With Showtime’s Dexter returning to Showtime later this year with a “darker” revival that may or may not return members of the original cast, I thought it would be useful to rewatch the 2013 series finale.
It’s still as bad as critics said it was when it aired opposite the final season of Breaking Bad, However, given eight years of distance between the finale (as well as the lousy final season), I found that it wasn’t as awful as I remembered (although, it still contains a laughably bad sequence in which Dexter holds a doll that we are supposed to believe is baby Harrison). It also doesn’t make sense that Debra had to die, especially after initially surviving a gunshot, but I suppose her death did give Dexter a reason to sail out into the ocean and into a hurricane. Recall that technically, Dexter killed his sister by taking her off of life support and casually wheeling her on a stretcher out to his boat during the chaos of the oncoming storm.
Dexter, who had also killed the season’s big bad, Oliver Saxon, with a ballpoint pen earlier in the episode, drove his boat out into the middle of the ocean and dumped his sister’s body, which in itself was ironic, given the fact that all she could talk about before dying was how she wanted to go hiking in the mountains. Nevertheless, Dexter decided after dumping her body that the only way to protect his son, Harrison, and his girlfriend, Hannah (who had traveled to Argentina together) would be to remove himself from their lives.
“I destroy everyone I love,” he narrates. “And I can’t do let that happen to Hannah, to Harrison. I have to protect them from me.” He then directs his boat straight into the hurricane. After the hurricane has passed, the Coast Guard finds the wreckage of Dexter’s boat in the middle of the ocean.
Later, we see that Dexter has relocated and taken up employ as a lumberjack.
The question, however, remains: How did Dexter manage to survive after his boat was destroyed in Hurricane Laura? There’s no way to know from watching the sequence. The only explanation for his survival comes from showrunner Scott Buck, who helmed last few seasons of Dexter before later showrunning the worst of the Marvel series on Netflix, Iron Fist, as well as Marvel’s Inhumans, which ran on ABC for eight episodes before it was canceled.
Here’s how Buck explained it to The Hollywood Reporter in his series finale postmortem:
He knows exactly what he’s doing there; he’s putting his boat in the path of the hurricane, which will then allow him to escape in this way. It is mentioned in an earlier episode that he does have an emergency life raft aboard that boat and you can look back and see he had a plan, he just didn’t know what it was.
The answer, therefore, is that Dexter rode out a hurricane in a life raft, managed to float ashore without being seen, and then traveled unnoticed from Miami to Astoria, Oregon. That seems, frankly, unbelievable, but not quite as unbelievable as Scott Buck’s finale assessment of the series. “I am happy with where we ended the show. This is absolutely the ending I wanted.”
When Dexter returns on Showtime later this year, it will be with someone who wasn’t happy with the way the series ended, the show’s original showrunner, Clyde Phillips.