The storm we were promised arrived in time for Dexter's series finale ("Remember the Monsters") in an episode that proved to be about on par with this season, which is to say, unfortunately, somewhat disappointing, especially when we consider some of the high points of the series. I guess when it comes down to it, I wish the season had taken a different direction earlier on so that tonight's finale could have felt like the event it should have been, instead of the conclusion of another weak season.
To summarize the episode in a sentence, Saxon cut out a sweet vet's tongue, Dexter later killed Saxon with a pen, Deb died after having a stroke due to a blood clot from surgery after getting shot, Hannah and Harrison made it to Argentina and Dexter sailed the Slice of Life into a hurricane and lived, and instead of going to Argentina, went north to live out his life alone with a beard.
The episode included a flashback of Deb and Dexter sharing a moment with Harrison not long after he was born. Deb recalled Dexter being able to make her feel safe when she was afraid of shadows she thought were monsters. That memory tied to Dexter's decision to pull the plug on Deb, who was mostly brain dead due to the stroke and living on life support. As her big brother, he was looking out for her one last time. And Deb turned out to be the last life he ended and the last body he dropped over the side of his boat. It's that second part that has me scratching my head, considering that's been Dexter's means of body disposal for years. As poetic as it looked, watching him carry her body to his boat and then drop her into the water, it sort of puts her in the same, um, boat as Dexter's kills, which I'm not sure I like.
Deb and Dexter's relationship has been all over the map this season, which is unfortunate, as it used to be one of the best things about the show. That flashback and Dexter's choice to end his sister's life, which may have been an inevitability but was still a huge gesture nonetheless, didn't resonate as well as I wished it had. In short, two or three seasons ago, watching Dexter pull the plug on his sister would've had me in tears, but the emotional connection just wasn't there for me tonight and I think a lot of that has to do with how rushed and undercooked Deb and Dexter's reconciliation was this season, which ties to the Vogel arc, also rushed and undercooked.
Leading up to Deb's death, there were some awkwardly paced moments, as Saxon managed to sneak into the hospital and was on his way to finish the job with Deb only to have Dexter come upon him, leaving us to think, for a second, that the two might throw down right there in the hospital, and then Batista and the other cops appeared out of nowhere and arrested him. Ok, they were keeping an eye on Deb for that very reason, but it was still a strange turn to take. Talk about deflated suspense. Moments later, we learn that Deb had a stroke and has very little chance of pulling through, so it didn't matter anyway.
Dexter finally decided to finish the job by killing Saxon at the precinct. He essentially gave Saxon a weapon -- a pen -- told him he was going to kill him with it and then let Saxon make the first move, allowing Dexter to attack back, using the same pen to stab him in the neck and let him bleed out all over the floor, all while the security camera was watching. Batista and Quinn had to know they were watching a murder happen when they watched that footage. Dexter's fast and determined neck-stab didn't look like it was coming from a desperate man just trying to protect himself, and Dexter wasn't even supposed to be in there to begin with. So either Batista and Quinn decided to accept Dexter's excuse even though they know better, or they were just so blinded by grief that they weren't thinking clearly, even after they questioned him about it. I'm going to choose to believe the former.
And then there's Elway, who was last seen asleep on the bus after Hannah stabbed him in the knee with a sedative. Her choice not to poison him to death indicates that she's changed a bit, which I suppose is good, considering she's now raising Dexter's child. I don't get Hannah. I wasn't a fan of her relationship with Dexter, mainly because it seemed to move much deeper emotionally than I could understand. I get the attraction, of course, and on paper, Dexter and Hannah are a perfect match. I just never got why she was the woman to turn him around and make him want to abandon the life he's taken such care to protect all these years. And a more immediate complaint is Dexter thinking it was a good idea to let Hannah take off with his son, considering they hadn't left the country yet and she's still a wanted criminal. What would he have done if she'd gotten caught? Of course, it all worked out in the end, as Hannah was able to escape. And that gave Dexter the opportunity to walk away from his life, knowing Harrison was being cared for.
That brings us to the end. Was Dexter essentially trying to commit suicide when he pointed the Slice of Life straight at the hurricane? Or was it always his plan to fake his own death? Either way, it worked out so Dexter lived, as the final moments revealed Dexter working as a truck driver somewhere that looked a lot less sunny and warm than Miami. So, in an effort to protect the people he loves from himself, he's abandoning everyone and living out his life alone. Is he still killing or is his dark passenger finally at peace? I guess we're left to wonder that, though I would've preferred a clearer answer there. Maybe it doesn't matter. A big focus of the show was always about Dexter trying to balance his serial killer life with his family life. He's given up his family life, so that story has ended, regardless of whether or not he's still out there killing. I guess we'll always wonder.
In the end, I didn't love the finale, but I'm reserving full judgment on how the series ended until I have some time to think about it, factoring in the full story. The two biggest aspects I'll be pondering for a while are Deb dying and Dexter leaving his family behind. I guess if I were to write the series' conclusion, I might've made Deb live so she could be the one to take care of Harrison, while Dexter went off alone. But that might've been too happy an ending for a series like this.