"Surprise Motherfucker." Tonight's Dexter finale had to be one of the most stressful hours of scripted television I've experienced in a long time. After a season of mounting tension and suspense, we're once again left to wonder where things can possibly go from here. It's at this point that you want to stop reading if you haven't watched the Season 7 finale of Dexter.

There were too many questions. Too many possible scenarios to consider as the episode played out tonight. Would Hannah rat Dexter out? Would LaGuerta finally manage to successfully prove Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher? Would Deb's guilt cause her to turn her brother in? Did Hannah really try to kill Deb? Would Hannah escape custody? And if so, would she try to exact revenge on Deb or Dexter? Would everyone make it through the episode alive? Would Batista really retire? Will Harrison ever talk?

All of these questions were answered. In order: No. No. No. Yes. Yes. No/No. No. Yes. Yes.

"Sometimes it only takes a moment to reveal who we really are."

Doakes returned tonight in flashbacks that, in addition to showing us why Doakes was always so creeped out by Dexter, also reminded us of how different everyone's hair was back when Doakes was still around. Doakes caught a whiff of Dexter's Dark Passenger when Dexter showed a bit too much enthusiasm while reenacting the death of a woman, and later when he repeated a phrase used by someone he presumably killed, who was also a suspect in a case Doakes was working on. Just a few little slip-ups, but apparently they were enough for Doakes to see the cracks in Dexter's mask. And after that, he treated Dexter like the creep he always believed he was.

In Season 2, Doakes derailed his career pursuing Dexter and got himself suspended and eventually killed while trying to prove Dexter was the Bay Harbor Butcher. LaGuerta followed in her ex-partner/boyfriend's footsteps in a remarkably similar fashion, right to the end. The episode started with her arresting Dexter for the murder of Hector Estrada. Since we knew Dexter didn't kill Estrada at the end of last week's episode - having figured out at the very last minute that he was being set up - we were left to wonder if Dexter killed Estrada between episodes (seemed unlikely given that he's the guy who killed Dexter's mother, so he's kind of a big deal), or if LaGuerta was mistaken or jumping to conclusions. Turns out, neither... kind of.

Since LaGuerta got Estrada released from prison so that he'd be bait for her to catch Dexter in the act, Dexter turned the tables on her by tricking her into thinking he killed Estrada and using a wallet with her (planted?) fingerprint on it and a forty-year-old piece of evidence (a shirt with Estrada's blood on it) as the evidence LaGuerta would try to use against him. Of course, when Masuka discovered LaGuerta's print on the wallet and the decades-old blood, it only looked like LaGuerta was trying to frame Dexter.

A genius move on Dexter's part. LaGuerta really only had one shot to make this accusation publicly and when she did it, she was being set up to fail and have her credibility go up in smoke by the man she was trying to hunt. Just as Doakes was suspended for his overzealous attempts to prove Dexter was the BHB, it was looking like LaGuerta was headed in that direction.

LaGuerta was down, but she wasn't out. She rallied a bit of support from Tom to keep her job, and she had a warrant for the GPS on Dexter and Deb's phones to prove that they were at the church the night Travis was killed. She also had security footage of Deb filling up a gas can at a station two blocks from the church, courtesy of deceased-Mike, whose widow conveniently sent that over to LaGuerta. I don't love how randomly that video turned up, but we'll let it slide. When you consider that the blood slide found at the scene of Travis' death was what started LaGuerta on this hunt to begin with, it seems only fitting that it should all come back to Travis' murder.

Things going around and coming around has been a theme all season. And what it all came down to tonight was a choice. Well, there was more than one choice. Dexter made a choice to kill LaGuerta, not just to save himself, but to save Deb. When he found the warrants in LaGuerta's house, he knew that not only would she soon have evidence that Dexter was at the church the night Travis died, but also that Deb was with him. If he got caught, she would be caught too. I like to think that Dexter's motives were fueled more by that and that he wasn't just using Deb's future as an excuse to kill LaGuerta. Either way, a line was crossed there. He was going to kill her. That was the plan.
When Deb interrupted Dexter's attempts to make it look like LaGuerta and Estrada killed each other, the choice became hers. She saw dead Estrada, unconscious LaGuerta and her brother in his black apron in the shipping container. The gun was in her hand. LaGuerta woke up and told Deb to shoot Dexter. Instead of pleading for his life, or even just standing there waiting for Deb to make a decision, Dexter dropped his knife, told her LaGuerta was right about her being a good person and that it was ok. He put his hands in the air and said, "Do what you gotta do."

Watching Deb's torment as she stared at Dexter, her gun pointed at him, it was impossible to know what she was going to do. She could've shot him. She could've shot LaGuerta. She could've just walked away like she did earlier when she found out Dexter had Estrada in his car. Heck, she could've turned the gun on herself, deciding she couldn't take the guilt of her involvement in this. There was no way to know, and that, in itself, is what made this season so great. There was no way to know until the choice was made, and then it was done.

Dexter seemed genuinely surprised when Deb shot LaGuerta, which leads me to believe he was really prepared to let his sister kill him. Maybe he was ready for it to be over or maybe he believed in his heart that Deb would never kill an innocent person. Deb killing LaGuerta was a disturbing demonstration of the love she has for her brother. The fact that she ran to LaGuerta and hugged her afterward emphasizes that. She hated what she did. She's going to have to live with what she did and so is Dexter. I can't even fathom how this will affect their relationship.The last we saw of them, they were arriving at Batista's retirement party just as midnight struck. A new year. A fresh start?

Deb killing LaGuerta (I'm assuming she's dead or will be dead soon) is strangely fitting when you think about it. It was Lila who killed Doakes, and she did it to protect Dexter because she loved him. In the end, Dexter killed Lila for it (and for putting Rita's kids in danger). But I don't see a spot on Dexter's table in the foreseeable future for Deb. He was going to kill LaGuerta himself. The game changed the moment Deb showed up. Dexter surrendered to her. She made the choice. And once again, the season ends with another game changer.

The question is, will there be repercussions for this? Will Tom Matthews become the next Doakes? In Season 2, it was LaGuerta defending Dexter to Doakes. This season, it was Tom Matthews defending Dexter to LaGuerta, so technically, he's in line to follow the pattern. Plus, he has a history with Harry and thus, Deb and Dexter.

Batista would also be a possible candidate for suspicion and vengeance/justice. Sure, he's retired now, but he had a romantic history with LaGuerta and we saw him looking out for her tonight. It's a possibility, anyway.

Other loose ends

Hannah admitted to trying to kill Deb. She was upset about Deb trying to come between her and Dexter. But, since she loves Dexter too much to turn him in or try to use what information she has on him to make a deal, she got her old camp friend to smuggle her some poison, which she used to get herself hospitalized and then escaped. The last we saw of her, she was putting a plant outside of Dexter's door. Odds are, she's halfway to Argentina by now. And personally, I kind of hope she stays gone. I don't know if we were ever supposed to get caught up in that relationship, but I never did.

In other romantic news, it was looking like Jamie and Quinn were hitting it off. Jamie seems kind of on the young side for Quinn, but they have Batista in common, so there's that.

And that about covers it. It was a whopper of a season. One reminiscent of some of the earlier seasons of Dexter. WIthout a season-long arc involving some other serial killer, the focus remained on Dexter and his own issues. The show seemed to find its way back to what made those first few seasons so great. Now we'll just have to wait and see where things pick up in Season 8!

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