Showtime’s Dexter has had a season different from any that came before it. Each major character had some serious shakeup to who they were and how they saw others. Dexter (Michael C. Hall) worked against a gang of bad rapists instead of individual killers. He had some help. Not only that, he discovered he isn’t devoid of feeling. Angel (David Zayas) spent most of the season at odds with his new wife. Laguerta (Lauren Vélez) continually upset almost everyone, and was sort of villainized for awhile. Thank goodness that was corrected in the finale. Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) got some major depth, while Quinn (Desmond Harrington) finally became sympathetic and likable. Plus, an amazing array of guest stars, including the delectably dark Peter Weller!
And Dexter finally found someone that truly understood him in Lumen (Julia Stiles), a girl who didn’t see him as a monster and refrained from judgment. His partner in this year’s main killing spree, she gave Dexter something he has needed for a long time: hope. Not a fan of Stiles, her soulful portrayal of the women gang-raped and out for revenge won me over. The fact that she healed and softened in the end made it even better. While I certainly understand why she couldn’t stay with Dexter, I was highly disappointed that she left, and hope she comes back to the show in some capacity. Maybe even to help Dexter find his eventual peace, which is my hope for a series finale.
The Lumen situation does present some interesting food for thought, though. It was revealed that Dexter actually did love Rita (Julie Benz) early on this year as he struggled through her death and his guilt, while not directly responsible, from his part in it. However, he was able to move on very quickly to Lumen, whom he also developed loving feelings for. Sure, Lumen was someone truly unique in his life, but there still should have been some hesitation. Unless, and this is very possible, he almost immediately felt stronger for Lumen than he ever did for Rita. I don’t want to detract from Rita, as she has plenty of fans, myself included, but Lumen’s acceptance of Dexter’s true nature surely allowed more honesty between them, and a better understanding.
Lumen’s attackers were played by a wonderful group of male actors, but none better than Jonny Lee Miller as Jordan Chase. The former star of Eli Stone took the believing man he had built for the title character in that series and amped him up into a twisted, evil figure. His performance was chilling and authentic. While he was eventually dispatched with fairly easily, very anticlimactic, he was more a tool to help Lumen and Dexter than a true nemesis, anyway, so it worked. There were times he was a genuine threat, but mostly he was a plot device, and a killer good one at that.
The other new character who quickly wormed her way into viewers’ hearts was Sonya (Maria Doyle Kennedy, The Tudors). She is Dexter’s nanny. Yes, there needed to be some sort of plot device to free single dad Dexter up to do his dark deeds, but she is so much more than that. The writers were smart by giving us an actual character, rather than just an excuse, and Kennedy was surely the right woman to do it. Hopefully she will be even more visible as Astor (Christina Robinson) and Cody (Preston Bailey) return to stay with Dexter, which I very much wish will be during next season, and not between episodes.
Part of me thinks that Astor and Cody leaving to stay with their grandparents was a convenience trick this year. Part of me thinks it was good storytelling. The answer is probably some combination of the two. There was a purpose for their absence, and Astor’s mid-season appearance showed that splendidly. It wasn’t that they didn’t care about Dexter, but of course Astor needed to get away from where her mother was killed and anything that reminded her of Rita for awhile. Robinson has grown as an actress, and it showed. Bailey, who took over the Cody role in season two, has obviously grown physically from beginning to end of this season, so maybe he’ll get some actual plot next year, too.
I have always liked Dexter’s sister (and the actor’s real life spouse), Deb. Originally she was there as comic relief. Her growth into super detective has been extraordinarily satisfying. Her skills finely honed, she had so much shine in this finale. Carpenter’s acting was nothing short of brilliant as Deb caught Dexter and Lumen red handed, then let them go without seeing their faces. An earlier Deb wouldn’t have had the emotional maturity to do that. Nor would she have ever been able to forgive and stand by Quinn. It is so satisfying when a character is evolved so perfectly, and this is a grand example. Can we get her an Emmy nomination already?
One last thing, can Masuka (C.S. Lee) have a story? He’s been an awesome supporting player for five years, but I can’t recall him ever having a plot of his own. It’s time he got one. He has certainly earned it.
Dexter has already been renewed for a sixth season, and will return to Showtime late next year.