It certainly feels like a weird week to watch a television show that finds a hero in a serial killer in a time like this. It hardly feels like a thing of good taste, but here we are, at the critical finale point for the seventh season of Dexter. The preamble to the series’ upcoming eighth and finale season. Needless to say, if you skipped this show this week, no one would’ve really blamed you. So if you need to bookmark this and come back in a few days, go ahead! I give you permission (I know you were totally looking for it).
Perhaps—given the recent events—we’re feeling a bit more cynical about bloodshed, but if you’re going to try to convince us that your murdering of folks (which is a very bad thing) is worthwhile, important to the storyline, necessary, and entertaining, you better make it really engaging. And mostly by that we mean true to character. Tonight, it seems like everyone took turns at blurring the lines of character believability, but not all of them felt genuine. And after the gangbusters episode last week, this one felt like a bit of a letdown. But, a letdown chockablock with foundational elements for a seemingly chaotic and memorable last season.
Change is inevitable. Change happens—growth, they call it. But on tonight’s Dexter, the wheels of change that have slowly been in motion went into overdrive on very borrowed time.
Doakes always knew that Dexter was a killer. He caught a glimpse of the real person, and he’s back. Sort of! Doakes features very heavily into this episode via a series of flashbacks. How the table was set to lead people to believe Doakes and LaGuerta were lovers (they weren’t!), how Dexter exposed himself to Doakes in subtle ways, and how this was all put into motion a long, long time ago. At several points throughout the episode, the oh-so-convenient flashback was put into overdrive, reminding the audience of all those seasons ago, and the suspicion that mounted.
But what tonight was really all about what bond of human relationships can do to a person. Love: the bond that binds us—or blinds us? Deb and Dexter. Dexter and Hannah. LaGuerta and Doakes. Bonds of love (sexual or otherwise) make you take big risks. Sometimes they’re right, and other times they’re wrong. But you know what those risks were? Big ones. And they all ended in disaster (or at least undoubtedly will, when the time comes).
“Would you prefer my normal conflict resolution?”
Tonight’s Dexter saw the transformation of Dexter from serial killer with a moral code, to the crazy, creepy motherf**ker he is once the wheels have come off. And yes, we can all thank Hannah McKay for that one. From the first second she entered his life, Hannah McKay has been the cause of many of Dexter’s problems. And then, it was decided that Dexter, the sociopath who couldn’t even muster up real love feelings for the mother of his child—the angelic spirit (albeit also sort of annoying) Rita— has found himself enraptured by a blonde whose only redeeming quality seems to be that she’s A-OK with him being a serial killer. But now Hannah has gone and done what she does best, so she’s in jail. Things are icy between these former lovebirds, eh? So weird! Maybe it’s because Hannah admitted to trying to kill Debra. “Because she was trying to keep us apart!” she says! “You were supposed to choose me!” Oh, right, of course. She’s insane: this is why her husband died. She wants kids and a family so bad she’ll murder people who try to get in the way of it. So it looks like you’ve really struck gold with this one, Dexter. Right down to that creepy, bloody love bite.
So Hannah plans and executes an escape from jail thanks to her two friends: poison and Arlene. After inducing a seizure via some sort of medication, Hannah is brought to the hospital only to run away in a free moment. She had things to do, you see! A to-do list that she really needed to cross everything off on. Last thing on her list? A black orchid on Dexter’s doorstep under the cloak of midnight on New Years Eve. Nice touch, fellow creeperton. We have not seen the last of that Hannah McKay after all.
“She’s my sister!” Ha! In more ways than one, it seems. The unbeknownst-to-her-black-widow-type that is Debra Morgan is now a murderer herself. In tonight’s shocking twist, a moment where we oh-so-hoped that Deb would do the right thing and shoot her brother, we see her instead shoot Maria LaGuerta. But let’s backtrack a bit.
