Dexter Season Finale Review: “Surprise, Mother****er!”

I watched two season finales on Showtime last night. One was suspenseful, well-written, powerfully acted and a great finale to the build-up of the season that came before it.

The other one was Dexter.

Yes, it’s true, Homeland had by far the better season-ender, but as we’re not here to talk about that show, I need to explain just why I was so disappointed with how Dexter ended this time around.

Dexter has always been known for powerful finales, and the show has created moments like Rita’s death and Deb’s discovery that have been jaw dropping final notes. But though a “major event” happened in the closing moments of this season, I’m annoyed about how it was handled, and I think the show dropped the ball this time around.

“Calm down and stop provoking potential serial killers.”

We’ll just start with the big moment itself, as there’s no point dancing around it for another five paragraphs. With La Guerta now knowing for certain that Dexter was the Bay Harbor Butcher, and also having evidence to implicate Deborah, Dexter had to make the tough call to kill her, even though she is miles removed from his long-standing code not to kill innocents.

His plan was to set up some sort of double murder between her and Astrada, though that would have been a rather odd story to sell. But what happens instead? Deb shows up at the storage container as he’s about to set up the kill. Now she can A) walk away and let Dexter do his thing with La Guerta or B) shoot and/or apprehend her brother who is clearly pretty bad dude. As La Guerta wakes up and starts trying to talk her into option A, Deb instead chooses C) Shoot La Guerta herself.

Surprise, motherf**ker!

That’s certainly how I felt as I tried to process the inane rationale of both why Deb would do that, and also why the showrunners would feel that’s the best dramatic decision for the show. How does Deb go from being physically ill after learning about Dexter’s “killing of killers” philosophy to shooting not only an innocent, but a friend, in cold blood? That’s something that would have been a struggle for Dexter, but Deb? It’s unfathomable from a character development perspective. And since when did this show become all about Deb? This is supposed to be Dexter’s journey, and if La Guerta did have to be killed, it should have been a powerful moment where he, himself did the deed. What happened instead was clumsy, and a missed opportunity.

“Then I was like, I dunno, maybe I’ll just shoot her in the chest.”

I thought the braver decision would have been to actually have Deb shoot Dexter (non-fatally of course). That would have made for one hell of an interesting next season, but now what? We have the showrunner at the end telling us about how in season eight, the last season mind you, will give us more insight into Dexter’s origin. Dexter’s origin? Are you kidding? It’s time to kick things into high gear!

The title of the episode implied that something more interesting was going to happen than what did. Perhaps it was a longshot to somehow bring Doakes back from the dead ,but the way they used him was really lame. What exactly was the point of the three flashbacks that showed why Doakes thought Dexter was a creep? Did we learn anything there we hadn’t before? Certainly nothing relevant, and it was just a flashback  cameo for a flashback cameo’s sake.

And let’s not forget about Hannah, who escaped custody after making the questionable decision to stay silent about Dexter “because she loves him.” Is she really that much of a one-dimensional stereotype that she was willing to spend life in prison to protect a serial killer who put her in jail in the first place? And I was very disappointed to learn that yes, she really did poison Deb. I thought the show was actually pulling something clever by having Deb poison herself to trick Dexter into handing her over, but nope, everything was exactly as it seemed. To me that’s lazy, uninspired storytelling.

“Let me get this straight, I almost killed you, then sent you to jail, and you’re still in love with me? Girl, you crazy.”

Hannah’s character has always been all over the place in terms of motivation, but I really thought she was going to end up tied to La Guerta’s mounting list of evidence. Yet, that didn’t happen at all, and she simply flew away into the ether. Will she be back next season? Who knows, the show doesn’t seem terribly concerned with loose ends anymore.

Logistically, I’m wondering what happens next with La Guerta and Astrada in the shipping container. With Deb stupidly shooting her, with her registered, traceable, police-issue weapon, Dexter’s plan clearly had to be aborted. Did they chop them up and throw them in the ocean? Judging by how fast they made it back to the New Year’s party, that doesn’t seem like what happened. But hey, why explain something when you can just gloss over it?

Yes, I’ll admit I’ve had my own thoughts on how Dexter should handle its final season. I thought that he should indeed be discovered at the end of this season, and the final episodes should be him, his friends and the public dealing with the revelation. But if they did want to go down the route instead, there was a far better way to go about it.

