Warning: This article contains spoilers.
When asked about the series finale, showrunner Scott Buck said, “We considered every option for the finale,” and it showed clearly in the episode. The finale of the Dexter series was overly full of plot twists that were as predictable as the final outcome and ultimately failed to impress most of its fans.
It was almost as if the writers gave up and were phoning in the entire final season of the show. Plots were recycled but with giant holes in them this time around. It seemed as if every possible scenario was crowbarred into the entire season. This was especially painful and obvious in the final episode where the plot circled and danced in excruciatingly unoriginal twists that felt like stalling more than storytelling. Deb could die, but could live, but then has a stroke and we could hope for a miracle, but instead she dies. Meanwhile, Dexter could live happily ever after with Hannah and Harrison, but then is thwarted by every transparent unimaginative scenario that could come to mind. It was as if the script was written in an introductory level workshop that gave out participation ribbons in lieu of rewards.
As mentioned, so much of it had already happened before. When Dexter hunts serial killers, he hesitates, second guesses himself and then things get super messy for him. It has happened season after season and was best addressed with the death of Rita. Her death was shocking and impactful where Deb’s could be seen coming from miles away. Plus, everyone remembers when Deb was shot in the stomach the last time because it included the first of the seemingly multitudes of her boyfriends that died.
All these twists did very little to raise the stakes of the show. For instance, any question that Deb would die was completely dispelled once she said, “I love you,” to Quinn. It was what he had been waiting for and happy endings were not a part of the show. Besides, someone has to die any time Deb enters a relationship. It was superficially original to have it be Deb this time and Quinn should count himself lucky that he managed to survive both being Deb’s boyfriend and being suspicious of Dexter and looking into him at some point.
It was not plausible to think that Dexter was actually going to get to spend the rest of his life in a blissful familial existence with Hannah. Nor was the question of his suicide really that suspenseful. The suggestion of it was completely out of character for Dexter and felt more like a desperate bid for one more ambiguous cliffhanger, one that fails to impress any real sense of danger for Dexter in what is meant to be the climax of the finale. Once it is revealed that Dexter does survive the hurricane, no matter how implausible this survival would be, all that is left is an impression that the writers were unwilling to commit to anything at all in the storyline.
Adding to the frustration of the episode is the wildly implausible behavior of everyone in the universe of the story. A common theme in the show for its entire run has been the obliviousness of the people surrounding Dexter but the finale took this theme to a whole new level. The things that happened that no one noticed stretched suspension of disbelieve far beyond the breaking point.
The most egregious instance of this is when Dexter enters the hospital in his kill outfit as the hurricane bears down and the hospital staff scramble to prepare for it. As he walks through the lobby, a woman has the presence of mind to explain to him that patients are being moved, yet the chaos insinuates that no one has had time to prepare for the hurricane that has been mentioned for many episodes. This chaos includes a series of giant windows that are only just beginning to be boarded up behind the woman who exposits for Dexter, leading the viewer to conclude that no protocol is in place for a coastal hospital in Florida, where hurricanes are by no stretch of the imagination an novel event.
Dexter then uses this chaos to mask the murder of his sister, because everyone is so busy scrambling to move patients that no one has time to notice if the life support of a stroke victim has sounded its alarms. Then, he removes her body using a gurney, still dressed in his kill suit with no attempts at disguise, while dozens of other people mill about. No one sees him carry a dead body wrapped in a blazing white sheet down the gangplank to his boat, where he deposits her, not on the floor out of view, but on a bench in plain sight, starts the boat and pulls away.
A few breaking and enterings in broad daylight or blatant tampering with evidence is one thing, but to expect the audience to believe that no one would notice all of that is nothing short of casual disregard for the story as a whole.
Then there is Hannah and her attempts to lay low in Miami. Throughout the season she hides, poorly, by going into public or hanging out at the beach. When the final episode arrives, she is attempting to escape by making no effort to disguise herself at all. She travels to airports and hotels with no regard for surveillance, and this proves to be mostly effective as surveillance is at no point and time a hindrance to her.
When she is on the bus, she doesn’t notice Elway getting on, nor does anyone else notice either her distress at his presence or her injecting him with horse tranquilizer and him passing out. She was not subtle about that needle.
Speaking of Elway, what about the time when Dexter manages to temporarily frame him for depositing a suspicious package in an airport? Not only does Dexter identify himself, but his actions cause an evacuation of the entire airport and he manages to do this without anyone in the airport checking the surveillance tapes that would have shown him as the person with the bag in the first place. That is a pretty significant oversight to present to an audience who are all too familiar with the stringent and thorough security in airports.
While the criticisms of the show could continue, seemingly indefinitely — like questioning why a seasoned killer like Saxon stabbed Dexter harmlessly in the shoulder — it would be unfair not to talk about at least one positive element of the episode.
Perhaps the best moment of the episode is a rare occasion where someone other than Dexter actually sees what is going on. This occurs when Quinn and Batista are watching the surveillance video from the jail where Dexter killed Saxon. The tape shows clearly how quickly Dexter gains control of the situation and dispatches Saxon before calmly and deliberately pushing the call button to summon help. Batista’s face registers horror, but Quinn is in Dexter’s camp immediately. Dexter has to work to comfort Batista and Quinn helps, stating in no uncertain terms that he feels Dexter did what was right.
It was one of the rare moments in the Dexter finale that honored the characters and smacked of effort in a show that otherwise largely failed to impress any of the fans who faithfully followed the show for eight whole seasons.
Written by: Vanessa Blanchard
Dexter : Finale: Now It’s Over