TV review: Dexter

By Columbus Alive
From the September 27, 2012 edition

After the terrible season of “Dexter” last year, I should probably give up on the show all together. I didn’t because there are only two more seasons left and I want to see it through — no matter how frustrated I’ve been — or will be — by the storytelling. Even if I found the season-long arch involving a religious serial killer boring and predictable, nothing compares to how the series (Ed. Note: Spoiler alert) chose to have Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) finally find out about Dexter’s (Michael C. Hall) dark passenger.

Having Deb walk in on Dexter as he drives the knife into his victim’s chest is fine — even though it should have happened at the end of season five — but everything leading up to that moment was horrendous. Deb realizing she has feelings for her adopted brother was as outlandishly contrived as it was icky.

For all the mistakes made in coming to this inevitable conclusion for Deb and Dexter, the new season sets up an interesting dynamic for its best characters. I want to be careful about giving too much away, but I think we all know Deb isn’t going to arrest Dexter in the premiere. The crux of the conflict lies in her having to deal with seeing Dexter kill a man, and him trying to justify it.

After the initial shock, Deb is naturally suspicious while Dexter slickly quells her fears. It’s a pleasure to see Hall and Carpenter get material good enough to match their acting skills. The last few seasons haven’t used these two up to their potential, and season seven looks to capitalize on Hall and Carpenter’s strong chemistry.

I liked some of the stuff from the early episodes of this season, while others felt like more of the same. Using the complicated Deb and Dexter relationship and tying in storylines from previous seasons is a wise choice. It’s good to see “Dexter” folding the narrative back to the beginning, but also having a big bad — this time with the Ukrainian mob — for the season seems like a bit much. I want “Dexter” to finish up strong because it has been a very good show before, but that may be too optimistic.