It pains me to say this because Dexter is one of my all-time favorite shows, but Season 6 of Showtime’s serial killer series is off to a terribly slow start.
I’ll explain why after the break (contains some spoilers)…
Season 5 ended with the departure of Dexter’s girlfriend and serial-killer-in-training Lumen (Julia Stiles). Dexter remained free to kill another day, miraculously keeping his secret from Deb, Quinn and the rest of Miami Metro for another season.
Season 6 picks up a year later, with nearly everything that was happily resolved at the end of Season 5 now turned on its side. Deb and Quinn’s relationship is now on the rocks and LaGuerta and Angel are divorced. In an obvious writing shortcut to explain why single father Dexter is able to hunt serial killers at all hours, Angel’s young sister Jaime now lives next door as Dexter’s nanny.
Because of these changes, the first three episodes have been all about setting up Dexter’s new equilibrium. Dexter’s son Harrison is now two years old and Dexter finds himself wondering what he will pass down to his child. Time is being spent with Dexter doting on Harrison, Quinn and Deb breaking up and Angel and LaGuerta fighting. Dexter is still making his kill-of-the-week, but these feel like they’ve been shoehorned in at the last second. Why do we have so much set up six seasons in? The theme this season is faith, but so far the show has been about as exciting as 3-hours in church.
Part of the problem may be that the villains aren’t very interesting (yet). The usually compelling Edward James Olmos is so understated as religious zealot Professor Gellar that he is utterly dull. He whispers his lines about faith and the apocalypse in a mumbling monotone, and I’m having a hard time caring about what he has to say. Colin Hanks fares better as his young protégé. Hanks actually emotes from time to time, but we’re 25% of the way into Season 6 and their religious killings already feel like well-trodden territory. I keep waiting for Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman to pop up and say, “Boo!”
I’m also not a fan of the new direction they’re taking with Dexter’s kill rooms. It feels like a group of hipsters got their grubby thrift store mitts on the script and decided, “Hey, let’s crank the irony up to 12!” (because 11 is too mainstream). It’s not enough for Dexter to kill the killers while surrounded by artifacts of the victims. No, now the rooms have “themes.” Dexter kills a former high school jock atop a football scoreboard, for example. And this last episode, Dexter offed an old serial killer in his barcalounger. C’mon. Really? Do we need to add theming? How soon before Dexter shows up wearing twenty pieces of killer-appropriate flair on his suspenders?
On the plus side, Mos Def is doing a stellar job as murderer-turned-preacher Brother Sam. He steals every scene he’s in. And they’ve introduced a hot blond intern for Masuka to stare lecherously at (she is surely going to play a vital role in threatening Dexter’s secret later on). As of episode 3, Deb is now officially the new Lieutenant. Deb butting heads with LaGuerta is starting to make them both interesting again.
Dexter’s exploration of faith sounds interesting in theory, but so far it’s not amounting the usual suspense and thrills that we’ve grown accustomed to from the show. I’m hopeful that this is just a slow start and the season will pick up. Last night’s Episode “Smokey and the Bandit” ended with a promisingly macabre sequence referencing the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Of course I’ll keep watching. As much as I might complain about Season 6’s leisurely pace so far, I’ve been hooked on Showtime’s serial killer show since Season 1. I’ll keep watching Dexter ‘till it kills me.