After a pretty decent first two thirds of a season, things have fallen apart for me the last few episodes and I left disappointed with the way things were handled in this finale. After an abominable season six, I think the show is starting to meander a bit, and more often than not it feels like they’re making shit up as they go, rather than unfolding some brilliant master plan.

I suppose we’ll see next year. And maybe I’ll be one surprised motherf**ker.


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  1. Ugh… you are so right about this one.. I just don’t know what to think about it.

    I can kind of see a motivation behind Deb shooting LeGuerta herself. She has always been an over-protective big sister to Dexter.. until recently, it was Deb who was the ‘bad ass’ of the family.. Plus she’s in love with him… or something. But still, as a trained crime scene investigator.. THINK FIRST.. It was her registered gun, she was barefoot, and then she runs over to her and hugs and rubs evidence all over her? (Also how was that dress not covered in blood for the party?) It just seemed so stupid (which deb is rather impulsive so..).

    This season was just completely BLAH.

    Also, I guess that one stripper did move to Vegas and none of that story line ever went anywhere.. Quinn’s secret is safe and everything is hunky-dory. I did yell at the tv when Quin started hitting on Babysitter Jamie.. NO NO NO!!!

  2. I think the whole point of debra shooting La Guerta was to really show that she’d do absolutely anything for Dexter because she loves him. I was listening to the wrap up podcast with the producer and they brought up that one of the main themes for this season was doing stuff in the name of love for others. It’s why La Guerta continuously pursued the BHB case to clear Doakes, it’s why Dexter turned Hannah into the police, hell you can even make a case as to that’s why Hannah’s friend was willing to help her out with that pill. They did whatever it took to help those they loved which is how it ended despite the very blatant plot holes that came from it

    I don’t think the season ending was that bad really, I think they had to keep something with Dexter which is why he didn’t kill La Guerta. I mean yeah, it was his responsibility since he started it and it’s his fault but I think for the last season, they had to bond Dexter and Deb and what better way than to have her kill someone. I don’t think it’s that far out there considering how much she loves Dexter that she did this for him. Yeah it’s murder in cold blood but was she gonna shoot dexter? I’m not really sure what you do with that going forward unless it becomes a Dexter vs Deb season or something. Now they both have to deal with covering this up and I think it’ll make for a very intriguing last season

  3. They could explain Deb shooting LaGuerta as Deb walking in on her killing Hectar then LaGuerta threatened to kill Deb to keep her quiet and Deb shot in self defense.

  4. Off topic, but can you write something about Homeland so I can whine and whinge about it? That show is going downhill so fast. They signed the actor who plays Brody for another 5 seasons. How awful is that going to be? Brody has to die or the series is going to take a turn for the worst and become beyond ridiculous.

  5. “” Is she really that much of a one-dimensional stereotype that she was willing to spend life in prison to protect a serial killer who put her in jail in the first place? ”

    What are you talking about? She would have spend her life in jaul anyway and she said it outright to Deb even if she did tell nobody would believe her

    As for Deb I am guessing they will try to make some b.s about Deb doing it because she wants to prevent Dex from breaking his code and thus escalating his killings

    1. She could have used her knowledge as a bargaining chip to be released, which is something the show specifically states. She just chooses not to. Alone, she might not have been believed, but she could have probably given enough detail to cast suspicion on him, which combined with La Guerta’s pursuit, would be damning.

  6. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that Deb overdosed to frame Hannah. I think that would actually have made a more dramatic ending. A final scene with Deb smiling as she puts away a bottle of pills or something to that effect.

    As for the ending… I guess they were going for a “Dexter has corrupted Debra” angle. That is what has been building. Debra slowly coming around to Dexter’s way of thinking more and more with each episode. Perhaps they’re trying to make a point that anyone can perform these acts under the right circumstances. That there is more of Dexter in each of us than we care to admit.

    But I’m not sure it worked for me. The whole cargo container scene didn’t pull it off. The whole idea of Dexter luring Maria there… it just seemed sloppy somehow. Then the “which one do I shoot moment” seemed a bit forced.

    I think a better ending would have been Dexter walking away from the man who killed his mother. In order to not drag his family deeper into this mess, he lets Astrada go. Hannah taught him a lesson about love and what’s really important and the serial killer lets his ultimate prey go free. But I suppose this wasn’t really possible if Maria was about to trace the cellphones to the church from last season. Don’t get me started on how ridiculous it is to finish your victims in relevant locations like that church which anyone could drive up to. Maybe drunk kids to throw rocks at a abandoned church windows… that’s another rant.

