Eight years we’ve watched Dexter (or at least, those who didn’t quit and are checking this recap just to see what happened: Spoiler Alert: It was dumb), and for eight years, we’ve often wondered what the endgame would be. Would Debra finally take down Dexter? Would he finally meet a serial killer better at it than him? Would the Miami P.D. find him out? Would they discover his blood slides? Would he become the subject of a manhunt? Would he die in a spray of machine gun bullets? Or would he get away with everything, ending Dexter with just another day at the office: Analyzing blood, killing bad people. Rinse, repeat. Nothing gained, nothing lost.
Turns out, none of that would happen. What happened was wholly unpredictable, but that’s only because it’s impossible to predict endings as dumb as Dexter’s. At this point in the series, with the show having fallen as far as it has, there was literally no ending that could’ve salvaged the final season, short of one that miraculously rewrote the last four seasons. The series tried to give us a dark finale, borrowing a fake-out plot contrivance from Michael C. Hall’s old show, Six Feet Under, but in the end, it couldn’t even go all the way into the darkest timeline. Dexter pussed out, dropping a post-script that was even dumber than what came before it. A LUMBERJACK?
Dexter couldn’t stick the landing. It couldn’t even find the runway. The Dexter series finale crashed and burned into a giant bowl of dicks 100 miles from the airport.
Before we get into last night’s episode, let’s take a moment to remember a few plotlines that DIDN’T F***KING MATTER. Remember Masuka and his daughter, Nikki? What the hell was that about? Did it matter at all, to anything? ANYTHING? Or what about Quinn’s competition with the black detective for the promotion? Just wheel spinning, huh? Killing time. God, what a disaster of a final season.
First off, I love this SUBTLE reminder in the airport about where Dexter and Hannah are going, because the fact that Hannah and Dexter have managed to say that they want to go to Argentina 109 times during the past three episodes wasn’t enough to drill it into our heads.
So, Elway is onto Hannah, and he’s scouting out the airport in search for her. Dexter comes up with a brilliant plan to blame a bomb threat on Elway by placing a few things in a backpack (I had hoped against hope that he was planning a cool MacGyver move, but then I remembered that this is Dexter). Alas, Elway was detained for questioning, but the bomb threat also backfired when the Miami airport is completely evacuated.
Meanwhile, Debra is taken to the hospital, and she seems to be OK. You know how we know she’s not OK?
She’s a goner. But we have to go through the motions anyway, don’t we?
The captain calls Dexter to let him know that Debra’s been shot, which ruins what are already completely ruined plans. Elsewhere, Saxon is on the loose, bleeding from the gunshot wound in the arm that Debra gave him last week. He walks into a crowded grocery store parking lot and knocks a guy out with the butt of his gun and takes his truck. Nobody sees him, though. You know how I know? Because Saxon looked around the crowded parking lot, which is the universal shot for, “Nope. Nobody in this super crowded parking lot saw me knock out a guy and take his truck.”
The timeline is completely effed, by the way. When Debra was shot last week, it was getting darker (kind of).
Now, an hour or two later, it’s clearly the middle of the day. Elway calls the U.S. Marshall service, and OF COURSE, even though it’s only been an hour or two, the dispatcher at the U.S. Marshall service has no problem letting a stranger who calls know that Clayton is dead, never mind that the killer is still on the loose.
Back at the hospital, the doctor tells Dexter that Debra is going to be just fine. How do we know she won’t be?
Clue #3 that Debra is going to die: A flashback to Harrison’s birth.
Saxon goes to a vet to get stitched up, because that’s only been done 4,987,643 times in the history of movies and television.
Dexter puts Hannah and Harrison on a bus, so that they can travel to another city to take a different flight to Argentina.
How does Saxon get caught? Well, this brilliant man who has killed scores of people and eluded the police for twenty years, cuts out the vet’s tongue out, takes him to the hospital and dumps him in the front door and walks through. He assumes that the hundreds of people in the hospital will be too busy paying attention to the guy without a tongue to notice that Saxon is searching for Deb. Why would he want to kill Deb so badly, anyway? I have zero idea. But I do know it’s really dumb to go to a hospital to kill a police officer with lots of police officer friends who are probably visiting.
Batista naturally arrests Saxon in incredibly anti-climactic fashion.
