Literary agent and editor, Sharon Ring, swings by to let us know her thoughts on Dexter and what we can expect from the new season.
One of my favourite US television shows kicks off in the States again tonight: Dexter. Aside from the final season of Fringe, which premiered last Friday, Dexter is the show I’ve most been looking forward to seeing back on the screen.
This past week, fuelled by coffee, and wedged between two editing assignments, I’ve managed to watch reruns of almost every Dexter episode to date. I’ve chatted with friends and family about what’s gone before and what’s still to come. So, with thanks to Stephen Volk, Gary McMahon and my daughter Cherily, I’d like to share my thoughts on what’s going to happen in the new season of Dexter.
From the outset the show (like the book series) has worked on a principle of subversion. When we watch a film or television series about a serial killer we expect—at least we used to—a certain set of tropes to come into play. He (it’s almost always a he) is the bad guy. Sure, we can accept the killer may have suffered brutality in his childhood, that events have shaped his sociopathic tendencies and even dictated the pattern of his kills; but they’re usually treated in a way which makes it easy for us to stand apart from the killer, pointing a finger at him and saying, “He’s not one of us.”
We can’t do that with Dexter Morgan. It took less than six minutes for the show to break the mould and present the audience with the ritualised killing of a serial child-murderer. And there was that initial hook: in a world where the abuse and killing of children is felt to be the most heinous of crimes, Dexter meted out his own form of vigilante justice to such a killer and the audience felt the troubling twitch of feeling empathy with the monster. For those watching the show, who knew nothing of the novel and its protagonist’s MO, this must have been a real shocker.
From that first episode right through all six seasons the show has continued to examine Dexter’s world. Who is he and what place does he have in society; where does he fit? Do his kills define him, and for how long can he continue to get away with murder? We’ve watched him evolve from living the life of a single man, to husband and father, then into widowhood. We’ve rooted for him, been on the edge of our seats as he manipulates his way out of close shaves and near-death, and it’s brought us all to where we are now; the biggest question that’s been on the mind of many a fan from the very beginning. What would happen if his foster sister, Deborah, found out what he really was?
Season 6, a season based on biblical revelations, ended with the biggest revelation of all; Deborah walking in on one of Dexter’s kills. So what comes next? The Season 7 trailer makes just one thing absolutely clear. Deborah, from either familial or romantic loyalty (perhaps both), looks set to help cover up the killing of Travis Marshall. Such a cover up sets the scene well for a season which will focus on Deborah’s medium term reaction to the events in last season’s finale and on further revelations about her brother.
Having reached a point in therapy where Deborah realises she has romantic feelings for Dexter it remains to be seen how far this storyline will carry through into the next season. It would have been heart-wrenching enough to see Deborah trying to rationalise her relationship (as siblings) with Dexter in light of what she’s witnessed, but the additional element of her being in love with him can only compound the deep psychological stress she’ll be under this season.
And then there’s Harry. One thing I desperately want to find out is whether Dexter will tell his sister about Harry’s code. Deborah has always had ‘daddy issues’; she’s spent most of the series trying to live up to her self-imposed expectations of what would have made him proud and then having to wrap her head around the discovery of Harry having cheated on her mother, with a woman she later discovered to be Dexter’s mother (also the mother of the Ice Truck Killer). To be told that Harry knew what Dexter was becoming, and even taught him the rules for getting away with murder, will perhaps be as deep a betrayal as learning Dexter is a killer.
It’s not just Deborah who’s going to be working out how to deal with this discovery. How Dexter copes with the aftermath of being caught in the act of murder is also going to be much to the fore in this season. How much will he be willing to draw his sister into his world? How close might he come to killing her rather than exposing his criminal activities? The trailer shows the potential for a reopening of the Bay Harbour Butcher case, and with Deborah looking back at the Ice Truck Killer files this could lead Dexter into manipulating her romantic feelings towards him in order to ensure her silence. I also think before Season 7 is over he’ll draw her into his ‘kill room’, or at least through part of the process of meeting Harry’s code for a kill. It’s a long shot, but it seems the show’s writers are keen to push the envelope on the Dex/Deb dynamic. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if that was this coming season’s finale.
One person in particular looks set to end up on Dexter’s table—Louis Greene. Louis is a trophy collector. We know he’s the one who bought the prosthetic arm from the Ice Truck Killer case—we’ve seen it in his apartment. By the time the arm reaches Dexter’s apartment it’s been decorated by Louis with palmistry lines, with most of the lines drawn in black but the life and fate lines drawn in red, suggesting both a danger to Dexter and Louis’s belief their fates are in some way intertwined. Louis spent most of his Season 6 episodes in thrall to Dexter and this season is likely to expose the reasons for this obsession. I’m fairly certain Louis has been tracking Dexter’s online activity ever since showing Dexter an alternative search engine in the eighth episode of Season 6, which Dexter continues to use in subsequent episodes. Is Louis a Dexter acolyte, or is he possibly setting himself up to be Dexter’s nemesis? No matter which, I’d put good money on Louis being the man behind the black horned mask shown in a few short frames of the Season 7 trailer.
The endgame for the Dexter series is now in sight. Season 8 was a done deal, contract-wise, by late November of last year, and unless the show is planning a long run with Deborah as conscious foil for Dexter’s activities, then the eighth season might well be its last. I’ve got my thoughts on how it will all end, and I’ve been hearing some great theories over the past few days, but that’s for another post. Let’s wait and see what happens in this next season before I let you in on that.
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