SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "Remember the Monsters?" episode of "Dexter" contains storyline and character spoilers.
Did "Dexter" deserve better? "Dexter" fans sure did. Instead, the once-great series left the airwaves with a wind-down that can, at best, be described as unsatisfying. At worst, it's a rather disastrous ending to a rather disastrous season, a season and a finale so confusing in their intent that they cast doubt on all the good storytelling that came before them.
To sum up: Deb died, Dexter lived, and then faked his death to protect his surviving loved ones… from him. The final shot of the finale, of the series, is Dexter, now living as a lumberjack — seriously — staring straight into the camera. Has he moved to the Pacific Northwest (we presume that's where he is) to continue on with his serial killer ways? Will he ever be reunited with Harrison and Hannah? Or will he simply live out the rest of his life in his squalid, lonely little apartment?
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We don't know. Because this is how the series is ending, more frustratingly and disappointingly than that infamous "Sopranos" fade-out. Sure, unlike with Tony Soprano, we know Dexter ends the series alive. But… and? That's what we're left with: questions about what it all means, what the point of the entire series was supposed to be.
How we got there:
Deb, wounded from her run-in with an escaping Saxon last episode, is rushed to the ER. "I thought I was gonna die," she tells Quinn in the ambulance, though, at first, her injury looks manageable. A complication later causes her to suffer a major stroke, and Deb is left brain dead, with machines keeping her alive. Only a miracle, the doctor tells Dexter and Quinn, will lead Deb to recuperate.
Dexter is at the airport with Harrison, ready to meet Hannah and board a plane to Argentina. Elway's tracking Hannah, however, and when Dexter sets Elway up to be questioned as a potential terrorist, it backfires: The whole airport is evacuated. While he and Hannah are trying to come up with a new plan to leave town — a hurricane is also about to hit Miami — he gets a call from Matthews about Deb's injury.
Hannah goes back to her hotel, while Dex and Harrison are off to the hospital. Dex chats with Deb, and tells her he's sorry for screwing up her life. She tells him she doesn't want him to feel guilty for anything, that she's responsible for her own life. "You were meant to be happy, so you need to go [Deb's favorite word] be happy," she tells him, kicking him out of her room and towards Hannah, assuring him that she's going to be fine.
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Saxon was wounded himself in his blowout with Deb, and after his escape, he holds a vet at gunpoint and forces him to stitch him up. Aware that he's a wanted man, Saxon then uses the vet to sneak into the hospital where Deb is, and where he and Dexter are about to come face-to-face… until Angel puts a gun to Saxon's head.
At the police station, Angel and Quinn try to get Saxon to talk about his many killings, but Dexter takes matters into his own hands, killing Saxon while pretending to collect evidence from him, and then pretending he killed him in self-defense.
After briefly reuniting with Hannah to re-plan their exit from Miami, Dexter sends her and Harrison off to safety on one of the buses the city is providing to help people evacuate before the hurricane. He promises to meet up with his girlfriend and son as soon as he takes care of Saxon.
On the bus, Hannah is surprised by a hand that reaches out and grabs her arm while she's telling Harrison what life is going to be like in Argentina… the hand is Elway's. Hannah is prepared, though, sneaking a syringe of tranquilizer out of her bag and jabbing it into Elway's knee.
She and Harrison get off the bus at the next stop, while Elway is left paralyzed on the bus.
Dexter and Deb
Dexter, in flashback mode, remembers being at the hospital with Deb years ago, right after Harrison was born. She tried to calm his fears about fatherhood by telling him he'd always taken good care of her. "Don't you remember the monsters?" she asks. When she was a kid, she was afraid of the "monsters," the shadows on the wall at night. Dexter calmly explained to her they were caused by the absence of light, then slept on the floor of her room so she would feel safe. This, she says, is proof he'll be a good father, because he was always such a good big brother.
"You were so wrong, Deb," Dexter tells himself in voiceover. Later, while standing outside his apartment one last time, he continues, "As much as I may have pretended otherwise, for so long, all I wanted was to be like other people, to feel what they felt. But now that I do, I just want it to stop."
