September 22, 2013

And so it ends. Dexter, the serial killer series that you grew to love has finally aired its last episode. I didn't watch Dexter when its first season premiered, but I got sucked into it during the second season. At the time I was unimpressed with Showtime's original content, but Dexter changed everything. It's been a wonderfully written and acted series that was beautifully shot on picturesque locations that turned blood spatter into art. In the beginning, it was a show that focused on whether Dexter could get away with being a serial killer while working for Miami Metro Police Department. The theme then morphed into seeing if Dexter would ever be able to control his Dark Passenger after Harrison was born and after that if he could find love and lead a normal life.

Well, I'm sad to say that season eight failed to meet those lofty goals and instead left me scratching my head. The series finale, Remember the Monsters, had some very fine moments in it, especially with Debra's flashbacks, but the ending left so much to be desired for the whole Dexter experience that I felt sad not only that the show ended, but that it ended this way. It made sense in the direction the writers took it, but it left me wanting so much more from them.

I was more patient than many other fans of the show as the finale season of Dexter began to unfold. There were many complaints coming from online fans about this season, many of which had to do with undeveloped subplots like why does Vince have a daughter? How the hell did Quinn and Jamie hook up? Why did Angel ask Quinn to study for the sergeant's test? WTF was Elway and Clayton's purpose in the show? And on and on. And the police work under Batista was just ridiculous throughout, which allowed Dexter and Debra to cover up anything they needed. Then of course Dexter stopped killing people for most of the season as he hooked up with his true love, Hannah. Now I really liked Hannah, so I don't blame her, I blame the show runner, Scott Buck. After I took my notes for the episode, I read this post from Entertainment Weekly and they summed up the last episode like this:

It was also one of the strangest episodes in the show's history. Sunday's hour was grounded, sober, heart-felt, intense and focused. There were no irrelevant subplots. There was hardly any Dex voiceover. No silly Ghost Harry. The musical score was prominent and engaging. The production values were high. You can't help wondering: Why wasn't the rest of the season -- hell, the last several seasons of Dexter -- more like this episode? I'm not talking about the dramatic twists, but the style and the tone of the writing, directing and acting. "Remember the Monsters?" is a odd beast. It's like watching a different series, one that was more compelling than the show it served to close.

I agree with much of that, but it still didn't help me feel any better. The whole 'storm is coming' meme is very played out (worked better with GOT's Winter Is Coming), but let me get to my recap:

Dexter doesn't know that Deb was shot at the end of the last episode (Monkey In A Box). He's hurrying Harrison through the airport terminal to reach their gate for the Argentina flight when Hannah calls and tells him that Elway is there stalking her. Dexter quickly improvises and makes a fake bomb scare and blames it on Elway so security holds him for a while, giving them time to flee the airport.

The Metro police team find Debra shot and Deputy Marshall Clayton dead. They put her on a stretcher and Angel tells her that he's calling Dexter, but she stops him from calling while she's in tremendous agony. She explains that Dexter's leaving right now with Harrison and she won't go in the ambulance if he calls her brother. Batista obliges. Jennifer Carpenter is excellent as always. Quinn rides with Debra in the ambulance and she admits that she shocked that she's still alive.

Debra: I thought maybe I was getting what I deserved.

Quinn: Why would you think that?

Debra: I've done sh*t I'm not proud of.

Quinn understands her even if he doesn't know that she murdered LaGuerta because he murdered his Russian girlfriend's pimp (George Novikov) last season.

Quinn: Do enough good in the world, sort of cancels out the bad.
Debra: I think we'd need to save a bus load of nuns or something.

She tells him that she loves him and unknown to her, Capt. Matthews calls Dexter to tell him about Debra as he is trying to flee again from Miami with Hannah and Harrison.

Cut to Saxon, who's walking in a parking lot, dripping blood from his wounded arm. He pistol-whips a guy and steals his pick-up truck.

Dexter takes Harrison to the hospital to check on Debra while Hannah continues to hide from Elway. Airport security releases Elway, who's been trying to call Deputy Marshall Clayton, but he then finds out that Clayton is dead by the marshall services.

Debra wakes up from surgery and sees Dexter sitting there and asks him why he isn't in Argentina already?.

Dexter says he should have killed Saxon (duh), but she says it's not his fault for what's happened now, that Clayton screwed it all up and they just had some bad luck.

Dexter: Ever since you found out who I am ….

He begins to cry for Debra, which is first for him. If only Dr Vogel could see him now. This serial killer can and has formed real emotional attachments.

Dexter: I screwed up your life, Deb.

Debra: It's not yours to screw up, Dexter. I'm responsible for my life, do you hear me? I don't want you to feel guilty about anything.

