Dexter: Season 8 - The last ever episode review
Review by Rob Carnevale
DEXTER was never likely to get a fairytale ending. But after seven often brilliant seasons, the eighth and final run proved to be something of a let-down. Or even a cop out.
The hook of the show has long been the moral and ethical grey zone in which the series operates and whether a serial killer who lived by a code, and who worked as a police blood splatter analyst for Miami Metro Homicide, could consistently get away with it.
There were several moments where that looked unlikely, or when Dexter paid a price (never more so than during the dazzling season four finale in which John Lithgow’s The Trinity Killer had something of a last laugh).
So, perhaps the very notion that Dexter could waltz off into a dream finale (to Argentina, say) was a false hope. The alternative was to deliver something hard-hitting and final. Something lasting…
Sadly, no. The final episode of Dexter proved something of a damp squib. It was almost as if the writers wanted to have their cake and eat it… to deliver that lasting emotional wallop, yet leave a door open as well.
Hence, they did away with one key character (Jennifer Carpenter’s Deb Morgan), while sending the main guy (Michael C Hall’s Dexter) into some kind of self-imposed purgatory.
Briefly, this is how it played out (and yes, there be spoilers ahead). At the start of the episode, Dexter had been bound for a new life in Argentina with his son, Harrison, and new love Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski), unaware that latest nemesis Oliver Saxon (Darri Ingolfsson) had shot his sister, Deb.
Minutes into the episode, Dexter received the call that kept him in Miami, while Hannah attempted to make good her escape with Harrison in tow.
By the final moments of the episode, Deb had surprisingly fallen victim to her injuries and lay in a coma with little or no chance of reprieve, Dexter had killed Oliver and Hannah and Harrison were in Argentina awaiting Dexter’s arrival. But wracked with guilt over his part in allowing Oliver to escape from his table (during the final moments of the penultimate episode), Dexter opted to euthanise his sister and take her body out for a burial at sea.
He then apparently took his own life in a hurricane, determined not to destroy any more lives, only to resurface in an undisclosed lumber yard sporting a heavy beard and looking decidedly angry – the very last shot.
Yet nothing about that conclusion sat right – not Dexter’s decision to turn his back on his son or Hannah, not his unlikely escape from the hurricane in the middle of the ocean, and certainly not Hannah’s apparent getaway in Argentina (after all, her main pursuer during the final episodes knew where she was heading, so would presumably still be on her trail).
Far from getting closure, we got ambiguity; while the climax was neither happy nor particularly tragic… more frustrating. For a series that consistently benefited from its ability to surprise, this was a decidedly soft way to round things off.
There were moments. The relationship between Dexter and Deb was consistently well played right until the end, with Dexter’s final moments with his sister emerging as genuinely poignant. But his big farewell to Hannah and Harrison lacked any kind of emotional punch… probably because it didn’t ring emotionally true.
And there was also the underlying suspicion that the show, for all its bravery at various points throughout its run, didn’t have the guts to see things through. Dexter was a show that took a perverse delight in confounding expectation, by having an anti-hero as its hero.
Yet the very notion that he did, eventually, have to get a comeuppance didn’t ring true. The idea that everyone has to pay for their sins was more the stuff of convention that subversion… and it felt out of keeping with what we had come to love about the show.
Indeed, just as Dexter had been prone to confusion and self-doubt about his code and direction in life at several points throughout the series, this eighth and final season (and this climactic episode in particular) felt every bit as confused and lacking in direction. It was a timid way to bow out.