TV Review: ‘Dexter’ Finale’s Sloppy Sendoff

Dexter Series Finale Review

Despite moments, the finish underscores show was past its expiration date

Dexter” had been running on creative fumes the past few seasons, and Sunday night’s series finale — despite its emotional flourishes — merely underscored that this was a series well past its expiration date. Some of the sloppiness in the finish was perhaps the biggest surprise, given how meticulous its serial-killer leading man usually is.

For starters (and be warned: SPOILERS lie ahead), the show took its time this season before finally settling on an antagonist for Dexter, played brilliantly, as always, by Michael C. Hall. But the notion of essentially giving him a spiritual twin — another killer, with similar appetites, born to the woman (Charlotte Rampling) who helped devise the vigilante “code” devised to constructively channel his homicidal tendencies — felt like a bit of a cheat.

Perhaps foremost, though, the series wore out its welcome with the various cartwheels performed surrounding the relationship between Dexter and his adopted sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter). Initially a key connection to humanity for Dexter, Deb went from doting sibling to woman with semi-incestuous crush on him, from hard-bitten cop to accomplice, albeit grudgingly and guiltily, in his murders.

Sunday’s finale — written by Scott Buck and Manny Coto, and directed by Steve Shill — brought closure to all of that, but in the most expedient way possible. And while one can appreciate that the police would be sympathetic toward Dexter essentially exacting vengeance against the man who shot his sister, it’s hard to envision a scenario where a suspect is fatally stabbed in the throat while in police custody and the cop who did it just walks away, no harm, no foul. The show’s set in Miami, not L.A., for crissakes.

The best part, arguably, dealt with Dexter’s internal struggle regarding whether it was possible for him to live a “normal” life, even if that meant fleeing the country with his girlfriend Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), herself an accomplished killer; and his young son. Dexter’s ultimate choice might have had a certain poetry to it, but its backdrop — against the cleansing tide of a massive storm — felt a little too steeped in symbolism and melodrama. (One can also question whether Hannah is really an ideal guardian, given her background, but at this point, why quibble?)

At its best, “Dexter” set up engrossing cat-and-mouse games, pitting its eponymous antihero against killers every bit as determined and twisted as he was. Understandably, that level of narrative discipline proved difficult to maintain, which perhaps explains the Dexter-Deb contortions undertaken to compensate for it.

For Showtime, the series’ place in history is certainly secure — not only ranking as one of the pay channel’s first original hits, but the springboard that helped launch its Emmy-winning breakthrough “Homeland.” Dexter might have left behind “a trail of blood and body parts,” as the character observes in the finale, but TV-wise, the series cast a long shadow.

That said, it was long since time for the series itself to breathe its last. And in this case, that farewell came too late to feel satisfying — or merciful.

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  1. Rhona says:

    I would of like to have seen Dexter go off with Hanna. Then show Harrison kill an animal Turn look at the camera. I always suspected he might turn out like his dad.

  2. Geoff says:

    I felt this last season was a let down.. It was not like any of the other seasons which is why we love the show in the first place.. The finale in itself almost ruins the show in my opinion. The way dexter dumps deb in the water makes it seem as though she is no more important than any if his victims. And deb, in my opinion, didn’t need to die at all. They made it seem as though she was going to be fine, when all of a sudden she is gone with no potential to return..?The way this season was built up you couldn’t help but think it was going to have a great ending to an incredible show. However, that is not the case. They quickly ended everything in a matter of minutes.. Deb dies, Hannah is gone with Harrison, dexter moves on to prevent more pain. I understand the concept, it just happened way too quickly. Deb deserved a much better ending as it seemed her character was always getting shit on. Also, they hardly used any of the supporting cast, like Batista, Vince and Quinn. None of them got a farewell at all..
    Overall I was expecting much more out of the finale and think it leaves true dexter fans upset and confused at why the writers and producers chose to do it that way…

  3. Jake says:

    Dexter finale blows so dumb!