    I think they may have painted themselves into a corner which they can only get out of with some really ridiculous solutions that will ruin whats left of the series. But its been pushing the envelop for some time now.

    Remember when Dexter lured Ivan into that bar? That was fun. Good times. Now things are just silly.

  7. yeah this episode was titled i think correctly in a ‘fuck you ironically way’. Really what was the point of anything this season? Yay the writers had a theme this season and stuck to it, even if it meant bad plot loop holes and poor if any character development. This is why this show is on showtime and not HBO. The only thing im shocked about is Hannah is a live at the end. Dexter aside from the first season has always been a show where i sit there and think of how much better it COULD have been. Its saved by great performances from the actors and dexter’s monolog. I dont see next season ending with him dead or caught but simply riding off into the sun set.

  8. worse season end in dexter history, even worse that the 3rd one!
    First of all, what kind of serial killer that want to look like normal people decide to kill at christmas and new year eve instead of stay at party with familly and friend???

    Hannah escape is the most predectible thing ever, and Deb killing Laguerta is just the most “wtf happened in her head” ever… the only thing I could imagine is that the showrunner want to turn her into a serial killer that Dex will have to stop :S

    But the most wtf moment for me was the very end… the 2 Morgan in the new year party, one with the dress she wore when hugging Laguerda still hot and bleeding body, the other with his “serial killer costume” even if we know he always have back up clothes in his truck… was it even real or was it some kind of dream???

    About Hannah poisonning Deb, I probably overthinking, but i’m not 100% sure it’s true : Hannah could have told Dexter this because Dexter wouldn’t have trust her if she said that Deb poissoned herself… But in that case, why don’t they talk a little bit of that with Deb when they met in the courthouse?

  9. Ummm typo w/ the whole “talking Deb into option A” maybe? I would think that “shoot him” would indicate LaGuerta was going w/ option B. Deb ultimately loves Dexter no matter how messedd up he is and that outweighs everything else to her, I think. I don’t really understand how one would call the backstabbing, career hindering snake that La Guerta was to Deb “friend.” Did she deserve to die? No. Would she let her brother go down at the behest of her? Definitely no.
    Quite frankly the end of season 6 was FAR worse. Deb walking into that church was so arbitrary, giving the big reveal such a tacked on feel that it would have been better to go without. I have no problem w/ Deb discovering who Dexter is but the execution was HORRIBLE.
    Agree about the Doakes flashbacks. I LOVED his character and would really like some Rescue Me-esque “ghost” scenes w/ Doakes, Brian Moser and maybe some others. I thought having his brother in season 6 was a real highlight and was hoping they woudl go in that direction; having Dexter starting to lose some of his control, so to speak.
    Much better than season 6, finale and season in general.

  10. For once, I actually agreed with you for the majority of the review. I think that the end was obviously out of character for Deb and was a completely unnecessary twist.

    However, this is where I usually have a problem with your reviews (yet I read them anyway, I know) and an example of that problem is this: I too expected Deb to have poisoned herself in an attempt to get Dexter to give up Hannah. However, them choosing not to do that does not automatically make it “lazy, uninspired storytelling.” A missed opportunity? Perhaps.

    Now that you’re an author of a book, you have certain characters in your mind and how they generally are going to play out. Perhaps they’ll change somewhat along the way, but you get my general point. Now, after you wrote your characters the way YOU wanted them to be written, would you be happy if someone called your writing lazy and uninspired just because you didn’t choose to do what THEY thought was right for YOUR character? Of course not. You wrote the story you thought was best for them.

    The problem is that you mix this bias with some real good points. The Deb shooting laguerta problem is very nicely laid out in the review with great supporting evidence. The Deb not being the poisoner thing? Well…that’s just uninspired because it didn’t go the way you wanted. There’s a double standard here. You have to be a bit more honest and say “This I just didn’t like at all. This other thing sucked because of x, y, z.

  11. The flashbacks were the worst part for me. Like at the crime scene Doakes said that he has NEVER seen anyone so exited by a crime scene before. Has Doakes never met Masuka? Then in the next scene Dexter makes it clear to Doakes that he had contact with a missing serial killer and Doakes doesn’t pick up on that at all. He just calls him fake. He could have figured out what Dexter was from that clue alone.

    Is this supposed to be the same Doakes from season 1 and 2? He switches between overreaction and underreaction and misses obvious clues. And if Dexter used to be that bad at hiding himself why wouldn’t the whole station have the same opinion of him that Doakes has.

