I was never a huge fan of Jennifer Carpenter or Debra Morgan: She was a weak link in the first two seasons. In a show that regularly features the acting talents of five time Emmy nominee, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter’s bad acting stuck out like a severed thumb, and for all the gruff and profanity, Deb was still the show’s damsel in distress. Each season it was up to Dexter to rescue from whatever serial killer or serial killer victim she was dating.
But both Carpenter and her character have gotten better over the course of the series: She rose the ranks and, last year, managed to date someone who didn’t die (to the chagrin of us all). And whatever you want to say about this terrible season, up until two episodes ago, Debra Morgan was the best thing going for it: She jumped Batista for the promotion; she stood up to LaGuerta, and she basically took down the Captain. Two episodes ago, when Dexter called the police to get their assistance with Travis Marshall, it looked like the show might even give her a win, a collar she could claim before her brother executed the serial killer.
But then, “Dexter” had to compound an already miserable season by destroying a character that was finally finding her jam. Last week’s out-of-the-blue, completely ridiculous bombshell that Deb was in love love with her brother was followed up with an episode that featured Debra going ga gag for Dexter, batting eyes, and melting at Dexter’s confession of love. The sibling kind. Add to that another emotional breakdown (I thought we were through with those) in front of the very boss who she stood up to, and we’re left again with season one Debra: A meek emotional mess, only this one wants to fuck her brother.
I understand why it was necessary: The writers waited as long as they could before letting Debra in on Dexter’s secret, which she discovers in the last five seconds of the finale. The writers had to add a reason for Deb not to turn Dexter in, but in this case, the reason — that she wants to bang Dexter in a bathroom stall — is more implausible than Debra simply protecting Dexter from the police out of simple sibling affection. So, now Deborah is basically ruined for the remaining two seasons of the show. The best thing the writers could do at the open of next season is to kill her, but with the exception of Rita Bennet, the show hasn’t had the guts to kill a major character since season one, which is the only way to explain why Batista, LaGuerta, and Quinn are still around, despite serving absolutely no function to the series anymore (Masuka at least provides comic relief).
What about the Travis Marshall plotline? The main story arc of the season? It’s barely worth mentioning, as Travis’ demise was as predictable as the rest of the season, save for Deb’s murderus interruptus, which became a fairly obvious plot twist 20 minutes before it arrived (when the police couldn’t find Travis on the roof and even moreso when Dexter dragged out the execution).
The revelation ultimately does nothing to salvage the rest of the season, the worst in the series run, though it does do enough to draw most of us back for next season to see how the writers will handle the dynamic now that Deb knows. Will Dexter confess to only Travis’ murder and explain that it was because Travis tried to kill his son? Or, less likely, will Dexter come completely clean? I don’t know, but I do know I’ll continue to watch because Michael C. Hall is still fantastic (though, I would do anything to get rid of the annoying, redundant voice overs) and because “Dexter” has always been a spotty show, the kind of series that can follow up the bad season with Jimmy Smits with a phenomenal one with the Trinity Killer. With an end date in sight, maybe the writers can turn the magic back on and go out with two strong seasons.