“Dexter,” the serial killer who kills other killers, has returned for a sixth – and hopefully penultimate – season. For those viewers who have watched “Dexter” from the first season, a large part of the excitement of the show is the lingering threat that the titular murderer, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), will get caught and arrested. However, after sloppy story lines that give Dexter friends that he eventually must kill and / or teach how to kill, terrible subplots involving police department romances that go nowhere and an embarrassingly short memory for a modern serialized drama, the specter of Dexter’s capture is the last remaining carrot to hold viewers’ attention.
Season six begins by undoing any remaining plotlines from the abysmal fifth season in the first few episodes. The pointless marriage between Angel Batista (David Zayas) and Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) ends, Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) and Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington) break up and the conveniently dropped character from last season Lumen Ann Pierce (Julia Stiles) is never mentioned again. It is the closest thing to a production staff taking a mulligan on an entire season short of setting fire to the master prints.
In its place, season six seeks to examine Dexter’s belief system, known as “The Code of Harry,” by challenging it with opposing views about religion. In one corner of the religious debate is the reformed killer-turned-minister Brother Sam (Mos Def) who represents the positive aspects of faith and forgiveness. At the other end of the spectrum are the presumed supervillains for the season, Professor James Gellar (Edward James Olmos) and his assistant Marshall Travis (Colin Hanks) who act out the destructive potential of religion through the use of unnecessarily elaborate recreations of murders from the Book of Revelations.
Rounding out the recent additions to the cast are Jamie Batista (Aimee Garcia), Angel’s heretofore never-mentioned adult sister who now acts as nanny to Dexter’s son, and Chicago homicide transplant Detective Mike Anderson (Billy Brown) who has the potential to be the new Doakes — if the writers don’t squander this character’s potential like they did with Detective Joey in season five.
“Dexter” works when all of the disparate storylines coalesce into one tightly constructed story. After last season, it is doubtful the writers of the show have another “Trinity Killer” up their sleeves. One can only hope they cash in big with Dexter’s capture before the show becomes entirely unwatchable. Otherwise, the production staff may find themselves wrapped in Saran Wrap in Dexter’s kill room for murdering the series with criminal negligence.
“Dexter” airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on Showtime.