if only the show hadn’t been elongated due to greed, and had scratched the surface of the characters.

Still, I’ll be watching tonight. Farewell, Dexter. Don’t drop Harrison in the water by accident or something. Actually, that would be hilarious.

Credit to Showtime and Dexter for all pictures. I own nothing.

Dexter “Monkey In A Box” Review (8×11)

16 Sep

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Well, we’re heading into the final episode of Dexter, and we don’t seem to be anywhere near a satisfying conclusion. Yes, Saxon’s on the loose and Deb’s been shot, but it doesn’t feel as if we’re nearing an ending. First of all, Saxon hasn’t been an interesting character since he’s been a character, and the writers haven’t been able to milk any tension at all out of his relationship with Dexter. There are just so many plot inconsistencies and so much subpar acting that any interest I had originally is gone.

That’s not to say I don’t like the idea. There are many ideas I like, but the show’s problem is that it doesn’t fully expand on them. Oliver-Dexter COULD be a fantastic dynamic to explore. Deb getting shot COULD have felt like more of a significant event. The show COULD have been better. It just isn’t.

In this episode, we have Dexter saying his goodbyes around Miami Metro. Hall does what he can, and his reaction to the realization that he’ll miss everyone is fantastic. The only person truly conveying a sense of finality in the episode is Dexter, and I can only wish we had seen more exploration of his character. His decreased compulsion to kill could’ve been interesting, but instead, we’re hit over the head with constant reminders of how Dexter has changed. In fact, he’s changed so much that Ghost Harry’s gone! It seems as if this show’s idea of character development is telling us that they’ve developed.

Anyway, his character still remains frustratingly stubborn, especially with the notion that he has to kill Saxon. What’s wrong with just walking away? Why not? He doesn’t even end up killing Saxon, anyway. Dexter’s a guy that has to choose between two lives right now, and he says himself that Hannah’s more important to him. Get out of Miami, man! Still, I’ll reiterate the fact that the show shouldn’t be just exploring the “two worlds” concept; they should be exploring his motivations as a killer. The only thing now that could possibly do this is Deb’s death, and it’s certainly a possibility given the fact that she ends the episode shot in the stomach. It’s obviously meant to make Dexter feel guilty, but it just doesn’t have the weight it should. It feels tacked on, and it shouldn’t. Everything shouldn’t revolve around Dexter; Dexter should revolve around everything.

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GRADE: C

Other thoughts:

-Dexter probably won’t get caught. It’s a shame, because that was one thing I was looking forward to this season.

-Masuka and his daughter are there still. Elway’s snooping around. Harrison eats donuts.

-Wow, Lem (still sticking with this name). U.S. Marshals don’t watch the news? Untying Saxon, that wanted man on the TV, is kind of stupid.

-The callbacks they attempt come across as lame and unnecessary. Prado’s sister returns for some reason, Dexter name drops Astor and Cody all over the place, and everyone’s reminiscing about the past. That doesn’t sound like a penultimate episode of a show, does it?

-That last voiceover…jeez. The light metaphor just goes on and on and on, and that last shot seems like a reference to the opening credits or something.

-Deb and Hannah looooove Dexter. Cool. If Hannah wasn’t here, imagine how much more time Deb and Dexter could have together. It’d be a much different show.

-Quinn has a ring. I care because…?

-Next week, the storm blows everyone away and destroys Argentina.

Credit to Showtime and Dexter for all pictures. I own nothing.

Dexter “Goodbye Miami” Review (8×10)

9 Sep

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“Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Owwww!”

This is both Harrison Morgan and myself reacting to the events that have transpired in this tenth (TENTH!) episode of the final season of Dexter. I am being hit over the head so much it hurts. I can’t even fathom how the writers think this is what a final season constitutes.

This episode is mostly talk, which would be fine, except almost every single conversation is handled like it’s the most boring thing in the world. Where’s the urgency? Where are the consequences? Where’s the tension? A supposedly huge event like Vogel’s death should reverberate across the whole fabric of the show, but here, it just winds up feeling cheap and tacky. Frankly, I’m disappointed with the way they have handled her character this season. She was introduced to delve deeper into Dexter’s past and his mental psyche, but she leaves without really lending herself to any character development on Dexter’s part.

In fact, his motivations are extremely muddled all throughout. I get that he wants to make a better life for himself, but why exactly does he still need to kill Saxon? Why does he still need to stay to protect Vogel? Him staying only hurts her. If he had left, Saxon most likely wouldn’t have killed his mom, and everything would be fine and dandy. But no, the writers have to contrive an excuse for Dexter to remain in Miami for a couple more episodes. I get that he has a compulsion to kill and all, but this whole Brain Surgeon situation is not something that should be expanded upon so late in the series. I like the relationship between Vogel and Saxon, but the acting doesn’t take us far enough into it.

