Dexter series finale recap
- The Dexter series finale begins with Dexter and Harrison arriving at the Miami airport, trying to meet up with Hannah so they can leave. However, Elway is in the airport terminal looking for her. Knowing that he has to get Elway as far away from Hannah as he can, Dexter creates a fake bomb scare so that Elway can be brought in for questioning and let them leave the airport in the mass evacuation.
- The medics and Miami Metro Homicide staff have reached Debra, and she’s brought to the hospital so the doctors can fix the gunshot wound. Once she goes into surgery, Batista and Chief Mathews decide to call Dexter against Deb’s wishes so that he can be informed of the situation.
- When Dexter gets the call learning about how Saxon shot Deb, he resolves to leave the country with Hannah later. Deb takes priority. He and Harrison rush over to the hospital, and Dexter gets the chance to spend time with his injured sister once she’s out of surgery. The two of them apologize for the mistakes they’ve made with each other, Dexter for screwing up Deb’s life, and Deb for putting Elway on Hannah’s scent. Deb also encourages Dexter to leave the country now, and let the police catch Saxon. The doctor arrives and gives Debra a good bill of health, and Dexter leaves her room.
- Elway is released by the airport security and he makes another call to Marshall Clayton, telling him on voicemail that he knows Hannah’s still in Miami, and he’s sent the word out to all of his contacts to try and get her. However, when he calls the Marshall’s office, they inform him that he was killed earlier that morning. As Dexter leaves the hospital, Elway arrives and has a confrontation with him in the hallway, warning him not to go down with Hannah.
- Saxon steals a car and makes his way to a veterinary clinic and forces a vet to stitch up the bullet wound on his arm. Just as the vet finishes, a news report about Saxon comes on the television, and shows that Debra’s still alive at the hospital. Saxon takes the vet as his hostage, and they get in the car to go to the hospital.
- Dexter goes back and forth about whether he should leave Miami with Hannah or stay to hunt down Saxon, and he eventually decides that he can’t leave Debra alone while Saxon is still out there. He says goodbye to both Hannah and Harrison before they take a bus out of town, and he makes his way back to the hospital.
- Saxon and his hostage arrive at the hospital, and Saxon creates a nasty distraction by cutting out the vet’s tongue and stabbing him in the chest and then sends him right inside the hospital. The commotion of the injured man allows Saxon the opportunity to walk inside unnoticed, but Dexter arrives at approximately the same time and realizes Saxon’s plan. He makes his way to Debra’s room and meets Saxon just outside the door. The two seem set for a final hand-to-hand showdown, but Batista steps in and puts a gun to Saxon’s head and the police arrest him.
- Dexter’s relieved that Saxon’s been apprehended, but when he goes inside Debra’s room, her bed isn’t there. Dexter then finds out that Debra has suffered complications from the surgery that saved her life, and a blood clot has effectively given her a stroke and left her little more than a vegetable that’s sustained by life support machines. Dexter knows that it’s his fault that Debra is in this state, since he decided not to kill Saxon when he had the chance. He knows that this is his fault.
- Elway finally finds Hannah on the bus and tells her that he intends on taking her to the police when they get to their next stop. Right before they make their stop, Hannah gives Elway some of Dexter’s M99 tranquilizer to put him to sleep so she can take Harrison away.
- Quinn and Batista book Saxon for all the recorded murders that Dexter stole from Saxon and sent them. Dexter then visits Saxon in lockup, acting as if he’s there to do the forensic tests for the GSR (gunshot residue). He then tells Saxon that he’s going to murder him with a pen. Saxon takes the bait and seizes the pen to stab Dexter in the arm. Dexter in turn takes the same pen out of his arm and stabs Saxon right in the neck, and he lets him bleed out before pushing the alarm button. Quinn and Batista get the video of Dexter’s visits. While Batista is shocked that Dexter pretty much committed murder, Dexter lies his way out of a charge and the two detectives agree that he killed Saxon in self-defense.
