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Dexter's Dangerous New Battleground: Christian Faith

By Johnny Simpson
Posted Sep 20, 2011 in Entertainment
On Sunday October 2, the sixth season of the blockbuster hit series Dexter will premiere on the Showtime network, even as the Dexter Facebook page nears the magical ten million mark. The story of antihero Dexter Morgan, a tormented but relatively benign serial killer/Miami Homicide forensics expert who disposes of society's worst in the most gruesome of ways, the show's popularity has only swelled over its five years of existence. That is rare indeed for television.
The premiere date is being billed as D-Day, and for Dexter fans it very well could be. Many questions remain unanswered. Will this season be Dexter's last? If so, how will the Bay Harbor Butcher go out? In wicked fashion, as he has dispatched so many of his mostly-deserving victims? Tied down to Old Sparky, as was his father's worst nightmare? Will he be found out by nemesis Detective Quinn? Will his sister Debra finally catch on to who and what he really is? Or will the killing yet go on for more seasons still?
The only thing we really know for sure is this: if the great award-winning writing and acting continue on Dexter as it has for five intensely grueling seasons, we Dexter fans are in for a hell of a ride in Season 6. The addition of stellar acting talent Edward James Olmos certainly can't hurt that cause.
Mr. Olmos is being billed as Professor Geller, an "enlightened religious studies professor" and serial killer who like Dexter believes that his gruesome murders are justified, only in Geller's case in the name of God. And therein lies the potential of great glory or great failure for the esteemed Dark Defender this season. The central theme of this year's rendition focuses like a laser on faith, God and religion, and that is from none other than Dexter executive producer Sara Colleton. You'll find the extended season trailer linked at Showtime's official Dexter page, along with video interviews and sneak peeks into the new season.
The trailer is, appropriately enough, accompanied by Marylin Manson's crunchy metal version of Depeche Mode's 1989 smash hit Personal Jesus. Images of Christ, faith and the occult abound. The chaotic imagery and music promise much of the same for Dexter fans as previous seasons, if not more. I'm hoping for more. Much more. But Here There Be Dragons. Take a close look at the trailer intro with God-fearing wife killer Joe. He has an almost cartoonish Scott Roeder-like, "God-is-my-savior-so-I-can-kill-anyone-I-like" mania about him. Nothing really new there. In many ways Dexter does have a comic book feel about it, and many past evil characters were mean killers straight out of comic books.
Also, no subject should be off limits to great writing and acting, not even one as touchy as Christian religion and faith. Films like Man on Fire excel at putting Biblical morality front and center in a very gritty story, but it has to be done right. If there is even the perception that the writers and producers of Dexter have crafted a Tea Party Killers Must Die parody of itself, it would be a greater tragedy than to see Dexter die in the worst way. In actuality that would be the worst way to kill him off, not to mention a great TV series. I'm really hoping that doesn't happen. Would be a tragedy to see Dexter traipse down the same merry Tea Party-kicking path as Glee and too many others with parodic representations of conservative and religious Americans whose politics they may despise. Lots of Dexter fans in that crowd.
Curiously, it makes me want to see the new show even more. There's a lot more at risk here now than just Dexter's future. The show's very fate could hang in the balance if the viewing public's perceptions are of ridicule or insult at the expense of the Dexter story. I only report what I see, people. I'm not a Christian myself, but you don't have to be black or Jewish to know what offends them. High on their list is being portrayed as cartoonish fanatics like wife killer Joe or the WBC crowd, as is pervasive in Hollywood and the media these days. Potential audience minefield Dexter is entering here, as Showtime boss David Nevins is finding out. As a rabid Dexter fan, I wish them luck. I want the show to soar, and for its great actors and storytellers to grab us by the throat and not let go. It's the only show outside of The Sopranos or The Shield that has kept me hanging from week to week like few others the past decade.
At this point in time I am giving Sara Colleton, Michael C. Hall and Edward James Olmos et al every benefit of the doubt. They've earned it and more. Fact is, I'd love nothing more than to see Edward James Olmos walk off with a Golden Globe next year for his role, just as John Lithgow did for his role as the Trinity Killer in Season Four. Mostly I just want to see great television, but very tricky source material for the Dexter crew this time around. Here's to praying they get it right. Keeping the Faith. See you a week from Sunday, and I really don't care that the Jets are playing the Ravens on SNF at the same time. As a Pats fan that's saying a lot, but it does mean I'll be praying over two televised events that night. We seek out God in the strangest places, yes?

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