This blog contains the following spoilers: minor thematic spoilers involving seasons 1-6, plot spoilers are coded but present.
After enduring its two weakest seasons, it’s not that hard to see where Dexter went wrong, but the question is moving foreword what can save the show. I think there are things the Showtime writers can do to save the show, but not without changing direction. What went wrong in seasons 5 and 6? The format of just plugging in a new target and watching Dexter go to work has been played out. The audience needs to see a wrench, the finale of season 4 provided something like that but the writers chose not to use it.
The most glaring weakness in season 5 is a terrible villain, the season 5 villain never even felt like a major character, it was as if Dexter was just going through the motions to prove that he could. For most of the series 4 year career, terrific villains had carried the show, with the exception of maybe season 2, which surprise, was commonly considered the weakest season up to that point (at that time it was not saying much). So now you have season 5, you have this opportunity to explore Dex recovering from disaster but instead the writers’ solution was for Dexter to go back status quo as soon as possible. It was almost like they regretted s4 and just wanted to pretend it never happened, instead, they created this completely episodic version of a season that felt like a crappy version of season 3.
Moving into season 6 if you pretend like it starts right when s4 ended (which you actually can do, season 5 added that little to the show) it seems like they are finally picking up where they should have. The villain, oh does he show a lot of promise, he’s crazy, he’s a zealot, and he believes in the dark arts, I mean, what else could you ask for. And Mos Def’s characters influence on Dex finally seems like the writers are going to deal with the events of s4. All in all I was really hyped about this season after the first couple of episodes, but sadly I found s6 to be a handful of unkempt promises. The follow thru was just not there and a lot of the groundwork they laid in the first half of the season they didn’t even use, it was sad. I still think they took a big step foreword from s5, but the potential after the first act was never quite realized and it was a letdown for me.
The end of Season 6 took some turns I didn’t expect, some in good ways some in bad, but heading into season 7 (going to watch episode 1 after completing this blog) I feel like the show still has some potential left to tap before calling it quits. Mainly before all is said and done, I really hope they explore Dexter himself as the villain, something that made Deathnote and Breaking Bad so successful. Up to this point, the show has rarely questioned his motives the way those shows did. And the finale options are phenomenal, I mean, you could play it out in a lot of interesting ways, I really hope they don’t blow it when they do decide to end the show. In the meantime, the s6 cliffhanger was sufficient that I am thirsting for the season 7 premier, so there is promise.