A final ‘Dexter’ retrospective

By Abner Rojas

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Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Last Sunday, after eight seasons of stalking, vetting and killing, our journey with America’s favorite serial killer Dexter finally came to an end. Sadly, looking back, all I can think about is what could have been. This season started with Deb on a downward spiral of destruction, hating herself for killing LaGuerta and hating Dexter for putting her in that position. Would she confess at last, revealing him to the world? Would we see a cross-country manhunt result? Nope. By episode four, Debra came out of the lake water reborn, now ready to accept her brother for his serial killing ways. This effectively killed any tension between the two siblings. Dexter couldn’t live without Deb in his life at the beginning of the season, but once Hannah was back on the scene, it was off to Argentina.

The one thing Dexter has always been consistent in is that it has not followed through with its story lines. As a result, Dexter’s character was never truly challenged. No matter what harrowing situations the writers put him in, you could bet he’d get away with it, never reaping what he sowed because everything happened on his terms. Dexter fans have been waiting years for him to be exposed to the world for what he really is. So it’s disappointing to say the least when he’s caught killing on camera in the final episode, and it’s OK because he acted in self-defense and everyone hated Saxon for shooting Deb anyway. Quinn is forgetful as ever about his suspicions of Dexter, and Angel just shrugs knowing that his ex-wife was murdered shortly after accusing Dex of being the Bay harbor Butcher last season.

This constant stream of illogical plot points ran throughout the whole series. Consider the arc with Doakes in season two. Dexter was in a position where he had to break the rules of the Code or be caught. This was a chance for meaningful character development, offering Dexter the opportunity to prove that he was better than the killers he hunted. In major misstep for the series, however, Lila took the choice away from him by blowing Doakes up. In season seven, the writers did a great job with Deb and Dexter’s relationship as the love for her serial killer brother conflicted with her police instincts. But even that eventually dissipated this season swept under the rug along with LaGuerta’s murder. To cap it off, Dr. Vogel was the supposed psychopath expert who never managed figure out their own son was the Brain Surgeon.

Pointless story lines plagued the final season; the writers just seemed to throw whatever they felt like up on screen. Why should we care about Quinn running for Sergeant when his rival in the race completely disappears from the show? Why have Quinn date Jamie only to pine over Debra the entire season? Did Masuka having an estranged daughter contribute to anything other than to give the former more screen time? Why did Saxon try to frame Zack Hamilton for Cassie’s murder if he was going to kill Zack anyway?

Deb’s death was probably the worst part of the episode. Instead of going out as the loud mouth badass she was supposed to be, we get some doctor telling us she’s a vegetable. And then Dexter pulls the plug and buries her at sea. I’m sure no one else wanted to mourn her passing – Quinn and the rest of Miami Metro be damned. “You deserve to be happy,” she tells Dexter earlier in the episode as she lies in the hospital bed, even though it’s his fault she’s there.

When Rita died it was obvious that Dexter couldn’t lead a happy life as a serial killer.  The writers gave Dexter plenty of time to realize that; instead, he spent the next four seasons falling for Lumen and Hannah having them both leave. Therefore, because Dexter never understands that he is the problem, Deb being Dexter’s final victim doesn’t carry the emotional weight that it should.

“I destroy everyone I love,” he tells himself before taking the boat into the storm. The timing of this revelation is frustrating. Rather than being confronted by the fact that he’s a cancer on his friends and family, we have to wait for eight seasons as he watches those around him suffer. And ultimately, I’m still unsure if he ever understood his role in what happened, considering he left Harrison with Hannah (a known serial killer). Perhaps he thinks that it’s OK because Harrison loves Hannah, even though he barely knows her. But who knows?

The final scene is the last straw as the show fast forwards to Dexter leading a new life as a lumberjack. Huh? How did he survive the hurricane? And since the hurricane didn’t do him in, why did he go on living if he truly felt he had to pay for his sins?

“Remember the Monsters” was a huge disappointment. Perhaps the worst part, though, is how perfectly it captures inadequacy of the series, interfering with meaningful character development and tying up plot lines as poorly as possible. That is all to say that this series has finally led us to the same spot as Lumber Jack Dexter: the middle of nowhere.

 

Abner Rojas can be reached at [email protected]