Dexter season 7 finale review: Surprise, Motherf***er

Review Billy Grifter 18 Dec 2012 - 07:31

Dexter seals its penultimate season with the departure of a main character, but was it any good?

This review contains spoilers.

7.12 Surprise, Motherfucker

I've just watched the season seven finale through for the second time, and frankly, I'm not entirely convinced by what I've just seen. If I'm reading the show correctly, the premise of this entire season is that Dexter is a corrupting influence, and if you spend too much time around him, then you too will become a serial killer! Really? That's it? 

But before I get on to the 'dramatic' major character exit, which has become a trademark Dexter season finale feature, what else did we discover here? To be pointed, that not much makes sense in the world of Dexter these days. 

We've got LaGuerta acting so mad that when holes start to appear in her paper-thin case, she looks even more disturbed than she probably is. We've got some excellent new scenes with Doakes that try to explain better his dislike for Dexter, on the basis that it was six years ago, and we've almost all forgotten they didn't get on. And we've got Hannah, the lost love with a love/hate relationship with the Morgan family. I can't really complain about the performance that Yvonne Strahovski has given with Hannah, because given what the writers did for her, she's battled on heroically. What I was really hoping for was that Hannah hadn't tried to poison Debra, making for a decent twist. Except that didn't happen, and Hannah was that transparent, and Debra that boring.

The scene where Hannah escaped was devoid of any logic, given that they thought she was dying, and a murderess, so they left her alone once someone else who was bleeding appeared. They also didn't inform Debra or Dexter that she was loose, which seems criminal at best. 

They're keeping Hannah for another season, which is probably a first for Dexter, where the bad people in the show don't usually make it to the end of the season, and never past it.

But the focus of this story is entirely Maria LaGuerta and the relationship she had with Doakes that is potentially the undoing of Debra and Dexter. That eventually leads Dexter to realise that code or no code, she's going down, or he and Debra are heading to prison, and Harrison into care. Motivation usually boils down into love or fear, and the resolution of this is a combination of those forces.

So what's my beef? It's this: Dexter and Debra are both homicide professionals, but they've created such a trail of evidence since Travis Marshall, that a blind bloodhound with Dr Dre headphones on and a heavy cold could follow it. The idea of sending Debra to a gas station (which ALL have cameras) to get the fuel to start a fire was dumb from the outset. Then Dexter taking his mobile phone along to murders is also stupid, and his plan to kill both Hector and Maria and create a crime scene is flawed. Any witness would tell them that the gunshots were too far apart in time, Maria has a bullet from the wrong gun in her, and there isn't the blood evidence to support the scene as presented, because of the plastic sheets. oh, and Debra had no blood on her when she returned to the party, even though she'd hugged a shot Maria. And, if Dexter didn't need reminding, his sister isn't remotely equipped to handle this emotionally, and by floating the idea that Dexter is a killer, someone is going to follow LaGuerta and realise she was on to something.

In retrospect, the redeeming aspect of season seven was Isaak, and they got rid of him far too early, when he was the best thing about the show at the time. It wasn't a complete fiasco, like season six was for the most part, but if they'd honestly announced that the 'big bad' of season seven was actually Maria, how many people would have tuned in? Possibly, not me.

The scenes with Erik King revisiting Doakes were good in that he was an edgy character who was unpredictable, but the idea that you can put a wig on any actor who's seven years older and we can ignore their natural ageing seems bizarre and a bit kitsch.

The container scene also made me wonder if, when confronted with the challenge of ending the show, the writers' brainstorming idea was that it should stop when all the main characters were either murderers or dead, creating a code of silence that protects Dexter forever. I really hope that's not where we are going, because I think the choices that Dexter and now Debra have made, have to deliver consequences. Or, the twisted morality of the show meant nothing from the outset, and we've all been duped into investing in these characters for the best part of a decade.

Dexter season eight is either going to renew my faith in the creative art of TV drama, or unleash my own dark passenger (who doesn't exist) in fury. There can't really be any other possibilities, I've concluded. Or, they could really mess with my mind and make Vince the nemesis that Dexter can't handle...

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, Do You See What I See, here.

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