The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

Final season of “Dexter” a bumbling mess

By Michael Ebmeier
Opinions Editor

Television dramas come in two flavors, sweet and savory. A sweet drama is like a bowl of candy: not terribly good for you but it tastes good. “CSI” is an example of a sweet drama; each episode is a discrete, tasty package. You don’t need to have seen any of the show to drop into one episode and understand what’s going on. A savory drama is more like a steak dinner: it’s vastly more substantive, but each episode is part of a larger overall meal. You can’t drop into any single episode of “Mad Men” and know the characters, understand the overarching plot or have the proper context to enjoy the experience. But when every episode is viewed in sequence, the sum of a show like “Mad Men’s” parts is more than something like “CSI “could ever be.

That’s not to say that sweet dramas can’t be good, there’s just an upper limit on how good they can be. Because they’re so fragmented and non-serialized they can never achieve the coherence of a show that was planned from the start as an overarching narrative. “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones;” all of these shows are able to be consistently good season to season because they have direction. But not every savory drama is good; if a serialized show meanders or lacks direction then it’s destined to crash and burn.

That’s exactly what’s happening to “Dexter,” a serialized drama about a serial killer who kills serial killers. In case you’re not familiar with the show, don’t worry; I won’t be getting into any specifics that would require you to have seen “Dexter.” In its 8-season-run there have been a couple of stinkers, but there have also been a few genuinely inspired seasons. The difficulty is that there’s never been a grand arc in play, but only season to season threats. Seasons without strong villains for Dexter Morgan to fight have been poorly received and the opposite is also true, the strongest overall season was the one with the most frightening and iconic villain. But this current 8th season is the show’s last season. An isolated threat won’t work, the story needs a conclusion. Unfortunately, because the writers never bothered to set up a meaningful grand arc there’s practically nothing for the ending to resolve.

Ideally writers would be setting up dominos over time to knock over when the time is right and then allow the viewers to admire the wreckage, but they’ve done nothing of the sort. There’s nothing left, and the ending is fast approaching. It’s sort of difficult to describe how disappointing season 8 is if you don’t watch the show, but maybe this description will illustrate how far gone the show is.

Literally anything could happen to any character, and it wouldn’t matter. I wouldn’t care one bit if the entire cast was killed off in the next episode. This is a show that I’ve been watching religiously for years, and at this point I couldn’t care less if the protagonist decided to give up murder and become a plumber.

“Dexter” was a savory drama, one that rewarded following a complex and layered story. But the gross mishandling of its final season has made it appear like there was nothing holding the show together and no substance below the surface. It was a sweet drama all along, pretending it was something it wasn’t. It’s sort of like realizing the steak you’ve taken a bite out of is really a pile of brown icing in the shape of a steak; disgusting.

On the subject of steaks, there’s a mind-boggling lack of stakes in “Dexter’s” final season. It’s not a good thing for a show like this when we’re two episodes out from its finale and there is no sense of urgency and no plot threads worth resolving .

If anything, “Dexter’s” bumbling ending will serve as a case study in how not to end a show. The show’s writers have fouled the ending up worse than anyone could have expected, which is actually impressive in its own way.

I guess I’m upset because “Dexter” could have been so good. Its premise was interesting, its characters were compelling and all the cards were stacked in its favor. It’s proven that it was never able to achieve the coherence of the great savory dramas of television. My one remaining hope for the show is that its last impression won’t be so sour that it poisons everything that came before it, but even that may be too much to ask at this point.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Greyhound Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Final season of “Dexter” a bumbling mess