Dressed in one of his brown henley shirts, his kill shirts, he drives his boat to the hospital, where patients are being evacuated in preparation for the storm. In Deb's room, he takes her hand and apologizes to her, telling her, "I would change everything if I could." He turns off the machines that are keeping her alive, and after he whispers "I love you, Deb" in her ear, she dies. He wheels her out of the hospital, wraps her in a sheet, and loads her onto the Slice of Life.
Driving out into the water, Dexter stops and calls Hannah. She and Harrison are safe, she says, and he tells her he's leaving soon. He talks to Harrison and tells him he loves him, and that he wants Harrison to remember that every day until he sees him again.
Dexter then dumps Deb's body into the ocean. "I destroy everyone I love," he says. "I can't let that happen to Hannah, to Harrison. I have to protect them, from me." And he drives his boat straight into Hurricane Laura.
Post-hurricane, Dexter's boat is found, in pieces, with no sign of him. Angel is informed in a phone call. Hannah, sitting at a café in Buenos Aires with Harrison, reads a Miami Herald newspaper article with the headline "Forensic Tech's Wreckage Found, No Sign of Life," and Dexter's photo. She tries to keep her emotions in check, and asks Harrison if he wants to go get ice cream. As they walk off hand-in-hand, the screen fades to black.
A man drives a truck up to a logging center, gets out, and begins to unload it. He walks towards a dilapidated house, and enters a room. It's a bearded Dexter, who sits down at a table, then looks directly into the camera, dejected.
Then fade to black again.
Unanswered questions from the finale:
* How did Dexter survive the hurricane? He drove his boat straight into it, and, post-hurricane, scraps of the demolished boat were found. If the boat didn't make it, how did he?
* Did Dexter not intend to die when he drove the boat into the storm? If not, why? What is the point of him keeping himself alive, but away from his son and girlfriend?
* He's worried about protecting Harrison and Hannah from himself, but wasn't there even a smidgen of a second thought about sending his son off to live in the care of another serial killer? And what if Hannah gets caught? Now that Deb's gone, Harrison would end up with strangers.
* There has been talk of a "Dexter" spinoff. Unless it stars Lumberjack Dexter, who's left to focus on?
* Speaking of Lumberjack Dexter: Did the writers make a dartboard with 100 different professions on it, and that's the one the dart landed on? Though even on a list of 100 potential careers that we could think of for Dexter, "lumberjack" would not appear.
* Masuka and the sperm-donation daughter: What was the point of that storyline? Ditto electrolyte-lovin' Elway, and "The Shield" great Kenny Johnson as doomed Marshal Clayton? For that matter, the reunion of Deb and Quinn: Why? He'd always been hung up on her, but he appeared to be one in a string of bad romantic decisions on her part (a string that, lest we forget, though the writers seemed to have, once included her belief that she was in love with adopted brother Dexter), so why was so much final season plot spent on Quinn's relationship with Jamie Batista and then his abrupt reunion with Deb? Does anyone else feel like every script from Season 8 had pages missing?
* Ultimately, was the point of the series that Dexter was meant to be alone? That despite his efforts to live a "normal" life, he wasn't capable of pulling it off, and that his attempts to straddle his two worlds would continue to hurt those around him?
* But how does that fit in with the revelations from this season that suggested he wasn't necessarily destined to be a serial killer, that he was the product of Vogel and Harry choosing to steer his killer instincts towards vigilantism? In the penultimate episode, Dexter had come to the conclusion that he didn't need to kill anymore, which is why he left Saxon to Deb instead of killing him himself. If the writers were positing that he didn't need to kill again, then he could have gone off with Harrison and Hannah and a new life. Was his decision to fake his death, then, all because he blamed himself for Saxon fatally wounding Deb? His guilt is understandable, but it doesn't explain why he'd make the connection that he was a danger to Harrison and Hannah if he really believed he didn't need to continue his serial killer life. Especially once he did kill Saxon in the finale. In fact, once Saxon was dead, the biggest danger to Hannah is her wanted status. Wouldn't Dexter's presence allow him to help keep her and Harrison safe?
Now, tell us, "Dexter" fans: On a scale of 1 to "Why did they end the show this way?!" how do you rate the series finale? Was there any point to Deb's death? Does the finale undo for you how good the series was in its best seasons? What do you think the overall point of the series is? And do you think Lumberjack Dexter continues his serial killer life?