    Also, why did LeGuerta break up with Doakes in the middle of the office in front of everybody?

  12. I was relieved when it was shown Hannah drugged Deb. My boss was telling me how obvious it was, I thought it was beyond ridiculous that she could drug herself and crash without killing herself, killing someone else, handicapping herself etc. Alternatively I couldn’t see someone faking it by rolling a car from outside and breaking her own wrist??? Nope.

    As for the rest, well yeah.

  13. Ever since season 4 (Trinity Season), which was it’s peak, this show has been on a steady down hill.

    The Finale was bad, actually this whole season was bad. Like I mentioned earlier, after season 4 ended, anything that was intelligent about the show ended. Now all I think is…”wow that was dumb”….there was a time I thought Dexter was a Batman/Punisher hybrid.

    Bummer 🙁

  14. Eh no. The show specifically stated that Hannah didn’t believe this would help her. Hannah has been established as someone who is very practical. She knew that she would NEVER ever get a deal just for her completely unreliable(in court) info. So she had nothing to gain but vengeance. And she doesn’t need revenge because as established she loves Dex. So no. She didn’t sacrifice anything .

  15. At what point can Dexter be considered good (plot, production, character development, thematic elements, etc)?

    Dexter’s whole “ugh, I’m so tortured inside, help me out Dark passenger” schtick was already getting old in the 1st season.
    Ultimately, it was the code that screwed him up more than anything. He’s obviously dependent on it at this point. He’s no better than a junkie with a messiah complex.
    But I guess the tortured “anti-hero” routine is a favorite for modern audiences.

    How about you accept how terrible the show has been and enjoy it for what it is?
    I will admit, the conclusions of seasons 1 & 4 played well for shock and emotional value, but the wrap up to get there was arduous. Dexter would be a considerably better show if it were cut down to 10 episodes per season as opposed to the standard 12.
    Imagine the removal of foolish sub-plots! Getting to the point for once! Dear lord, how glorious it would be.

    Final point, why is no one celebrating that LaGuerta is finished? You people complained about her so much, but now you complain that it should’ve been done in a specific manner instead? Wow, your appetite for tedium will never be filled. Damn fools.

  16. As I’ve been saying all season this was the worst of them all. S much in fact that the wife and I just watched the final 3 eps tonight as we had no real desire to watch them when they were on originally.

    This may be going in the direction I theorized a few weeks back. Wife asks how I think the whole show would end. My only guess would be deb would end up joining up with dex and they would run off on some murderous vigilante boondocks saints type killing spree. Seems like that may work out. Doubt it though.

    Overall this season was trash. So much random shit, so many extra subplots that went no where. Louis? Nadia? The Russian dudes? The arson? What was the point of it all. What also bothered me, was laguerta (who I’ve been waiting to be killed since season 1) was supposedly so up in arms about doakes, but she waits 5 SEASONS to do anything about it? This season was just all over the place and kinda pissed me off.

  17. It’s difficult for me to sum up exactly how I felt about this episode…. I’m a HUGE fan of the show and have been watching it religiously since it began.

    It’s funny because each season has moments of awesomeness that cannot be found on any other show on television. The whole reason it even became so popular is because it painted this portrait of a serial killer that we were all rooting for.

    I think that it’s becoming more and more obvious that Dexter is a wholly unlikeable psychopath. And the writers are STRUGGLING to throw in something, ANYTHING, to recreate that character of the psycho battling against his humanity. It’s getting to a point where it’s becoming a charicature of the original Dexter.

    Season 1 intrigued me, Season 2 blew me away, Season 3 put me to sleep, Season 4 absolutely shattered me (I cried for like a week!), Season 5 made me feel like the show was becoming a “Monster of the Week” series, Season 6 was a massive garbage heap, and this Season was only mildly better.

    That being said – I’ve been more impressed with Deb this season. I’m actually more intrigued by her journey at this point than Dexter’s.

  18. Season 2 was the best, though I do think that Isaak Sirko was a far better villain that Arthur Mitchell. Trinity just felt kind of flat to me, whereas Isaak had far better motivation and was quite likable, showing a sense of honour, as well as going through exactly what Dexter went through.
    Yes this season had some things that could have been handled better, but the way they killed off Louis and Isaak was great. It was sudden, unexpected, and a lot more realistic, in that the problems don’t end when the bad guy dies, as there’s a lot more stuff to do.
    I’m actually going to stop reading these reviews. The constant, unending negativity from an armchair critic just gets irritating when every review is the same.

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