I recently caught up with season 6 of Dexter, which has been over and done with for quite a while now (I believe they're gearing up for season 7, the first of the final two seasons). If you're not familiar with Dexter, here's the basic premise: Dexter is a serial killer who works for Miami Metro Homicide as a Blood Spatter Analyst. Oh, he only kills those he deems to be "bad". Season six deals largely with a couple of religious fanatics who believe they are bringing about the end of the world by re-enacting scenes from the Book of Revelation (and also killing people). It also deals with some other things, but that's the spoiler-free version.
**** SPOILERS FOLLOW THIS POINT ****
More specifically, season six also explores Dexter's spirituality. As in, does he have any beliefs beyond his Dark Passenger? This is something with which he struggles for the first half of the season, until he comes to a decision and the matter is abruptly dropped. This is where I was slightly disappointed with the season - but we'll get to that.
I suppose I should dive into some specifics. The season starts with Dexter trying to get his son into some prestigious school that just happens to be Catholic. This launches the question: What does Dexter believe in? Dexter at first determines that it's not important for him - but he needs to let his son, Harrison, decide for himself. Enter Brother Sam (played brilliantly by Mos). Brother Sam is a formerly violent man, who did the time he was sentenced and came out a religious, reformed person.
Sam challenges Dexter to accept that there is a light within him, that it's not all about his Dark Passenger. Dexter *almost* buys into this, until Sam is torn away from his life by someone he trusted, and Dexter reacts on impulse and kills in revenge. He then goes on a trip to Nebraska, where he faces temptation - and gives in a couple of times - but ultimately returns to his own "light" and sticks to the Code that has always steered him in the right direction (well, right for Dexter at any rate).
I suppose this is what amounts to the highlight of the season for me - this attempt to figure out the balance between "Good" and "Evil". No doubt, the writers present Dexter as "Good", and Gellar and Travis (okay...it's just Travis, in a reveal straight out of Psycho. More on that later.) are "Evil". But they go a little deeper and try to give Dexter some layers - and they were succeeding, right up until the moment Brother Sam dies.
I've never been a big fan of Dexter's interactions with his "Father", and Season 6 brought this to a whole new level. When Dexter kills Nick (who murdered Sam) out of revenge, Dexter's brother returns and acts as temptation for him - and he goes through with some pretty impulse-based killings. Dexter ends up realizing that he doesn't want to do that, and returns to familiar territory. Where am I going with this? Oh yes- this was basically your standard Angel on one shoulder, and Devil on the other. It was slightly silly, even if it did serve to illustrate the twist in the next episode.
What was that twist? We're originally presented with the premise that there are two killers, played by Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks. It's revealed that Olmos has been dead for years, and all along it's been Hanks. He was seeing visions of Olmos, just like Dexter sees his Father. It's at this point in the reveal that everything goes downhill for the season.
Basically it's a race against the clock to find Travis (Hanks), and the final episode is Dexter's usual "Damsel in Distress" - except in this case it's Harrison in Distress. I suppose the story has to be resolved somehow, but look at how they ended season 4 - I thought that was done quite well. Instead we get this. At least they did end with Deb witnessing Dexter kill...we're left to wonder what the heck is going to happen with that in the next two seasons (which are going to be one big arc, according to the producers).
I'm starting to ramble now, so I do want to get to a some observations before I forget.
Number one - I really am creeped out by the whole Debra being in love with Dexter thing. While technically, it's okay - they're only adopted brother and sister - it's actually how she comes to realize it that makes it strange. She sees a therapist, who plants the idea into her head (and can someone tell me why Deb can't just be a loving sister for having Dexter in her life, and not be in love with him?), and she just accepts it. To me, it feels like she was manipulated into feeling that way. It's just creepy.
Number two - I always felt that in every season, Angel's character was sort of like Tyrol in Battlestar Galactica. He's the character that always Does Something Stupid to mess everything up. It seems like Angel made some better choices this season...except for once, and it was such a weird moment that seemed both in character and out of character at the same time. He smokes up with Quinn in his car - and while that seems like something he would do in the past, his character's decisions so far in season 6 negate this. But at the same time, Quinn is the one making Stupid Decisions this season. It's easy to see how he might influence Batista.
Number three - Lewis (or is it Louis?). This seems like a creepy guy - I'm not sure what his angle is, and I'm interested. I'd like to see where his character is going to go, and why he mailed the prosthetic limb from season 1 to Dexter - and what the markings on the hand mean.
Overall, I thought season 6 was pretty good, but it had some low points. There are only two more seasons left, so I'm already on board for those. Hope it's a good ride!