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“My Bad” (Dexter S5:E1)

Posted by Mr. Feeny on October 2, 2010

“I’m sorry for your loss.” – Dexter

I feel like Dexter might have been speaking to me when he said that line. He certainly couldn’t have realistically said “I’m sorry my show now disappoints you and you’re tempted to drop it from your rotation and stop watching,” but that must have been the point of uttering such a horrendous line. It couldn’t actually be what the writers’ thought Dexter would naturally say in that situation.

Dexter’s wife, Rita, had been killed by Trinity (John Lithgow). Because of a combination of self-blame (he could have killed Trinity much earlier and prevented this from happening), confusion (he’s nevert dealt with losing someone as suddenly and violently as he forces people to exit the world), and grief (Rita was the only person he truly loved, besides Deb and his father), Dexter is unable to express his emotions honestly. That’s understandable. I don’t have a problem with that as a general backdrop.

But the writers abandoned all humanity in Dexter during “My Bad.” His actual grief was barely touched upon. Instead, they made him robotic and unfeeling. That’s how Dexter was 4 years ago. That’s how he was before he married Rita, before he became a father. But over the course of the series, we’ve seen Dexter grow and realize that there actually are bits of humanity in him. He’s not just an unfeeling monster. Rita made him a better person. And though they addressed that at the very end, during his eulogy, they mostly ignored that fact throughout.

Today’s Dexter would have grieved. He would have been a little upset at least when making the 911 call. He would have tried to be fatherly to Astor and Cody, instead of repeating the cold, standard line he heard from a funeral home director. His grief would have been different from most people, but not this much.

This season premiere actually captured all the things I hate about Dexter in one 53 minute capsule. And all those things boil down mostly to one problem: the writers forgetting what their show is about. They forget that Dexter has progressed since season one. They forget that the only thing keeping Dexter going is his and Harry’s code. They forget that we don’t really care about any other characters.

Pay no attention to the blood upon his shirt...

I’ve stated often how my biggest problem with last season was that Dexter had what could have been a game-changing moment, and the writers just glossed over it. He purposely killed an innocent man for the first time ever. He sought him out and sliced him open, only to find out later he got the wrong guy. That’s the #1 rule in Harry’s code, the only thing keeping Dexter grounded and stopping him from becoming a monster. To break that rule should have sent him into some sort of downward spiral. But next episode, they acted as if nothing happened. Then, in the premiere, Dexter brutally murders a stranger. He committed no crime other than looking like a criminal and being rude. But Dexter killed him to let out his frustration. Completely ignoring Harry’s code (not just killing innocents but leaving behind no evidence. Dexter’s all over that bathroom)…but that’s never even discussed. He doesn’t even talk about the guy he just killed.

There is an opportunity for the fourth season to redeem itself. If “My Bad’s” reckless killing of another innocent actually demonstrates that Dexter has lost all grounding and has become an actual evil serial killer, then maybe I can buy last year’s sloppy storytelling. Perhaps it wasn’t a big deal to Dexter because he’s lost his sense of right and wrong. Maybe he’s abandoned the code without realizing it. That would be interesting (but, why? I could understand if it’s because he lost Rita…but then how do you explain last year? You can’t.). Especially if he kills Quinn to stop him from discovering his secret (remember that he convinced himself to kill Doakes in Season 2 before Lila did it). Now THAT would show the rise and fall of Dexter. A man with a code but no connections in Season 1. A man with no code but actual feelings in Season 5. Wouldn’t that be great?

Of course, the writers have forgotten that Dexter has emotions and feelings. So they won’t go for that great storyline. I’m sorry for their loss.


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