Michael C. Hall will one day look back on his career at a genre-defining TV show he made that had the perfect finale. But enough about Six Feet Under, we’re here to talk about Dexter, and another week of disappointments.
Remember The Monsters was the last ever episode of Dexter, but was almost totally lacking the sense of urgency, tension or finality that it should have had. With a weak and anonymous bad guy, a tangle of pointless plotlines and overriding sense of anticlimax, it summed up a deeply unsatisfying final season.
We’ll start off with the suplementary storylines of Season 8. Matsuka and his newly-discovered daughter? Yeah, that went nowhere at all. Quinn vs That Woman Over There for detective? Who knows, or cares. Quinn and Jamie and Deb’s love triangle? *Shrugs* Dr Vogel as Dexter’s ‘mother’ and Zack as his ‘apprentice’? Nope, they both died before anything interesting could happen. Deb’s crippling guilt over murdering her own innocent boss? Sigh…
So that left us with Dexter’s plan to run off with Argentina with Hannah and Harrison, a plot-line that relied entirely on belief that Dex and Hannah are made to be with each other, despite a complete lack of evidence to back this up, apart from a few soft-porn moments. BUT THERE’S A HURRICANE COMING AND DEB HAS BEEN SHOT!
After a spot of ‘tension’ at the airport, with Dexter having to frame That Private Eye Guy as a terrorist, only for the flight to get cancelled because THERE’S A HURRICANE COMING, he found out that his sister had been shot. Luckily it didn’t take long for her to be basically fine and able to have a nice chat with him about how he hasn’t ruined her life (he has) and set up a flashback to when Harrison was born.
If this was a good season finale, it would have been nice to see Rita in that scene, but that might have reminded us all that Dexter’s last meaningful romantic relationship ended four seasons ago. Plus they probably couldn’t be bothered arranging her return. So all the flashback achieved was to make it seem likely that Deb wouldn’t actually recover from his gunshot after all.
And so it turned out, as the final showdown between Dexter and Saxon was built up and then aborted, only for Deb to slip into a brain-damaged coma with no real hope of a normal life. Oh. With his sister basically gone, his ‘nemesis’ in custody and his ‘girlfriend’ and son on their way to Argentina, where next for Dexter? Off to kill his ‘nemesis’ of course! Why? Whyever not?
And here’s a question. Saxon knows everything about Dexter, so why not drop him in it while being interrogated by the Keystone Kop Brothers (Angel and Quinn)? It seems to me that the only person to threaten to unmask Dex this season has been his own sister, very, very briefly. Not that he doesn’t pretty much let it slip to the floor himself by killing Saxon with a pen in front of the CCTV camera.
This leads to an interesting scene with Angel and Quinn watching the video with Dexter and then either falling for his pathetic lies again or deciding that he was within his rights to kill his sister’s all-but-murderer with a pen. Quinn even briefly looks like he’s remembering those long-forgotten years of being convinced that Dexter was a wrong’un. But then remembers that he’s meant to be grief-stricken for his girlfriend and can only cope with one thought at a time.
Lots of inexplicable things have been allowed to happen in this season, but it’s still a shame that what should have been the most powerful and important event of the whole show was so riddled with them. THERE’S A HURRICANE COMING, so Deb’s hospital is chaotic with preparations and evacuations, but still the way Dex was able to walk in, switch her machines off and then waltz off with her dead body was bordering on the ridiculous.
He then drove into the calm seas ahead of the incoming CGI storm, called Hannah and Harrison one last time, then chucked his phone into the water. Now THAT was a well-done moment. Treasure it, because it was in the minority. Throwing Deb off the boat like the last of his victims was also at least a little powerful, if nowhere near what it should have been, and that just left him to charge headfirst into the hurricane, protecting his remaining loved-ones from himself with the ultimate sacrifice.
Nice, eh? Sure, the revelation scenes were fudged with Angel’s dumb reaction and Hannah’s iPad newspaper in CGI-Town, Argentina, but it was still a brave decision to have the ‘hero’ kill himself at the end. Except he didn’t. With a grim predictability we were taken up north to a familiar-looking lumberjack feeling glum and beardy. Is this his grand punishment for his crimes? That seemed to be what was being aimed for, but The Shield did this evening so much better already.
It’s been said plenty of times before, but the decision to run Dexter’s last season alongside that of Breaking Bad was suicidal. While that show has been full of Shakespearean tragedy and judgement, this one has never even hinted at it until that final coda, ensuring that it just came across as a bit of a cop-out. So long then, Dexter. Like this finale, you had your moments, but ended up falling way short of greatness.