Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dexter And The Bad

Dexter is over. I kind of feel as if the very favourite episodes for me were with Trinity. That season was truly killer. I loved John Lithgow and the suspense between the killers.

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.


Eugene Knapik said...

Wow, how interesting.I tried to watch Dexter and got maybe 3 episodes into the first season and gave up. It just didn't much interest me, and on top of that, I got very tired of the actor who plays Dexter in that last series he was in. I thought, oh this guy is going to do a murder each show. I don't want to watch that.

Breaking Bad grabbed me right away. I watched two seasons of it and I thought they were tremendously well-made, well-written and so on. And then something happened after the second season. It just abruptly ended for me. I can't even explain it. I simply felt, ok, I get it. I just didn't want to entertain myself with that story any more. I don't miss it. I'm not even all that curious how it ends up. I think for me it was a two-season show. At least I would have liked it better as a two season show. The funny thing is that I can't even make any argument to support how I feel. For me I think the premise simply ran out of steam.

Candy Minx said...

Sometimes a show just doesn't stay with us. I had long breaks on both these shows. Dexter was a time conflict at forst...then I caught up. I think it hit a peak with season 5...but then the writers really started to shine. I also liked a lot of the direction, some really good directors worked on it and it looked amazing.

I fell out with Breaking Bad after two seasons for much the same reason you did...I thought okay I get it, it's run its course. But I picked it up after a year away from it...and it grabbed me again. I like how they really gave each character a lot of time. I really think it's a show where every episode is good.

The trend is writing complex long complicated characters and plots ina lot of tv shows now...and they take a hell of a commitment...and sometimes they just aren't for everybody. But I think these two are among the best shows out there.

inkcasualty said...

I was thinking of taking a job at one of the logging camps out West...I may rethink that idea

Candy Minx said...

Ha ha ha so fnny INk!!1 Great to see ya!!!!