Last week a friend asked why I’d yet to review this season of Dexter given its overtly religious themes.
While I do like this season, the truth is the execution of its themes is so dull. Despite the random earthquakes in the world this year, I’m completely and totally bored with the apocalypse.
The writers have found an interesting way to approach the idea of apocalyptic religious zealotry by having a Big Bad who takes an active part in bringing about the end of the world. For those of you who think all God asks is that we break some seals on some folded up parchment, well, you are very wrong my friends! In fact, the Book of Revelation is a paint by numbers book directing you to perform a series of theatrically gruesome murders that will unlock hell on Earth.
At least according to Edward James Olmos & Colin Hanks.
I like the dynamic of these two together. Travis & the Professor are way more fun to watch than Dexter & Harry. And thank goodness because otherwise this season would be like watching paint dry.
So yes, there’s a slight difference in the method of the End of the World but it’s still the same story that’s been told a thousand times.
Why is it that whenever television writers want to bring religion into the story they default to the End of the World? Religion is an extremely complex subject, even if you are only operating within the realm of Judeo-Christianity. That history is richer than most people know and I would love to see it explored in a modern way via a mainstream television show.
The show writers don’t even need to do any research, Jeff Lindsay does the obscure religious research for them in the Dexter in the Dark novel, where Dexter faces an ancient Semitic cult in a very intense & personal way.
I understand that I am more exposed to apocalyptic imagery than most people but even the average American must be bored to tears with the End of Days by now. It’s everywhere and it’s been done to death.
Plus, this season was pitched as the big introspective religion season for Dexter – you had a religious killer & then you also had Dexter taking Harrison to a Catholic school. I was prepared for some nice divine angst. But there’s been nothing. Dexter wondered about God for a second & then moved on. Which would be fine in the grand scheme of things – if your season long grand scheme isn’t built around religion – because then it’s a missed opportunity and a cheap use of religion as a plot device.
This is what I think happened in the writing room:
‘What haven’t we done yet?’
‘Ohhhhh Revelations!’ (because I’m sure they think there’s an ‘s’ there)
‘Oh yeah, that ‘Whore of Babylon’ stuff sounds sexy and dangerous!’
‘We should add some nuns, you know, just because I like nuns.’
Please writers, it’s your job to be creative. Why don’t you create instead of recycle the same story ad nauseam? Explore some history. Develop a story. Dig deep, take some leaps & make some connections. Inform as well as entertain – you’ll captivate your audience that way.
Be brave. Take us on an adventure, not the same field trip we go on with every show that wants to get religious.