(SPOILERS for Showtime’s Dexter revival will be found below.)
“Sometimes I wish the hurricane had taken me, released me of the burden of my own urges. Instead, it showed me that I have to bear them alone. That’s my fate… Let me die, so my son can live.” – Dexter Morgan, Season 9, Episode 10
I’m feeling oddly torn after the Dexter: New Blood season finale where the show’s principal serial killer bites the dust. After all, this revival set out, from the very beginning, to erase the sins of the lumberjack past (and it did so for at least the first half of the sesaon). The Powers That Be had heard all of our complaints about that series finale. Original showrunner Clyde Phillips and star Michael C. Hall knew that the whole “sail into a hurricane and emerge as a lumberjack” maneuver was silly. Seriously, somebody (back in the day, a decade ago) truly expected people to be cool with the beloved serial killer anticlimactically gliding away with no consequence.
There also was no justice to this ending. Dexter simply tossed the body of his dead sister into the ocean near Miami, sailed into a hurricane, and smirked through his (supposedly) final onscreen moments. It was a weird flex, at best. And to many viewers, it was a mildly insulting payoff for watching eight seasons, the final few of which didn’t measure up to preexisting standards. On one hand, this was bad. On the other hand, this outcome gave Showtime and Phillips and Hall a chance to make things
right better. And let’s face it, no matter what happened, not everyone would be happy with a redo. Because the word “lumberjack” is already enough to set off Dexter fans. This had to be handled delicately, and some fans, like our own Dustin Rowles, declared that one of the key things that needed to happen here was that “Dexter must die.”
Mission accomplished. Did this happen the right way, though?
I would argue not, for a few reasons:
– Harrison/Dexter Connection Wasted: The season spent an awful lot of time building Harrison up as having a Dark Passenger and leading us to believe that Dexter’s own character had developed so much that he’d help the kid channel his own dark and violent proclivities for the greater good. Instead, Harrison changes his own mind on a dime because Dexter killed an innocent man, Logan. In effect, Harrison’s “Coach” had died, so all bets were off. Not that this was all wrong because Dexter did deserve to die (sometime, maybe not yet, though). And the swift turn of events (and Dexter praising Harrison for pulling the trigger) felt like a middle finger to the “Born In Blood” vibe explored throughout the season.
– Batista Wasted: Why the heck did they drag Angel Batista into this finale for five minutes if that was gonna go nowhere? This makes no sense, and it feels as though the writers could. not. figure. out. what to do with him. They dropped him in there and made it seem like we’d see him show up in Iron Lake, but yeah, never happened. He was used to clue Angela into Dexter being the Bay Harbor Butcher, end of story.
– Angela’s Career Wasted? On one hand, I’m happy with finally seeing an end to the mystery of who’s been killing girls for decades. On the other hand, I wish that Angela had been the one to discover the final piece of the puzzle, rather than be told by Dexter that Kirk Caldwell did those deeds. However, she did get to declare Dexter’s death to be an officer-involved shooting. And that has to be satisfying on a few levels, not the least of which was her own boyfriend lying about his damn identity and then still refusing to tell the whole truth (and gaslighting Angela with an “I’m worried about you” while he’s being interrogated over Matt Caldwell’s death), up until the bitter end.
These writing slip-ups do make the entire season seem deflating, despite initial success. Yet it’s not all bad, really:
– Doakes (!) has been fully vindicated: Finally, there’s justice for Doakes over the whole Bay Harbor Butcher misnomer. So, here’s as excellent reason as any for an O.G. “surprise m*therf*cker” clip.
– Dexter is, in fact, dead: And I’m good with this. Dexter’s gone. Maybe we’ll see some sort of followup down the line (because Showtime loves to keep their shows going as long as humanly possible) with Harrison in the driver’s seat (which was pretty much the parting shot of this revival’s season). Or maybe it’s really over. And I do appreciate, even though this was not handled in a graceful way, that Dexter saw real repercussions for breaking his code. And Harrison got some closure for his abandonment issues. Also, he inherently realized that dad was too far gone from his own rules, even if Dexter hadn’t given him all the details. However, yeah, all felt too rushed by the writers.
– Deb’s ending was a better one: She got to hold Dexter’s hand as he died and then she released him into the snow. It’s moderately better than being dumped into the ocean to be eaten by sharks or something, and it’d be hard for the writers to not improve on what happened to her in the original series because that was so awful.
In the end, I have mixed feelings about this finale. It’s hard to connect to the whole. Sure, Angela gets the best ending possible (even though fans might not be too connected to her, given that she’s a new character), and the brutal acts of Kirk Caldwell are at least brought to light (even though he’s already dead). Dexter won’t be able to go to Los Angeles, but at least Harrison is free. He can make his own path now, and I’m curious about whether he can tame the Dark Passenger, but the finale makes me doubt that he ever carried one around in the first place.
R.I.P, Dexter Morgan. May you rot in hell, and I mean that in the best-worst possible way.
The ‘Dexter: New Blood’ season finale is currently streaming via Showtime.