Well, here we are— It's all over but the shouting. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Zarnyx for creating a place where we could discuss Dexter, for asking me to help out, and eventually letting me carry it to the end. It isn't something I ever expected I would do, and I had a great time. Thanks to everyone for reading and joining the discussion.
Last week, in Blood Spatter Analysts: "Monkey in a Box" (Week Eleven), we watched as Dexter closed in on and captured Daniel Vogel, but transcended his urge to kill, leaving the Brain Surgeon to be captured by his sister and punished by the authorities so he could be with the woman he loves. A woman who needs him now more than ever, as Elway closes in on her at the airport, attempting to cut short her flight so he can earn his bounty.
***SPOILERS FOR EPISODE TWELVE TO FOLLOW!***
Dexter rushes to the departure gate to meet Hannah but when he gets there she is nowhere to be found. He calls her and learns that she saw Elway, but doesn't believe he spotted her. Dexter figures out he hasn't been seen yet, either. He goes to an airport shop to buy Harrison a snack and a toy, and loads up a backpack, which he abandons then informs the boarding attendant that he last saw Elway holding it— "See something, say something." The reward-driven private investigator is still trying to contact Marshal Clayton when airport security escort him away. Elway is temporarily pulled off their scent, but their flight has been grounded, and with the storm coming in they will have to lay low or find another way out of the city and the country.
Debra's call for help arrives in time, and she is painfully loaded into an ambulance. Masuka determines that Clayton was killed nearly instantly by Daniel Vogel's knife to the heart. Deb insists that nobody interrupt Dexter's trip, but when they reach the hospital, Matthews makes the decision to call him. As his flight was already canceled, he takes Hannah and Harrison to the hotel while he goes to see Debra.
Daniel is bleeding profusely from the bullet wound in his arm as he walks through a parking lot. He finds a man entering a pickup truck, attacks him and steals the vehicle. He drives away and finds a veterinary clinic that has not yet been boarded up, and forces the man inside to stitch his wound.
Debra has stabilized, and she and Dexter reminisce about their childhood. She tells her brother that she will be fine, that he he deserves to be happy and has to go to Hannah now. He leaves her room and gets Harrison from Jamie in the hospital lobby, where he tells his son that this is the hospital where he was born. Dexter flashes back to the first time he saw his newborn son, with his sister by his side. As he leaves the hospital, Elway, having learned of the shooting and of Clayton's death, confronts Dexter and places blame on him for Debra's condition. Elway says they will find Hannah and that he shouldn't go down with her, which provokes Dexter to shove the man against the wall, but he leaves without escalating further.
Hannah finds a new exit- buses are evacuating the coastal areas before the storm, and won't be subject to as much traffic due to having their own lanes. They will go to Jackson and fly out from there. Hannah offers to take Harrison, but sees Dexter's hesitation, and suggests she could leave by herself. He assures he he trusts her completely with his son, but is reluctant to let her out of his sight, even if just for a few days. He knows he has no choice, so Dexter stays behind to take care of Daniel before he can harm Debra, and Hannah takes Harrison. Dexter gives Hannah a bag of snacks and supplies, and says goodbye to his son, who tells him he loves Hannah. Hannah boards the bus, and tells Harrison about the gauchos and penguins of Argentina, but Elway has caught up to her. Surprised by how well she has adapted to the role of mother, he nonetheless tells her they will get off at the next stop, where he will turn the fugitive in to the marshal service for his hard-earned reward, and give the boy to child protective services. She is caught, and stuck on a moving bus with no exit. She reaches into the bag Dexter gave her and pulls a thermos, offering Elway a drink he thinks he is too smart to accept, but this distracts him long enough for her to stab him in the leg with a syringe. SUPPLIES! She informs him before he passes out that he'll wake in a few hours feeling embarrassed, but she and Harrison will be long gone.
Daniel has his hostage, the vet who stitched him up, and forces him to drive to the hospital where the Conveniently Timed News Network said she was being treated. The man swears he won't say anything, to which Daniel knowingly agrees. The unfortunate vet bursts into the ER, bleeding and throwing up blood. The doctors find his tongue has been cut out, and Dexter enters the hospital to find this obvious distraction and rushes to his sister's aid. The only weapon he can acquire between the entrance and his sister's ward is a fork from a dinner tray, and he rounds the corner to find the Brain Surgeon looking through a registry to find Debra and finish what he started. They face off, Dexter with his fork, and Daniel with the marshal's gun. Dexter advances, but Angel and Quinn leap into action, and take Daniel into custody.
