Friday, February 4, 2011


After every season of Dexter, I ask myself, "How in the golden globes are they going to top that next year?" And every year they find a way, and how.

For those who haven't watched Seasons 1-4, stop right here: Spoilers ahead. Also, go do yourselves a favour and watch them all. For those who haven't yet watched season 5, don't worry-- I wont give away any endings to the mysteries, but I will be discussing the plot lines.

The Dexter Morgan we knew from season 1 is all but gone. That Dexter didn't feel human, was disconnected, had no sense of the past, felt no emotion or bond with anybody. Everyday was a charade for him. He relied on nobody, and needed none to lean on. His devotion to his father, Harry was unquestioned: as far as he knew, Harry saved him and equipped him for the battle that would be life. But, like I said, that Dexter is gone.

Somewhere between discovering his bloody past and the relentless love, tolerance and devotion showed by his sister, Rita, her kids and even his colleagues, Dexter was practically dragged back into society, kicking and screaming. And we were all so happy for his self-discovery at the end of season 4, when he realized that he didn't need to be a monster; that he could be a good father and a loving husband, that his smiles and jokes need no longer be a charade. Which is why, it hurt so bad, at the end of season 4 when he discovers Rita and Harrison in the bathroom.

Season 5 picks up the story, right from the moment when he discovers Rita. Dexter is numb and blames himself for her death, feels himself regressing back into his non-human self, when he never had to feel any pain or emotion. When he did not bring death to people who loved him selflessly. It isn't easy for him to close himself off from people anymore-- too many people count on him, especially his three children. And his guilt for Rita's death wont be easily assuaged. He decides to undergo some old fashioned murder-therapy by killing an odious man who has been murdering young women-- except, the kill goes horribly wrong. Turns out, this chap has a live victim in his house, and she saw everything.

While the last season was about Dexter's anxiety about being a good father, this season has him trying very hard to be a father to adolescent Astor. And boy is she a handful! He worries that little Harrison too would be 'born in blood' like him, having been witness to his mother's murder. He fears that his little 10-month old son will also be haunted by a Dark Passenger.

The other interesting change is that Dexter has almost unconsciously become dependent on people. In the other seasons, he realized that he HAD to be alone-- his last efforts to confide in people went so terribly wrong, what with crazy Lila and crazier Miguel Prado. But this season, he knows he cant do it alone anymore, and doesn't even try. From a Superhero Irish nurse to another person who was 'born in blood'-- he needs them now. And that perhaps, is Dexter's biggest milestone in humanization.

The other masterfully portrayed subject was his coming to terms with Rita's death. In the beginning, Dexter never loved anybody, not even Rita. She was a useful cover because she had two lovely children and was too emotionally scarred to want to be intimate with him. But it changed-- she wanted more from him. Perhaps that was one of the biggest factors in his humanization: that she refused to believe in his darkness, but only in his inherent goodness, and that she felt he would be a great father. He suddenly wanted nothing more than to live a normal life, and be the person she thought he was. And when she died, he realizes that all those things he felt for her and the turmoil from her loss is what everybody calls 'love'. He realizes that he is capable of love, after all.

In the last season, Dexter was Arthur Mitchell's apprentice (sort of) but this time, he takes on the role of the master to an apprentice. And it makes for a very fresh insight into Dexter's psyche because we've never seen him work with anybody before (except those disastrous times in seasons 2 and 3). His apprentice is played by the lovely Julia Stiles whose combination of steel and sadness is breathtaking. And Dexter's interaction with her has never made him seem more human.

While Season 4 ended on a bitter note, that he was some kind of an ill-luck charm for everybody around him and that he could never have that normal life, season 5 ends on a very hopeful note. Perhaps his son wont have sociopathic tendencies after all, perhaps he will be able to live the normal life and best of all, perhaps he may be able to say goodbye to his Dark Passenger.

My only quibble with season 5 was that the central antagonist was just not satisfying, after having watched John Lithgow's consummate portrayal of Arthur Mitchell in season 4. Arthur Mitchell has to be one of the coldest and most well-developed antagonists to have graced the television, so it is understandable that bettering that act would have been nothing short of a miracle.

(Read on only if you have watched Season 5)

As you may know,
Dexter has been renewed for a season 6. What can we expect from this season? Well, for one, the whole Kyle Butler angle was not resolved in season 5, so that will probably come back (along with the Mitchell family).

Second, Quinn now knows for sure that Dexter has something to hide, but will he do anything about it, given how cozy things are getting with him and Debra? Or might this be the season when Debra learns the truth about her brother?

Astor's no longer a child and nor is Cody, so he'd have to be especially careful about his nocturnal activities now given how sneaky and curious kids are (assuming they come back to live with him).

Finally, the big question on everybody's minds is, will Lumen come back? While I want her to, I don't think she will. What Dexter and her had was an idyll, and I don't doubt what they had was true love. Now that her vengeance is complete, it is only right for her to move on and for Dexter to let her go. But my greatest hope for season 6 is that Dexter is finally able to let go of his inner demons.


  1. This may sound a bit cynical but will Dexter be interesting at all if he is humanised completely? It may be a fitting way to end the series but till then they have to keep the dark passenger around....and which is why Lumen should not come back...not that one doesn't want to see more of Julia Stiles!

  2. Apparently there will definitely be a 7th season which may or may not be the last. I think the 7th season will be about comeuppance-- you don't just wander around killing people (as bad as they were) without any consequences. Obviously Debra will find out eventually.

    And get this: apparently women form the highest viewership of Dexter because women like "damaged men who are also nice and physically strong". Since his damaged-ness is apparently like a magnet for us ladies, doubt they'll reform him too soon!