There were two great things about last season of Dexter: John Lithgow's incredible Trinity Killer, and the shocking death of Dexter's wife Rita. The former provided Dexter with his finest adversary yet; the latter provided audiences what they'd been praying for since Season 2: the brutal murder of one television's most annoying characters.
I realize that sounds harsh, but let's face it: Julie Benz's character, originally a damaged, mousy single mother who provided Dexter with the perfect cover, essentially completed her character arc several seasons ago (right around the time she transmogrified into a Barbie doll). Then she proceeded to exist simply to nag, whine, and create problems for Dexter. So now Dexter's loss is No Ordinary Family's gain.
While Rita's death was definitely a good idea on the part of the producers, I'm afraid to say that it's only a small step in the right direction. Because no matter how awesome Michael C. Hall's main character might be, one frustrating truth remains: Dexter is a terrific character lost among terrible ones. With that in mind, let's decide who else should be killed off, shall we?
Lt. Maria LaGuerta
Relationship to Dexter: Boss
Reasons to Kill Her Off: Far and away the worst character on Dexter is this lady. Not only is she terrible at her job—constantly interfering with her own detectives when she's not busy marrying them—she also has the worst instincts. There has been an active serial killer on her payroll for YEARS now. Every time I look at her, at first I'm like, 'Wow, she is a strong woman in a position of power," but then she ruins the image through scheming, crying, or just plain opening her mouth and sounding like a dunce. And also she does that thing where she over-pronounces anything that sounds even vaguely Spanish. I'm not saying people shouldn't do that; I'm saying that when she does it, it's impossible to take her seriously.
Reasons to Not Kill Her Off: Lauren Velez is a great actress. She's soulful and subtle and I bet she could really turn in some good work if only the writers would allow her to. All her scenes lately have been like something out of a telenovela, only with worse lighting.
Relationship to Dexter: Co-Worker
Reasons to Kill Him Off: This guy is Dexter's wise-cracking co-worker in the forensics lab, and I guess he's supposed to be the comic relief, except for one problem: I prefer comic relief that's funny. He mostly just makes off-color or rude sexual remarks that aren't that shocking, or maybe they're shocking because he's a bespectacled Asian nerd? I don't get it. It would be one thing if he were genuinely clever, insightful, interesting, or you know, competent at his job (again re: serial killer co-worker). But he's none of those things. He's just a one-liner delivery service for a writing staff that overestimates their joke-writing abilities.
Reasons to Not Kill Him: Out of all of Dexter's co-workers, he's the least insufferable.
Det. Joey Quinn
Relationship to Dexter: Co-Worker
Reasons to Kill Him Off: Quinn's a tough-guy detective who joined the show in Season 3, which I may or may not have slept through. I mean, I feel like I watched that season, but I can't recall much about it. Anyway, he filled the void left by the at-first annoying Det. Doakes. If you recall, Doakes was a once-awful character who then became suddenly interesting and then got blown up. That's what I'm suggesting happens here too, especially since Quinn's plotline sort of looks like it's heading into Doakes territory (i.e. slowly uncovering Dexter's crimes). Additionally, Quinn can barely enunciate his dialogue, he dresses badly, and —how do I put this delicately—his face looks "interesting" this season. Is Desmond Harrington okay? I'm starting to worry about him.
Reasons to Not Kill Him: The Miami Homicide Division is really understaffed. Every time there's a meeting about a new killer, there are only like five people who ever show up. Also, ever since Quinn and Deb hooked up, it's inevitable that he'll be murdered. So maybe the show should surprise us by not killing him off.
Det. Debra Morgan
Relationship to Dexter: Sister/Co-Worker
Reasons to Kill Her Off: Haha, I bet you thought I'd put her at the top of the list! Everyone hates Deb. FACT. But I actually sort of like her, too. Here's the thing, unlike the other characters on Dexter, I don't think Deb was ever intended to be likeable. Instead, she's an elaborate psychological experiment commissioned by Showtime to test the viewer's tolerance for gratingly unsympathetic lady jerks. I mean, I get it, she's a hard-bitten detective with a sardonic outlook on life and an abrasive attitude that masks her paralyzing insecurities. But what an asshole! Sometimes when she's on camera, I can actually see the stinkwaves emanating from my television. Can you imagine hanging around this person in real life? She'd be like, "What's with the clothespin on your nose?" And you'd be like, "It's because your personality smells like hot garbage."
Reasons to Not Kill Her: Deb's an important character—arguably Dexter's last tie to his family. And occasionally she can be funny. And there's something strangely appealing about a cute lady with the mouth of Kenny Powers.
Det. Angel Batista
Relationship to Dexter: Co-Worker
Reasons to Kill Him Off: This guy is just useless. He's big but not intimidating. He's serious about his job but terrible at it. He went through a brief womanizing phase but now he's married to the show's worst character. And that hat! Ugh, I wish his hat and goatee would just jump off a cliff holding hands.
Reasons to Not Kill Him: He seems like an okay guy. He's not amazing, but he's not too offensive either. He's exactly medium-blah.
Relationship to Dexter: Step-daughter
Reasons to Kill Her Off: Okay, now, I am NOT suggesting that it's cool to kill kids. You know, kids are young, they're just starting out, they've got their whole lives ahead of them. Simply because they are incredibly annoying for four goddamn seasons doesn't justify their being murdered. And now that evidently Astor and her brother Cody went off to live in Orlando with Rita's parents, maybe this entire point is moot anyway. But still. She has been the worst child ever, and even though I don't necessarily want a child to be murdered, I would definitely be okay with her being eaten by an alligator or something.
Reasons to Not Kill Her: If Astor's off the show now, that's good enough for me. Let's not jinx it and have her come back as some kind of awful imaginary ghost...
Relationship to Dexter: Deceased Father
Reasons to Kill Him Off: I know what you're thinking: Harry's already dead! You can't kill a dead guy! But I think you're underestimating the recent advances in ghost murder. For years the nation's top scientists have been working on new methods of murdering ghosts, and there's no better test subject than this guy. At first Harry was a great device… during the first few seasons he'd show up to provide Dexter some insight and also help us understand Dexter's tortured upbringing (particularly in flashbacks showing Dexter as a child). But at some point Harry became just another annoying harpy in Dexter's life, giving contradictory, useless speeches and generally driving me nuts. He seems especially shoe-horned in this season, as Dexter has gotten more and more mentally healthy. At least he's not as bad as Dexter's voiceovers, which are now basically just repeating things that we observed with our eyes and brains ten seconds prior.
Reasons to Not Kill Him: Murdering a ghost might be the proverbial powder keg that leads to the inevitable Ghost World War. That would NOT be good.
... Which Dexter character do you most want to see murdered? And how?
... How awesome a character is Dexter that the show can withstand all these other terrible ones?
... Do you think Dexter should leave Miami and find a job at some other incompetent homicide division?
... What is the most interesting non-Dexter subplot that you've seen?**
... Remember when Deb was sleeping with that old guy? What was THAT about?
**Trick Question! There has never been an interesting non-Dexter subplot.