Okay people, calm your tweets. Dexter is officially over so let the fan outrage (or support) commence. I, for one, am unsure what to think about the series’ swan song. Coming from a season with no direction, I never really knew how I wanted it to end. All I know is that this finale left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. I am sad. I am confused. I am frustrated. I am disappointed.
Tonight’s episode was heartfelt. Intense. Surprising. Sober. Emotional. Strange. Very, very strange.
We begin with Hannah calling Dexter to inform him that Elway is at the airport. She can’t board the plane to Argentina without Elway spotting her. Dexter takes care of the situation by reporting Elway to the TSA for leaving a bag unattended. Unfortunately, that results in the entire terminal being evacuated, which delays their flight plans.
Meanwhile, a wounded Deb gets loaded into the ambulance with Quinn riding beside her. Although she requests that Dexter does not find out, Chief Matthews phones him anyway. Upon hearing the news, Dexter tells Hannah to get a hotel and he heads to the hospital.
Before Deb gets taken into surgery, she tells Quinn she loves him. I like Deb and Quinn. I think they deserve each other. They have both fucked up, but the good they’ve done in the world “sort of cancels out the bad.” They are also two of the most dedicated and persistent detectives out there. A perfect match.
Deb wakes up to see Dexter at the side of her bed. She smiles. Dexter knows that it is partially his fault that Deb was shot. “I screwed up your life,” he says. Post-anesthesia Deb mumbles about how she wants to go on a hike. There are no mountains in Miami, Dexter reminds her. But there are mountains in Argentina. Deb insists that Dexter go on with his life and not feel guilty about anything he’s done. “The next word I want to hear you say is ‘goodbye,’” she utters. Little do we know that this is Dexter and Deb’s last conversation ever.
As Hurricane Laura is fast approaching, people are stocking up on ice and food. Saxon walks through a parking lot, with blood dripping down his arm. He steals a car and finds a veterinary clinic. He forces the veterinarian at gunpoint to stitch him up and then drive him to the hospital to find Deb. The veterinarian promises not to say anything so Saxon makes the promise permanent by cutting off his tongue. The vet stumbles into the hospital, spewing blood everywhere becoming the perfect distraction for Saxon to walk straight in. Thankfully Batista catches Saxon just in time and arrests him before he could barge into Deb’s room.
Even if he did get to Deb’s room she would not have been there. The room is empty. A teary-eyed Quinn explains to Dexter that she was taken into the ICU because something went wrong. In the series’ most unexpected twist, Deb has suffered from a massive stroke which left her practically brain dead. I liked the decision to have all of this happen off-screen because it seems more real. In my opinion, there’s a bigger impact when we don’t see a character’s fate take a turn for the worse. It’s all the more heart wrenching, upsetting and shocking – the exact emotions you’d feel if you heard the horrible news that your loved one needs a miracle to survive. Dexter, however, does not believe in miracles. He knows that he’ll never get Deb back.
Deb and Dexter’s relationship is one of my favorite dynamics in television history. The best part of this episode was the inclusion of flashbacks to show us how much Deb and Dexter have changed over the years. We go back to a scene at the hospital right after Harrison was born. We see how happy and excited Deb used to be, a reminder of how she was before Dexter’s darkness engulfed her life. Dexter really did ruin her life. He ruined a lot of lives, everyone he cares about is dead because of him. Harry, Rita, LaGuerta, and now Deb. We need to stop sympathizing with Dexter. He deserves to not get his happily ever after.
There is another particularly poignant flashback where Deb asks Dexter if he remembers the monsters (cue episode title) – scary shadows on her bedroom wall when she was a kid and how Dexter explained them away in his “dorky little voice.” She continues, “And even then, you stayed in my room. You slept on my floor. You made me feel so f–kin’ safe. You’ve always taken care of me. I know you’re going to be a great father ’cause you’ve always been a great big brother.” This is the moment when I started crying. I just began mourning the demise of their siblinghood. Although Dexter is a psychopath and should not have the ability to love, he has always loved and cared for Deb. He was the protective big brother. But he failed. He hurt her, long before she was shot.
