Though it doesn’t get nearly the attention that “Homeland” and “Boardwalk Empire” get, Showtime’s “Dexter” is actually the more watched, thought markedly inferior show. Arriving in 2006, “Dexter” was part of the second wave of great cable dramas — following “The Sopranos” and “Six Feet Under” — and while it maintained the quality of a second-tier show for a few years, it has quickly plummeted to a barely watchable drama since the death of the Trinity Killer.
After two miserable seasons, it seemed — with an end date in sight — that “Dexter” was primed for a bounce-back year, but after a solid start to the fall campaign, “Dexter” has slid back into irrelevance. The biggest problem, this year, is that “Dexter” is in desperate and aimless search for a antagonist that can live up to John Lithgow’s turn. Ray Stevenson’s Isaac is the closest the drama has had to that, but with still three episodes remaining, “Dexter” inexplicably ended his run somewhat unceremoniously.
It seemed that perhaps Jason Gedrick would rise up and replace him as the season’s Big Bad, but Gedrick was quickly dispatched in the next episode, which also saw the introduction of brilliant character actor, Jim Beaver, who was a holy terror in his scant screen time before he, too, was dumped into the ocean.
So, who is this season’s Big Bad? Is it Yvonne Strahovski’s Hannah, seemingly the umpteenth serial killer soul-mate in Dexter’s life with whom he can somehow relate. It seems unlikely, as the moment in which Hanna might have turned on Dexter — after he killed her father — came and went, and did nothing other than to bring the couple closer together. Also, how can anyone who looks like this AND loves pancakes be a Big Bad?
Unfortunately, it’s abundantly clear where “Dexter” is heading in the last two episodes of this season, and likely until the end of the series: Debra is poised to become the main antagonist of “Dexter,” a sad turn for a gasping series.
Debra is in love with Dexter in a sexual way, and that feeling is not reciprocated by Dexter, who is in love with Hannah. Debra loathes Hannah because Hannah is a serial killer who has escaped imprisonment due to legal loopholes, but more importantly, because Hannah is the object of Debra’s affection. Debra, who knows that Dexter is a serial killer and has, in fact, put in a request to have Hannah killed, is most likely to take matters in her own hands. Dexter, rather than having to choose between his girlfriend and his sister, will have that choice taken away. Hannah is going to end up on a table wrapped in plastic, but it won’t be Dexter’s table. It will be Debra’s.
After Debra murders Hannah, she’ll alienate Dexter, setting up a final season that will pit serial-killing brother against a sister who has a sudden thirst for killing. They will hate each other, but their shared history will keep them from killing one another. Instead, next season will likely center on their parallels lives, and a working relationship fraught with tension.
What will bring them back together next season will be a the season’s other Big Bad, but will he or she ever match the towering presence of John Lithgow, and the shadow he has cast over the last three seasons? It’s unlikely. In the end, Dexter will probably sacrifice himself to spare Debra from her own Dark Passenger, she’ll be left to raise Harrison, and Masuka and Angel will be left to fight perpetually over the interns.
And there you have it, folks: Now you don’t even have to bother with the last two episodes of this season, or any of next season.
There are some wild cards: LaGuerta, for instance, thinks she’s close to identifying Dexter as the Bay Harbor Butcher, but there is no scenario in which LaGuerta ever gets the best of Dexter. Meanwhile, Quinn — the only character more useless to the series at this point than LaGuerta — probably won’t last until the final season, although I’ve been saying that about Quinn for four seasons now. Unfortunately, when it comes to series regulars, the “Dexter” show runners are too chicken-sh*t to eliminate any of them, choosing instead to set up short-term villains with whom they predictably bump off.
Indeed, there are no surprises left in store for “Dexter.” At this point, it’s a matter of following the bouncing ball down its predictable path and trying to extract some minor thrills out of Dexter’s kills, out of Debra’s potty mouth, and out of Hannah’s skimpy outfits. There are no happy endings for “Dexter,” only calculable ones.