Debra senses a Dexter meltdown coming and she tries to help him gather himself. The doctor comes in to check on her and tells them that she'll need a lot of recovery time, but she should be fine eventually and they breath a little easier. Dexter then tells Deb that Hannah didn't make the flight either because of Elway. Here's where we get classic Debra as she calls Elway a rat face f*@k.

Debra: Don't start blaming yourself…

Debra tells him to just leave, she'll be fine and he should live his life. Dexter leaves her room, sees Harrison and then reflects on the day Harrison was born in the same hospital that Deb's in now. Debra was there with him and she was radiant with happiness. These were the best scenes in the episode. Jennifer Carpenter was amazing, as always. After she holds up baby Harrison, she says:

Debra: Everything's going to be different now.

And so it was different. As Dexter leaves with Harrison, Elway shows up at the hospital and confronts Dexter about Hannah. He tells him he's partially responsible for Clayton's death. Dexter smashes him against the wall and warns him to stay away from them.

Elway: Storms comin', buddy and it's going to be real hard to find a way out.

Cut to Saxon who hears on the car radio that Hurricane Laura is just around the corner. Saxon sees an animal center closing up for the storm and he walks in and points his gun at the veterinarian's head, demanding to be fixed up. (The actor was the killer in the US version of The Killing)

Hannah comes up with a plan to use the emergency evacuation buses to get them out of Miami which Dexter thinks is brilliant. Why hasn't she dyed her hair or changed her appearance yet? Another Dexter faux pas, in my opinion. She looks good as a blonde but come on.

The vet patches up Saxon, but he sees a news report about Deb being shot, Saxon, the hospital. Oliver makes him go with him to the hospital.

Dexter, Hannah and Harrison are getting ready to board the bus, but Dexter can't leave Miami until Saxon is dead. What's happening is that he's really very guilty that Debra has been so badly wounded by Oliver because of him. Dexter should have just left, but he loves his sister too much. He tells Harrison that he'll meet up with him and Hannah later. His son responds like this:

Harrison: I'm going to miss you.

Dexter: It's just for a little while.

Harrison: You know what Daddy,? I love Hannah.

Dexter: So do I.

Another foreshadowing moment. Dexter heads to the hospital to check on Debra. Saxon arrives at the hospital a few minutes before, cuts the vet's tongue out, who then runs into the hospital for help which makes for a convenient distraction so Saxon can go up to Deb's room unnoticed to finish her off. Dexter hurries up to her room. and gets there a beat sooner than Saxon does. He is armed with a fork, but Saxon's armed with a gun. Dexter starts to rush him when Batista comes out of nowhere and puts a gun to Saxon's head. They arrest him and take him to Miami Metro. Dexter goes into Deb's room and sees that she isn't there and he finds a visibly shaken Quinn down the hall. Quinn tells him that Deb had to be rushed back into surgery--something went wrong. The doctor comes in and explains that Debra had a blood clot and it caused a stroke. Unfortunately, she now has brain damage and will never wake up. Oh, no! Quinn babbles about miracles and Dexter sits in disbelief, boiling with rage and guilt.

Dexter: I've never seen a miracle.

Of all the characters in Dexter, Debra was the one that I (and probably most everyone else) was pulling for all these years to make it out alive. To see her basically die was simply tragic. Dexter leaves, but then has more flashbacks to the same scene at the hospital with Debra and the newborn baby. She's holding baby Harrison and it's a time when Dexter still doesn't have any real feelings that he's aware of. He confesses to Debra that he doesn't know how to be a father and she tells him that he's always taken care of her since she was little. This sums up the crux of the episode.

Debra: Don't you remember the monsters?

Dexter: No.

Debra: Every time Mom turned out the lights, they'd be running all over the walls. I couldn't f*@king go to sleep 'cause I though they were going to eat me or something.

Dexter: I don't remember.

Debra: They are the shadows. You came in and explained it in your dorky little voice, "Oh, it's just the absence of light, Deb." I don't even know why I remembered that, but I do. And even then you stayed in my room, slept on the floor. Made me feel so f*@king safe. You've always taken care of me. I know you're going to be a great father because you've always been a great big brother.

Dexter: You really believe that?

Debra: With all my heart.

Debra looked so alive and full of life in the scene that it breaks Dexter's heart and mine even more.

Dexter V.O: You were so wrong, Deb.

Harrison asks Hannah to tell him about Argentina as they ride the bus out of Miami when Elway pops up in the seat across from her. He tells her not to make a scene with Harrison present and to just ride until Dayton, where he'll give Harrison to Child Protective Services and he'll turn her over to the marshalls for a big reward. He really doesn't know Hannah that well.

