Final Dexter season struggles to live up to own standard

After eight thrilling seasons, Showtime’s award-winning drama about a blood spatter analyst with a dark secret is coming to an undoubtedly grisly end. With the finale of Dexter airing on Sep. 22 and only three episodes left, audiences are tuning in eagerly to find out what the murderous protagonist’s fate will be, and according to executive producer Sara Colleton, “this is the ending we have talked about for years now.”

Dexter follows Miami Metro blood spatter analyst Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall, Six Feet Under) as he tries to hide his double life as a serial killer (of serial killers) from his coworkers at the police station, one of whom is his sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter, The Exorcism of Emily Rose). Dexter’s late father, a former detective, taught him The Code, a set of rules laid out to ensure that he won’t get caught in his vigilante endeavors; however, there have been many close calls over the course of the series, and Dexter’s life on the edge may prove too dangerous to keep up for much longer.

While this latest season has not been terrible, it definitely has not lived up to the high quality that audiences have come to expect from the show in previous seasons. Fortunately, the acting has been one of the few highlights when compared to previous seasons. Hall has been excellent in his portrayal of the internal struggle Dexter has as he yearns for a life where he does not have to hide his true nature, and struggles with emotions that he did not know he was capable of feeling.

Carpenter also does well in her role, giving some of her most intense performances of the entire series as Deb struggles to get rid of the demons she is still carrying from last season’s shocking events. The supporting cast has done a commendable job this season as well; new cast additions Sean Patrick Flannery (The Boondock Saints) as Jacob Elway and Charlotte Rampling as Dr. Evelyn Vogel have certainly been ones to watch in these latest episodes.

The main reason the show has not been up to par with previous seasons is the underdeveloped plot. There are multiple story arcs that have only been touched on this season, and not enough screen time has been devoted to any of them. This might be due to the fact that the show was originally supposed to end after season 7, but Showtime executives insisted on adding an eighth season.

According to Colleton, “From the very beginning, when I first started developing the pilot, I always knew it would be a seven-year arc for the series.”

This extra season has caused the writers to stretch out the ending they had originally planned, resulting in extra story arcs being added that take focus away from the main storyline.

These multiple story arcs have also affected the intensity of the show, which has been very sporadic this season. In previous seasons, viewers were left restless, waiting in anticipation to see what happened on the next episode; however, these latest episodes have unfortunately not always left a lasting impact.

Another disappointment this season is the main villain. Over the course of the series, Dexter has faced many worthy foes. This season he is hunting The Brain Surgeon, named for his affinity for taking parts of his victims’ brains. While it has been interesting to watch Dexter trying to figure out who the mystery killer is, the Surgeon does not invoke the same sense of danger to Dexter as previous antagonists such as the Ice Truck Killer or Trinity did. So far this season, he has not been shown as a real adversary, but rather just as someone Dexter has to deal with.

Fortunately, this season does seem to be gaining momentum, but with only three episodes left it might be too late; true fans can only hold out until the end.