Dexter Morgan, you are under arrest for the murder of Hector Estrada. LaGuerta walks him right through the mother**king precinct for everyone to see. Only, Dexter didn’t kill Hector Estrada (yet) so LaGuerta is actually wrong. Oh, what a technicality to be wrong on. Dexter faces LaGuerta, and seems to pose the eternal question surrounding this season: “But if you couldn’t see what was right in front of your eyes, what does that say about you?” Undeterred this LaGuerta is, though, guys: “I’m going to nail you to the wall for this, Dexter. To the wall!” And she tries. She tries so hard to prove that Dexter set her up (knowing that LaGuerta would be after him), but falls right into his trap, in the end.
How do you solve a problem like Maria? Why not fix a set-up with another set-up? Have it all look like LaGuerta is just desperate to prove that Doakes wasn’t the Bay Harbor Butcher. And then fix that set-up’s set-up with another set-up for her death: shoot Estrada in his puncture wound and shoot Estrada’s gun to shoot LaGuerta: a double-murder! Naturally! All about the set-up, this one is. Right down to the plastic sheets.
Only what always happens messes things up: the human element. In this case, Debra Morgan. His own sister. She stumbles in on Dexter setting up LaGuerta’s murder, only to have her wake up (she had a half-dose of the M99) and try to convince Debra to kill Dexter. LaGuerta pleads with Deb: “you’re a good cop, you’re a good person. You’re not like him. Put him down!” Dexter, in his true, manipulative fashion, pulls a Hail Mary pass (look! sports terms! My brother will be so impressed): “It’s true, everything she said. You’re a good person. It’s OK. Do what you’ve gotta do.” Ah, a line straight out of the Hannah McKay playbook (she really ruins everything, doesn’t she?).
So Deb does what she has to do: kill Captain Maria LaGuerta. She was an animal, backed up against the wall. And an animal will always attack when they’re up against a wall. Deb this season has been a protector of her brother, her own job, and her own sanity. And LaGuerta’s knowledge of Debra’s ties to the Travis Marshall crime scene (thanks to Mike Anderson’s wife’s magical mailing of surveillance video that Deb had actually asked Mike to request last season) tipped the scales of Deb from good person to bad. Is she totally bad? My money’s on no (if they go—if anyone! Dexter and Deb OR Dexter and Hannah—go all Bonnie and Clyde on us, I’ll be pissed), but she’s made a big, bad decision. It was a bold move that will wind up with possibly both the Morgan children going to jail.
“Never jump the fence if you’re not willing to face what’s on the other side.”
Who am I? The eternal question. So loaded, so layered, so meaningful. It’s the thing we all quest to find out, and certainly seems like the biggest question at the end of season seven. “We all make rules for ourselves. … So when we break those rules we risk losing ourselves. Who is Deb now? Who am I? Is this the beginning, or the beginning of the end?” Fireworks. (No, literally, not figuratively.)
According to the show’s creative minds, season eight is all about discovering parts of Dexter’s origin that we did not know existed (say what?), and that will hopefully (?) bring about the downfall of our murderous hero. And for that, we have to admit that the deck has been stacked against him. Hannah McKay is out there again: either mad at Dexter for turning her in, or psychotically in love with him (willing to do whatever it takes to get him back). Deb has Dexter back to herself and the binds of a shared terror to unite them. But Deb might break—cave to the goodness that is at her core. LaGuerta is dead, but the evidence of the Bay Harbor Butcher is still out there, linking Dexter and Deb both. Fact: season eight is going to see some stuff go down.
Some other story lines of note:
1.) Quinn shows up 47 minutes into the episode only to flirt with Angel’s sister/Dexter’s nanny, Jamie. So that’s a thing that’s totally happening.
2.) With LaGuerta gone, something tells us that Angel won’t be retired for long, if at all. Will our Angel be the Angel of this show, saving Miami from the Bay Harbor Butcher?
What do you think about this week’s season finale of Dexter? Sound off in the comments!
[Photo Credit: Showtime]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes