WARNING: Massive spoilers ahead.
So Dexter was a very strong show; good writing, good acting, good at getting you to root for a serial killer because he’s not “quite as bad” as those he kills.
The last season was pretty strong overall, so I had high hopes for the series finale. I was glad the show hadn’t jumped the shark or wasn’t petering out like so many other shows that I initially liked but went on too long (Smallville, Supernatural, Burn Notice, etc.).
And the season finale was strong…except for the last 5 minutes.
[If you haven’t seen it and don’t want it spoiled or to have any preconceived notions going into it, stop reading here.]
If you’re still reading, you’ll remember that Dexter kills Deb (ostensibly to save her from living life as a vegetable), decides he can only bring pain to those he loves, and so pilots his boat into hurricane Laura (the name of his biological mother) after dumping Deb’s body over the side like his other victims.
Oh, and then he resurfaces as a grizzly lumberjack somewhere far north of Miami.
So what’s wrong with this ending? Let us begin:
- Dexter has evolved in the show; he’s developed empathy and emotion, something sociopaths aren’t supposed to be capable of. Then, with the tragic death of his sister, he realized he doesn’t want to “feel” anymore because the pain is too great. So he rides into the storm, presumably to commit suicide. Kind of a bummer, but I could deal with it. Except, of course, he SURVIVES. Let’s amend that, he survives a hurricane, in the middle of the Gulf while his boat is ripped to pieces! Dexter may be a semi-tragic hero, but Wolverine he is not.
- Dexter also voiced the concern that he can only bring pain and death to those he loves (Rita, Deb). Yet he has Hannah, Harrison, his step kids, and the rest of the police force who will now live in pain precisely because they think he’s dead (oh yeah, and he totally avenged and saved Lumen, too). In other words, there are a lot more people he hasn’t brought pain to than those he has. Granted, his wife, sister, (and an argument can be made for his adoptive dad and Dr. Vogel), are pretty big, but so is his son and Hannah (who he loves more than his first wife, see #3). So, for a traditionally cold-blooded, rational person (albeit thrown into tumult by emotions he’s unsure of how to handle), he makes a very irrational decision.
- Dexter’s reason for killing is gone. He no longer looks forward to it or needs it; he needs Hannah. His life in Argentina would be very different than the one he led in Miami. He would not attract the same attention or “bad forces” that his dark passenger attracted because, we’re led to believe, that would no longer be an issue or past time he engages in. Dexter’s reasoning for leaving Hannah and trying (?) to kill himself are unfounded based on the projection of his new life.
- Did I mention he survived a hurricane in the middle of the ocean?
Now, the hurricane itself is sort of interesting in a Freudian way. Was he trying to get back to his mother’s womb? (Ick). Did she reject him or give birth to him again? Meh.
At least I have the series finale of Breaking Bad to look forward to next week.