And here it is; that day I’ve dreaded since September of 2013: rumors suggest that Showtime wants to bring Dexter back, and we may be too late to stop it.
The official Twitter account popped back to life on Thanksgiving, to reference one of the best episodes of television ever produced. I missed it because I’d unfollowed all Dexter social media back when the show ran, because they were The Walking Dead level bad about posting spoilers before the west coast episodes had broadcast.
The “freshly sharpened” bit seemed to hint that The Dex Is Back (a catchphrase they will never use.) Then ScreenCrush reported that David Nevins, head of Showtime, was making comments in recent press tour panels about the show, including suggestions that its revival would simply be a matter of timing, and that it would never be revived without the involvement of Michael C. Hall. Obviously.
So does Dexter deserve dubious do-overs? Drama’s darkest debate!
Starting with the first episode of season five, this show nuked its audience and re-dedicated itself to a new, horribly flimsy path, courtesy of a new writers’ room who somehow found a way to make Deborah even MORE one-dimensional. The show actually imploded so hard that later seasons take on a Sisyphean task of rebuilding the characters which makes six and seven surprisingly okay watches. Season eight accidentally plays with some interesting ideas, even if it all feels like a completely different show. Unfortunately, the last fifteen minutes or so just obliterate everything, including killing off Sister Morgan and the reveal of the Dark Passenger to the entire police force. Then a hero’s death seems to claim Dex, but we’re treated to a surprise 30-second tag that sees The Dark Defender in self-imposed exile in a logging camp.
Woof. This only seems like a good idea if you’re setting up Dex to be a part of Showtime’s other northwest logging show Twin Peaks OH MY GOD I CRACKED THE CASE COOP VS DEX AND PIE VS DONUTS OH WOW YES.
So here’s the thing: I love Dexter. It’s one of my favorite shows ever produced and those first four seasons still bring me just unlimited joy. So why wouldn’t I want to see a worthy show redeemed by a talented team? It’s not just because I’ve lost all faith in Showtime to put the right creative team behind the project, it’s that we’re just too far gone. Dexter and Deb were such an important back and forth that there were plans for a Deb spin-off, so I’m shockingly uninterested in a show without her. And what’s a Dexter show without Miami and the Dade County Police Department? Is it just Dex on tour across the country? What’s the point of making another serial killer show when it’s not about the struggle to adapt to the monotony/safety of normal life. Honestly, the character returning from the dead is just an opportunity to hurt the feelings of every character he ever helped, including the children he abandoned, so why resurrect the franchise just to hurt people we once cared about?
I don’t want this. I know Twin Peaks and X-Files and all of these other resurrected projects with retro excitement are all the rage right now, but Dexter was an important satire for a time and a place (and a set of filmmakers) and to bring him back is to reduce this series to every element its critics feared it would champion. Please don’t do this. Let Dexter stay dead, or at very least darting through the shadows, pursuing some unknown resolution better fitting our protagonist than what Showtime could muster.