Dismembering the Dead: An Examination of Dexter Season 4

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This is the end of an era. I am not sure if that is true, just what I have been told. I have not watched the later season so there might be some good stuff in there. I will say that this is played as a very climactic season thematically and emotionally for Dexter and this merry band of detectives.

This season sees the forgetting and hand waving of major plot events from the last season just in time for Agent Lundy from season 2 to return. He is on the hunt for the one killer that allude him, Trinity, a man who kills in threes. He enlists Debra and Dexter to help look for the killer. Meanwhile Dexter’s hobby is conflicting with his perfect life, Quinn gets a girlfriend, and Angel and LaGuerta are shaking up.

The real reason this season is such a thematic end comes in the form of Trinity. The big reveal is that Trinity, thought a loner, is in fact a family man. Now Dexter feels the urge to flip the script. Instead of killers flocking to him, he is flocking to the greatest serial killer never known in order to learn from him.

This change works because John Lithgow is just that amazing of an actor. To think the voice of Lord Farquad from Shrek, and bumbling alien leader from 3rd Rock from the Sun can switch between total gentleman, to seething psycho, to belligerent monster so seamlessly that, aside from other plot threads that wrap up in this season, you could watch this season alone just for him and feel perfectly engaged.

The main lingering plot threads being Dexter and Rita now officially being married and have a baby. Deb looking for her dad’s former CI he had an affair with, and apparently Angel and LaGuerta getting together.

Dexter being a family man should be harder for him than it is. The fact he has a baby now only comes into play for the first episodes when he is sleep deprived, but doesn’t seem to be a problem after that. Similarly, other than him lying to Rita about things that are bad, but would never reveal who he really is, he seems like a fine enough father and husband. I guess that is the ruse he’s under. He wants to be better and sees an even more successful serial killer as the person to be like instead of a better family man. It all works, but some revelations feel too easy.

Debra unknowingly looking for Dexter’s mom and finding out he is related to the Ice Truck Killer plays well with Dexter trying to hide who he is from his family all while hunting a twisted version of himself. In the end that too feels too easy. Easy might not be the right word, but it sure is nice that Debra was busying the whole season finding Trinity that she couldn’t talk to the CI and find out the truth until the end.

Angel and LaGuerta getting together is just strange. They both had good relationships last season. Well Angel did, and LaGuerta found out a person she loved is a killer and cannot prove it to the world. Either way their arcs would not go to them getting together, but here we are. It feels added in just so those two actors could do something, but there are better ways. Maybe if it pays off with LaGuerta telling Angel about Miguel from last season it’ll work, but still.

Oh, and Quinn is still here. His presence seems only to be set up as the next Doakes (a cop who can tell something is off with Dexter) only be more boring, corrupt, and an idiot who hooks up with a cutthroat reporter that goes exactly the way you think. Maybe he’ll get better, jeeze, so bland.

I did not call how this season was going to end. Feels pretty momentous and like it’s setting up some big character stuff, but odd since the show runner leaves next season. Maybe that wasn’t the plan to leave but had to, or that this was how the show always should have ended but it’s a strange direction. It reminds me of the ending to Supernatural Season 5 when the creator left that show. It was not a definitive enough ending which I find strange.

I heard it goes downhill from here, but I still enjoy Michael C Hall a lot and find Dexter always compelling as a character.

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