In the present, we see Dexter staring through the interrogation room. There’s just this look of cold deep anger on his face. Dexter couldn’t leave Miami before avenging Deb and punishing Saxon. He has Hannah and Harrison board the hurricane evacuation bus without him. Elway greets Hannah on the bus and explains that once they arrive in Daytona, he will personally bring her to jail. Good thing Hannah had horse tranquilizer with her because she stabs it into Elway, thwarting his plans. He falls asleep and Hannah and Harrison get off and catch their flight to Buenos Aires.
Back at Miami Metro, Dexter goes to visit Saxon with his lab kit. He takes a seat across from Saxon. We don’t know what he’s going to do. There are no voice-overs or Ghost Harrys to articulate Dexter’s mind. “I wish I could blame you for everything,” Dexter says. “But I know it’s all my fault.” Then Dexter proclaims that he is here to kill Saxon with the pen he just took out from his kit. There’s a pause. Saxon grabs the pen and stabs Dexter in the shoulder. Serial-killer reflexes set in and Dexter plunges the pen into Saxon’s throat, brutally killing him.
As blood pours out around Saxon, Dexter calmly and callously hits the alarm button. Now this is the old Dexter. The one who could kill without a flinch. Batista wonders how he’ll explain this. Quinn states that it was obviously self-defense even though he knows that Dexter walked into Saxon’s cell with the full intention of killing him. Quinn respects Dexter for what he did.
Dexter returns to his apartment and thinks that all this time he has tried to feel real emotions, but “now that I do, I just want it to stop.” Here, he so accurately sums up his journey over the past eight seasons. There is a cost to everything. Being alive is painful. It’s not always easy.
Dexter, dressed in his kill clothes (uh oh), returns to the hospital. Most of the patients are being moved due to the storm. He walks into Deb’s room and sits by her bed. He holds her hand and weeps “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I can’t leave you like this. I’m your big brother.”
Then he turns off the ventilator machine and begins unhooking everything one-by-one. With each one, I get more distraught. Dex tells Deb he loves her and we watch Deb die. In a completely fully-aware moment of love, at his most human, he does something that he’s had to do a million times: to take someone’s life. That’s the irony of that.
I didn’t want Deb die. She didn’t have to die. I wish Hannah was the one who was shot. If Deb survived, she could have taken care of Harrison. Instead Harrison will be living with Hannah in Argentina for the rest of his life. Deb was just a tragic prop in Dexter’s realization that he destroys everybody he loves.
Now things get really strange. Dexter wheels Deb’s dead body out of the hospital. He picks her up and carries her right past everybody outside onto his boat conveniently parked next to the hospital port. Dexter wraps her up in a white sheet and sets her down on the Slice of Life. They sail off into the stormy seas. Dexter stops the boat and sends Deb into the water. He calls Hannah and tells his son to remember that “Daddy loves you,” and to hold onto that until they meet again.
And with that, Dexter drives his boat toward the crashing waves. And we think, IS THIS THE END? It can’t be.
We cut to the next day. Post-hurricane. Only fragments of the Slice of Life remain. Batista gets the news that Dexter is missing. Hannah reads the news at a café in Argentina. Instead of telling Harrison, she offers to take him down the street for ice cream.
Fade to black.
Everywhere Dexter fans go crazy. What is this ending? Is Dexter alive or dead? How could they do this to us?
But then the show comes back. We’re at a logging operation. There’s a bearded lumberjack. It’s Dexter Morgan. He finishes his shift, avoiding all human contact. He chose exile, a choice EP Sara Colleton says “is a more fitting punishment for what his journey toward being a human being has cost everyone around him”. He goes home and sits in a barren room. Silence. No voiceovers. No Harry. He is completely alone. He looks into the camera with empty eyes. The end.
So there you have it. Dexter is done. What did you think of the ending? Was it satisfying? How about those plot holes? What worked and did not work? Are you still grieving over Deb’s unnecessary death and improper burial? Do you think Dexter will ever reunite with Harrison? Share your thoughts in the comments!