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Dexter Season Finale—Two Days Later, and I Still Feel Like I’ve Been Hit by an Ice Truck

December 15, 2009

Big, giant, hairy SPOILER ALERT. Repeat: S P O I L E R   A L E R T!!!!!

The predictions I made two weeks ago turned out to suck pretty bad. After the penultimate December 6 episode, I started grading those initial predictions on the Universal Suck Scale (0 – 4 Larry the Cable Guys, or LCGs). To finish that masochistic process of assessing how bad my predictions actually were:

4. Dexter will kill Trinity in the finale, but he will get caught—actually caught—in the act by Quinn, Masuka, and Deb (who by that point will have become suspicious after discovering that Dexter stole Lundy’s missing Trinity files).

OK, so Dexter did kill Trinity in the finale, but that prediction was the easy part, wasn’t it? Nobody caught him in the act at all.

Score: 3.5 LCGs

5. The stage will be set for Season 5 to be the complete unraveling of the world that Dexter has skillfully built and maintained for so long. Many will respond to the news of his murder of Trinity by calling him a hero, just as they did when the “Bay Harbor Butcher” story, though not Dexter’s identity, became public in Season 2. Season 5 will explore that gray area—how should a killer of killers be regarded?—in great detail. But Dexter will, at least temporarily, lose everyone he has actually come to love.

Well, Dexter’s world will certainly unravel, or at least see tumultuous shifts, in the wake of Rita’s bloody demise at the hands of Trinity. And it’s hard to imagine that Dexter won’t face a significant degree of scrutiny since his wife was murdered shortly after he showed signs of violence and anger issues (punching the neighbor and menacing/attacking the civilian motorist and the sheriff’s deputies). But I initially imagined that Dexter’s losing Rita would occur when she discovered he was a killer, not when she herself was killed. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I did not see that coming.

Score: 3.0 LCGs, for a total Universal Suck score of 16 out of 20 LCGs. A robust failing grade, just like the ones Larry the Cable Guy steadily earned in his comedy and acting classes. Better luck next time, right?

Now, to share a couple of thoughts about Season 4 and how it positions us for Season 5—which I am already eagerly awaiting. When the finale began, I was expecting to be thrilled and scared. I expected that my stomach would be churning in anxiety and anticipation. I got those things in great abundance. But I also expected a season finale rather like the ones before, one that offered a fairly clean resolution to the primary strands of that season’s plot and fairly vaguely pointed the way to another season. That was most assuredly not what the Season 4 finale was.

I initially imagined that Dexter’s primary unraveling would occur in public, as those he had come to truly care about abandoned him in shock, horror, and despair. But now, with a slain wife and a son “born” in her spilled blood, Dexter’s fall from the “good husband/father” platform to which he had ascended is now likely to occur privately and internally. By the way, it had never been lost on me that Dexter and Rita’s baby’s name, Harrison, was a play on “Harry’s son”—implying that the archetypal transfer of both noble qualities and base tendencies from father to son will be multi-generational in the Morgan family (from Harry to Dexter to Harrison). But I never imagined that another Morgan boy would be “born” in the same bloody cataclysm that begat Dexter.

To me, that’s a perfect, and perfectly heartbreaking, choice by the creators of the show, because it reminds us of the overwhelming sadness of how Dexter was forced to begin his life. I found the finale to be tremendously evocative. We see Dexter finally feeling real love for Rita and Deb, seeing how much they value and need him, and seeing other capacities within himself besides the predilection towards murderous malice. But now that Trinity’s one final act before his ultimate fate has taken Rita away, all of Dexter’s growth and discovered humanity will almost certainly be lost.

I was unsettled for an hour or more after the show ended, and it took me a while to pinpoint this loss as the reason. One way of looking at this is that Dexter will be “freed” to be “who he is,” i.e., a bringer of judgment and death to the wicked. But I disagree—I think Dexter has now been sent back to the psychological and spiritual prison of his past. It’s even sadder to think that now he has a cellmate—Harrison, now “Harry’s son” too, born into confining terror and rage like his father before him.

  1. December 15, 2009 7:42 pm

    I loved this season! I felt unsettled too after the finale. I had complained about Rita’s character during the season, but I wasn’t ready for that ending. Can’t wait to see how they play it out.


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