Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/Showtime
If you're a faithful fan of Dexter, Showtime's highest-rated and longest-running drama, you've wrestled for seven seasons with a thrilling quandary: Why is this soulless serial killer so damn compelling to watch?
As Dexter kicks off its eighth and final season (Sunday, 9 p.m. ET), a new question emerges: How do we want his story to end? A murderer who only kills bad guys, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) himself is entering the premiere with the same sociopathic thinking he's carried through the show since the beginning: "A better person would feel bad about LaGuerta's death," he says. "But the truth is it's solved all my problems." Watch here:
Actually, the truth is this: Captain LaGuerta's (Lauren Velez) death in the Season 7 finale may prove to be the thread that unravels Dexter's outrageously self-justified worldview once and for all. It was his police detective sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), who shot her boss dead, rather than give up her brother. In Season 8, Dexter will have to watch how this violent act consumes Deb.
Wracked with guilt and resentful of the moral jeopardy that he's put her in, she's about to slip into a downward spiral of drugs, promiscuity and self-hatred. "I shot the wrong person in that trailer," she snarls at him. That says it all, doesn't it?
No doubt Season 8 will focus on Dexter's destructive influence on his sister, because it gets to the central tension of the series: Why is this soulless serial killer so damn compelling to watch? Because he loves someone -- this sibling, Deb -- and that love makes it impossible for us to write him off. How can he be truly without a soul when he cares so much for her? But now, viewers will see that even this one, tender relationship isn't immune to the egregious effects of Dexter's hidden livelihood. This sneak peek frames the issue best:
Intriguing as he is, Dexter doesn't deserve to exit this series on top. Watching Deb's misery might just help his fans to see the light -- and accept his inevitable demise.
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.