Really, all that was accomplished this season was for Dexter to realize it's theoretically possible for someone to accept him for who he is (but didn't he already know that, or did he think Harry was some huge, unrepeatable exception)? And Deb has inched a bit further to accepting the vigilante concept, but that's not an entirely new development, just an incremental one.
When they killed off Rita last season, I was assuming (hoping?) that there was a damn good reason for it, and the payoff would be the show going places it otherwise couldn't, such as Dexter doing a total meltdown for the whole season, or using the Lumen plotline to set up Deb finding out the truth. But the minimal payoff this season makes Rita's death seem unwarranted in context. Did the writers just get sick of the "baggage" of having to write around Rita and the kids, and decided to shove them all rudely aside?
Anyway, there better be some upshot to the progress made this season. Dexter should be taking the initiative to get people to accept him for who he is. We've passed the point where it's interesting to bite my fingernails worrying that Deb might stumble across the truth.
Let's see how creative Dexter can be in setting up circumstances so he can tell her the truth, and not have it be an accident at all. And maybe he'll also try to sway Astor and Cody to his side. Maybe Astor should be the first family member to learn the truth?
Otherwise, what do they have on tap for next season? Not more status quo, I hope.
It could have also been a way to give the Dexter/Lumen relationship that bent, passionate craziness I was talking about and mold it into having that terrifying Macbeth vibe Temis the Red-Nosed Vorta was talking about a while back.
I was okay with the idea that the writers were taming Dexter down because I thought it was part of a master plan to keep Lumen in the story (but not on a regular basis, maybe she goes to prison but she and Dexter maintain their relationship). But since that didn't pan out, meh. If Dexter is going to become domesticated, they better have a damn good reason!!!
So Dexter does to her a lighter version of what Chase and his rape club did? That would definitely win Lumen's heart ...
Lumen might be damaged enough that it would "win her heart" but the real point of it would be to return this show to the idea of S1-S2, when Dexter was portrayed as someone who was not any better than those he killed, and the only reason he was limiting himself to "bad guys" was out of blind reverence for Harry's Code. That Dexter was perfectly capable of killing innocent people - he almost killed Deb in the S1 finale. He'd certainly be capable of drugging and manipulating Lumen.
So yes, if this show were still written that way, Dexter could be portrayed as someone who is really no better than Jordan Chase. He's just operating under different constraints, that's all. I miss that Dexter. He's getting way too domesticated and the show is getting too conservative and cowardly. It's not on network TV, so what are they afraid of?
I think there was some writer who left at the end of S2, wasn't there? And after that, I noticed the show lost a lot of its wit and terrifying edge. I don't think the current writers really "get" Dexter at the core, or they're afraid to write for a character like that. Get that S1-S2 guy back, drug him, I don't care!