  4. Jenni says:

    I was happy with the ending. Considering the rest of this season was so-so, I wasn’t expecting much. I also liked less voice over, better music, and no Harry in this episode. I like that Dex is basically punishing himself for all the pain he caused. He has exiled himself to the life of a hermit. Are we sure he saved himself on the boat, or could he have just survived? Could he have survived the storm and realized that death wasn’t the right choice? For those who are complaining, would you rather he had jumped in & died with Deb? Would you have rather seen him electrocuted, or arrested? Or escape with Hannah? I think this was the perfect compromise, he is in his own personal hell. Almost every episode has had moments that didn’t make sense, where they skipped the before or after of a scene, they didn’t show us all the mundane parts of how he got away with things, I always liked that. We had the opportunity to use our imagination. Thank you Dexter creators, and author Jeff Lindsay, for the original series you created. Much enjoyment these past few years. I will miss this series, but it was time.

    • Beatrice says:

      Yeah he should have killed himself and jumped in with Deb, whom he discarded in the ocean like one of his vics btw, that would have made sense instead of him going off to kill, if he feels sooo guilty. And so what now he kills w/o a conscious? Finale sucked hard!!!!!!!! Oh and how is it that he just carried her body wrapped in a sheet mind you onto his boat w/o anyone noticing??!! I know there was a hurricane coming, but really, people aren’t that oblivious even if a storm’-a-coming!!!!

      • Anon says:

        he would’ve never done that because in season 2 he told Doakes that commiting suicide was pathetic, a good ending would have been Dexter entering a kill room, saving those last 30 minutes from ruin.
        Also i found silly killing Deb, a better ending would’ve been Deb confessing Quinn on the ambulance that she killed LaGuerta and everything Dexter had done so Batista or Quinn would have to catch him while he kills Daniel Voguel on a kill room. And then he lets Hanna take Harrison out the country so he wouldn’t know the truth.

  5. stacey says:

    Loved the last season, BUT the last episode felt thrown together, sloppy, kinda stupid… Horrible way to go out.

  6. chrissy says:

    Dexter will always be unforgetable. But the series finale I wish i could forget. It truly let me down, walked away sad and confused…

  7. Lord Stirling says:

    I don’t think that the way Dexter ended was an indications hat the show should have ended earlier.

    I think it’s just an indication that it could have been done better.

    The show deserved its 8 seasons, I just think the final season could have been done more compellingly.

    Maybe Dexter/Deb being hunted down for their involvement in LaGuerta’s death.

    That got wrapped up rather quickly.

    Too much stuff happened in the final season that was irrelevant. El Sapo, Masuka’s daughter. All wasted screen time that could have been replaced with things that had some relevance to furthering the plot.

    Mixed feelings overall. I thoroughly enjoyed it all but feel like it ha the potential to be more than it was.

    Sad it’s over.

  8. Paul says:

    What about his father?! No closure with him what so ever!!! This show pulled a LOST. Had no idea how to end it and the writers pulled out a deus ex machina. Contrived ending that didnt stay true to the characters. I mean we have all known for the last two seasons that this was going no where fast. Think about it……when was the last time Dexter actually killed someone? He use to kill someone every episode. Thats who he is. The last two seasons he has been wrapped up in emotion which is the complete antithesis of who he is. Disappointing. Want to know how to follow through……..watch Breaking Bad.

  9. smiley says:

    I agree with the fact that it should have ended a while ago but am very glad the finale didn’t have a predictable happy ending

  10. SS says:

    Too Predictable. :/

  11. this show has been on life support since season 6. too bad, but it’s still a fantastic show

    • d bizness says:

      The show should have ended right there in the interview room with saxon killing dexter. If they were not going to kill him or lock him up why end the show with hikmbeing a loner? Dexter is no more and the one person who was in dexters head was causing dexter to do things recklessly. Saxon should have had the final kill and leave deb to recover & deb to look after harrison and Hannah in Argentina. That would have been my ending. I loved how prison break ended they should have taken a page out of their book in my opinion….

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