Is it possible to move on after you get caught doing something bad? What would happen if that person had the power to set you free or destroy you once and for all? That was part of the premise behind the latest season of Showtime's long running "Dexter," which just recently completed its seventh season.
"Dexter" picked up where season six left off with Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) getting caught in the act by his sister/boss Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) literally. She happened to walk into an abandoned church just as Dexter had killed another one of his victims. Instead of turning him into the police, Debra decided to help her brother cover up what he did. Unfortunately, they missed one key piece of evidence that raised some red flags from their boss Captain Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Velez). LaGuerta decided to open up an old case that could get Dexter into some major trouble if she found any proof. Her former husband Sgt. Angel Batista (David Zayas) was considering what his future would hold after he retired from the police department. Dexter turned to his visions of his deceased adopted father Harry (James Remar) for guidance when two killers (Ray Stevenson and Yvonne Strahovski) crossed his path. Both of them had the power to make or break him in their own way. Can Dexter focus on the future or will he always be looking over his shoulder?
In terms of questions, "Dexter" has asked viewers the same one each season and ended up getting different answers every time. This season proved that Dexter could only move forward and never backward no matter how hard he tried. Hall provided Dexter with the right amount of vulnerability and menace that made him a character to root for and fear in equal measure. He had definitely come a long way since his days on "Six Feet Under" where his character constantly hid his emotions. As Dexter, Hall was front and center in nearly every frame. His most memorable moment came during the premiere when Dexter's secret was exposed to the one person who loved him unconditionally: his sister. Hall's face went from shock, fear and severe anxiety as he tried to explain himself to Debra. The scene worked based on Carpenter and Hall's genuinely tension filled rapport as they tried to find common ground with each other. It was a nice change of pace to have someone else pulled into Dexter's other life who was in it for longer than a fraction of a season. This storyline twist also gave Carpenter more to do than throw her character into another failed relationship and allowed her to explore Debra's own potential dark side. Let's hope that the show doesn't push too many boundaries as it pushed toward its eighth, and final, season.
As for the rest of the cast, Velez was given more to do this season than she had been in recent years. She was able to investigate a case instead of stabbing people in the back at work. Despite the character's best intentions, she was never going to get what she wanted no matter how hard she tried. Desmond Harrington's Quinn was able to explore his character's dark side as he tried to protect a loved one, but the story ended up separating him from the rest of the cast for a good portion of the season. The swift resolution of that story towards the end of season fixed that and should rightly push Harrrington's Quinn back into Dexter's path once again. The show risked some major credibility when Dexter failed to kill one of his marks and proceeded to have a romantic relationship with them that was doomed to crash and burn. Sure, Strahovski and Hall had a nice rapport, but the story showed signs of strain pretty quickly. Hopefully, Dexter will find his own happy ending, or at the very least a satisfying conclusion to his dark passenger. One that should please everyone involved.
"Dexter" aired its seventh season finale on December 16th at 9:00 PM on Showtime. New episodes are slated to air in 2013.
Verdict: Hall and Carpenter gave stellar performances that led to the season's very unexpected season finale ending.
TV Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)