Original Air Date: September 22, 2013
[Image Credit: jennifer-perfection-carpenter]
After three months of grieving, I was finally able to return to the series finale of Dexter. I cried from the first minute all the way through the entire finale upon first viewing it, but I was able to keep it together the second time around and watch the finale for what it was artistically and thematically. Most people are outraged with the finale (well, the final four seasons of the series really); however, I am one of the few who is pleased and believe that this was how it had to happen (“it has to happen; again and again …”). Most of your mouths are agape now, I know, but hear me out. Here is why I firmly believe that the conclusion to Dexter was perfect in every sense.
Disclaimer: I know many non-viewers are curious as to why there was such uproar about the ending of our beloved series. I advise that you do not read this treatment if you have not watched the series. I believe that this series finale is best appreciated if you know, at least, the premise of the series, the consequences of Dexter’s actions (in each season), as well as who has been pulled under the currents of Dexter’s wake.
Come on in; the Water’s Fine
The “storm” that’s been a-brewin’ for the past several seasons has finally arrived. Between Hurricane Laura (recall: Laura Moser), Elway on Hannah McKay’s tail, Oliver Saxon, and Debra’s run-in with the Brain Surgeon, Dexter has his plate full, to say the least. The more roles Dexter has taken on over the course of these eight seasons, the more he has emerged as a person, a human being, not just a psychopath. Being a father, son, brother, mentor, guardian, and serial killer has taken its toll and someone had to pay the price.
From what I have read, the main complaints I have heard are (1) that Deb dies/that she and Joey were robbed of their happy ending and (2) that Dexter becomes a Lumberjack somewhere, leaving a sociopath (Hannah McKay, who almost everyone loathed by the end of this season) to raise his son. The fact of the matter is that the series could not possibly have a happy ending.
The writers repeatedly showed us, through Lila’s demise, Rita’s murder, and Vogel’s assassination, that a man like Dexter cannot get close to anyone without putting their lives at risk. As the anti-hero we have come to accept him as, he must live a life of solitude in order to be true to himself without harming anyone else. Spiderman must leave Mary Jane, for he loves her so much and cannot stand the thought of her getting hurt because “with great power comes great responsibility,” as is the case with every hero and anti-hero. It is only natural that the one he loves most – Deb – was to be taken out eventually by an antagonist. He’s just lucky that Debra was not taken from him sooner.
Dexter’s new profession – that of a lumberjack – is not his way of evading his responsibilities as a father to Harrison; rather, he his fulfilling his duty to him by ensuring his safety. So long as Dexter is in Harrison’s life, the boy is at risk. Although it is not clear whether Dexter is continuing the double life, lumberjack by day and serial killer by night, Lumberjackland (that’s what we’ll call it, since I have no idea what country he is in) serves as his mountain-filled Purgatory. For the rest of his life, Dexter will live in isolation with all the time in the world to ponder the consequences of his actions. His small living quarters do not indicate sources of distraction. All there remains are Dexter and his thoughts, and his plethora of plaid shirts to remind him of his sister every single day. Every time he looks at the mountains, he will remember his last conversation with his sister about hiking. Although he will be putting his precision and dissection skills to work on all that lumber, there is little blood in his future (note the beard). The sense of regret is profound in the last shot we see of bearded Dexter.
[Image Credit: Google Images]
I began watching Dexter in May 2013 and watched all seven seasons before the live airing of season eight. Early on, in season three or four, I strongly felt that justice needed to be served. I wanted Dexter prosecuted or at least in jail. Perhaps this was a strong response to the fact that the show has been playing with my moral compass. But as Dexter’s needs evolved, so did my desire for justice. I needed Dexter to feel just as much as he wanted to feel.
Toward the end of season six, I felt that the best ending would be for Dexter to roam free, “taking out the trash” as he always did. In a way, it was wish fulfillment for all the scum in our world to be taken care of. I could sleep well at night.
But once I saw Debra’s demise at the beginning of this season, I found myself thinking “she would be better off dead.” The moment I thought this, that was when I knew Debra was not going to make it out of the series alive. As Sara Colleton, head of the writing team for Dexter asserts: “Deb, who was his touchstone and soulmate, died — and this was the only fitting punishment.”
Harry always told Dexter that he could not be both a serial killer and a father. As if his warnings about leading the double life were not enough, Vogel advised him on committing to one life as well. After several years of this balancing act, the knives he has been juggling are crashing down around him, killing the ones he loves before his very eyes. Dexter is angry with himself for letting things get out of hand, but he is just as mad at Saxon. I don’t know if any of you have ever seen RedEye with Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy, but Dexter’s “self-defense” against Saxon is taken straight from it (sorry for spoiling it for those of you have not seen it – you’ll still be squirming every moment of the movie until it happens though!). Regardless of how tense this episode was, the footage of Dexter’s kill and Joey and Batista’s reactions were possibly the funniest thing that happened all season. It’s proof that everyone who has ever questioned Dexter was right to do so, but also proof that everyone’s love for Dexter, and the fact that they “know” him would always outweigh any suspicion and/or circumstantial evidence. The writers have been trying to get across since season one that Dexter is human just like everyone else. The fact that Joey levels with Dexter (“I wish I could’ve done it myself”) is a testament to that fact. Dexter reminds us of our own Dark Passengers.
