The term has since been used to describe almost anything that starts to feel old hat but usually TV shows, film franchises and video game series’. According to lots of people, Dexter jumped the shark a long time ago. It was either with the death of a certain wife of a main character or with the lacklustre season five. To me the show has never actually got to that point although it has come close. With season seven however, Dexter comes very very close to somersaulting flamboyantly over that trapped shark and spitting in its face.
Picking up where season six left off with Deborah Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) discovering her brother Dexter (Michael C.Hall) disposing in another in a long line of serial killers in Miami whilst half being convinced she is in love with him, it disappointingly doesn’t pay off straight away. The issue seems to be that they have an event that changes the game of the show completely, and yet they still seem adamant that they will stick to the well-established format of the show where each episode Dexter will stalk and kill a criminal whilst nearly getting caught. This does expose the fact that Dexter is one of the weakest shows writing wise, that happens to be on cable TV.
If this were Breaking Bad for example, the resulting fall out and discovery would probably end up being just two people talking in a room for the whole episode and it would be brilliant and intense. Dexter doesn’t have that level of sheer balls in its writing staff, and so for the initial few episodes things get confused. Jennifer Carpenter comes off worst here. For a while her character has threatened to become an annoying fool who swears like she has Tourette’s and succumbs to the more base instincts of the male writers behind the scenes. Once she discovers Dexter’s secret and alternately despises and agrees with his stance on human scum and justice, she just comes across as an annoyingly fickle character and one that would never fill the position of a police lieutenant like she does.
What might rile people up even more is what they have done to beloved Dexter. Part of the joy of the character was seeing Dexter go about his daily life like it’s a disguise, with a weird monotone existence part of the portrayal with him finally coming to life when he has a victim on his table and his blood lust is about to be sated. Essentially here because he has been outed, this performance is now all over the place with at various points having him completely forget about the various rules and ideals he lived by. The guest characters this time around are Ray Stevenson’s closeted Ukranian mobster and Yvonne Strahovski’s former killer/love interest for Dexter. At least these two sub-plots pay off, especially Stevenson’s which ends up being one of the most interesting characters in the show’s history and it doesn’t go quite the way you would expect either. Strahovski does a solid job as portraying a character that further humanizes Dexter and may prove to be his eventual downfall. The supporting characters that long-time fans have come to tolerate and occasionally love in the Miami PD seem to wisely take a backseat for much of the episodes here except for Quinn (Desmond Harrington) who gets a cliché and uninteresting romance/rescue mission with an illegal immigrant stripper.
The end is in sight now and Dexter season eight will actually be its last with the writers claiming they will end the show on their terms, whatever that means. Come the cliff hanger ending of this season, they definitely seem like they are winding down and I am at least interested to see where it all ends up. It’s either going to be one of the worst things ever or the best.
Extras: There are tiny two-minute featurettes covering that week’s serial killer, a prosthetic heavy dream sequence and the fallout from the ending of season six. None of these is really lengthy enough to get any real insight into the behind the scenes process of the show. The best thing here however is on the last disc where we get a twenty-minute peek behind the scenes in the writing room and this is where perhaps the problems with the show become apparent. The writing room here is presented much more like that you would find behind the scenes of a weekly sitcom rather than a serial killer show but at least they do show some appreciation of the rules of the character and what fans expect. There is also a Jennifer Carpenter commentary on key scenes in the final episode which are somewhat revealing but also find Carpenter getting oddly emotional about a soon to be gone co-star.