On Asked episode 173 with Special Guest Bread Foster last night we were asked our thoughts on the final episode of Dexter, the hit Showtime television series. Unlike Johnny Landin I actually watch TV. The difference between myself and most people is I dislike tweeting about television because I don’t get overly hyped for what I am watching nor do I feel the need to spoil it for everyone else. Writing a blog is a little different. The reason I’m writing this is because I said I would answer the question but at the same time not be a dick and spoil it on the air during my show – it’s easier to write an article on it so that people who do not want to be spoiled can avoid reading it entirely. You’ve been warned so if you haven’t watched Dexter’s final episode and do not wish to be spoiled you can now leave.
The final episode of Dexter sees the consequences of Dexter’s actions as he lets serial killer Oliver Saxon live so that his sister, Deb, can arrest him. The fact Dexter even lets Saxon live is, in and of itself ridiculous but more on this later. The U.S. Marshall who has been tailing Dexter due to his involvement with Hannah McKay stealthily enters the location where Saxon is tied up and lets him go while Dexter and Deb have a mushy goodbye outside. Saxon kills the Marshall and shoots Debra when she re-enters, escaping. Dexter then has to cancel his plans to leave with his son Harrison and his girlfriend Hannah to settle this once and for all. Despite Deb being fine early in the episode a blood clot causes her to have brain damage and she ends up a Terri Schiavo-like vegetable. Saxon, who intended to kill Deb in the hospital to get back at Dexter is caught and arrested. Dexter anti-climatically kills Saxon during a routine DNA test and stages it so it looks like Dexter acted in self-defense. Since Quinn and Batista, the apprehending officers also want Saxon dead they buy the poorly constructed self-defense line. Dexter returns to brain-damaged Deb and cuts off her life-support before tossing her in the ocean to say his goodbyes in the middle of a hurricane. Figuring that everyone he’s ever loved has been hurt by him he decides to vanish forever, leaving his son and Hannah behind in Argentina. Rather than die, however, we find Dexter alive and well in Canada somewhere living as a lumberjack.
The final moments of Dexter show an up-close on his face and we understand absolutely nothing in what has to be one of the weakest endings to a series in a long time. I enjoyed Dexter as a television series, but even I have to admit the final episode fell flat. It’s definitely not the way I would have ended the series, and even then I could have forgiven the rest had the ending itself been a little bit more of what we expected. Here are some of the loose ends of this final season I just couldn’t wrap my mind around.
Hannah McKay Suddenly Stopped Being a Serial Killer
The whole point of being a serial killer is you can’t just quit being one. It’s an urge to kill, or as Dexter calls a “Dark Passenger” (which in Dexter’s case usually manifests as the ghost of his adoptive father, Harry Morgan who taught him the code by which Dexter kills). The entire reason Dexter is attracted to Hannah is because she is a serial killer herself, who poisons her victims who just so usually happen to be the men she enters relationships with. For whatever reason we’re to believe Hannah (who is supposed to be like Dexter) is now just a normal woman who doesn’t poison other human beings. If this is the case, Dexter would lose his attraction to her to begin with, but more importantly Dexter put Hannah McKay in prison in the first place. Have any of you been to prison? Jail? I’ve done some time in jail and I can tell you right now if someone else put me there I wouldn’t forgive them let alone re-enter a relationship with them. The fact we got no 180 out of Hannah was a bit odd, and completely out of character as she simply became Rita 2.0 with a lot less depth. Also, would Dexter make the gambit of leaving his son Harrison, whom he wishes a normal life for, with Hannah McKay? What values system is Harrison going to learn? Wouldn’t Harrison have been better off living the rest of his life with his step-brother and step-sister Cody and Astor, and Rita’s grandparents? Dexter seems to only be sociopathic towards his son in the end as he seems to have no problems expressing love for Hannah and Debra by the end of the show.
Dexter, the Sociopath with the Heart of Gold
What made Dexter interesting is that he was a “monster” himself, who genuinely faked his emotions. Eventually some emotions manage to soften Dexter up but the idea that Dexter can just “be cured” of being a sociopath is pretty weak itself. . “Oh, hey I’m going to move to Argentina with another reformed serial killer and not kill anyone anymore ever again” is a really weak plot move. The novelized version of Dexter has a serious problem when his “Dark Passenger” leaves and can’t cope being “normal” and goes out of his way to regain his killing tendencies because it’s all he knows. Sure the novels are an entirely different universe from the books but Dexter is the one constant in either series. For him to suddenly give up killing is like being an alcoholic who is drinking like a fish on Saturday and suddenly taken up the straight edge lifestyle on Sunday. It doesn’t work.