Also, where does Hannah fit into all this? Dexter’s about to move to Argentina because of her, and we don’t see much more of their relationship than sex and vague conversations. If you think about it, we haven’t really learned much about the character of Dexter Morgan throughout this whole series, so any relationship he has winds up being pushed off to the side. The strongest relationship is (was) Dexter-Deb, but now Deb is off on her own, making out with Quinn this week. I do, however, like the conversation between her and Dexter in which she tells him that she’s miss him. It evokes feelings of nostalgia, eh? It reminds me of a time…a time in which this relationship was actually genuine and compelling.

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We also have Curtis Lemansky (I know that’s not his name here, but I can’t help it) continuing to investigate everything, Quinn breaking up with Jamie, Harrison falling on a treadmill, and other stuff we really don’t care much about. Perhaps Isaac can return next week and kill everyone.

Grade: C-

Other thoughts:

-Harrison falling down is the most hilarious thing ever. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

-“Harrison, I wanna hear all about what you’ve done these past eight months.” …uh, being annoying and playing with puzzles?

-Right, Hannah. Walk into a hospital and use Harrison’s real name…you know, the one with the last name of a serial killer that you know a federal marshal’s looking for….smart as always!

-Masuka’s daughter likes to smoke pot.

-“See Astor and Cody one last time” is on Dexter’s list. My, he knows they exist!

-Rampling does the best with what she has, and I like the contrast in demeanors from the beginning and the end of the season.

-Seriously, Dexter, Saxon wants to be you. Let Vogel deal with him. Go to Argentina already. Jeez.

Credit to Showtime and Dexter for all pictures. I own nothing.

Dexter “Make Your Own Kind of Music” Review (8×08)

27 Aug

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“……

………

……….she’s my mom!”

What irritates me the most about this final season is that there are absolutely no stakes. The introduction of Evelyn Vogel seems intriguing on the surface, but when you look closer, you realize that the writers have put absolutely no thought into her character. Take this episode, for example. Vogel’s never seen her son’s body, her son used to leave her stuff just like the Brain Surgeon does (HINT HINT!), and oh, her son’s also a psychopath. I think most people would put two and two together, and not get five.

It’s not just her character, though. The writers have zero interest in creating a compelling world around the titular character, and not even an actor like Michael C. Hall can hold this show up for long. Even Deb, that one supposed thorn in Dexter’s side, is off screwing around with Quinn and Elway and whatnot. I mean, like, did the whole attempted drowning scenario just vanish off the face of the Earth? Jennifer Carpenter’s a more than capable actress, writers. Just look at the first few episodes of the season.

Anyway, in this episode, we had the whole Oliver Saxon plot, one in which I was constantly shaking my head in confusion and laughing my head off. Why is this even important? I don’t really care who he killed or that he’s Vogel’s son. Oh, and the way Dexter conveniently finds the dude is hilarious. Zach, in his “cutting my head open”-defying ways, is able to somehow leave some evidence that Dexter finds, who then magically throws it into his crazy computer-megatron face scanner, and voilĂ ! It’s Ryan Gosling!

This season has been really terrible about introducing new characters, then focusing on them more than the supposed main characters. We’re in a final season, folks. Are the writers setting up a Harrison-Saxon showdown or something? That would actually be hilarious. Speaking of, I really don’t get why we have to be constantly barraged with the whole “LET’S MOVE TO ARGENTINA, BABY!” stuff, as it’s becoming increasingly obvious that that won’t happen. This Hannah-Dexter relationship is getting tiresome, the actors have no chemistry, and the writers are staring straight ahead, focusing solely on Dexter. In eight years, he’s been constantly elevated above the rest of the cast, facing absolutely NO consequences in which he’s been blamed (does he even care about Rita now?). That was fine for a while, but once again, FINAL SEASON=ENDGAME.

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I appreciate the fact that the episode was trying to bring everything together to set the wheels in motion for the endgame. However, the endgame was introduced a few seasons ago, then took a break, and is now suddenly being re-introduced in the final 3 episodes of the season. I liked the way the season started off, but it’s taken several turns for the worst. Dexter should be exploring the moral complexities of its titular character, delving into his relationships with and influence on the people around him. He should be facing consequences for his actions, either through legal action or conflict within his family. Instead, we get Harrison and his pancakes.

Grade: C

Other Thoughts:

-Kenny Johnson’s amazing, but he’s introduced here as yet another idiot cop. Yeah, a blood spatter analyst makes enough to buy houses for random people.

-Yvonne Strahovski wore a pink dress.

-Masuka’s daughter? Yeah, I don’t know what she’s doing here, either.

-Deb lets Hannah stay with her and eats her food because why?

-What about the Maria LaGuerta Memorial Bench? No one’s sitting on it!

Credit to Showtime and Dexter for all pictures. I own nothing.

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