Dexter – Did Breaking Bad’s final season ruin Dexter’s?
With both ‘Dexter’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ ending their series only a week apart, I wonder if we’d all be less hard on ‘Dexter’ if ‘Breaking Bad’ wasn’t so damn good.
It seems any of those drawn to watch Dexter have also been watching AMC’s Breaking Bad. What’s interesting about it is that we’ve got two villain-heroes at work here: one is a serial killer who’s “doing good” by only (usually) offing guilty murders; the other is a once-chemistry-teacher/now-meth-dealer “doing good” by providing for his family. Both are (or, at least, have been) brilliantly written, quality shows, though one wonders why the draw of the villain-heroes is so compelling.
By drawing in viewers with similar tastes, each show was — perhaps unknowingly — drawing comparisons to the other, especially during its final season. This has not worked out in Dexter‘s favor in the least.
Before this last season of Dexter, I thought the show had gone downhill since season five or six. I had grown invested in the show and still wanted to be sure to watch every week, but the excitement of it being Sunday night had waned. The show took a serious downhill turn at least partway through season seven, only to continue to tumble through its final, eighth season. The writers didn’t seem to know what direction they were going to go (Deb’s love for Dexter? What the …), and they all but gave up in the show’s final moments. Perhaps the writers moved on to the rumored Dexter spin-off? Did they give up, too, when they had to drastically switch gears from that really, really odd Deb-loves-Dexter story?
See that image of Dexter, above? That’s pretty much how I’ve felt about this entire season, and I cannot be alone. Here are just a few odd-ball things that’ve gone on this season that made no freakin’ sense:
- Introducing Vince Masuka’s daughter, Niki Walters. It seems this was merely put in place because, well, the writers had no other ideas for Masuka this season. There’s no other purpose for her being on the show, unless … (see later).
- Det. Angie Miller, the woman who Angel advanced to Sergeant in place of Quinn. Was that really the only purpose for her existence? OK, fine … then why even bother going with that plot point at all? Was it to further press Quinn into what he eventually turned to in the series finale? Is it to again set up … (again, see later below).
- LaGuerta was a clearly beloved character on the show and was a member of the family since day one. Characters on the show bemoaned Doakes more than LaGuerta, and he was the suspected Bay Harbor Butcher!
- Angel Batista’s sister, Jamie, was an even worse waste of a character. She did nothing to move stories along, only serving as a convenient reason why we didn’t need to see Harrison all the time and how Dexter could go out all night and continue to feed his Dark Passenger. Only very few times did Jamie even question Dexter’s late-night jaunts, when she clearly could get answers from Dexter’s boss — her own brother — as to whether he really did have a boatload of work to do … at night …. alone.
- Batista, Quinn and Matthews really had no idea about Dexter all this time? Death followed him everywhere, and then they witnessed him making a kill just about in front of their eyes.
- Why the hell was it fitting to give Deb the same burial he gave many of his kills? What was the point of taking her body away from the hospital?
- That final shot of Dexter. Er … what?
Those aren’t the only head-scratchers from this season. The sloppy re-introduction of Hannah to the story, for one. The actions of Vogel’s son, framing Zach and then immediately un-framing him. It was as if one writer would run with a storyline, and then another would decide to take it away. It was a rotten mess.
As for what I would get to later, it’s this: they’re gearing up for that reported Dexter spin-off. Since they may not have a clear path to follow, they’ve introduced several new characters to the show such that they might be re-used in a new series with expanded roles. Quinn’s already got a relationship with two out of the three of those newer women, so if they decided to continue the story with him (please … don’t), there’s that.
In contrast, we have Breaking Bad‘s final season; I don’t think anyone can fault it at all. I’ve been a huge fan of both shows, and this final season of Breaking Bad has been near flawless. But this isn’t really about Breaking Bad. My question was whether one show’s clear success in execution causes the other to pale even more. It’s possible, though I’d say it’s unlikely had much effect. As a fan of both — and them both airing on the same night — not comparing the two is nearly impossible. If these weren’t the final seasons of each show, I’d maybe be less judgmental. Breaking Bad, though, shows how you end a series on a high note: with few punches pulled and with every second counting. Like Breaking Bad, Dexter‘s final season was a planned one, though it failed to capitalize on those final, precious hours of a show we’ve followed for eight seasons.
Let’s forget about how the final episode “should have” ended and whether Dexter should have been caught or had gotten away — that’s beside the point. I’m not sure who should be to blame for this crappy season of Dexter, though it’s likely whomever was wrangling the writers’ room. We shouldn’t have felt like that image above — this season should have kept Dexter in the record books as one of the all-time greatest shows of cable television. Instead this season did the show a great disservice, causing it to be unmemorable (at least in a good way). Sadly, when someone asks me of past shows to watch on DVD or on-demand, I’d have a hard time recommending Dexter anymore, because I couldn’t put someone through these last few seasons. I’m not even sure ending the way I suggested would have helped.
So, goodbye, Dexter. Maybe we wouldn’t have been so hard on you if Breaking Bad was so good, but that doesn’t mean your last season didn’t stink. Look on the bright side: at least people won’t compare your final episode with Breaking Bad, since they’ve still got another week to go.
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