And then there’s the fact that allowing Saxon to live violates Dexter’s code in more than one way – one of the important parts of the “Code of Harry” is “don’t get caught, tie up the loose ends.” Saxon being allowed to live is the biggest loose end ever. Hannah McKay was imprisoned and Dexter had nothing to worry about because she “loved” him in regards of her telling the police everything she knows about the Dark Side of Dexter. However, Saxon has no reason to keep Dexter’s secrets, all of which he learned from illegally hacking his mother Dr. Vogel’s personal files. We never see Dexter get rid of this damning evidence and so we have a very convenient paper trail which means “if Saxon goes down so does Dexter.” Logically speaking there is no way that Dexter could have let Saxon live even if Deb arrested Saxon because he’d be able to tell them what the Dark Avenger does in his downtime. Not to mention that Dexter already should know what happens when you let a dangerous killer survive. He learned there is a pound of flesh to be paid way back when the Trinity Killer murdered Rita. Dexter is supposed to be meticulous and organized. He would not make the same mistake twice.
Supporting Characters Running Around… Doing Nothing with No Resolution
Why did we introduce a daughter for Matsouka? Why is Jamie sort of just standing around doing nothing by the end of things? What happens to Quinn now that Deb is dead? Will Matthews continue to be kind of a dick? We have so many supporting characters and they just sort of… do nothing. You’d have at least expected Saxon to make good on the “killing everyone you love” threats and have taken out a few people.
I'm not one for "killing off characters just for the sake of doing so" but Jamie’s death almost seemed to write itself given the situation with Quinn and the remorse he’d have to feel if something terrible happened to her not to mention the emotional response it would illicit from Batista. Matsouka’s daughter reads “cannon fodder” all over her because there was no point to that story line either. Did we really have to humanize the perverted Matsouka, too? Why the hell are we making these characters into sensitive simpletons? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the show? The only way this could have gotten any worse is if they all joined the BE A STAR program and pledged their lives to anti-bullying.
The Roads Not Taken: How I Would Have Ended It.
As I said, if the path towards the ending had been a little better it could have been saved. You didn’t need to have a dearly deceased Dexter to close out this show nor did you have to have him incarcerated. It could have taken a similar path without being a complete waste had the series remembered some important points.
First of all lets go all the way back to the first season of this show and Dexter’s biological brother Brian, who strapped Deb to a table and wanted Dexter to give into the freedom of a world with no code, killing indiscriminately. “Choose me.” Ultimately Dexter kills his own brother, Brian, and chooses his adoptive sister. That’s a big deal. From that point forward we establish that the Morgan family which took Dexter in represents his tether to morality and doing what is right. With Deb’s death, the Morgan family is gone. If I had ended it my way I would have had Saxon give out some sort of great dialogue with Dexter about how he took that away from Dexter, about his how code means nothing. Vogel is gone. Harry is gone. Deb is gone. Dexter has his son and Hannah left (and they too probably should have bought it in the end for good measure). Instead of Saxon learning to be like Dexter, it should be the other way around: Dexter has nothing left. His code has been for naught. The people close to him paid the ultimate price. Brian was right – so right in fact that ultimately it is Dexter who killed Deb, not Saxon. Dexter killed Deb by his inaction. Dexter then deliberately kills Brain Dead Debra by cutting off her life-support and tossing her in the ocean, in effect doing what Brian wanted Dexter to do way back in season 1. Rather than just… go be a lumberjack somewhere, I think the right ending would have been to show someone on Dexter’s table in this new life Dexter paved for himself. Only this time, this person is innocent. Dexter should have ended the show in blood and darkness, giving into his urges because everything he had left that kept him grounded, kept him abiding by a code is now gone. Dexter only has the kill left and it no longer matters who he does, which would have been a more appropriate finish for the series and even fit in tone with the episode name “Remember the Monsters” because Dexter would once again have become one with the ending theme of “no matter how hard you try, you cannot change what you are.”
I think that would have turned some heads and probably been a more satisfactory ending. But what the hell do I know? I don’t get paid millions and millions to write scripts. In fact I get paid NOTHING to write blogs and host podcasts. Feel free to fix that by clicking the DONATE link and dropping me some money via PayPal though. None of this is free. And so with that we bid a not-so-fond farewell to the darkest depths of Dexter which died a disappointing and drab death on its final episode. At least the journey was one we enjoyed. I just wish we had more to go on than Dexter turning into A Real Man’s Man Steven Regal in the final episode.