Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Dexter And The Bad
But Dexter didn't die a slow death...if anything, the tv show took an opportunity to really play out with big ideas and big red flag topics under the guise of a "serial killer story".
In the past final season every episode was a brilliant metaphor for taking life into one's own hands and playing judge. The series became stronger at exploring capital punishment and self-defense.
I spent most of the last episode crying. I did not want Debra to die. I'm really torn up about it. I was also conflicted about Dexter going to South America with Hannah. I don't think really ever understood Hannah and her role as a murderer. I guess she really was a victim of circumstances and if a relationship is a catalyst then how does that effect the people in the relationship? She was a murderer because she was kidnapped and controlled by a murderer?
My over all feeling about the series is...Okay Dexter isn't "bad" but he can't be happy.
On top of Debra dying the series was an existential argument about the nature of human life, and if we can or can't be all good and all bad...can we do the right thing ever? And can be happy even if we do the right thing? Just because we aren't bad, and we do kill for a "good" reason...we can not reconsole that killing. I believe we have rituals because we need to reconcile killing in order to live. We need to kill animals in order to live, therefore, I believe we should worship those animals and gve them good decent lives before we eat them.
With Dexter killing bad people, terrible murdering creeps he is doing good for society and his community. But he pays a price. He can not be happy and the people he loves can not live in peace. Living in peace, with peace of mind...is the elusive goal in the tv show.
Breaking Bad has one more episode. I feel that these are really two of the greatest tv shows ever to be ade. There is still one episode left for Breaking Bad...and we have yet to find out how morality will be left, reconciled, or not. what kind of moral universe is Breaking Bad? At this moment it is one where violence, greed and dog eat dog rules. Because Breaking Bad is a Manichean formula narrative in many ways it has seemed it's been a battle between Walt who is all brain/intellect and Jesse who is all heart/emotions. Both characters are not whole but connected as one by this separation of mind and heart. Both their decisions are controlled by this spilt their strengths and weaknesses.
I believe the only person who is at all well-adjusted on Breaking Bad is the son, flynn. I was very glad during this week penultimate episode that Flynn totally stood up to his dad, and told him how wrong he had been with his choices and how he betrayed his family and community. Finally! In some ways it might have been worse than killing Walt White for him to hear this...of course the only thing that Walt really gets worked up about is his revenge for being perceived as weak. When his former business partners claimed he was useless...we can guess Walt will take revenge on them in the final episode. Will the redeeming character of Flynn have another stand? Is his strength his understanding of being a whole person enough? How will that be manifested in the last episode. I'd like to see Flynn have some kind of action to amend the mess. Does he need to face off more to his dad? Can he? Or is it enough he stood up and said what he did? I believe his words would have really hit Walt...but because Walt is such a machine, will it heal him be awakening? Or will Walt make Flynn dead to him in his heart?
I suspect his revenge at public humiliation by Grey Matter will be his focus. His opportunity for grace is through his own son though...
But is there any healing or positive community future in the moral universe of Breaking Bad?
There is in Dexter but it's a terrible price. The price is the idea that can't we have "happiness" in the way we've been taught to expect it, or in a peace of mind reconciled with the horrible things and people in the world? No we can't says the show Dexter. We can't be happy with how we act out justice right now in our community. It's not working.
In Breaking Bad these are also some similar challenges. Can we have well-adjusted even middling fair justice and community in the world driven by greed? Will Breaking Bad take a stand or offer a reconciliation for violence and greed for our community? Does either Dexter or Breaking Bad fail if they can not reconcile living with greed or evil? I don't think so, I think they have given us an opportunity to meditate on those concepts.