Sunday, September 15, 2013

'Dexter' Replaces One Addiction With Another And Everybody Loses...

Addicts are more often than not all or nothing personalities. They become consumed with thoughts and urges about the thing it is they are addicted to, obsessed with, and they are never really cured, not even when they make the difficult choice to stop the behavior associated with whatever that thing is. Sometimes this chemical imbalance, this part of their personality, ends up manifesting itself with a new obsession to a less dangerous thing. You see it all the time when people give up smoking only to incessantly chew on straws or pieces of gum. Those are the minute examples. In the case of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), he appears to be replacing killing with the love of a woman. They are such dynamically divergent "things" to be addicted to and yet the extremes of them kind of prove the case. Showtime's Dexter keeps saying that the character has to choose between the two sides of himself-- that he has to shut one out in order to have the other-- but that is not true. In fact, the last few seasons have shown that has not been true. He was able to have family and friends and his Dark Passenger; it was a matter of making time for all of them, not allowing a new one to consume everything else. Eight seasons ago Dexter's Dark Passenger consumed his every thought and decision, and now Hannah may be doing the same, but that is not healthy either. That sets up a whole new fascinating psychology series that I'll never get to write because the show is ending.


While I personally am so happy to see a character like Dexter grow as much as he has over the last eight seasons and finally come to understand there truly is a human being inside of him (whether the show had to spell it out through those actual words of dialogue or not), I am diametrically opposed to the idea that just because he doesn't need, let alone want, to kill anymore because he'd rather bathe in the light and happiness of love (it's the honeymoon phase now, but in twenty years Dexter and Hannah may turn into a dual "Gone Girl" situation) that he shouldn't have gotten one last stab in. You can call it for old time's sake; you can call it simply finishing what he started; you can call it symmetry (he killed his actual brother in season one; here he should have killed his symbolic brother, too); you can even call it following the number one rule of code (leaving a loose end with looser lips is the easiest way to get caught after all). But at the end of the day, all it really is is ensuring this new family, this new love, you've been so surprised to find will be safe.

The sad thing is, when Dexter was so focused on his Dark Passenger, he had clarity. Only when he let emotions and personal feelings get involved (as way back as Lila, really, but Prado and Trinity are the most obvious examples) did things get messy, did he makes mistakes, did people start getting hurt. I mean, he was so distracted in "Monkey in a Box" he didn't even see either Saxon's "J. Mitchell" or "Debra Morgan" files on his computer; he didn't take a second to see what Saxon had planned for his dear sister to realize that he had to stop him. That's not the best message to put out in the world, but yet it makes sense. Some of the most celebrated pieces of art and literature have come about when their creators were deep in the throws of their own addictions. Dexter's Dark Passenger is a very real part of him, not just his life. It made him tick for so long that seeing things through the same clear but not as tinted lens is an adjustment. One that unfortunately is having the most important casualty.

Dexter choosing to walk away from Saxon was him choosing to shut the door on a part of himself. No good ever comes from trying to deny who you are. Clearly it didn't end well for those around him, but in truth, it shouldn't end well for him either. I've written a lot about who Dexter could have been-- what he could have been-- without the influence of Dr. Vogel (Charlotte Rampling) giving him the tools to be a calculated killer, but the truth is we'll never know who and what he could have been without her either. All we do know is the man we see in front of us, and for that man to now realize that his choice harmed the only person he thought he'd ever be able to love back when he didn't even think he was capable of love, well, that should send him spinning. Even greater than his resolve post-Rita's demise, we should see a fire in Dexter like never before in this series finale. It's never been more personal, and it's never been more his fault.

I would have loved nothing more than to see Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) stick around after she initially put the gun to Saxon's head in the trap she and Dexter planned at his apartment. After the events of season seven and all of the help she's given Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), I would have liked her to be there to make sure things went smoothly and to work out any residual issues with what her brother does. But I didn't expect to get that. I did expect Dexter to kill Saxon-- his last kill before leaving Miami-- and feel nothing, driving home that his itch had been scratched, his Dark Passenger satiated, for the foreseeable future. It would have quieted any grumblings or wonderings about whether or not Argentina was really the right move for him. It would have let Dexter have his cake and eat it, too. But having him walk away at the last minute-- leaving Saxon on his own turf to boot (another moment, by the way, that perfectly mimicked season one in set-up)? That was a sloppiness of which Dr. Vogel, Harry, Dexter, and the writers themselves should be ashamed. 

The thing is, I really want to see Dexter and Hannah sail off (literally) to Argentina, but now even if that happens, it's going to be colored by the regret he feels, having left Deb to ultimately be taken down. And that regret may even turn into resentment, and then what? Dexter could be an even more broken man than the one who called himself a monster when we first met him. But we won't be there to see him process it all.


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