I can't help but feel that this season completely trumps Season 3 in terms of how bland it has been. Season 3, while I barely remember any of it, had the distinction of at least being enjoyable. Dexter overall has sort of fallen into the Twin Peaks-thing where the characters and performances are so good that it's never really bad. However, this season seems to be really pushing it.
So far, I only felt there were two great episodes. And tonight's certainly wasn't one of them. (The back-to-backs with Dexter's brother, the ice truck killer, were awesome.) For all the revelations bullshit, Colin Hanks' increasing insanity as the primary antagonist, what I enjoyed most was the reveal that Deb is more or less in love with Dexter. I liked the way they handled it, even though it was something they hinted at before ad nauseum in prior seasons.
The whole thing with the intern mailing Dexter the hand...I don't really see how that's going to really go anywhere given what the preview for the final episode suggested. So what, instead of making games about serial killers, the guy's going to actually kill someone? It was interesting when they showed the hand as he was having sex with Batista's sister (whose name escapes me), because I thought maybe they were going to do an Ice Truck Killer copycat sort of deal, but that's probably not where it's going to go. In fact, this seems like a wasted subplot floating in a season of filler.
While Colin Hanks gives a good performance each episode, he's not a particularly good villain, or a believable one, and I hated the twist with him being the sole killer. While it did add some "holy shit" inertia to his character, as you realized it was him who killed his sister in that manner, it hardly made the plot any more interesting. I thought that maybe they were going to have Gellar as Travis' equivalent to Dexter's father Harry constantly popping up to offer exposition, but they seemed to can that idea, too. Say what you will about last season, but I found Jordan Chase much, much more interesting.
Also, for better or for worse, we saw Dexter substantially grow in that season. Here, they started out with a new aspect to his character, that of questioning whether he's capable of faith, but that went out the window in favor of the typical serial killer -- of which Dexter killing said serial killer is of the utmost importance -- chase bullshit after father Sam died. As for Laguerta's screwing of Matthews, meh. Dexter isn't the Wire, and I don't come to it looking for the inner workings of police politics.
But in relation to the preview for the season finale: how am I supposed to feel any tension when I watch Dexter's showdown with Travis? Of course he's going to make it out alive; of course his son isn't going to die; of course there will be another season of Dexter; of course Travis is going to get killed. The only question is, how exactly is it going to happen? And what is going to happen surrounding the main climax? A good finale might slightly improve the overall season, but it's been boring most of the way through. But what do you guys think? Have you enjoyed this season? Hated it? Thought it was just OK?