Dan Snierson
December 18, 2009 AT 05:00 AM EST

No. 15 – Natural born killers

Thanks to season 4 of Dexter, we won’t be hopping into a bathtub anytime soon…if ever again. But in all other ways, we delighted in Showtime’s razor-sharp drama about a serial killer/ blood-spatter analyst (Michael C. Hall), and watched through our fingers as Dexter and his most fearsome foe yet — the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow) — engaged in a gripping game of cat and mouse (actually, more like cat and cat). ”In a way,” sums up Golden Globe nominee Hall, ”the show went to darker places than it had ever gone, and lighter places than it had ever gone.” Adds Lithgow, who also nabbed a Globe nomination, ”Trinity is so appalling, terrifying, and creepy that Dexter seems like a complete sweetheart. They really twisted people’s brains, and took sympathy for the devil to an extreme.” Speaking of extremes, how about that final moment? (Spoiler alert!) All season long, Dexter tried to play family guy to his loving wife, Rita (Julie Benz), and after vanquishing Trinity, it seemed like he was going to succeed — until he came home to find Rita dead in a tub of bloody water. ”I was really proud of the writers and the network for not backing away from so bold a step,” says Hall. ”It propels us forward in a way that we wouldn’t have enjoyed otherwise. And what it could mean for the character is really wide open.” Just like our mouths.

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