A Killer’s Eulogy: Why I Loved Dexter’s Finale
Blood. The source of life. The thing that all humans have in common. The one thing that regularly splashed the plastic rolled all over the walls and floor of Dexter’s kill rooms for the last eight seasons. Not any more…
Dexter was born from the mind of Jeff Lindsay in his book Darkly Dreaming Dexter back in 2004 and the TV series began on Showtime in 2006. Since then, Dexter, a forensic blood spatter expert for the Miami Metro Police Department, has sliced his way into the hearts of millions. With the finale of the series on September 22, 2013, eight seasons of Dexter’s life came to a close, but not an end.
I started watching Dexter with the final episode of the 4th season. I had flown out to New Mexico for a job interview and was on my way back to my family in North Carolina when my plane was delayed in Atlanta and I ended up having to spend the night in a Super 8 motel. I flipped on the TV and was fascinated by this story of a man who felt the need to kill and yet still was driven by love and concerns for his family. That episode, “The Getaway” was the wrap up of the Trinity story with John Lithgow. I loved the way the characters interacted, Michael C. Hall’s monotone and intensity, and John Lithgow’s portrayal of Trinity, a serial killer being hunted by Dexter. It was sad and fascinating.
Dexter was known as many things. Son, Brother, Husband, Co-Worker, The Bay Harbor Butcher, Father, Boyfriend, Kyle, Mentor, Devil, Angel. His life is as storied as anyone’s and made more complicated by his Dark Passenger. This need to kill controlled only by the code, Harry’s Code, taught him by his adoptive father. Harry was the officer on the scene that found Dexter and his brother in a shipping container, drenched in the blood of their mother who had been slaughtered by a drug lord.
As Dexter grew, Harry saw the darkness rising in him and worked to teach his son how to control himself and how to direct his desires to something that was, in many ways, a good deed. Dexter, feeling the need to kill someone, would always focus on those who had met Harry’s Code. It all came down to two important rules: Never get caught and never kill an innocent. There were times when things were really close on both accounts. Dexter was careful and always got proof, but even the best serial killer can make a mistake. Some can be deadly.
Through Dexter’s life he has had friends and enemies. His list of friends is long including his friends at the precinct; Angel, Quinn, Masuka. His family was far reaching; Harry, Brian, Deb, Rita, Harrison, Aster, Cody, Hannah. He also had enemies; Sgt. Doakes, Trinity, The Ice Truck Killer, and many others. He loved, he lived, he lied, he killed.
Dexter’s marriage to Rita was a major turning point in his life, but not nearly as important in the evolution of the character as the birth of Harrison. The anguish that it put him through to think that his son may grow up to be like him really added a depth to Dexter that had not appeared before. And Rita’s death at Trinity’s hands was almost too much for him to bear.
The feelings of responsibility continued to pile up on Dexter as time went on. Harrison, Rita’s Death, Sgt. Doakes, Lila, Trinity, Deb, LaGuerta… all of the things that he blames himself for come crashing down as the end draws near. In the last season, Dexter undergoes his final change as he realizes that his family is the most important thing to him, more important even than killing. He states, looking over Dr. Vogel’s son on his table, that he does not even want to be there, he does not even want to kill him. There is a stronger pull now.
Deb’s death hits him the hardest. It is with this one act, removing the tubes and turning of her life support, that Dexter really sacrifices his life, his humanity, for his family. He is the reason Deb is dead. This fact is burned into his mind. His family must be safe… but safe from him. With Deb’s body on the back of his boat, Dexter leaves Miami one last time. Gently laying Deb’s body into the water and watching his reason for being human get swallowed by the same ocean that had swallowed so many of his victims, Dexter sets his sights on the storm and rides off.
Most people would have been happy if that was the end. After all, how could we expect that Dexter would ever get a happy ending. The scene of Hannah and Harrison in Argentina is very well done, with her seeing the news in the tablet stating that Dexter was lost at sea. Does she even consider that he could be alive? She knows him better than most and her sadness is clear. She believes that Dexter Morgan, the person she knew and loved, is dead.
So, this begs the question, if the story could have ended there… why did it not?!? The easy answer to that is because Dexter’s story is not over. There are already rumors of a movie.
When I watched the finale, I enjoyed the ending. There was no hope, not really, because if you looked into Dexter’s eyes at the end, you saw only the Dark Passenger residing there. But that idea, that even though Dexter died, that part of him wanted to survive, can setup the next phase of this tale. Bring it on.
I will miss the show, but am excited by what the future holds. Drops or streams, spray or splatter, these are the questions that drive us. The fans cry out for more.