Meanwhile, while that was happening, Debra had a stroke and a blood clot, probably because EVERYONE in the hospital was so focused on the one guy without a tongue. Debra is now in a coma and brain dead.
I’ll spare you the second overly manipulative flashback, where Debra and Dex bond over holding Harrison for the first time, except to show you the baby. LOOK AT IT. THEY’RE NOT EVEN TRYING.
Great disguise, Hannah. Who could possibly be looking for a woman that fits Hannah McKay’s description, who looks JUST LIKE HANNAH MCKAY? She tells Harrison a story on the bus, and the very second he falls asleep, Elway is there to grab Hannah. But he decides to wait until the bus gets to its destination, because he doesn’t want to wake up Harrison. How thoughtful. Escaped fugitive on the loose? Oh, let’s let the kid sleep a little more. He looks really tired.
Don’t worry, though, Hannah carries around horse tranquilizer in her backpack. You know, just in case.
And that closes the book on Elway. WHAT A GREAT CHARACTER!
So, Dexter still has to take care of Saxon, who is in police custody. How is he gonna manage this, y’all? How about a ballpoint pen he places between he and Saxon, somehow knowing that Saxon will pick up the pen and stab Dexter in the arm with it, and Dexter will, in turn, pull it out of his arm and jab the pen into Saxon’s neck, killing him in self-defense. Just the way he drew it up, folks!
And that closes the book on Saxon. I’m so glad the series saved one of the weakest, most boring Big Bads until the final season.
Now, what’s left for Dexter? He has to pull the plug on Debra, because, “I can’t leave you like this. I’m your big brother.” How does he do it? He drives his boat up to the hospital in broad daylight, walks into his sister’s room, removes the tubes and pulls the plug, transports Debra outside on a gurney, picks her up, and walks her back down to his boat. All in daylight. All surrounded by other people, who are apparently too busy with the Hurricane to notice that a rando is carrying a dead body wrapped in a sheet down to his boat. COME THE F**K ON! He doesn’t even bother to put on scrubs and pretend to be someone who should be transporting a dead body.
So he takes the boat out into the middle of the ocean and calls Hannah and Harrison, who are about to board a plane, to say goodbye (and there’s apparently perfect cell reception out in the middle of the ocean). Then comes what would be the one genuinely affecting moment in the episode — Dexter dumping Debra’s body into the ocean — if it weren’t for the fact that it looks so obvious that Dexter is standing on a boat on a sound stage in front of green screen.
Then, for the first time during the entire series, Dexter cries. Kind of. This is where we’re supposed to feel something.
Did you feel that? Me neither.
“I destroy everyone I love. I can’t let that happen to Hannah, to Harrison,” Dexter says in voice over. “I have to protect them from me.” So what does he do? He steers his boat out into the middle of a hurricane and kills himself.
That is not a good ending, right? Well, it could be worse. OH WAIT.
There are three flash forwards. In the first, the Coast Guard notifies Batista that the wreckage from Dexter’s boat has been found, and that Dexter is presumed dead.
In the second, Hannah finds out on her iPad that Dexter is dead, sheds a single tear, and asks Harrison if he’d like to go for some ice cream. No. Really. That’s what happened.
In the final flash forward, we find out that Dexter is NOT dead. Somehow, he took a life raft from his boat — in the middle of a hurricane — and paddled back to shore, then disappeared, and became a lumberjack. NO I’M NOT KIDDING.
Explain yourself, Scott Buck (current showrunner for Dexter):
Dexter killing himself never felt quite believable to me. It’s a worse sentence in a way to have to live with what he’s done and killing himself might have seemed too easy a way out. Is it possible that that thought crossed his mind? Absolutely. It’s so much darker and more horrible for him to have to live with what he’s done. He’s absolutely punishing himself at the end by having to deal with what he’s done.
So, let me get this straight: He spends the last eight seasons trying to become more human, to learn what it means to love? And when he finally find someone he loves, he abandons her with his kid. OK. Yeah, sure. That makes total sense. And what a dignifying way to go out for Debra, right? Does she get to die with grace? Does she get to die a hero? Does she even get to die taking out a bad guy? No, of course. SHE DIES OF A BLOOD CLOT.
But don’t worry about Dexter, y’all. He’s a lumberjack now, and he’s OK!