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The aftermath of María LaGuerta’s murder triggers a new chain of problems for Dexter Morgan in the eighth and final season of the hit Emmy award-winning psychological crime drama, Dexter. Debashine Thangevelo looks at how the writers plan to put the kybosh in the serial killer’s long running violent spree…
NINETY six episodes (inclusive of season eight) and 125 gruesome murders later. That is Dexter Morgan’s (Michael C Hall’s) body count as viewers prepare to bid a sad farewell to their favourite vigilante serial killer.
While watching the very Hannibal-esque opening sequence to what is now an undeniable cult TV series, you actually realise the ingenuity of the writers.
For all intents and purposes, Dexter is a cold-blooded serial killer. But he redeems himself in his justification – he steers his sinister and deadly tendencies towards deserving victims.
Working as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department, his relationship with his adopted sister Debra has been strained by lies (mostly to conceal his late-night butchering shenanigans) and those burgeoning incestuous romantic inclinations that have been hinted at through the earlier seasons.
The final season is just as dark and disturbing, with emotions running riot, more so with Debra and Dexter’s estranged relationship following the death of María LaGuerta. Unable to face compromising all her beliefs – to protect Dexter – Debra quits the force and moves into the private sector, where she sinks into an abyss of drugs and alcohol abuse.
What the writers do beautifully, though, is balance it with family drama and romance and a curve ball or two that ensure that the story- lines aren’t eclipsed by sheer mayhem and murder.
Just as Dexter thinks he has got his life back on track – with his big threat no longer in the picture – he crosses paths with psychopath expert Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling), who takes an unnaturally keen interest in him.
On putting his character to rest, Hall told HuffPost TV: “It goes with the territory. If you do a character for this long, people are inevitably going to associate you with that character. Dexter is, I suppose, a character who operates under a particularly dark umbrella.
“You know, I’m thankful to be associated with a character who has this much variation and dimension. I finished Six Feet Under and got a lot of questions about being typecast as a gay funeral director, and now everybody associates me with a serial killer with a code, so I’ll just have to deal with that.
“I think if peoples’ imaginations begin and end with Dexter, I’ll just leave that to them and try not to concern myself with it too much and just look for opportunities that allow me to mix it up and broaden the spectrum of what I’ve done.”
As for slipping into the skin of a serial killer, which has become sort of a vogue approach and has been explored more recently in other TV series such as Bates Motel, The Following and Hannibal, he comments, “I think a general fascination culturally with serial killers has been around for a long time as far as making them featured characters on a television series.
“Maybe that’s a trend that Dexter started. And if that’s a trend that Dexter started, I’m okay with that. I’m proud of that. I do think Dexter remains a unique creation no matter how many other serial killers populate the airwaves.
“I think now and always, there will be a general fascination with the darker sides of human nature and behaviour, and depicting and examining someone who is a serial killer certainly appeals to that appetite.”
Commenting on the females who have invaded his character’s life, Hall says, “I feel good generally about any show that paints a picture of female characters that are complex and strong.
“I really think as much as anyone, it’s the females in Dexter’s life who have exploited his appetite for humanity and human connection and have spurred him forward.
“Sometimes, it feels like the women dance around his pretty significant blind spots. And I think of Dr Vogel in a very new way, not as a potential love interest but as someone who reframes his origin story and is – as she puts it – a spiritual mother to him.
“She definitely presents a strength that he, I think, craves and has never seen before.”
One thing is for certain though: Dexter has evolved – especially now that he is a dad.
In the meantime, viewers are on tenterhooks awaiting the atonement in store for their vigilante serial killer.