The Dexter season 7 DVDs finally arrived, several months earlier than previous seasons had been released. I was eager to see how the last scenes of season 6 would either change the direction of the characters and show or not. I’m a huge fan of this show, and I love the character of Dexter Morgan. It’s also an ensemble show, with other complicated characters who often create problems for Dexter with their subplots. As a writer, I learn from the actors in how they create, establish and maintain their characters. The actors on Dexter make it look effortless. Here’s my take on season 6.
The final scenes of season 6 set up season 7. Debra’s psychologist has led Debra into believing that she is in love with her brother (who was adopted). She drives to the church where Dexter is doing more forensic work, per Deb’s orders. He’s doing quite different work, however — that of his “Dark Passenger.” Dexter has captured Travis Marshall, the serial killer of season 6, wrapped him in plastic on the altar of the abandoned church where Travis had operated. Debra enters the church and sees Dexter at the altar holding a knife above a figure lying on the altar. She witnesses him killing Travis. Her gasp catches his attention, and he sees her. End of season 6.
Wow. Now what? What will Debra do? Will she arrest Dexter? What will Dexter do? What will he say? Season 7 begins at the same moment where the previous season ended, but it continues into the reactions of the brother and sister. Debra, with her service revolver aimed at Dexter, starts firing questions at him. He’s clearly startled, a little flustered, seemingly making it up as he goes. He plays on her belief in him and that she would not want to believe his truth, so he makes up a plausible reason for his actions and she believes him. But she also questions, in her mind, what she saw with her own eyes, and begins to investigate her brother. He has pulled her into his world by her willingness to help him cover up their presence at the abandoned church. This is not a comfortable place for Debra, who’s now a lieutenant in the Miami Metro Police.
Almost everything that happens between Debra and Dexter for the next 11 episodes originates in episode 1. Once Debra figures out that Dexter is a serial killer, she embarks on a journey first to deny it, then to try to cure him, then to not want to know or be involved, and then finally to find herself caught between Dexter and the police. Dexter’s journey is a different one. He goes along with everything that Debra asks of him and tries, but his Dark Passenger will be satisfied. He has opportunities to assess how his father, Harry, brought him up to abide by his “Code” to control Dexter’s dark impulses, and how other “serial” killers deal with their dark impulses. The superb British actor Ray Stevenson plays a charming, elegant Ukrainian mob boss with an extremely personal and poignant secret that sends him after Dexter for revenge. The death of a spree killer brings Dexter into contact with the young woman who, years before, had been the spree killer’s partner. Once again Dexter thinks he’s found someone who truly understands him, and with whom he can truly be himself.
Season 7 has a high body count which doesn’t take into account the high level of emotional and psychological suspense in each episode. Dexter and Debra struggle to make sense of their familial relationship, their jobs in light of Dexter’s extracurricular activities, and how they will move forward together and individually. Subplots interfere at times with their struggle or give Dexter new opportunities to explore his Dark Passenger. Dexter changes in a very, very scary way by the end, as does Debra, but it makes absolute sense considering what they’ve been through. Other characters who embark on journeys in this season include Batista, who decides to retire; Quinn who once again allows the head between his legs to think for him; and LaGuerta, who brings back memories of Sgt. Doakes and could be the most dangerous threat to Dexter. Harrison is now three, and we see Cody and Astor who come for a visit. I think the writers and producers made the right decision not to have any one “villain” for this season. It gives Dexter and Debra’s struggle the primacy it deserves.
This Showtime TV series is bloody, violent, at times unbelievably gruesome. It blurs the line between good and evil, questioning our moral beliefs while showing another set of beliefs can create a new morality, very similar to Hannibal Lecter. As character study, it is rich, deep, and multi-faceted — a research treasure trove for a writer……