I am not the best writer, and I can’t always identify what is “the best” writing when I’m reading it. My sensibilities differ from those of the critical elite. I had little patience in school, undergraduate and graduate, for literary theory; I’m more of a visceral response kind of girl. Whatever. I like what I like. I’m OK with you liking what you like. I get twerked by pretension and people who pretend to have cornered the market on the knowledge of what’s good and what’s not.
Still, I know when something is clearly not good. And it disappoints me when people take shortcuts.
Dexter, the Showtime series about the serial killer with a heart of gold (whatnow?) made such a misstep last week.
Big, Big, Big, SPOILER COMING.
This season is taking on the Big Kahuna symbolically, good vs. evil manifested in religion. Thematically, this has always been its domain – sort of hard to avoid when your protagonist is a vigilante psychopath serial killer your audience is always rooting for. But in the last episode, the bad boy turned good, we think, portrayed spectacularly by Mos Def, the character of Brother Sam, is shot.
We see in the previews for next week’s episode that Brother Sam might live.
Not that I wish ill upon Brother Sam. He is a great character. A great guy (if he doesn’t turn out to be, in some Dexter-esque plot twist, a sick mofo still hellbent on murderous destruction) full of light and love and instruction and openmindedness and peace, and Mos Def is an acting revelation. The guy is one of the greatest actors I’ve seen in…ever on television.
But in life, and how ironic that this is the thematic and symbolic crux of the season of Dexter and they blew it, bad shit happens. Really bad shit. Just two weeks ago, Dexter’s son got really sick and squeaked through. You don’t get two “squeak through’s” in two weeks. If someone walks into a garage, shoots a good guy character at point blank range in the chest a few times, the guy needs to die. You can’t have it both ways. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the bad stuff that happens is informative and leads to growth or change. Sometimes, often, it’s just sucky. That’s life. It’s good and it’s bad and there’s both and we have to learn to handle them both when they come at us. We can be sad about Brother Sam; we should be sad about Brother Sam, but we have to learn how to handle what happens to Brother Sam, we can’t be bailed out by the eternal Deus ex Machina that we’re all trained to expect anymore.
I feel bad hoping that Brother Sam isn’t going to make it. I feel even worse about the fact that I think he should have died on the spot on that filthy garage floor. He adds so much to that already terrific show. Still, we can’t always have a happy ending.