Dexter: Season 4 (2009)

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Overall Rating 84%
Overall Rating
Ranked #138
...out of 14,040 movies
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Connections: Dexter

Dexter Morgan, Miami Metro Police Department blood spatter analyst, has a double life. When he's not helping the Homicide division solving murders, he spends his time hunting and killing bad guys that slip through the justice system. He spends his sun-drenched days solving crimes - and moonlit nights committing them. But not to worry, our cool-blooded Dexter doesn't kill just anyone. He reserves his homicidal hobbies to taking only the lives of other killers. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: December 19, 2009
The first thing I thought when I heard the announcement about the newest season of Dexter was "Holy shit, there's a new season of Dexter - awesome!" This is one of my favorite shows on television, and it's actually one of my favorite shows of all time. In my ever so humble opinion, it's one of the few shows that has consistently churned out classic episode after classic episode, each one complete with brilliant storylines and exceptional acting abilities from everyone involved. The second thing that I thought was "Wait, John Lithgow is the villain this time around? The Third Rock guy?" My love for the series and my skepticism about this casting choice were at odds with one another, but I truly hoped for the best. What I got was... well, read on.

So, the loving duo of Dexter (Michael C. Hall) and Rita (Julie Benz) have gotten married, moved in together, and popped out a kid of their own in addition to Rita's two children from a previous marriage. Our leading man is now having to juggle time with the wife, time with the kids who are growing up all too fast, tending to the newborn, and of course, keeping up with his highly demanding job as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami police. How will a guy ever get some time to himself, time to cut loose and cut up a few scumbag criminals? Trying to find the perfect balance is a running theme throughout the season, and the sacrifices that are made may cost Dexter more than he is able to part with.

Meanwhile, the newly-retired Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) is back in Miami, and this raises mixed emotions in his former lover Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter). Debra is now settled down with a new man, but will she be able to resist returning to the man that she truly loved? A better question is, why is Lundy back in the first place? Well, it turns out that he's had a bit of a pet project throughout his career, that one case that he could never solve. The case involves the "trinity killer" (John Lithgow), a man who moved from city to city over the course of thirty years and killed three people with each move. Each trifecta of murders is the same: one woman is bled out in a bathtub, one woman falls to her death, and a man is bludgeoned to death. Lundy may be retired, but he fully intends to put this man behind bars before settling down on a Mexican beach.

Naturally, the fact that there is a new serial killer in town quickly catches Dexter's attention, and it doesn't take long before he has taken a personal interest in the case. A personal, far removed from work, "I want him on my table" interest, if you catch my drift. However, after Dexter discovers that the trinity killer is actually an older gentleman by the name of Arthur Mitchell, he finds that the two men aren't all that different: both are balancing family lives with their murderous ways, but Arthur seems to be much better at it. Dexter decides to try to learn a thing or two from the man before murdering him, and we have one hell of a season on our hands.

In addition to the writing, the characters, and the acting, the one thing that I have particularly enjoyed about Dexter was the way that it avoided the whole "end every season with a cliffhanger to keep the audience coming back" mindset. In my eyes, there's nothing worse than a season ending with some huge revelation or a disastrous event, which is immediately followed by the credits rolling and ten months of waiting. Sure, each season of Dexter has left room for numerous plot points to arise in the next one, but a full blown cliffhanger? No sir, and in fact, the show could have ended after either of the previous three seasons and there would have been no loose ends to speak of.

The fourth season does not break this trend, but after the closing moments of the final episode, I can not wait for the fifth season. My word, the ramifications that this event will have on the future of the show are enormous, and I pray that this is not the moment that kills my enjoyment of the show. You see, the event in question is quite obviously something major, and it's a brilliant way to bring the season to a close while keeping the running theme of it in check. It's simply a thing of beauty the way in which the writers capped everything off, but this event will have to be properly utilized in the coming season, and that is the thing that worries me. The show could go this way, and it would hurt the product immensely. It could go that way, and it would be... different. It could go still another way and it'd be a coin toss. Again, this was a perfect way to end the season and the next one is my most anticipated "release" of the coming year, but I have to admit that I'm nervous.

I can't say much more about the ending without spoiling it, so let's move on. John Lithgow: what a horrible casting choice, right? Well, no. I only knew the man based on his work in the aforementioned Third Rock from the Sun and a handful of similar roles, but after seeing his portrayal of a serial killer here, I have to wonder why the man has had so few "serious" roles of note. Lithgow runs the gamut from family man to brutal killer, from cold and calculating to insane and out of control, and he is perfect in each aspect of the character. My jaw was on the floor when I saw what he brought to the table here, and I have to give the casting director major credit for giving this role to Lithgow.

The main cast is as phenomenal as ever, and I can't say much here that I haven't said in my reviews of the previous seasons. Michael C. Hall is just as amazing as Dexter here as he was before, Keith Carradine still brings his best, and even the minor characters have plenty of memorable scenes. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Lauren Vélez and David Zayas got a little more meat to work with in terms of their character's relevance to the story, and this time, it goes beyond the "they're cops, they solve murders" point. Desmond Harrington also returns as Quinn and steals a scene or two, and really, there's not a bad (or even average) performance to be found throughout the twelve episodes.

If you can't tell, I'm gushing. The first season immediately put this show up near the top of my favorites list, while the following seasons did nothing but reaffirm my decision to do that. This season would have got a damned high score from me if it had simply followed in the footsteps of those seasons, but when you discover that it's probably the best one of the four, well... I think it goes without saying that I'm going with the highest possible score. 10/10.
Griffinheart #1: Griffinheart - added 12/20/2009, 11:04 PM
I'm still working my way through this season, but it started out painfully for me. The baby seemed to almost suck the life out of the show and Rita became annoying as hell...but I'll finish based on your glowing recommendation.
Lucid Dreams #2: Lucid Dreams - added 12/24/2009, 02:01 AM
Nirrad #3: Nirrad - added 05/25/2011, 11:29 AM
Excellent season as described. My only problem with the show is that it seems to be too predictable. I mean some of the twists get me, but I would say about 85% of the time I call it. Been doing this since season one and its still going.
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