In the Dexter season 4 finale, Rita is unceremoniously murdered, and the details behind her death are as disturbing as the act itself.
The end of the series Right handed is notoriously controversial, but several seasons before the show’s conclusion, another controversial ending shook its audience. Understandably, the events of the last episode of season 4 aggravated more than a few. Rita, Dexter’s caring and patient wife and mother of their young son, was murdered in cold blood by the series’ most notorious villain.
Critics and much of the show’s viewers praised the episode, but many fandom members were upset with the message that Rita’s death sent to the audience. And to make matters worse, the reason the writers chose to kill his character reinforces a harmful television trope.
Who was Rita from Dexter (and how did she die)?
Rita was Dexter’s girlfriend and the eventual wife he met through his sister, Debra. Deb responded to a domestic disturbance call to Rita’s home and arrested her estranged abusive and drug addict husband, Paul Bennett, with whom Rita shared two children, Astor and Cody. She then introduced him to Dexter and gave them a date. While their relationship got off to a bumpy start, with her and Dexter struggling through their separate traumas, the two would marry and have a son, Harrison, named after Dexter’s late father.
However, Dexter and Rita’s relationship did not last. Arthur Mitchell, the infamous Trinity Killer, murdered Rita on his way to their honeymoon, not only as retribution for Dexter putting aside his murderous pursuits, but also to show Dexter that he cannot escape the ruthless killer that he is in. inside. Knowing that Arthur had his family in his sights, Dexter implored Rita to go on their honeymoon earlier than planned, to which Rita agreed. Later, Dexter captured and slaughtered the Trinity Killer, but his victory would only last for a short time.
After Dexter received a voicemail from Rita informing him that she forgot her ID at home and needed to return to retrieve it, Dexter called her phone. But in a surprise turn of events, it was ringing from her bag sitting on her table. Turns out Rita never made it back to the airport. Soon after, Dexter hears Harrison crying upstairs and follows his son’s screams into the bathroom, where he discovers Rita dead in a bathtub filled to the brim with water and blood. Harrison, reflecting how Harry found Dexter as a baby, is covered in his mother’s blood, crying on the ground.
Why did Rita die in season 4
Truth be told, Rita was more of a plot device than a fully realized character. She endured an unnecessary amount of pain throughout her four-season career, starting with the hands of her abusive ex-husband. She then experienced the emotional turmoil that comes with dating a serial killer who lives a double life, only to be killed by a mass murderer who only brutalized her to prove something to her husband.
In an interview with Weekly entertainment, Clyde Phillips, Executive Producer of Right handed, tried to explain the decision to kill Rita. “The story evolved and became inevitable. We knew we had to do more than kill Trinity. It’s a little corner where we paint ourselves … We had to raise the bar as high as possible,” he said. Unfortunately, raising the bar for progress in Dexter’s story is a prime example of the trope “Women in Refrigerators – This cliche illustrates the sad but true fact that female characters are disproportionately maimed or murdered in the media simply to Advance through the story arc of a male character.
In the end, Rita was essentially a one-note character. She was perpetually characterized by her victimization and was used primarily as a tool for Dexter’s growth or as an instrument to cause him distress. Addressing the Right handed resurgence, the creative team would get ahead of its predecessor by taking better care of female characters because creating damsels in distress without agency of their own means characters like Rita will never be more than expendable plot devices.
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