Preview: Dexter 4×1

John Lithgow - naked. Need I say more?

Dexter 4x1

In the US: Sundays, 9pm ET/PT, Showtime. Starts September 27th

Dexter is of course America’s favourite serial killer. Trained by his adoptive police officer father to channel his homicidal instincts for ‘good’, Dexter only kills bad people.

However, as pleasing as that might have seemed, the third season of Dexter didn’t appeal to as many fans, as politician Jimmy Smits’ plan to befriend Dexter, learn his secrets and then go off killing his own enemies failed to interest viewers as much as the previous seasons’ stories did. To some (not me), it all felt a bit flabby, a bit drawn out, a bit tired.

With Dexter marrying and having a baby at the end of season three, many worried that the show might be jumping the shark or at the very least that season four was going to have a stupider or less captivating plot.

Worry ye not. Episode 1 of season four looks to be a cracker, with John Lithgow turning up as the new, mental serial killer in town. If only he didn’t spend so much of it naked. We just don’t have to see that kind of thing on tele, do we?

Academy Award-nominated and Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe award-winner John Lithgow will take on one of his most intense and intriguing roles to date portraying Miami’s latest serial killer in SHOWTIME’s top-rated drama series DEXTER. Lithgow will be featured in all 12 episodes of season four which are scheduled to premiere Sunday, September 27th on SHOWTIME.

Lithgow will play Walter Simmons, an unassuming, mild-mannered suburbanite who has been living a duel life as one of America’s most prolific and deadliest serial killers. Dubbed the Trinity Killer because of his proclivity to kill in three’s, he relocates to Miami after being tracked by F.B.I. Special Agent Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine). Brought on to assist in the investigation of Miami’s latest serial killer, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) becomes fascinated with Trinity’s unique killing methods and his ability to evade capture for almost three decades.

John Lithgow is an actor with a broad range of interests and talents in every area of the entertainment industry. He has been working in show business since the early seventies, and has achieved stunning success in wildly varied ventures. He was nominated for Oscars in back-to-back years for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment. For his television work he has been nominated for ten Emmy Awards, winning four times, one for an episode of Amazing Stories and three times for his lead role in the comedy series 3rd Rock from the Sun. In that show’s six year run, Lithgow also won the Golden Globe, two SAG Awards, The American Comedy Award and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1973, Lithgow won a Tony Award for David Storey’s The Changing Room. Since then, he has appeared on Broadway nineteen more times, earning another Tony, three more Tony-nominations, four Drama Desk awards and an induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame.

One of the most acclaimed series on television, DEXTER stars Michael C. Hall (three-time Golden Globe-nominee, two-time Emmy-nominee) as a complicated and conflicted blood-spatter expert for the Miami police department who moonlights as a serial killer. The show has received both an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination for best television drama series as well as a prestigious Peabody Award in 2008 and was twice named one of AFI’s top ten television series. The show also stars Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, C.S. Lee, Lauren Vlez, David Zayas, and James Remar.

Is it any good?
Much of the first episode revolves around Dexter trying to cope with being a parent. Full stop. Getting baby to sleep, getting any sleep himself so he can concentrate on his police work, dealing with his step children: it’s all much harder than just killing people, let alone killing people as well. In fact, Dexter messes up quite seriously as a result of his baby issues.

Although you might expect John Lithgow’s Trinity killer to make up the rest of the episode, it’s the re-establishment of relationships and seeing how they’ve progressed that the producers have chosen to go with. I won’t spoil things too much, but at least two characters are continuing with a relationship, and two more have embarked on new ones. This doesn’t feel interesting in the same way as previous seasons have developed the characters, but it does at least all hang together and seems plausible.

Nevertheless, Lithgow and his murderous tendencies are a noticeable presence, even if the Miami police department haven’t yet worked out who he is or what’s happening. Lithgow is disturbing as the Trinity killer, and gives a genuine sense of ‘otherness’ and insanity in a way that Dexter just doesn’t.

It’s a very well written coherent episode that promises much for the rest of the season, especially with its cliffhanger ending. You almost want to avoid having to watch Dexter’s little peccadilloes, just so there’s more time to watch how the hunt for the Trinity killer plays out.

If you were worried about season four declining in quality, you really shouldn’t be. It’s going to be great.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.