Depressingly Declining Dexter

Sometimes I toy with the idea of writing pop culture reviews from the point of view of a modern Phansigar, that a member of the ancient fraternity of Thuggee, a devotee of Bhavani. (Or, in the common parlance, a Thug.)

The idea came up again while watching the disastrous final episode of Dexter. It probably wouldn’t be a stretch to argue that Dexter Morgan represents a sort of failed Thug or anti-Thug. It would probably be tedious to list all of the taboos he violates (though his relationship with blood is clearly problematic), but among them would have to be his murder at the end of Season 2 of Lila, a woman with whom he’s had conjugal relations.

(A fuller Thuggee criticism would require, of course, a look at the spiritual dimensions of the Sanskrit Lila, meaning “sport” or “play.”)

There’s a pretty strong case to be made that the end of Season 2 was when the series started its decline, which is often linked to the way Lila’s killing of Doakes lets Dexter off the hook. You could make a case that was just a narrative conceit. The show had painted itself into this corner where allowing Dexter to either break the code or get caught would have meant a radical shift in the show. (Though you could argue Dexter’s unwillingness to make those radical shifts is what doomed the show.)

Where the show really crosses the line is precisely in the murder of Lila. Dexter travels to Paris, finds Lila, drugs her, stabs her, and then flies back without arousing any suspicion. And while Doakes’ death was arguably necessary, Lila’s was not. She was a loose end, but given that she had chosen to leave the country (and that she was a foreign national whose immigration status was an issue) she presented no immediate threat. It would have made as much, if not more, sense, for Dexter to simply let her go. Sure, that would mean she would be out there, still a threat, but that’s hardly the kind of thing that would make it impossible for the story to proceed. And given this is a show about a blood-spatter expert who is also a serial killer, you’d think some level of messiness would make sense.

The point being is that it is interesting that Dexter starts to go off the rails at the very same time that Dexter violates a major Thug taboo, which may just be an interesting coincidence.


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