×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Dexter’ Finale’s Sloppy Sendoff

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.

Popular on Variety

TV Review: 'Dexter' Finale's Sloppy Sendoff

More TV

  • Hailee SteinfeldTribeca TV Festival 2019 Presents

    Hailee Steinfeld Announces New Single Tied to Apple TV Plus' 'Dickinson'

    Actress, singer and producer Hailee Steinfeld is set to release a new single entitled “Afterlife” on Sept. 19, a track she created for her upcoming Apple TV Plus series,”Dickinson.” “This is a song I’m incredibly proud of, and I feel like after embodying this character, I have a more fearless approach to my writing,” Steinfeld [...]

  • Rachel Bloom

    Rachel Bloom Announces Pregnancy After Emmy Win

    “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom made a special announcement after winning her Emmy for best original music and lyrics — she is pregnant. Bloom announced the news backstage on Saturday at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. She joked she had planned to reveal the news on Instagram but that doing it at the Emmys was even [...]

  • EVIL is a psychological mystery that

    TV Review: 'Evil'

    In its pilot installment, CBS’s new drama “Evil” delves into that which may lie beyond the rationally explicable. And the show itself represents something almost supernatural by 2019 standards, too: A well-made hour fueled by chemistry between its leads and a strong idea of itself. On the basis of its debut outing, which screened at [...]

  • Emmy Awards Placeholder

    Creative Arts Emmys: 'Free Solo,' 'Queer Eye' Among Big Winners on Night 1 (Full List)

    “Free Solo,” “Queer Eye,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Saturday Night Live” were among the big winners Saturday after the first night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. “Free Solo,” the National Geographic feature documentary that already claimed the Oscar earlier this year, lead the field on the [...]

  • Gary Cole, Christina Anthony, Tika Sumpter,

    'Mixed-ish' Team on Why 'All Stories About "Others" Are Necessary'

    The producers and cast of “Mixed-ish” are not out to tell a singular black and white story — but one that showcases and celebrates all shades in between. “It’s important for me across the board in all of my work to talk about ‘otherness’ and identity and real, grounded characters,” showrunner Karin Gist told Variety [...]

  • Shane Gillis

    Comedians Condemn Shane Gillis Over Slurs

    “Saturday Night Live” showrunner Lorne Michaels has yet to comment on the racist and homophobic remarks made by newly hired cast member Shane Gillis, but comedians and actors are expressing their condemnation on social media, some even asking that he be fired from the show.  Footage of Gillis’s podcast, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content