I admit it, this final season of "Dexter" was pretty lackluster. While Dr. Evelyn Vogel was a terrific new character, played well by Charlotte Rampling; the season meandered a lot on new characters we didn't care about, and a Big Bad who was pretty underwhelming... but then, I stopped expecting Brian Moser and Arthur Mitchell to be topped long ago. Some say I was kinder to seasons six and seven than I should have been. But I always enjoyed watching Dexter and Debra Morgan, even when the plot wasn't worthy of them.
That all being said, I was apprehensive about the finale. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, and also prepared myself for disappointment.
All things considered, I loved what we got. The penultimate episode ended with Dexter getting over his need to kill. Big Bad, Oliver Saxon aka the Brain Surgeon had been captured, Dexter chose to give him to his sister, Debra (who had rejoined Miami Metro Homicide), and he was going to leave the country for Argentina with his son, Harrison; and fugitive girlfriend, Hannah McKay. He was on his way to a happy ending and ten Saxon got loose, shot Deb and escaped.
Now we've seen Debra get shot before, and this episode teases you with the notion that she's going to pull through. She survives surgery, she has a conversation with Dexter (who got off the plane after shenanigans with a bounty hunter going after Hannah (played by Sean Patrick Flannery who I worked with once, yay!)), and the doctor gives her a good prognosis. Dexter sends Hannah and Harrison away with a promise to meet up with them after he is sure Debra is safe, and sure enough, Saxon shows up to finish the job only to be arrested by Miami Metro. All is well, Deb is sage.
But, for Dexter Morgan, there are no happy endings. Nor should there be. There were complications with Debra's surgery, she had a stroke, her brain was cut off from oxygen and she's brain dead. She will spend the rest of her life as a vegetable... and despite everything, Dexter knows this is all on him. He is a monster, and a horrible cloud on his family's lives.
He goes back to Miami Metro, goes into Saxon's cell and kills him in a manner he can say is self defense. Batista and Quinn know this is bullshit, obviously... but they never knew what Dexter was, and were just as happy to see this scumbag die.
And this is the end, Hurricane Laura (same name as Dexter's mother) is fast approaching Miami, the hospital is being evacuated, and Dexter goes in and commits his final kill. The most difficult one he's ever done, the first time we've ever seen him cry. He knows Debra would not want to live as a vegetable and pulls the plug in a very powerful scene. He then smuggles her body out of the hospital in the hurricane confusion and onto his boat, where he buries her at sea in a beautifully shot scene. He calls Hannah and speaks to his son one last time before deciding his son needs to be protected from himself... and then he drives his boat into the hurricane. The remains are found days later, and Dexter is declared dead. Batista mourns, Hannah mourns in Argentina as she protects Harrison from this information, and we fade to black.
After a lackluster season this ending was perfect, it was actually beautiful, sublime. It was nice to see Dexter finally have a moment of clarity and realize what a poison he's been to the people who care about him. Most importantly of all, this was about Dexter and Debra. The relationship between the brother and sister was the core relationship of the entire show. Dexter had to destroy the person who, throughout his life, he cared about most.
The flashbacks to Harrison being born, and Dexter and Debra seeing him for the first time were terrific, and really summed up how Dexter was kidding himself, how he felt that maybe he could connect with others, how maybe he could have a happy ending. But he can't. He shouldn't
I was fine with him escaping legal justice. We had Miami Metro hunting the Bay Harbor Butcher in season two, and we had LaGuerta privately hunting Dexter in season seven. I didn't need to see this same story again only this time they catch him.
When it faded to black, I was ready to give it an A+
Then we arrived in Oregon, and found Dexter living alone with a full beard, cut off from other people working in a lumberyard. Having sent himself into exile. I'm sorry, but no. I get what they were going for on an intellectual level, they wanted him to live with what he did, knowing he can never be near his son again, and finally having his actions weigh on him. But, as far as I'm concerned, you could either have had the one ending, or the other. The idea that he could pull a Batman and escape from a hurricane... and even beyond that. The death scene we thought we were getting was so well done, I believed in it... Debra was so human, she was his humanity. The final shot, there was just no soul to it, in an episode that already had a lot of soul.
I don't know what grade to give it. I loved the episode until the cop out ending. I have no idea what compelled them to do it. It felt like an alternate ending that would turn up as a DVD extra.
TV just hasn't been kind to me lately.