I would be lying if I didn’t admit that watching the fourth season of Dexter gives me weird dreams that border on nightmares. The show can be pretty messed up at times, and this season may have been the creepiest—namely because of John Lithgow. I have mentioned his role as one of the most disturbing serial killers portrayed onscreen before, but I could probably reiterate that he really deserved the Golden Globe he won for this role. For once, one of those awards shows got it right.
The fourth season of Dexter picks up from the third. Without giving any “surprises” away, this time we find Dexter with a family: a wife, two stepchildren, and a new born baby. Just the typical suburban family—apart from the fact that Dexter is a serial killer. Don’t worry, he only kills the “bad” guys, the murders who “got away” with their crimes. He has a code, a set of strict guidelines, that he follows (taught to him when he was a child by his adopted cop father) to keep his crimes off the radar. He also works as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami PD, so he is able to prove guilt and have access to the criminal database. However, now that he has a family, Dexter is struggling to maintain his previous lifestyle in the midst of familial responsibility.
When I started the first season of Dexter (and continuing up through the fourth), I found myself rooting for Dexter. My heart would race if his alter ego came close to being discovered. Occasionally, I would yell at the television, telling Dexter not to do something that would clearly lead to more trouble (yes, I am probably annoying to watch TV with). I liked Dexter. Then I had to ask myself why?
Originally, I had attributed his likeability to two factors: that he was the main character, and that he was, in essence, a vigilante—two things I believe that audiences are conditioned to empathize with by American media. However, in this season, I had a different thought. As previously stated, in season four Dexter is pulled in several directions. There is a fairly cheesy scene where the specter of Dexter’s adopted father asks him who he is: father? son? serial killer? con artist? brother? husband? Feeling like an idiot for not coming to the conclusion before, I realized that Dexter is relatable because he strives to balance all of these aspects of his life. Who doesn’t have multiple facets in their lives that make them whole (with the exception of serial killer, I hope)? And how difficult is it to try to deal with these aspects– all while trying to stay true to yourself?
Enough pseudo-psycho babble. Dexter is one of those unique shows that is not only well-written, but well- cast, well-acted, and thought provoking. I don’t know how I would rank all of the seasons, but this is better than the second one for sure (that one was a bit off, in my opinion). If you haven’t seen Dexter, and you are not repulsed by the sight of fake blood, check it out. But maybe invest in a nightlight first (well, only if you are weenie like me).
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