Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dexter's Writers Were As Sloppy This Finale As The Character Himself...

Rita Morgan didn't fit Trinity's usual pattern. But she was a liability for our titular hero, an annoyance to the audience (through no fault of Julie Benz' own, I must point out), and getting increasingly more complex and therefore impossible to write for the group who have never made women anything other than emotional wrecks who can barely function on their own without a man in their lives. Therefore, Rita had to go. But did she really have to go out like that??

Throughout tonight's season four finale of Dexter, the writing seemed to finally be on the wall for Deb. First, we had countless callbacks (including actual visuals from seasons past) to her time with the Ice Truck Killer. Then, we had her learning a truth about her brother that he feared would "out" him in his entirety, making her a liability-- or at least a threat-- as well. The clincher should have been when she actually spit the words to Dexter that he was "the only constant and good thing" in her life. All of those things were teases enough that the most cynical of viewers could have seen her time was running out. But then those bastard Powers That Be had to go and ruin it!

When Trinity stumbled into D. Morgan's apartment, only to learn that it did not, in fact, belong to Dexter (though if he was just a few months earlier, it still would have!) but a Debra Morgan, we didn't get to see if he investigated further to find out if Debra and Dexter shared a relation. He was unraveling and not necessarily in the right frame of mind to be so thorough with his private investigation work. However, I assumed he had. I also assumed this would mean we'd (finally!) get to see her in a bathtub of blood before closing credits. But sadly I was foiled once again.

By all accounts it should have been Deb in the tub. But that would have been just too easy, and for weeks Showtime had been promising a big twist-- one bigger than having Christine the Reporter turn out to be both Trinity's daughter and Lundy's shooter...neither of which seemed very surprising to those savvy viewers paying attention all season, I might add. So fans were expected to ignore the fact that Deb fit Trinity's profile for the bathtub killing: single brunette woman, living alone, with ritualistic behavior. Instead we were expected to-- not even asked but just assumed that we would-- believe he could shift his M.O. just for a personal slice of justice.

Besides, without Rita's demise, how else could they show off the full circle imagery of baby Harrison, bathed in blood on the bathroom floor where Dexter once sponged him clean? It was just convenient for Rita to go out that way, and let's face it, even the most creative of people hit walls and blocks and take the easy way out sometimes. These writers just seem to do it more and more...which is unsettling because the Showtime audience-- like the HBO audience-- has always been thought of as being savvier than regular network viewers. So their lack of interest in continuity just tells me that they either think we're getting dumber, are taking foregranted their loyal fans, or they just don't care anymore. None of the above sit well with this hardworking writer who would kill to have a show of her own on air!

A bit more objectively, though, TV.com was also just as equally surprised and saddened by the outcome. Their writers actually entitled their piece "Well, Holy Sh*t!" My sentiment exactly, though admittedly for different reasons.

Dexter's writers wanted Rita to go out by the strike of nine fifty-two (six fifty-two if you watch the east coast feed on the west side of the country, like I always do!). The clever way to do it, though, would have been for Dexter to find her cell phone in the house and hear Harrison crying, only for the camera to cut to an empty lot with Rita's body lying twisted on the pavement with a short building looming behind her. As a young mother (though of three instead of two), she should have been the third victim in the cycle, not the second. This not only would have fit the pattern but also told us that there was another, second, victim out there somewhere. Trinity had been busier than Dexter ever could have imagined. And maybe, just maybe, we could have been rewarded in the season five opener by learning that Deb was victim number two in this new cycle. That would have redeemed the writers for any missteps (starting with Jimmy Smits!!). But alas, they, like the presumptuously God-like characters they create, got cocky.

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