“Dexter” makes us uncomfortable.
Of course, that’s what this show is pretty much designed to do — to blur the definition of the word “hero” (if not obliterate its meaning entirely) until you find yourself “rooting” for Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), the serial killer who serially kills other serial killers.
He’s even being billed his season – the show’s sixth, which starts Sunday (Oct. 2) at 9 p.m./8c on Showtime – as an “avenging angel.” Basically, you’re supposed to be OK with his serial killing, just so long as his victims are other ones just like him.
Discomfort, confusion – it’s all part of the experience of watching “Dexter,” due in part to the creepy way Hall plays Dexter, but also due to the frankness and grotesquery of this shows depiction of its violence and its aftermath.
The thing about that is: Despite the fact that it’s on an anything-goes pay-cable channel, “Dexter” is about as gory as a host of shows seen on the broadcast networks – particularly the “CSIs” and other procedurals.
Those shows are awash in serial killers – so many that you sometimes wonder if there really are so many serial killers walking among us. That’s especially true in the world of “Dexter,” which takes place in a single city – Miami – that is depicted as a kind of continuous horror show with serial killers plying their trade all over the place.
With so many serial killers on TV these days, producers have to be ever-more creative in their development of new ones, and that’s no less true of this new “Dexter” season, which introduces us to a pair of murderers whose methods and madness are especially creative. They’re played by guest-stars Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks (son of Tom). And in Episode 1 airing this Sunday, they’re just getting started.
And so is the avenging angel Dexter, who, besides hunting for murderers to murder, is also involved this season in the mundane activity of enrolling his young son in pre-school. For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, Dexter seems to be leaning toward a Catholic school, which raises the other theme that’s apparently to be explored this season (other than murder, that is): Religion. Or faith, belief, whatever you want to call it. For the first time, we learn what Dexter – the self-proclaimed man without a soul – thinks of religion, God, heaven and everything else.
No surprise here: Dexter is pretty much an atheist, though he’s suddenly curious about faith and how its adherents maintain it. And one of them is his buddy, who happens to be named Angel (David Zayas), though this other Angel has never been shown to be an “avenging angel.”
We’ll say this for “Dexter”: Whether we’re uncomfortable or OK with this show, it is one of the most thought-provoking series on television. And if you’re comfortable with it, then enjoy the show – the new season awaits.
“Dexter” airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on Showtime.