Once Daniel is taken care of, Dexter goes to Debra's room, only to find it empty. Quinn tells him that Debra has taken a turn for the worse and is back in surgery... the doctor tells them a clot formed during her surgery and has deprived her brain of oxygen, and she has no hope for recovery other than possibly being able to breath by herself. Dexter retreats to his flashback of Harrison's birth, where Debra assured him he would be a good father, because he's always been a good big brother. She asks him if he remembers the monsters that scared her at night, and how he explained they were just shadows to her to put her at ease, but would still sleep on her floor so she would feel protected.
Quinn and Batista interrogate Daniel, but he is cool under pressure and pretends to not know who Debra is, which enrages Quinn as Dexter watches from the observation room. Angel sends Quinn away, and sends Daniel back into holding. Dexter enters his holding cell with a GSR kit, sits down across the table and sets up his swabs, chemicals and a pen. They have a brief discussion, wherein Dexter tells Daniel he can't blame him for everything that's happened, but that in one sharp moment, he has taken away Dexter's belief that he can ever live happily without destroying those he loves. Daniel asks him if he has come here just to tell him this, to which Dexter says no, he came to kill him with the pen on the table. Daniel grabs the pen and lunges at Dexter, stabbing him in the shoulder, but Dexter easily overpowers him, pulls the pen out and stabs Daniel in the neck, ensuring a quick and certain death, after which he presses the emergency call button.
Angel, Quinn and Dexter review the security footage which clearly shows that Dexter killed Daniel in self defense, but also shows that Dexter was completely calm at the time. Angel is seemingly blind to this, and very concerned about how they can explain Dexter being in the room alone with the murderer, but Dexter assures him that even though he has left the department he is still technically on the books for the remainder of the week. He tells them he wanted to be sure the GSR test would be done right, and that after all he's done to Deb, he wanted to look Daniel in the eye. Angel accepts this and tells him to go. Dexter boards his boat and drives it to a dock in front of the hospital.
Dexter returns to Debra's side. She is in a vegetative state, but he can't leave her that way. He tells her one last time that he loves her. He turns off her breathing apparatus, disconnects the wires and tubes monitoring her and keeping her alive, and holds his sister while he waits for her to die.
His final kill wasn't one of bloodlust, or justice or revenge, but mercy. In the chaos of the storm evacuation, he takes his sister out of the hospital and to his boat. He heads out into the storm and calls Hannah, who is finally safe and about to board a plane, telling her he'll catch up with her in a few days, and tells his son to remember every day how much his father loves him. He throws the phone away, then lowers his sister's body into the ocean before setting course away from land, deeper into the oncoming storm.
The coast guard finds the wreckage of Dexter's boat, the Slice of Life, and informs Angel they they have found no signs of survivors. Hannah is in a cafe with Harrison in Argentina when she finds the news of Dexter's vessel being destroyed by Hurricane Laura, she has to suppress her urge to cry and takes her new son for ice cream. Dexter, of course, is not dead, but is now bearded and has fled north to a remote logging camp(If it's good enough for Wolverine and Superman, it's good enough for Bat... Dexter), where he works and lives in a nearby, sparsely furnished one room house, and sits alone at a table reflecting on his life.
One last time, with feeling...
- First off, let's get this out of the way- Nikki was not in this episode. Really?! What the hell? The culmination of her existence was when Quinn said it was weird Masuka was her dad and she said "awesome weird" and that's all she is to the show? I like fleshing out the world and characters, but that was just completely useless. Even Masuka barely appeared in this episode, so why expand on his character and family if you aren't going to feature him doing anything important?
- I felt pretty good about Deb's chances last week when she didn't die before the end of that episode. The next day I realized that sense of security was unduly inflated in light of events involving a shootout in the desert on another show. I had a strong feeling she would go down, and this really was the worst way for her. Debra in a vegetative state once again proves that writers live only for our tears, like some kind of misery vampire.