[GIF Credit: pilgrimzainah]
This is the second time Dexter has neglected to “take care” of what he began with a dangerous person: his negligence with Trinity gave Arthur Mitchell the room to kill his wife and warp his child, and the revelation that he no longer “needs” to kill anyone allows Saxon the time and place to shoot Deb.
Dexter’s Final Kill
Although it was a bit extreme to show up to the hospital in his boat and kill suit, unplug Deb’s life support, and then wheel her out without anyone questioning what he was doing, it was even more extreme that he took her dead body onto his boat and drove her out into the middle of the ocean to give her a proper Titanic-esque send-off. But you know what? Debra is a victim of Dexter’s. Although she fit his code (she did kill LaGuerta), he did not ritualize her death. Dexter’s actions have victimized her ever since she learned about his Dark Passenger. Don’t forget about her PTSD at the beginning of this season. The real Debra died the moment she discovered the truth. The woman he tossed into the ocean was but a shell of the sister he once had. The send-off was symbolic more than anything. Although Dexter is selfish for providing his own funeral for his sister, we as an audience are given closure in seeing her body sink to the bottom of the ocean. We got to say goodbye (although it was against our will).
[Image Credit: fuckyeahdex]
As we see in the flashback, Deb says that Dexter has “always taken care of [her]” and that he has “always been a great big brother.” Although Dexter feels she was wrong about this, he “takes care of her” in the sense that he refuses to let her live a vegetable for the rest of her life. It is in the few moments before he pulls the plug that he realizes that he has hung onto his sister for dear life ever since they were young. The flashback shows him doubting his ability to be a father and looking to her for advice.
This ending is more like the Romeo and Juliet-esque type scenario I predicted early on in the season. Debra put her life on the line for Dexter when she went after Saxon; believing Debra was “dead” (and as a vegetable, she basically was), Dexter sought revenge, and then “kills himself” by faking his death and disappearing into the mountains.
Honestly, Hannah and Harrison have a happy ending. Although they are without their beloved boyfriend and father, they are safe and free to live their lives without Dexter’s enemies out to get them. It is because of Hannah that Dexter can finally protect the ones he loves, although it is too late for Deb. Without Deb relying on him, there is no reason for Dexter to stick around. Although he should have quit his trade while he was ahead after Rita’s death, he still had Harrison depending on him (and was under the impression that Deb relied on him, when in fact it was him relying on her).
[Image Credit: h-e-l-l-o-dextermorgan]
A quick loophole or two: How important is Dexter that his death appears in the news? And how did he fake his death? It looked like he was driving right into the storm. (I’m sure he drove back to shore, and then set his boat off to be destroyed in the hurricane.) Will Harrison, an orphan born in blood, become a psychopath? A sociopath?
After much debate on Dexter’s origins, I feel that Dexter is a sociopath, not a psychopath. Psychopaths cannot feel – they are born without empathy. Dexter clearly feels at the end of this series. Although we saw it as more of an evolution, it was our perceptions that changed. In reality, we always feel like we are outsiders. I think Dexter is more of an introvert than he is an unfeeling psychopath. There is no evidence to point to the fact that his DNA, indeed, is of a psychopath, but being born in blood secures his position as a sociopath, just as Hannah is.
And now for the conclusion.
[GIF Credit: calins]
Here’s the thing: the writers needed to go out with a bang. Giving Dexter a happy ending would not secure this show’s place in television series. Although you may hate the show after this, can you honestly say that a happy ending for Debra, Joey, Dexter, Hannah, and Harrison would have ben the way you wanted this show to end? Would you feel the same way about it? Who would actually remember a happy ending? Not I. I know Gilmore Girls ended happily, but I cannot tell you exactly what happened. The series finale didn’t leave any impression, and it actually tarnished the show for me. If one thing is for certain, it is that I will never forget Dexter’s final moments with her in the hospital, how he struggles to turn off life-support, how he cries, and finally tells her that he loves her; it is that I will never forget the ghostly gray-and-white body of Debra Morgan being tossed into the green-gray of the ocean and sinking down like a ghost into the abyss. And neither will you.
[GIF Credit: Google Images]
[GIF Credit: winchestrbrothrs]
And now to put a “number” on this episode. Dexterity (neat-handedness, puns, trickery, clever sayings, placements, etc.) will judge all of the small things that I pick up on. The higher the score, the more fun I had picking apart the episode for hidden clues. Entertainment (how much I laughed and enjoyed the episode) will judge how excited I was on average throughout the episode, as well as after it for the upcoming episodes. Xtremity (how dramatic, but also how believable the episode was, edge-of-the-seat, white knuckles, the “holy shit” factor) will judge just how jaw-dropping the episode was. This is my rating, or as I like to call it, the “DEX-factor.”
Hurricane Laura; the symbolism of Dexter sending off Debra into the ocean; Dexter’s new profession.
Some scenes (specifically those of Joey crying, despite how heart-wrenching they were) left me feeling anxious about what lay ahead. Sometimes I found myself watching the clock.
Dexter sends her body off into the ocean, for Christ’s sake. Harrison and Hannah are in Argentina on their own. Dexter fakes his own death.