Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Of Dexter Season 4

Well it's been a year, Dexter has come to an end once again. This really does mark an end to 2009 American television. Whilst Brits have a plethora of Christmas television to get excited all the big American shows are over. Glee ended last week, Mad Men has been of for weeks and we're now counting to the mid-season premieres of shows like Lost, Chuck and Breaking Bad.

Luckily 2009 ended in spectacular fashion for what has been a fantastic year in television. So Dexter Season 4 was a great improvement over Season 3. Whilst Season 3 was great, it larked the spark of Dexter in Season 1 and 2. Even though the show will probably scale to the heights of Season 1 and those tense last few episodes of Season 2, the show is still absolutely fantastic.

If you've followed my blog long enough then I'm sure you know that Michael C. Hall is superb as Dexter. One of those perfect character/actor blends. But I've spoken way to much about how great his performance in my other Dexter blog posts. So instead this year I'm going to focus on two other actors who made Season 4 so great.

Whilst Michael C. Hall takes almost all of the spotlight for the show, especially since he is named in the title, the other characters on the show are often overshadowed. Julie Benz as Rita is decent but comes off as a tad unlikeable. Also whilst LaGuerta and Batista are likable they're aren't the main draw for the show. The show has had tremendous talent such as Erik King's character of Doakes whose death was certainly one of the more annoying things about that second season finale and Jimmy Smits as Miguel Prado in Season 3 was absolutely brilliant.

But how was Season 4 going to top Jimmy Smits' performance? Well by hiring John Lithgow of course! John Lithgow was absolutely incredible this past season on the show as the Trinity Killer as one of the most detestable serial killers ever put to screen. He abuses his family and has killed four people a year for the past 30 years. Honestly this performance is a tour de force. He's someone you hate and yet whenever he's on screen you just can't look away. You know he could snap at any minute and whenever he's on screen it just ratchets up the tension a staggering amount. Truly one of the best performances that I've seen all year.

Then there was Jennifer Carpenter as Deborah Morgan. Whilst she might be as incredible as her real life husband Michael C. Hall, she holds her own and has to deal with some extremely tricky pieces of acting through the season. Reacting to her loves death at the hands of Trinity as well as finding out that the Ice Truck Killer (Season 1) was her step-brothers brother. She buoys all her scenes with some great emotional actor and has definitely moved on in leaps and bounds since Season 1.

This season of Dexter was interesting off the bat with the idea of that there was someone out there killing all these people and logically Dexter wanted to stop him, but was balancing this with his family and newborn son. However then the first twist of the season came. Trinity wasn't some loner, instead he was a family man, who went to church and built houses for the homeless. Whilst at first the season stalled after this, all was rectified by the time we got to 'Hungry Man'. An absolutely superb episode where we learned the true nature of Trinity and spun the season on to a truly fantastic final string of episodes.

Whilst in the end we all knew what the outcome would be, it was still so tense. Trinity was matching Dexter, and whilst he may not have been as closer as any of the innumerable killers that Dexter has had to dispatch, this one definitely had the biggest impact. Trinity was evil and had a system which he sadly managed to somewhat carry out in the finale episode of the season.

Many people have commented that ending to Season 4 of Dexter was similar to that of 24 Season 1 but that doesn't take away the impact. The finale was great up until that point including the poignant final scene between Dexter and Trinity but it's when we get to see the true extent of his evil. Trinity did not no other killer had done and killed someone close to Dexter, Rita. Those final few minutes of Dexter finding his wife in a bath tub of her own blood (echoing Trinity's first kill on the show) and his son on the floor, covered in her blood (echoing Dexter's own gateway to become a killer) were almost poetic. Upsetting but poetic but really leave us wanting to know what's going to happen in Season 5.

However this leads me to a final point. Whilst Dexter Season 4 was fantastic, the show NEEDS to announce an end date. Dexter is a show that has finite concept. We can't follow Dexter forever and the show needs to end soon. It also doesn't help that Season 2 felt like a final season and that we knew that Season 4 wouldn't be the last. The moment the show announces an end date the tension is really going to ratchet up to levels not seen since Season 2. Luckily the show managed to do something that changes the show this year but it would be nice for a two season arc, but every single season wraps everything in a bow which is quite grating (paticularly Season 2). So please Dexter, end next year whilst you're still on top. Sadly shows that get record breaking ratings in their fourth season don't go away easily. Ahh well Season 6 maybe?

In conclusion Dexter Season 4 was fantastic. It might not be better than Season 1 or 2 but was definitely better than the glacial Season 3 and actually did something that is going to change the show (hopefully for the better). John Lithgow was absolutely superb and we got the normal brilliance from Michael C. Hal. Now that the show has done something to significantly shake up the status quo going into their fifth season, I can't wait to see what happens next. Sadly we're going till next September to find out what the true impacts of this event were.


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