Dexter: season four


I don't  usually write about tv. For a lot of reasons. 1) I don't really watch that much. 2) I'm hardly a completist. 3) I'm already writing too many words on books and movies and Mormon art. 4) Tv is a burden---so much time required and more being required all the time. Perhaps someday I'll regret not having a record of tv like I do of movies and books, but what's life without some regret. Surely I need more.

Anyway, I'm writing about Dexter season four for a few reasons. First, I recently read the original novel and liked it. Second, I had liked the first season when it appeared on CBS during the writers strike. Third, when this season was new, everyone constantly spoke of John Lithgow's excellent (and terrifying) performance. Fourth, like the novel, I happened upon the dvds in a Little Free Library.

Also like the book, it's been sitting in my classroom for a few years waiting for my attention. Somehow, time alone during covid campus in my empty classroom seemed like a good time to first read the book then watch the dvds during my lunches. Time well spent. (Though interrupted by other movies and other tv shows and a slewton of news reading.)

John Lithgow is as wonderful as advertised.

But, while I enjoyed the show overall, I did find a number of things annoying. The soap opera nonsense ---with the office romance, for instance. The bad policing (in more than one sense). And the talking-to-dad thing got old. It's a fine device, but they rely on it too much. And, perhaps most disappointing, Dexter's kills. I'm not sure what I would prefer, because the minimal violence is really my preference, but one of the best things about the novel was how important the kills were to Dexter---and they weren't the show's hammer-to-the-skull quick either, they were slow dissections, keeping the victim alive as long as possible, as Dexter tries to understand his compulsion. It would be horrible to watch and I would not enjoy it, but without that slowness the kills didn't have much meaning or purpose, imo.

Anyway, none of that is what led to me writing this post.

One of the annoyances to me early on was the relationship with Rita. Although I liked what they were attempting, it took most of the season for me to start believing in it. At that point, I was riveted, genuinely interested in what next steps they might take. This became, by far, the most exitting part of the season those last couple episodes---more than the live-saving or the life-ending.

And then

* * S * P * O * I * L * E * R * * A * L * E * R * T * *
* * S * P * O * I * L * E * R * * A * L * E * R * T * *
* * S * P * O * I * L * E * R * * A * L * E * R * T * *

Rita's murdered. Just like that. In the final moments of the season.

I went to Wikipedia and read plot recaps for the remaining seasons and, as I've mulled over it the last couple days, I've realized that this murder was a worse storytelling decision than I first realized.

My initial reaction was sadness because I had finally come to love Rita and was hoping for things to work as well as possible.

Then I was annoyed because what the hell.

Then I rolled my eyes when I realized she'd been fridged.

And then I became angry because she wasn't even fridged. Rita was not murdered so Dexter's character could develop. Rita was murdered so Dexter's character would not develop.

And that. That pissed me off.

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