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Gushing (Like Blood?) Over Season 4 of Dexter

November 30, 2009

First of all, a big honkin’ SPOILER ALERT to those who aren’t caught up on Dexter Season 4 and want to find out some of the biggest secrets on their own.

Let me repeat that: S P O I L E R   A L E R T !!!

Holy God in heaven, this season of Dexter has provided some of the most thrilling television I’ve seen in a long time. After every episode, especially the last three or so, I’ve been left breathless and unsettled. The rising tension, the murky mysteries and unanswered questions, and, perhaps most of all, John Lithgow’s profoundly sinister turn as Arthur Mitchell (AKA “the Trinity killer”) have all left me giddy every week. I almost envy those of you who haven’t seen any of this season’s episodes yet, because now you get to watch them in a single block via DVD or another, less-authorized medium of your choice. Waiting 167 hours between each installment of this powerhouse storytelling is tough!

To the naysayers, I will acknowledge that some of the acting is still cringe-worthy. Also, the romance between Angel and Maria is painful at times, and it has seemed forced from the beginning. That said, I thought their first “I Love You” declarations actually made for a pretty sweet and relatively authentic moment. Angel had a “seize the day” epiphany after getting some bad news about a former case and just went for it, and, against her reservations over the career implications, Maria reciprocated. Their hearts won out over their heads—I’m sure most of you can relate to that. But of course the romance is just a distraction, probably conceived and written as a balance to all the intensity in Dexter Morgan’s world and elsewhere in the Miami Metro Homicide department.

This season’s bringer of drama and danger is The Trinity Killer, played by John Lithgow with a note-perfect combination of pathos, psychosis, and cruelty hidden beneath an unreliable facade of kindness and normalcy. As the season has unfolded, Lithgow’s Trinity has become wildly unpredictable—his periods of calm have grown increasingly shorter, and it’s been revealed that he is far less skillful at hiding his capacity for murderous menace from his family than we were initially led to believe.

“Hungry Man,” the Thanksgiving episode originally aired on November 22, was absolutely devastating in its rapid-fire revelations of the horrendous cruelty Arthur Mitchell is capable of unleashing on his family after even the slightest of provocations. I’m sure the finger-breaking scene will go down in “Great Moments in TV Violence” history, but I found Arthur’s hair-trigger retort to his wife’s attempts to placate him even more unsettling. When he said, “Shut up, c___,” (a word I can’t bring myself to type, even when quoting), I actually gasped. At a TV character’s words. That’s how good Lithgow’s characterization is.

And now, after Episode 10 aired last night and was followed by a teaser for the final two episodes, we’re left with the suspicion that Trinity will soon find out that “Kyle Butler” is really Dexter Morgan and try to expose what he is learning about Dexter’s true nature. We also know that the reporter Christine Hill is Trinity’s daughter from an undisclosed (to this point, at least) relationship, and we know that she is willing to kill to protect her father, even at the expense of her freedom. We also know that Masuka is about to tell Dexter about the kiss between Rita and the neighbor.

So here are my predictions for the final two episodes. I don’t normally play this game, but I’m utterly swept up in this season’s plotting and can’t resist a little guessing. This is pure speculation, and I’ll probably end up being wrong about 90% of this stuff, but this is where the narrative is leading me right now.

Please tell me what you think, and offer your own predictions, in the comments below.

1. Christine will become frantic in police custody and attempt but fail to escape. Dexter wants to kill her for killing Lundy and shooting Deb, but she’ll be killed in her escape attempt. In the fracas, either Angel or Maria will be wounded and/or killed. Call me a pessimist, but I just don’t see this show setting up the two detectives to find love and live happily ever after with each other. Jeez, look at what happened to Lundy!

2. Trinity will keep digging until he exposes some of the facts about Dexter’s murder of the photographer, an innocent man. As in Season 2, the truth about Dexter will be frightfully close to being exposed.

3. Dexter, having already violated the Code of Harry once by killing an innocent, will find it easier to do so the second time. The victim? How about his neighbor, the one who kissed Rita, after Masuka tells Dexter about what he saw? We’ve seen over and over that Dexter IS an emotional human being and DOES have a temper, even though he still tries to see himself as a cold, inhuman killing machine who does all the “normal stuff” (job, family, etc.) as a cover for his compulsive killing. Masuka and Quinn will immediately suspect Dexter after the neighbor turns up missing or dead, having already had some degree of suspicion aroused by Trinity (and by the fact that the guy kissed Dexter’s wife).

4. Dexter will kill Trinity in the finale, but he will get caught—actually caught—in the act by Quinn, Masuka, and Deb (who by that point will have become suspicious after discovering that Dexter stole Lundy’s missing Trinity files).

5. The stage will be set for Season 5 to be the complete unraveling of the world that Dexter has skillfully built and maintained for so long. Many will respond to the news of his murder of Trinity by calling him a hero, just as they did when the “Bay Harbor Butcher” story, though not Dexter’s identity, became public in Season 2. Season 5 will explore that gray area—how should a killer of killers be regarded?—in great detail. But Dexter will, at least temporarily, lose everyone he has actually come to love.

What do you think?

Go here and here for assessments of these predictions, written after each of the final two episodes of Season 4.

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