Critic's Notebook: Dexter, Homeland Finales; 1600 Penn
Dexter | Photo Credits: Randy Tepper/Showtime
Sunday's second-season finale of Showtime's Homeland was titled "The Choice." Which could just as easily have applied to the seventh-season finale of Dexter that immediately preceded it. The ones making the ultimate choice, though, are the viewers, who must decide if they're willing to go where these dark bundles of insanity take them.
I echo Homeland's Brody when I say: "I'm in." I realize it might be hipper to join the Twitter snark parade, especially when it comes to Homeland's giant leaps of credibility-defying faith, but imagine how dull and dreary this fall would have been without this one-two punch of Sunday night high-octane entertainment.
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Let's start with the end of Dexter's remarkable comeback season, forcing impossible choices for Dexter and his sister Deb as the noose of justice tightens, courtesy of the dogged LaGuerta, who's finally seeing through Dexter's façade the way Doakes did once upon a time (with profane Erik King flashbacks to remind us). Michael C. Hall has always been masterful as the sly vigilante serial killer, but Jennifer Carpenter really raised her game this year playing Deb, an emotional wreck as she struggles with her knowledge of Dexter's true self.
Earlier, Dexter had to make a painful choice between his sister and his amoral lover Hannah (an impressive Yvonne Strahovski). To save Deb, he put behind bars "the only person in the world I don't have to hide anything from." They're still simpatico enough that Hannah promises not to out him to the authorities, but when they kiss during a prison visit, she draws blood. Ouch. Hannah takes even more devastating aim at Debra's hypocrisy regarding her brother, whispering to her before a courtroom hearing: "How do you justify arresting me and not him? Or is the law just something you make up as you go along?"
Deb is shaken. She hasn't had an easy time with this moral relativism dilemma, and things get even stickier when LaGuerta turns her investigative sights on Deb, finding new evidence implicating her in the fire at the church where she helped cover up Dexter's crime from the end of last season. "I've never killed for natural reasons," Dexter muses, as he contemplates killing the cop now threatening his sister. (This is said while he's busy offing Estrada, the bad guy who helped murder his mother all those years ago.)
In the crazy climax, Dexter is ready to make it look like Estrada and LaGuerta killed each other, while the ghost of Harry busily frets over how this act will violate their code: "How did we end up here?" "Where will this end?" Harry finally shuts up when Deb busts in, waving her gun, having to make the ultimate choice between her brother and her boss, who's waking up from being drugged and implores Debra to take down Dexter. He feigns that he's ready to meet his maker should Debra so decide, but it's Hannah he's quoting as he says, "Do what you gotta do." What she's gotta do is shoot LaGuerta, a murderous act that sends Deb into understandable hysterics.
In the aftermath, Dexter wonders in voice-over: "Is this a new beginning or the beginning of the end?" We know it's the latter, unless Showtime somehow changes its mind about next season being the last. Which I hope doesn't happen. I've enjoyed this season more than any since the John Lithgow year, but it's time to wrap this story up before it goes south again.