- I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. It was close to working, but it did do the one thing I was very afraid of, which was choose an ending that (maybe) doesn't fit with the characters' previously established personalities and motivations. It is understandable that Dexter feels responsible for Debra's death and fears that his presence complicates the lives of others, especially those that know who he really is. On the other hand, he has just abandoned his son and the woman he loves and has placed himself in a purgatory-like punishment that solves nothing. It is Hannah's love that made it possible for him to not kill, so for him to continue to live without her, in the most boring place possible (dude doesn't even have a tv), how can we not assume he will snap and return to his old ways, or even just lose control completely? This is like the Bill Bixby Bruce Banner, just trying to get away until a few thugs inevitably rough him up for no reason and force him to hulk out. Dexter had to go to Hannah and his son, and accept Debra's death, that was the right ending given what we've seen to this point. His grief is real and justified, but amplifying Hannah and Harrison's grief doesn't solve anything, and doesn't satisfy the audience.
- I can't stress this enough: I see no amount of self loathing that would cause him to abandon his son and Hannah, and nothing to indicate that their future with the new Dexter would put them at greater risk with him than without him.
- I find it very strange that he treated Debra the way he did his victims by dumping her in the ocean. I suppose he was being selfish and keeping her final moments to himself, but the missing body would surely cause great grief to Angel, Quinn, Matthews and everyone else. At the very least, he should have kept her aboard as he drove off into the storm, so he could go out with her (not that I thought he was actually going to die in that storm, but it fits the narrative better- "grieving brother takes sister's body to sea, never returns"). Obviously, that's still what happened as far as the outside world is concerned, but the body dump was strange.
- As much as I wish Debra lived and can imagine some scenarios where it would have worked better if she survived and Dexter died, I do see the value in having Dexter euthanize his sister, showing the stark contrast between the killer he used to be and the tortured soul he has become. It was a beautiful and powerful moment, and in this flawed show, it is scenes like this that justify my love and respect for it. If anything could put someone like him off of killing for good, it would be the moment he had to kill the person he loved most.
- I have to stop writing about Deb now, it is absolutely killing me.
- I would have liked to see Dexter die, but not by killing himself in a storm. If Daniel killed Dexter, or better, if they both killed eachother in that holding cell, then Hannah would have definitive knowledge that Dexter is dead and not just a deadbeat, and that he died doing something he had to do; protecting and avenging his sister. (Not leaving a body for Hannah to grieve over, she would have to think there is at least a possibility he survived, because that's what they do). This works even better better if Debra is okay while Hannah got away with Harrison. With Deb still alive, he has justification to do something rash, like risking his life to kill Daniel in his cell, because even in custody, an alive Brain Surgeon is a threat who could escape at any time and continue to try to hurt Dexter. Don't forget, he waited 30 years to come after his mother.
- The other case for Dexter's death is that, while I have no doubt his will is resolute, it leaves open the door for him to give up on logging and track down Hannah and Harrison- I am certain people are thinking it. Time has passed, the beard is pretty full— how long can he let them think he is dead before Hannah decides even if he does show up alive, that he go can screw himself?
- I know Dexter is strong, and swam away from a boat wreck before, but this is a hurricane, so, no.
- Is there a word for being disappointed when you expected to be disappointed? It's not exactly disappointing , right?
I see a similarity to True Romance in this conclusion. Tarantino wrote that script so that Clarence dies and the epilogue is given by Alabama, who we see on the beach with their son. Tony Scott simply liked Clarence too much to kill him, but had respect enough for Tarantino (or just his script) to shoot it both ways, which is why there are different endings to that movie. It is entirely debatable which True Romance ending is better, but both of them work perfectly— oh, if only a young Tarantino had written for Dexter. Here we see a similar construction: The anti-hero falls in love, his wife and son escape and he apparently dies. Much like True Romance, it would have worked to some extent whether he died or escaped with them, but it doesn't work when he just abandons them and disappears.
I think someone had that final image in their head of Dexter, haunted by his past, staring out into the screen, and had it for so long they were sure that's how it had to end, then couldn't see that it was the wrong ending as events changed. If I remember correctly, it is similar to the final shot of the Shield, where Vic loses all of his friends and family and admits to himself that he's a bad person, but once again, Dexter is not a villain and this was not the fate he deserved, even if he thinks it is.
Life in a post-Dexter world, Day 01, begins. I know it wasn't perfect— virtually nothing is— but they created characters that resonate. Deb's death is going to sting for quite some time, as is Dexter's final, unlikely decision to abandon his remaining family. The blank stare, full of self loathing and pain, may not have been the perfect end, but it still carries the weight, the burden of a man who has relished killing for so long, but finally understands what it cost him. At least it didn't fade to black.
Here is a picture of everyone happy, because I needed it.
Thanks for sticking around. Blood Spatter Analysts... is now over.