TV Review: Dexter 7.12, “Surprise, Motherfucker!”

I’m afraid that Deb and Dexter’s murder of LaGuerta may be the show’s moment of jumping the shark.

Joseph Kratzer

Contributor

dexter-finale_712edRating: ★★★☆☆

As I’ve written many times, season six was pretty awful, but it was arguably worth it for that cliffhanger in which Deb walks in on Dexter doin’ his thang to poor Travis Marshall. It was a truly great cliffhanger because it promised to bring the series into that final frontier that’s been looming over the show since the second season – Dexter being caught.

Season seven has done a mostly solid job of fulfilling that promise which held such potential for authentically exciting story-telling because it mostly kept those stakes dangerously high. Right up until this episode the audience had plenty of reason to think Dexter would at last find himself in a corner from which he couldn’t slink away. But now Dex is more or less back to square one as is usually the case.

After six years of watching Dexter always narrowly escaping whatever danger in which he found himself, at the beginning of this season he had to directly confront his worst case scenario, something which would certainly yield some unavoidable consequences. The thing is, the big revelation that her brother is a very successful serial killer has affected Deb way more than it has Dexter. Watching these siblings navigate through those murky ethical waters has been handled satisfyingly well, but Deb really has been the star of this process; she’s the one who’s had to readjust and re-evaluate her entire life whereas Dex has really just been in a perpetual state of, “Soooooo you’re not gonna arrest me, right?”

Despite learning how to really open himself up (only to be hurt that much more deeply) to Hannah, and finally (although also suddenly) accepting that his Dark Passenger has just been an elaborate method of compartmentalizing his homicidal urges, what the audience can objectively and concretely pin down as to where Dexter’s head is at is too up in the air for a show titled Dexter.

Episode 712

 Awkward…

I mentioned in my last review that things had been arranged so that Dexter would have to either discredit or kill LaGuerta if he refused to run away or surrender. Dexter did refuse surrender and retreat and successfully discredited LaGuerta, but despite this she still had warrants signed by a judge to search Dexter and Debra’s homes as well as subpoena their cell phone’s GPS records which would show their locations at the time of the fire which covered up Travis Marshall’s final resting place. Okay, even though that whole GPS thing sounds like bullshit, if it did go through, wouldn’t it still be just as circumstantial as all the other evidence LaGuerta had on the two of them? And also, LaGuerta mysteriously disappearing isn’t going to keep those warrants from being carried out, are they? I guess we just have to assume that since the Miami Metro Police Department on Dexter is absurdly incompetent, killing its captain is an acceptable way to wrap everything up.

Or maybe not. Maybe at the beginning of the final season next year Dexter and Debra will have to work really hard to not have to answer for LaGuerta’s disappearance. But I’m not holding my breath. I think that might be the bane of Dexter – the fact that Dexter can just manipulate the shit out of any crime scene with no more difficulty than shoplifting from a poorly secured bodega. Because of this, there’s no reason to care when Dexter’s in trouble – we know he’ll get out of it.

Without a consistently realistic and believable setting in which Dexter exists, his actions have no consequences and therefore there’s no motivation to keep watching. I’m afraid that Deb and Dexter’s murder of LaGuerta may be the show’s moment of jumping the shark.

Don’t get me wrong; Deb walking in on Dex and choosing to kill LaGuerta rather than arrest her brother was a huge moment (again, for Deb more so than the show’s actual protagonist) and it absolutely solidifies the siblings’ newfound tragic bond, but it doesn’t really add anything new to the equation. Deb’s been entrenched in having helped cover for Dexter’s crimes several times throughout the season; this is just the last nail in the coffin.

This season has been building up to its final scene and I just don’t think it was enough of an ending on its own to justify the rest of the season as a complete whole. Maybe next season will deal with the consequences of LaGuerta’s death really well, but historically Dexter doesn’t really do consequences – it does build-up and supposedly shocking climaxes, but then it’s always skipping on the resolution. I think that’s why I wasn’t really satisfied by the episode; there was no real ending – Hannah escaped from police custody (in a really unbelievable way) and is now just out in the world possibly plotting revenge or not, and yeah, Deb killed LaGuerta, but aside from a slow motion walk through a New Year’s Eve party we have no sense of what that really means.

I began this review by mentioning how the show’s terrible sixth season is almost forgivable because of the awesome cliffhanger ending; the seventh season has had an almost opposite trajectory – it started off really strong and kept the momentum going until it began to falter after Isaak’s death and has since struggled placing a ton of importance on the performance of its finale, which wasn’t so much weak as it was sloppy. Season seven has been a fun ride and its final scene certainly is exciting, but its logistics don’t make much sense and it makes me think the next season will either rely entirely upon it or once more just hit the reset button – either way I’m less excited than I thought I’d be.

If you’re as slightly disappointed by this finale as I am then this fan-made video of clips from the entire series set against some beautiful music might tide you over until we watch Dexter and Debra clean up their mess next year.

P.S. – I’m glad Angel survived long enough to see his retirement, BUT HOW IN THE HELL IS QUINN NOT FIRED AND/OR DEAD? Ugh.

Also, as much fun as it was seeing Erik King reprise his role as Sgt. James Doakes in some flashbacks this episode, I feel like they didn’t achieve the effect they attempted. I did, however, find this wonderful little gem –

some fries