When Dexter launched on to our screens back in 2006 it was frightening breath of fresh air. A dark parody of the police procedural and psychodrama in the way it inverted tired tropes. Dexter’s Villains don’t wind up in interrogation rooms or courtrooms, but in kill rooms, wrapped in plastic, with Dexter looming over them with a knife. Let me clarify for any Dexter newbies: Each week, Dexter Morgan (Hall) – by night, a vigilante serial killer in Miami and by day, he’s a Blood-Splatter expert for the Miami Police where he works side by side with his sister Deb (Carpenter), a spunky Police Detective who is totally in the dark about her adopted brothers double life. This edgy premise is perfectly illustrated in the shows excellent credit sequence, where a friend egg takes on the unnerving affinity to a sliced eye, and shoelaces resemble rope tugged tight. A perfect frame for a show that aims to make the unwatchable watchable.
Dexter began the series as a person who was only able to feel emotional fulfillment by hunting and killing murderers. He also had a tentative but affectionate relationship with his sister and a burgeoning relationship with Rita (Julie Benz), a damaged single mother with two children. But over the course of 5 seasons we’ve seen him grow out of his sociopath shell as he explored his own twisted family history, parenthood, grief, and true friendship, while never being able to give up what he calls his ”Dark Passenger”, i.e: his compulsive need to spill the blood of others. Until Now.
Season six kicks off a whole year after the fifth’s finale. Dexter is taking his single parent, police work and his vigilante serial killing in his stride. In the sitcom like season premiere, he attends his high school reunion only so he can track down a suspected murderer amongst his fellow alumni. He is surprised to discover that his high-profile job, new physique and dead wife have made the once nebbish outcast suddenly popular with his old classmates. Has Dexter taken a light turn this season? Not on your life! Enter Season six’s Big Bad’s: Prof. James Gellar (Olmos) and his pliant disciple, Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks) – a mentor and protegee embarking on a series of murders that seem to be based on Biblical prohesies. What they do to a fruit salad vendor makes Dexter look like an amateur.
This season lays Dexter bare as never before. Each season, Dexter faces a mirror character: a brother, a mistress, a friend and this season is no different but it also devotes a large chunk of its running time to the shows central question: Is Dexter a force for Good or Evil? Harry’s Code (a set of laws laid down by Dexter’s late adoptive Father in an effort to channel Dexter’s psychopathic urges onto deserving prey such as murderers the law could not convict) comes head to head with The Bible as Dexter’s friendship with reformed criminal Brother Sam (Mos Def) makes Dexter consider not making a stab for the jugular but for redemption instead. This ‘Born Again’ Dexter is short lived (thank God!) as the season builds into momentum as a game changing chapter in the life of Dexter Morgan has he grapples with his moral purpose as well as for Debbie Morgan who finally learns the shocking reason for the car wreck that is her personal life. All this is topped off by a final Coda that had this reviewer jumping to hit the rewind button as soon as it played out.
Dexter remains to top the dazzling heights of John Lithgow’s turn as ‘The Trinity Killer’ back in Season Four but Season Six does much to rectify the previous seasons uninspired main villain and get back to the complex dark heart of the show.