Dexter: The Final Cuts

So this is it: the beginning of the end.

I may have come in late in the game (between Seasons 4 and 5), but Dexter was there for me during a difficult time: the post-graduate summer of 2010. Dexter was my first binge-watch show, and it will forever have a tender, blood-pumping place in my heart. Season 5 and onward, I became a mother worried about a troubled child: I was a faithful attendant, huddled and waiting for its Sunday night premieres, whispering quietly, conspiring after every episode, rooting for the charming yet deadly serial killer. I’d yell! and gasp! and panic! even when I knew the show was renewed for another season, and Dexter would be just fine. But now, there is no next season: this is the end, we’re heading for a home run. The show is over, the possibilities are open, and anything (and anyone) is fair game.

After a seven-month hiatus, I sat down Sunday, June 30th, to watch the first episode of the final season of Dexter. Memories came flooding in: memories of characters long gone and characters to come, of ends left loose and ties becoming undone. At the end of the hour, I felt a familiar dread creeping in:“What’s going to happen?!”

Here are some things I am thinking about as I prepare to say goodbye to a dear friend….

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t kept up with the previous seven seasons of Dexter or are planning to start the show from the beginning… consider this your warning.

I thee not wed.

Love is a fickle friend in the world of Dexter. Love has been a running theme throughout the show, often spoken of intellectually by the title character as a foreign, mystical object he is unable to grasp. Dexter has had his fair share of girlfriends—Rita, Lumen, Lila the Psychopathic Pyro—with none of them, even the one he marries, lasting.  As the series comes to a close, we may have a final contender: Hannah McKay. A fellow serial killer, Hannah cuts to Dexter’s core, revealing a passion before unseen. How blushworthy was their first sexual encounter? The close-ups, all those knives and saran wrap—ugh, everything was murderous perfection. I thought Hannah and Dexter would persevere through the next season, but like all good things… someone has the put the other in jail. Complications aside, I have not given up hope! Even though the opening scene of Sunday’s episode shows Hannah’s white and red-specked orchid losing its final blossom—I believe we have not totally said goodbye to the poisonous blue-eyed beauty. If we are to believe Next Week on Dexter, Miss McKay makes a comeback. Is she simply looking for sweet revenge? Or will the star-crossed lovers reconnect? Only Dexter can make me wish for a world in which two serial killers can live together in peace. (Life is so unfair!)

Who is next?

So, remember how Dexter and his wife Rita lived happily ever after? Exactly. Dexter has no mercy. Since it’s inaugural season, the show has not been afraid to kill off key characters: even the sympathetic are not safe. It’s a given that someone dies each episode (Dexter is a serial killer), but every so often, the person who ends up on the illustrious cutting table is not who the viewers would have guessed. Who will survive to the end? Will Dexter have its own Red Wedding? There is no doubt that blood will run through the streets of Miami-Dade County—but whose?

On a related note, I often wonder whether or not Harrison, Dexter’s son, is off limits. “Do Not Kill Children,” says Dexter’s moral code, but not every killer has a keen notion of morality. And what of morality—when it gets down the wire, will it really matter to Dexter who he kills? Survival of the fittest.

Brother, sister?

“If I could feel anything—I’d feel it for Deb.”

Dexter and Deb’s relationship is weird. Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter were married in real life, yet played brother and sister in TV land. It got weirder, also, when Michael and Jennifer got divorced, but their fantasy counterparts got all incestuous. Adopted siblings or not, nothing made me wince more than the introduction of the Deb-is-in-love-with-Dexter plot line during Season 6. I hoped perhaps the writers would realize their mistake of a storyline and drop it like an embarrassing hot potato, but no, it reemerged in Season 7 and has already been alluded to in Season 8. Oy. Regardless, life is no bueno in the Morgan household. At any rate, the (nonsexual) tension that begins this season is contagious—I’m on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen between the two. Will Deb out Dexter’s secret? Or will she literally take it to her grave? Have we become part of Harry Potter: Can one not live while the other survives? As I see it, Deb or Dexter—someone is going under.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter.

And, of course, the character we are most wondering about, the star of it all: Dexter. At first, I viewed the end in simple black-and-white terms—Dexter lives or he dies—but upon further thinking, I have found so much more grey, so many more questions. Would the series close be satisfying if the serial killer gets to keep on killing? If Dexter does survive, whose paths would he have to clear to make it so? I can’t imagine Dexter being put in jail; jail does not seem a viable option to me. That firecracker would elicit a fizzle rather than oohs and aahs. Does the viewer’s conscience need to see Dexter brought to justice? Or can she suspend enough believe to let the killer go free? And what if Dexter does die—at whose hands? Deb’s? Bautista’s? His own? What if Masouka turns out to be the real hero of this story? All of the questions regarding the fate of Dexter and his Dark Passenger will keep me hanging on until the end.

Oh, wait, one more—

Dr. Evelyn Vogel.


Of course, these are only a few meanderings among many. I’ll have more ponderings and more questions over the next eleven weeks; each hour, each day will be fought through just waiting for the next episode. Sunday evenings will offer some relief, but will ultimately tie me taught once again… until that final hour…. And then I’ll have to deal with Breaking Bad.

How are you preparing for the end of the Dexter era? What questions are you dying to have answered?

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