Dexter: Season 6
There is a trend that has been brewing in television in recent years. The traditional concept of the heroic lead character has been significantly altered. Replacing the stalwart, trustworthy figure has been supplanted by the so called anti-hero. On the surface these figures are criminals, the types traditionally utilized as the unconscionable villain in the story. One show utilizes a chemistry teacher turned into a maker of ultras high quality methamphetamine while another depicts a soccer mom who becomes a major figure in the international drug trade. Instead of unfolding the story focusing on bringing these bad guys to justice the shows that feature them are actually able to get the audience to cheer them on. While there has always been a certain aspect of entertainment that lionizes criminals what is going on today goes beyond the popularity of gangster flicks that glorified the brutal gangster of the time. One of the strangest characters to carry their own television series is Dexter Morgan, brilliantly portrayed by award winning Michael C. Hall. You see Dexter is a blood splatter expert working for the Miami Dade police department. He is also one of the most brutal and successful serial killers on record with scores of murders spanning decades. Loosely based on the series of novels by Jeff Lindsay the writers may have departed from some of the details of the books but they have done a remarkable job of remaining true to the integrity of the characters and the issues of morality those novels explored. For many devoted fans their initial reaction was it is impossible to care about a self described monster like Dexter but for six seasons thus far it has been a cornerstone of the Showtime premium cable network. As a fan of both the books and the series I have to admit it is one of the very few shows I actually can’t wait to start a new season. With season seven ready to begin and already set as a season pass on my DVR it is time to revisit the sixth season.
It is difficult being a single parent under the most ideal circumstances. Juggling work and parenting while still eking out a modicum of time for you is one of the most arduous tasks a person can undertake. For Dexter Morgan the degree of difficulty is immeasurably greater; Dexter is a highly proficient serial killer. The conflicts inherent in balancing being a father, police technical expert and murderer is something never far from his thoughts. In this season the son he had with his late wife, Harrison, is growing up in circumstances uncomfortably similar to his own sitting in a pool of his mother’s blood. Little Harrison is at that age where he is expanding his socialization in pre-school and with sitters; each potential sources of Dexter slipping up and revealing his true vocation. Dexter is far from the traditional serial killer, he only targets victims so heinous that he is disgusted yet beyond the reach of the legal system. In some ways Dexter can be seen as an avenging angel, an aspect of his dark nature that provides an iota of justification for enjoying the series. Traditionally vigilantism plays exceptionally well with American audiences. One aspect of the series that many fans find the most intriguing id Dexter is still guided by his deceased father Harry (James Remar), former cop and Dexter’s foster father. His apparition perceivable only to Dexter reinforces his son’s guide in conduct, the Code of Harry, used in victim selection and indefectibility.
With five seasons already produced it was time to shake things up more than usual. Season six was a rebuilding year even though the show is still as strong and robust as ever. This is a novel approach to rework the elements of a series while it is still on top but in this case the idea was brilliantly conceived and executed. Deputy Chief Matthews (Geoff Pierson), an old friend of Harry’s is blackmailed by the commander of the homicide squad, María LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez). From the first episode it has been clear she is ambitious, ruthless and Machiavellian determined to rise to the top. Now that she is captain her old job was supposed to go to her ex husband, Angel Batista (David Zayas), but through some circumstances the promotion goes to Dexter’s foul mouth sister, Debbie (Jennifer Carpenter). No matter how tries to trip Debra up the new Lieutenant seems to fall upward. The major case for the season is a growing string of brutal murders where the victims are elaborately stage forming tableaus with covert meaning. It is soon discovered that the scenes are based on events depicted in the Bible book of Revelation. It is determined that this is a serial killing team quickly dubbed ‘The Dooms Day Killers’. The suspects that are connected with these bizarre murders are former Professor James Gellar (Edward James Olmos) and his student Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks).
A significant part of the success of ‘Dexter’ is the fashion in which each season is constructed upon a different aspect of morality. Last year it was the concept of fatherhood as Dexter had cope with his new paternal responsibilities. In this season the Avenging Angel concept was extended to examine the tricky topic of faith. Not so much religion per se although it is included in the exploration, but the more expansive theme of belief in something greater that ourselves. One of the first manifestations of this is shown when Dexter considers targeting a former murderer and drug addict, Brother Sam (Mos Def). He is now reformed and has built a ministry devoted to helping others. Dexter spares him and an odd friendship is formed. Brother Sam introduces Dexter to the possibility that people can change sparking a glimmer of hope in Dexter that perhaps he can rid himself of his need to kill, his ‘Dark Passenger’. The Spectral incarnation of Harry admonishes Dexter not to judge people that find guidance from an unseen authority figure. This wry moment is indicative of the intensely tight dark humor that is infused in every episode of the show.
As always the casting is perhaps the finest every assembled for a cable crime drama. Hall embodies Dexter changing his entire persona by expertly shifting some facial muscles and body language. This allows the nice guy Dexter to transform into the inner monster in a heartbeat. Carpenter has been building the emotional scaffold of Debbie from the first episode as an insecure young woman devoted to her big brother and afraid to allow her ambition to show. This season is especially good at showcasing Ms Carpenter’s considerable talents. The series has been establishing a reputation for notable season long guest stars. Olmos remains one of the most versatile and emotionally powerful actors of our time. The season’s big reveal demonstrates just how ingenious this seasoned professional is as he plays a character not there. Working opposite him Colin Hanks, son of Oscar winning Tom Hanks proves the family name is secure in the list of greats. This is bar far one of the best seasons thus far and the show has not come close to peaking.