Season Finale: Dexter – “The British Invasion”

“The British Invasion”

December 16th, 2007

I don’t quite have time for a complete analysis of Dexter’s 2nd season finale, but I was going to be making this argument anyways and felt that it would be best served here. In short, Dexter’s 2nd season was a strongly-conceived second season which features more fantastic acting from Michael C. Hall and a continued commitment to suspenseful television. Unfortunately, I was not wholly pleased with how the potential foreshadowed early in the season was lost.

This is not to say that “The British Invasion” was bad, but rather that it did nothing to resolve the problems with one key storylines, or make me feel like another decision was necessary to the development of the season. While it may have been visceral, Dexter’s second Season Finale ultimately lacked the complexity and depth of its first.

The Lila Problem

I still have serious issues with the path which Lila took as a character in the series. Her introduction was great: here was someone who seemed to get Dexter, who could enter into his psyche and serve as an outlet for his madness. It was something real, for once, even though it was still a facade. But, she turned into a horrible, boring one-dimensional villain the second Dexter abandoned her, becoming a jealous and possessive whore who would do anything to get his attention. I always felt it was far too simple: Lila was no longer in Dexter’s head, but was rather a physical obstacle. She wasn’t playing mind games, she was literally breaking into people’s houses and claiming that Angel raped her.

One of the problems that Dexter has is that its conclusion ultimately enter the realm of the physical: here, Dexter’s emotional problems literally disappear the second the cabin blows up, and it becomes a physical quest to save Rita’s kids. Last season, it was a physical quest to save Deb. However, last season, he also had to face Rudy: his final moment was not a physical feat, but rather a mental one in terms of killing his brother. He had to make a tough decision last season, and it made for a more emotionally resonant finale.

Here, Dexter had resolved his mental questions in last week’s episode – here, he simply spent an hour being Superman, saving Rita’s kids and gaining revenge on an evildoer…in retrospect, he was more like Batman, but I digress. My concern here is that they have left Dexter in a resolved state, mentally. Killing his brother eliminated his last chance at belonging to a real family, and choosing Deb over that was incredibly difficult; here, Dexter’s only difficult decision was more or less made for him when Lila blew up the cottage. Killing her was not a step forward for him, but rather just satiating the bloodlust of the audience; I will have to see Season Three before I judge how they manage to spin this into a new persona for his character.

The Lundy Problem

My other concern is minor, but still frustrates me. I still find the Lundy/Deb relationship to be extremely sketchy, and is something I never quite understood. The purpose of the storyline appears to have been to create a scenario in which Deb is forced to choose between Lundy and staying behind with Dexter. However, what I don’t understand is why she also had to be sleeping with him: was a mentor/mentee relationship not capable of creating such a turmoil in her character? It could have kept Lundy from becoming a bit soft down the stretch, and I think I would have been far more likely to care about Deb’s storyline if the whole May/December thing wasn’t present.

But, really, a small concern: on the whole, Dexter pulled out the stops in its second season. I just wish that we could have spent more time with Michael C. Hall doing what he does best, as opposed to smashing through burning walls. I must admit, however, to quite enjoying the great early-episode take on the opening title sequence. It was a nice touch.

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