Dexter heads back to Metro to watch Saxon in the interrogation room. Quinn freaks out with rage at Saxon and tries to beat him for murdering Debra while Dexter silently starrs at him through the two way glass.

On the bus, Hannah offers Elway some tea, which he refuses, of course. Then she moves to Plan B, by stabbing him with Dexter's syringe full of horse tranquilizer in the leg, which allows her to escape. Elway was completely out of his league.

Dexter goes to Saxon's holding cell and gets access to it by making believe he's going to do a GSR test on him. Dexter knows there are video cameras on, but he enters anyway. He opens up the GSR test kit and takes out a pen, laying it on the table in front of Saxon.

Dexter: I wish I could blame you for everything, what you did to my sister, but I know it's my fault.

Saxon: You should have walked away.

Dexter: What you've done is actually open my eyes, forced me to look at myself.

Saxon: And what did you see?

Dexter: A trail of blood and body parts. In one sharp moment, you took away this dream that I could have a happy life.

Saxon: Is that why you're here to tell me all of this?

Dexter: No, I'm here to kill you with that pen.

Saxon looks at Dexter and down at the pen and then grabs it, stabbing Dexter in the shoulder blade. Dexter easily shifts away, grabs the pen and hacks it into Saxon's neck. Oliver falls to the floor and Dexter watches him bleed out. After a couple of beats of enjoyment at his kill, Dexter feints being attacked by him.

Dexter: He tried to kill me.

Angel and Quinn have Dexter in an interrogation room and watch the tape of the incident.

Batista is shocked by the kill and tells him that he doesn't work for the police anymore and how is he going to explain this? Dexter reminds him that he's still active until the end of the week.

Angel; How could you personally do this test after what he did to Deb?

Dexter: It's exactly because of what he did to Deb that I went in there. I wanted to make sure everything was handled perfectly, by the book, no mistakes and I wanted to look him in the eye.

And Dexter didn't lie about one word. That's exactly what Dexter did, but not as a GSR technician-as an executioner.

Quinn: It's obviously self-defense.

Angel: Yeah, we got everything we need.

Dexter feels the pain of Deb's loss and wants the hurt to stop. He gets on his boat and sails back to the hospital as the hurricane is starting to hit. Dexter goes to his sister's room and sits beside her as the hospital begins to evacuate.

"I would change everything if I could. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, but I can't leave you like this. I'm your big brother. "

He turns off the life support machine and lets his sister die. He whispers in her ear.

I love you Deb.

He then wheels her out of the hospital during all of the commotion from the storm, puts her on the Slice of Life and sails way.

He calls Hannah from the boat on his cell. She tells him they are just about to board the plane out of Florida and how she's so happy. She puts Harrison on the phone and Dexter tells him how much he loves him and always remember that. He then tosses the cell into the ocean. He uncovers Debra's face from the sheet. She looks as beautiful as ever, even in death and he stares down at her, sadness leaking from his pores. Dexter then picks up her body that's still partially covered and drops her into the sea.

Dexter V.O:

"I destroy everyone I love. I can't let that happen to Hannah, to Harrison. I have to protect them from me."

He drives the boat straight into the oncoming raging storm.

After the hurricane passes, the Coast Guard finds broken pieces of the Slice of Life floating around without a survivor. Batista gets a call that Dexter has died at sea.

Hannah is sitting with Harrison in Buenos Aires and sees an online story about Dexter's fate on her iPad and begins to cry. She then closes it up and asks Harrison if he wants some ice cream; they walk away.

Fade to black.

Oh, wait. There's a final coda.

Dexter is driving a huge rig, hauling massive amounts of timber. Dexter's some sort of a lumberjack, complete with rugged beard. He arrives at his small cabin by a body of water. It's minimally furnished with no computers or technology of any kind. He sits down alone and blankly stares at nothing. Is the Dark Passenger back?

Fade to black.

As much as Dexter loved his son and Hannah, Debra was the most powerful person in his life and after her death, the depression of what he let happen to her outweighed everything else in his life.

I had an idea. Dexter's final season could have been awesome if they just combined elements from seasons seven and eight and ended the series last year. You could have had Debra learn about Dexter while LaGuerta was tries to arrest him as the Bay Harbor Butcher. Along the way, he falls in love with Hannah and helps her escape from prison. He could have killed some baddies including Isaak Sirko and the Brain Surgeon Killer, while Doctor Vogel told him it was impossible to feel. But an ending of Debra protecting her brother by murdering LaGuerta which allows him to leave Miami with Hannah and Harrison would have been incredible.

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