- Dexter puts on his brown kill uniform and takes his boat to the hospital where Debra’s being kept. Hurricane Laura is about to make landfall, and the hospital is evacuating all of their patients. Dexter makes his way to Debra’s room, and even though she can’t hear him, he whispers that he loves her. He then disconnects all the life support machines and euthanizes his sister. Once the heartbeat finally fades away, Dexter wheels her bed outside and takes her body with him back onto his boat. He then sails out to sea, right into the path of the oncoming hurricane. Once he’s out of the fringe of the storm, he makes a final phone call to Hannah, who’s about to board a flight with Harrison to Argentina. He tells them that he loves them both, and he will see them again. Once the phone call’s over, he throws it over the side of the boat. Then he takes Debra’s body and lowers it into the water, and it slowly sinks down beneath the surface, just like all his other victims. Once the body is out of sight, Dexter revs up his boat’s engine, and sails straight into the center of the hurricane.
- A few days after the hurricane, the Coast Guard finds the wreckage of Dexter’s boat, but no sign of Dexter’s body. They inform Batista that it seems like Dexter’s dead. In Argentina, Hannah reads an online news bulletin that proclaims the same thing, but she doesn’t tell Harrison that his father is dead.
- However, the camera fades back in to a northern logger camp, and we see Dexter living as a lumberjack somewhere off in isolation. He’s alive, but he’s living as a recluse. The final image of the series is Dexter sadly looking into the camera.
I have been rather critical of this season as a whole, but this finale was an entirely different realm of unsatisfying. In fact, it’s probably the most unsatisfying television finale that I’ve ever seen. This episode didn’t tie up any of the loose ends from the various subplots on the show, or give closure to any of the characters that we’ve watched over all these years. We didn’t even see Masuka at all in this episode. Hannah’s continued existence in the show’s mythology does not feel justified or credible. For the bulk of the season, the writing focused closely on Dexter’s relationship with Doctor Vogel, his long-lost spiritual mother, and she was presented as an essential part of Dexter’s overall story. This idea could have worked, but she was killed two episodes ago and her death really has no weight on this finale in any way. Speaking of Vogel’s death, despite the potential the character had, Saxon doesn’t feel like a suitable final monster for Dexter to slay.
The only two characters that received a definitive and fitting end to their stories were Dexter and Debra. To the episode’s credit, they handled the euthanization scene very well, and I can’t fault them for the ending of that story arc. There is a kind of tragic poetry to the idea that Debra, the person that Dexter cared about most in the world, the one relationship he couldn’t live without, was Dexter’s final victim. His guilt over his role in his sister’s death would cause him to live in self-imposed exile. However, it doesn’t seem logical that he would let his son grow up in a foreign country with no ties back to his real family back in the United States.
Debra’s abrupt offscreen stroke seemed to come out of nowhere, and it felt cheap to just have her essentially die in a simple manner. It is probable that the writers wanted both the viewer and Dexter to learn his sister’s fate the same way a normal family member would, learning from the doctor firsthand and not being present when the stroke actually occurs. There could be some merit to that idea, but it feels uncharacteristic for the show’s usual narrative style.
As the series wound to a close over the past few episodes, it seemed clear that the writing staff were not going to be answering any of the questions that we wanted to see answered, and seemed to ignore the inherent drama of the series’ unique setting. If your series is about a vigilante serial killer working as a member of law enforcement, the drama should be geared towards the conflicts that will be stirred up when his police coworkers become aware of his secret.
We saw this happen in both Season 2 and Season 7 with Doakes and LaGuerta respectively, but Dexter was able to escape those moral quandaries when they were killed by other people. What would it have been like if the Miami Metro staff finally became aware of Dexter’s dual nature and pursued him to the fullest extent of their power? He could have been put him in a position where he would be forced to abandon Harry’s Code so he could survive. Would this not have been a more gripping and thrilling story arc than the one we were given? We’ll never know. The writing staff seemed intent on giving us the answers to more superficial questions that we didn’t want or care to have answered.
It’s a damn shame that Dexter had to end this way. As far as I’m concerned, Dexter should have ended either at the fourth or fifth season finale, back when it was in its prime. It frequently showed moments of brilliance throughout its tenure, and it deserved to go out in a much better fashion. This was neither the ending that we needed or deserved, but it’s the one we got.