Friday, September 25, 2009

Dexter Preview: Season 4

Dexter is one of those shows that's a REALLY hard sell to a conservative friend who's a casual television viewer. "Well... it's about this serial killer who's a sociopath, and, okay, it's a little violent and graphic, BUT he kills people who somehow slipped through the system, because, you see, he's a blood spatter expert by day working in the forensics section of the police department, and he's seen killers slip through the cracks on technicalities, and so when they get away, he, um... hunts them down and puts an animal tranquilizer in their neck and then Saran Wraps them to a table, slices their cheek open so he can get a drop of blood onto a specimen glass (did I mention he keeps a drop of blood from each of his victims in the A/C unit in his apartment? No? Um... he does) and then he usually stabs them through the heart. But it's REALLY funny, and you're totally rooting for Dexter.... Wait... where are you going?"

Yeah. Not the one to recommend to the mother-in-law. (I've tried. You know I'm not kidding.)

For those of you who watch Dexter, though, you know what a fantastic show this is. Season 1 was about the Ice Truck Killer, who (spoiler for season 1!) turned out to be Dexter's brother, of all people. He and his brother had watched their mother get hatcheted to death by an axe during a drug deal gone awry, and the police officer who took them out of the situation carried Dexter out and adopted him, and left the brother behind. Big bro became a serial killer in his own right, and season 1 ended with poor Dex having to kill the only person who could ever understand what was happening in Dexter's head. In season 2, Dexter began searching for more clues about his adopted father and his real mother, while the police discovered all the bags of bodies he'd been dumping into the Harbour, and he realized that for the first time, he was in serious danger of being caught. His relationship with Rita -- which in the beginning had been one of convenience, because he had no need for sex, and Rita, having been raped, didn't want it either -- began heating up as she wanted to be more serious and finally wanted to have sex with him. (Spoiler for season 2 ahead!) Somehow he managed to convince the department that the real killer was Sergeant Doakes, who'd been on to Dex from the beginning, and who died a fiery death. Meanwhile, Dexter had hooked up with a pyromaniac crazy woman, to whom he'd admitted some of his darkest secrets, and with whom he had wild sex he actually enjoyed. But he did away with her, too. In season 3 he and Rita became friends with Jimmy Smits and his wife, and Smits, being the DA, was sick and tired of watching criminals walking away from crimes, and he commented to Dexter that the Bay Harbour Butcher was actually a good guy, since they'd linked all of the victims in bags to criminals who'd gotten away with their acts. When he catches Dexter in the middle of doing away with one of his victims, he wants in, and Dexter allows him to enter the dark world he lives in. (season 3 spoiler ahead!) But Smits' character had other plans, and he began killing people who he just didn't like, rather than killing by Dexter's code. Unhappy that this person knew too much, and that he was a dangerous loose cannon who could go off at any time, Dexter offed him at the end of the season. Just as Rita announced she was pregnant.

And now, in season 4, it's several months later, Rita's had the baby, and Dexter is dead tired and has been up night after night feeding this newborn baby and helping him go back to sleep. He's married to Rita now, he's falling asleep on the job, Aster (Rita's eldest daughter) is becoming a teenager and hates him, and Cody, the younger one, still loves to play with Dex, who is too tired to reciprocate half the time. And how does a serial killer sneak away at night to kill people when he's had a total of 10 hours of sleep in the past week and can barely stay awake during the day, much less at night? That's what season 4 is all about. Dexter wants to have it all: the wife, the kids, the new baby, the house, the job... and the freedom to kill bad people at night and maintain his sociopathic tendencies.

Ah, the American Dream.

Meanwhile, there's a new serial killer on the loose. John Lithgow joins the cast this year as the creepiest killer yet -- in an early scene, the calm way in which he kills his victim, and the look on his face, will haunt you for a very long time.

An old face from the show returns, and with his return one person in particular finds her world turned upside-down. As we watch Lithgow's methods -- and Dexter begins showing up at the scenes of his crimes, and, as he did with the Ice Truck Killer, tries to hide the fact that he's DEEPLY IMPRESSED by this guy -- what unfolds is one of the most dangerous people we've ever seen on the show. Who is he, why does he kill the way he does, and is it as random as we think?

I've seen the first four episodes, and they were bloody fantastic. You will see Dexter in a way you've never seen before; Lithgow's character oozes with a sadism that is SO creepy I can barely put it into words; the writing and acting are fantastic; and Deb's colourful language is in top form. DO NOT miss this show -- season 4 is shaping up to be the best one yet.... if Dexter can actually stay awake for all of it.

Dexter premieres on The Movie Network in Canada and Showtime in the U.S. at 10pm ET on Sunday, September 27.

Oh, and just have to share this. I get strange promo kits all the time, but this one probably takes the cake (and I've never laughed like this after getting one). Just today, there was a knock at the door and the courier was there with a package for me. My husband got the door and signed for it, and it was a gift bag for a new baby. He handed it to me and the tag on it said, "To Nikki Stafford, Nik at Nite." For a brief moment I thought, "I mentioned it was my son's birthday this week on my blog... did one of my readers somehow find out where I lived?" But inside was a card that said, "It's a Boy!" and I thought, "What?!" and I opened it to find three milk chocolate cigars that had the Dexter logo on them and a reminder to watch this Sunday. Freakin' brilliant.


fb said...

you've seen the first FOUR episodes!? oh, you lucky thing!! i'm dying -- pardon the pun -- for this series to start up again. as you know, it's one of my all-time favourites, and whilst i didn't enjoy the third season nearly as much as the first two, i have a feeling season four is going to be back on track and possibly at par with season one as my favourite yet. can't wait!

although, as i said to you in chicago, what i really want is for deb or rita to find out dex's secret. the formula for the first three seasons was that whomever dex lets in on his secret inevitably winds up dead ... but what happens if it's his sister? or his wife?! (which, in real life, is the same thing -- hahaha) season five, i'm hoping!?

metalman777 said...

I'm one of those conservative people you are talking to. A friend of mine talked me into watching the first season and I was instantly hooked.

The depth these characters is comparable to Lost.

I love Deb and her ultra potty-mouth. Dexter and all his police friends are really brought to life. I have seen the first episode of the new season and believe John Lithgow will add tremendously to the show!

brent said...

Yes to the return of DEXTER! It's my second favorite show on TV and just every scene grips me in a way once thought impossible by TV. The music is some of the best I've ever heard - it haunts me. Bring it on, Dex, bring it on.

fb said...

tonight's episode was AMAZING. i don't want to spoil it for people who haven't seen it yet, but the cliffhanger literally had me saying "oh my GOD" out loud, and the little twists and turns along the way were fantastic too. usually, when a show starts a new season and they try to denote the passage of time, it feels really clunky and contrived, but this was seamless -- everything flowed together from last season, all the questions i wanted answered were answered ... it was great.

loved the baby's name, too. :)