The third year of Showtime's DEXTER has now ended, with neither a bang or a whimper. I can't say that it was my favorite season so far, as Dexter's baby and pending marriage B story was never something I approved of. But "Dexter" at 75% of wonderful is still 3 times better than any other crime drama out there in television land.
The final episode had a few surprises, a sprinkle of thrills and even some sappy sweet stuff that left me a little misty eyed. Dexter gave us a glimpse of his compassionate side by sparing Miguel's alcoholic brother Ramon. He showed a rare action-adventure persona by escaping from the evil "Skinner" and dispatching him with a very physical and un-Dexterlike snap of the neck. But the best frames for Michael C. Hall's formidable acting chops were the flashbacks with dear old Dad...who reminded him of why life is worth living. And how to loop his necktie. Hall, whose character is so capable of unblinking, almost cheerful murder, can also make us care, when he remembers the good times with his equally demented father. I can't think of another actor capable of such a crazy balancing act.
Ultimately, it's that balance that makes us return to this program season after season. There are a few law abiding professions in this country which require people to kill. Navy Seals, special forces soldiers, CIA operatives and sometimes even the cop in your neighborhood. They all terminate bad guys when they have to. So does our Dexter. He just hasn't been given the legal sanction to do so. There's an old saying...it might be southern, or maybe cowboy..."that man was so bad, he just needed killing". Dexter fulfills the frontier desire for justice, but he does it in such a calm, suburban, 21st century way, it somehow makes it palatable for our contemporary souls. Not enough to make us comfortable. Just enough to make us keep watching. And in tonight's finale, just when his schmaltzy pastel colored Miami wedding threatened to subvert the very core of what makes this program so appealing...the balance shifted again. We watch as the camera moves in to highlight a few drops of blood from our hero's recent broken hand, falling like red tears onto the back of Rita's wedding gown. It was really creepy. I loved it.
Adios, dear Dexter. And until we meet again, please take care of your sister. Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) was for me the most compelling and tragic character of the season. She was edgy, bone thin and often supremely annoying. But her romance with Anton was unexpected and spot-on lovely. Best of all, this flawed, but brilliant detective got her shield. And that's a happy season ending that felt just right.