Dexter's final season has come to an end, and with a still mourning heart, it's time to say goodbye.
Before the final episode aired, a touching reel of the cast saying thank you to fans played, in which Jennifer Carpenter (Debra) let us know that, "We're going out the way we intended to go out...it feels just right." And James Remar (Harry) tells us something we already know: "If the fans are anything like the cast and crew, they're going to miss Dexter - a lot." As a fan, you can't help but feel all sorts of anxiety and nerves mixed with excitement to see just how the show will end.
So how did Dexter's writers put a cap on its final season? And was it satisfying?
"Remember the Monsters" begins with a frantic Dexter and Harrison rushing through a busy airport. As Dexter narrates, "I always thought that if I ever left Miami, I'd be running for my life, not running towards a new one," we begin to get the feeling that he will never get to experience that new life. Our first indication: Elway. Dexter does his clever, quick thinking and creates a diversion to get Elway out of the way, but in turn he ends up getting the airport evacuated and his own flight cancelled.
As fate would have it, because of Dexter's airport hiccup, he was able to receive a call from Matthews and learn about Debra's injury - despite her not wanting him to know. Dexter rushes to be by Deb's side and is there when she wakes up from surgery. Deb is a little loopy from the meds when she wakes up, but she's able to get in one last absolution before she knocks out again: "I don't want you to feel guilty about this, I don't want you to feel guilty about anything, you hear me? You were meant to be happy, so you need to go fucking be happy."
Debra has always been one of the most selfless characters in the series, and up until the very end she continues to be. Though she started off this season angry at herself and more so at Dexter, she concludes the series as a sister who cares deeply for her manically dysfunctional brother.
Meanwhile, Saxon's mistake is riding around town in a stolen car and heading to a veterinarian to sew up a wound - such a typical move of the bad guy who wants to avoid hospitals. Once he's all closed up, he forces the innocent vet to drive him to the same hospital where Debra is, and needing a proper distraction, he makes sure that the vet won't literally "say" anything by cutting out his tongue.
Dexter walks in right after Saxon and as a fellow psychopath, calls it by what he sees: "All eyes on the victim, perfect distraction -- Saxon!" He and Saxon meet in the hallway outside of Deb's room and have a fierce stare-off. Saxon grips his gun while Dexter forcefully holds a dinner fork. No epic showdown takes place here - they're in broad daylight at a hospital, after all. Batista comes in and has Saxon stand down as he arrests him. Now that Saxon has been dealt with, it's back to Deb.
Pushing open the door to her room, Dexter finds it empty. He meets Quinn in the hall and asks him what happened. Wiping tears from his eyes, Quinn says she was taken down to ICU, "they're working on her now -- she stopped breathing."
No. That's all you can say to yourself as you hope to God that this doesn't mean what you think it means.
After the doctor's explanation of what happened, it's clear that Deb is now in a vegetative state; she can't breathe on her own, can't eat on her own, and won't be able to think or reason ever again.
Debra Morgan, the Deb that we have all come to love, is gone. The shell that remains on the hospital bed is only a haunting reminder of Dexter's mistake.
Upon hearing the news, Dexter's memory flashes back to the moment when he first picked up Harrison with Debra. He says how he's unsure how to be a father, and Deb reassures him that he will be a good dad because he's always taken care of her: "Remember the monsters?" He always made her feel safe, and because of that, "I know you're going to be a great father because you've always been a great big brother."
The news concerning Deb takes while to sink in. At first, you feel a little numb - it doesn't quite make sense that she's gone, that she's still there but really gone. It's not until Dexter is standing in the hallway of the interrogation room where Saxon is sitting, and Batista comes up behind him and says they're going to nail him to the wall "for Deb" that it hits. When he says those two short words, it's like an explosion has been released in your chest and you start to feel the loss of Debra -- and the anger that is coursing within Dexter.
Using his Miami Metro credentials, Dexter goes to see Saxon for one of those DNA tests. As he sits across from Saxon and neatly places every item on the table, he says, "I wish I could blame you for everything, for what you did to my sister, but I know that it's all my fault... What you've actually done is open my eyes, force me to look at myself." What he sees in himself is apparently "a trail of blood and body parts. In one sharp moment, you took away this foolish dream that I could have a happy life."
Sans plastic or photos of previous victims, Dexter makes his second to last kill. Provoking Saxon with a pen, he uses the excuse as self-defense and jams the pen into Saxon's neck, finishing what he should have done days earlier. This final showdown between Dexter and the Brain Surgeon was abysmal -- no action, no build up, and an obvious plan of attack. How could this be how it ends for Daniel Vogel, the Brain Surgeon?
Once the Brain Surgeon has been taken care of, for good, Dexter has one more thing he has to do. He goes back to his old apartment, changes into his kill outfit, and then goes to see Deb. After apologizing profusely, he says, "I can't leave you like this" -- and he turns off her life support machine. Debra is his final kill. As he whispers into her ear, "I love you" right before she flat lines, we couldn't hold back our tears.
Not only can he not leave her like that, he can't seem to leave her there either. Dexter wheels her dead body out of the hospital and takes her onto his boat with him. He calls Hannah and Harrison one last time to say goodbye, and then, with the dark stormy skies as his backdrop, he gently places Debra's body into the ocean and watches as it disappears underwater.
"I've destroyed everyone I love, but I can't let that happen to Hannah, to Harrison. I have to protect them, from me," and with these last words, he drives A Slice of Life into the brewing storm.
Perhaps it should have ended there. But wee see a sunny day the next morning. Batista gets a call at work and all he can say, baffled, is "Dexter?" And somewhere in Argentina, Hannah reads the Miami newspaper headlines and sees "Forensic Tech's Wreckage Found, No Sign of Life." As Hannah and Harrison walk away, the screen fades to black.
But, much like The Return of the King with its multiple fades to black, we get yet another scene. This time, it's a man who looks like Dexter dressed as a lumberjack loading a truck full of lumber. The heavily bearded man walks into his wooden cottage, takes off his coat, and sits alone at his table. After looking pensively out the window, he gives one final stare at the camera. End scene.
Just like that, as the familiar tune starts playing and the names on the screen start rolling, you realize that it's truly over. Despite a very anti-climactic season eight, Dexter has seen better days, and we will still remember the show fondly.
R.I.P. Debra Morgan.
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