A long time ago, Dexter was one of the only shows I cared about. While it may not grab the title of my first TV love – that title goes to Lost – for a spell Dexter dominated my free time as I feverishly blasted my way through its first few season. Yet as the word spread that Dexter Morgan would be back once again for a limited ten-part series, I didn’t shout out in joy, or roll my eyes. I just felt unable to truly capture how I was feeling.
You see, as many people may know, Dexter was responsible for one of the worst endings to a television series ever. Peaking with the Trinity Killer in season four, which ended with the cliff-hanger that would ensure any fans of the show would stick around till its end, Dexter gradually spiralled to become an unrecognisable ghoul in its eighth season, as its final episodes meandered around a story that felt misaligned from its central protagonist. Being the only season I watched live, I was eager to experience my first big finale episode since the aforementioned Lost, yet as I sat shaking my head, arms folded, I grew despondent, before completely forgetting about it as Breaking Bad wrapped things up gloriously the very next week.
So, with the announcement of a new show, I felt conflicted. It has been seven years since I have watched a second of Dexter content, with Michael C. Hall intermittently popping up in films such as Game Night, or TV roles like Safe, to send my mind fleeting back to the blood splattered Miami streets. With that amount of time, I can feel my discontent for the show fading, as the ever-manipulative sense of nostalgia nuzzles its ways into my mind, familiarly stating “C’mon, you know you loved that show”.
And on the most basic of terms, yes, I did love the show. It spurred me onto buy the books, its title sequence has yet to be topped, and my unknowable thirst for serial killer/investigator drama has yet to be quenched. But keeping a level head, I try to approach the new season with curiosity over anticipation. And it is a curious case indeed. How will the show dig itself out of the big lumberjack shaped hole that it dug itself? How can it form any semblance of the show it was with so many elements that made Dexter, Dexter completely out of reach? But most importantly, will it be a story worth telling?
Last year many fans – myself included – were excited as Jessie Pinkman returned in El Camino, an extension of the Breaking Bad story. It was a film that acted as a nostalgia trip, visiting fan-favourite characters as well as sort-of answering the main question that loomed over the show’s finale – what happened to Jessie Pinkman? Yet as the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point was. Yes, it was entertaining, and yes it presented the events post-show, but come its end we were basically at the similarly, conclusively ambiguous spot that the show’s finale put us in.
Dexter then, by proxy, has the challenge of creating something that doesn’t simply act as an extension, but a story worth dredging up the bad memories of its finale. Yet unlike El Camino, Dexter’s poor ending actually works in its favour when regarding a return of the show. 2021’s Dexter in many ways can act as a second chance at a proper ending – an attempt at redemption. While I feel this hole may be dug too deep, I can’t help but cross my fingers for a favourable outcome.
Whatever the story angle may be, unquestionably curiosity remains at the forefront. This is a show that started in the mid-2000s and ended in 2013. Since we have witnessed Game of Thrones rise and fall, Mr. Robot wow from start to finish, Watchmen surprise, and Atlanta redefine comedy-drama. Television has elevated itself in many ways since Dexter was on air, that by today’s standard some of our worst shows would stand among their best. Taking a show that existed in one era and redefining it for another may be a difficult transition to make. But with a certain importance held around television now, and the original showrunner Clyde Phillips of those first fabled seasons returning, Dexter may not be the return we asked for, but it is definetely one to watch out for.