This post contains spoilers for the final ever episode of Dexter.
There was a time when you tuned in every week for a massive dose of cognitive dissonance telly, namely whenever Dexter was on. The sheer anxiety this show could induce was unbelievable, but then you were rooting for a serial killer not to get caught by the same police department he worked for.
Somewhere along the line, the show stopped raising anxiety levels. The general consensus seems to put this point after series four, which sounds about right. The Squeeze stopped watching after series one, if I’m not mistaken, but I stuck with it because I found it fascinating. (Anything involving psychology tends to fascinate me – it’s why I’m hooked on Lie to Me and Perception.)
What happened to make such a great show suddenly less interesting, I don’t know. Maybe because the writers moved away from Dexter as this cold psychopath to someone rather more emotional, which didn’t ring true. Let’s recap: Dexter was “happily” involved with Rita originally because she, as a victim of abuse, wasn’t pushing on them having sex. Sex did not particularly interest Dexter, and the women he had been involved with before always sensed something wrong with him when they were having sex simply because there was no emotional involvement on his part. So on the one hand, we have this very controlled and calculating psychopath … and on the other, the much more human and relatable guy who falls in love with another serial killer. A guy who cares. The whole point, and what made the show into car crash TV, was that Dexter was an anti-hero without empathy, who killed criminals to satisfy his “Dark Passenger”. Perhaps that was part of what went wrong.
For the final series, they brought in Sean Patrick Flanery and Charlotte Rampling. Flanery as a private investigator who employs Debra, Rampling as a psychologist specialising in psychopaths. In an interesting turn of events, we learn that she was in fact the one who put Harry up to making Dexter into, well, Dexter. She came up with “Harry’s Code” all those years ago. She was like the mum he never had, and they developed a sort of mother-son bond that seemed a bit weird.
Hannah McKay returned to Dexter’s life, and made everything complicated. Debra, thanks to Dr Vogel, suddenly got over her qualms of having killed LaGuerta (a woman who was killed off at the end of the first book, as it happens) and ends up in hospital with a nasty gunshot wound.
Then it became really strange. Dexter removes all the wires and things from his braindead sister without any alarms going off, he switches machines off without anyone being alerted, and he subsequently manages to walk out of the hospital with her corpse. I know they were busy with preparing for a hurricane (called Laura, like his dismembered birthmother), but COME ON. Dumping her in the ocean like all his other victims, okay fair enough … but wouldn’t she have been washed ashore by the storm? There was nothing to weigh her down or anything.
The very end was disappointing. Hannah, with Harrison in Argentina (they finally made it, yay!), reads that Dexter is presumed dead at sea. Two ways this could have gone that would have been more satisfying than what actually happened:
- He’s actually dead, his body perished at sea and he’s buried there along with Debra.
- He’s not dead, but sitting next to them in the Argentinian sun, where they presumably live happily ever after.
But the lumberjack scene?! What the hell?!
He’s alone and miserable because he’s toxic and wants Hannah and Harrison to have a happily ever after without him. (Hello, Hannah kills people too!) Come on. I don’t buy it. Then there’s the issue of Hannah being abroad with what social services would class as an orphan, which means his custody would go to Rita’s parents, seeing as how they are the only living relatives – not a wanted fugitive. Had Dexter been with them, at least he would still be with a legal guardian. What’s there to say the grandparents don’t file a missing person’s report?
The final episode was just a bit meh. The whole last series was pretty meh. Masuka finds he has a daughter – wow, after all these years he finally gets some character development! – and th plot doesn’t go anywhere, aside from progressing a minor character who has been a stereotypical lech since series one. Series eight was all over the place, and for that reason, I’m not sorry to see the end of Dexter. It was well past its expiry date, sadly.
My first encounter with Michael C Hall was as “the gay brother” in Six Feet Under. Seeing him as a serial killer took some getting used to. Seeing him again as David Fisher and not Dexter Morgan was probably even weirder, but he’s such a great actor that it’s as if the roles were played by two different actors who just happen to look the same. I hope we’ll see him in something soon again.
So long and thanks for all the blood slides. We’ll remember Dexter for what it once was – one of the most riveting shows on television. Just a shame it didn’t quit while it was ahead.