Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Reaction to Dexter's Season 4 Finale

This post concerns my reaction to the season four finale of the television series "Dexter". For anyone unfamilar with the show, here is a short synopsis from Wikipedia: Dexter is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning American television drama series that airs on the pay-TV channel, Showtime. In February 2008 reruns began to air on CBS. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a serial killer with standards who works for the Miami Metro Police Department as a blood-spatter analyst (see the Wikipedia page for an extended synopsis).

By the way, I advise against reading any further if you have not seen season four (or the shocker ending) and plan on doing so. Because spoilers will be discussed. I'm calling this a "reaction" and not a "review" because I haven't seen a single episode of season 4 (which concluded on 12/13/2009). Because it hasn't come out on DVD yet. I saw season one without subscribing to Showtime because DirecTV re-aired it on another channel, with, presumably, the intent of getting people hooked and feeling compelled to subscribe to a pay channel in order to find out what happens in season 2.

I did become hooked, but, unfortunately for Showtime, I am a patient person. I waited until season 2 came out on DVD and purchased it. I also waited and purchased season 3 on DVD. As for season 4, I inadvertently discovered that one of the major characters had accepted a part on another television program. Why? Because they killed her off on "Dexter". So, after I found that out I wanted to know why. Turns out she was murdered by another serial killer. After she married Dexter and gave birth to his son. (The character I'm referring to is Rita Bennett, who is portrayed in seasons 1-4 by Julie Benz. Julie Benz's current TV gig is as a "recurring" character on "Desperate Housewives", a show I have never seen and have no interest in seeing).

Someone on another message board I frequent posted the following response to the "Dexter" season four finale...

It was absolutely brilliant... The absolute horror and feeling of loss are what this show is about. felt entirely appropriate. Dexter's little world gets shattered bit by bit as the series progresses ... I think what happened at the end of this season was as it should be. (I've shortened what this other person originally wrote, whittling it down to what I thought was essential. In any case, I wasn't comfortable stealing, verbatim, what someone else wrote).

Well, without seeing yet (although I know basically what happened) my response is general disagreement with this person. I wrote a response and posted it.

My thoughts (based only on what I've read) regarding the season 4 finale...

I haven't seen it yet, but I don't like the idea of killing off a character just to show you have "balls" (as an earlier poster put it) [this was a comment by someone other than person whom I quoted above]. They did the same thing on another show I really liked... Highlander. I was OK with the killing off of major characters on that show until they went to far and killed off Richie. They had established a prescient of not being afraid to kill off characters, and so they thought they needed to do something bold... but they made a mistake killing this character (and it didn't help that the episode was seriously lame-o).

With "Dexter" I thought what was going to happen was that he was going to become more and more normal (see things from an average person's point of view) as time progressed. When the show first started he wasn't even capable of participating in a romantic relationship - and now he is (or was, up until the end of the last season) a married father.

Also, I thought they were setting up a lot of threads (in regards to his relationship with Rita) that were going to be examined later on - like the fact that she had been married before Paul. And Dexter being in a relationship gave the series an excuse for gratuitous sex and nudity (which, of course a cable pay channel wants - to attract viewers). Now, how can he become involved with anyone else? He only kills other killers - wouldn't he think twice before putting another innocent woman in harm's way (as people around him seem to always be getting bumped off)?

Another reason Rita's murder bothers me... He spent the entire second season being led astray, but ended up back with her at the end. Now they've killed her off. Reminded me of Aliens, where Ripley spent the entire second half of the movie saving Newt, and then they killed her off at the beginning of the third movie. I hate it when they do that.

Also, what happens to Rita's kids? Is Dexter now going to be a single dad of three? Or will he only be a single dad of one? Will Rita's mom want custody of Cody and Astor [Rita's two children from her previous marriage to Paul]? In any case, I'd think that Dexter may want to find another home for them, seeing as it is dangerous to be around him. Who will they kill off next? His sister? I doubt it, but then again I thought Rita was safe.

Seems to me the only reason they killed her was for the shock value. They thought they were being clever in mimicking Dexter's experience of seeing his mother killed in front of him. Whatever his INFANT son saw, I doubt he will remember it. He was just to young for something he most likely won't remember to haunt him for the rest of his life (and turn him into a killer like his dad).

I know that people here generally don't approve of others judging things they have not seen or heard, but I don't have a problem doing so. This move gets a thumbs down from me. They could have come up with something better than this cheap and intellectually lazy "shocker" ending. Maybe I'll change my mind after actually seeing it, but for now this is my opinion.

6/6/2015 Update: I wrote the reaction above before watching the actual episode. In retrospect it was not that bad. I did not then (and still do not) think Rita should have been killed off, but the show went on and I still liked it... up until the last episode. "Dexter" ended on 9/22/2013 after 8 seasons and 96 episodes with Remember the Monsters?. In regards to the last season, some people did not like it, but I thought it was OK. In fact I was onboard until the last few minutes of the final episode... which is when it totally derailed.

Many reviewers have said the finale was one of the worst, and I must agree. Although, perhaps not for the reasons some give. While many people seem to think Dexter should have gotten his comeuppance, I don't know why a happy ending would have been that terrible. He already decided he no longer needed to kill, so why couldn't he have gone off with Hannah and lived happily ever after? Apparently that ending was NEVER considered. The showrunner wanted to kill Dexter but the Showtime bigwigs said no.

Instead they had Dexter come to the incorrect conclusion that he had to leave his loved ones for their own safety. Even though what put them in danger was him killing other killers, and he had just decided he no longer needed to kill. So, obviously this would not be a problem in the future. Although he should have finished off Saxon instead of deciding to turn him over to the police. Which was his real problem... that he let some people live too long. Like Trinity. He let him live thinking he could learn something from him, and Trinity ended up killing Rita.

Because Dexter learned the absolutely WRONG lesson when the writer made it appear that he had made a breakthrough, my rating for "Remember the Monsters?" is LAME-O. Killing off his sister was not right either. Not after the entire season up to that point was her suffering and finally accepting what happened at the end of the previous season. Then when she does, she's killed off! A much worse decision than killing Rita, IMO. As a faithful viewer for 8 seasons I feel betrayed. Still. Screw whoever was responsible for this horrible ending that ruined an otherwise awesome series. Seriously, you suck.

Video: ADDED 6/6/2015. Dexter season 4 finale Video posted to YouTube on 8/8/2013 (2:18).

PPP #6


  1. I've never seen this show, wd. I don't get Showtime and I've never taken the time to rent it. I've heard, though, that it's one of the very best shows on television. I've also heard that "Weeds" and "Californication" are pretty good (both of those also on Showtime). Mary Louise Parker, whew!!

  2. A comment from Willis! Strange that he took the time to comment on my blog (even though he did not do it many times). Now the dude hates my guts!


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