Dexter: Monkey in a Box, Review

Dexter ties up loose ends as the series limps to its finale.

On Sunday nights, with Dexter and Breaking Bad airing at the same time, I have to prioritize. What this means is that I have to watch the show that is more important, and without a doubt that is Breaking Bad, especially with the way Dexter has been lately. It’s interesting to compare the shows, both in their finale seasons, and why one is working and the other is not. On Breaking Bad, they can stun you in the opening credits, but on Dexter, they wait until the last moments before they serve up anything worthwhile. The difference is that Breaking Bad creates emotion organically whereas Dexter tries to force it out of you with last second shockers. It’s been frustrating to watch Dexter end on such a sour note. This week’s episode didn’t do much to improve the severely subpar season, but at least it had a few redeeming moments

Honestly, there really isn’t even that much to discuss this week. The episode mostly pertains to Dexter tidying up loose ends. We spend lots of time talking about the move and saying goodbyes with people like Batista, Jamie, Chief Matthews, and Deb. These scenes don’t carry the emotional weight they should though, but maybe that’s due to Dexter and his lack of emotion. Still, the goodbyes to Miami Metro are a little flat and tedious. This week even the search for Hannah was quieted down to only one scene of Elway popping up at Deb’s house.  Mostly, the episode was oddly quiet for a show that only had 120 minutes remaining.

There were some scenes that worked okay. Dexter and Saxon’s meet up in Dexter’s apartment was sort of fun. Saxon’s bid for Dexter and he to drop their game of cat and mouse quickly turned into threats of Saxon murdering Hannah, and he actually did come across as menacing. The only thing that ruins the scene is the horrible Dexter voice-over that completely ruins the tension, but what else is new.

Dexter’s goodbye to Debra was also pretty sweet. He encourages Debra by saying she doesn’t need to rely on him, that she has a moral compass that guides her actions. The two actually seem to say meaningful things to each other that express the deep relationship that these two characters have and reminds us why we have followed them for so long.

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Another scene that seemed small  but I actually found quite satisfying was Dexter selling his boat. It’s fun to hear Dexter rattle off the specs for his prized body-dumper, showing his love for something that isn’t killing or Hannah. For some reason I found it really fitting that Dexter would be this nuts about his boat. It’s not something I think the show has ever worked in before, but it was a really nice character choice.

One thing I really don’t like is the convenient hurricane that is being worked into the story. To me it just seems like another lame plot device that the hair-brained writers concocted to throw another wrench into Dexter’s plans because they couldn’t come up with a better idea. It would be one thing if this was something we heard about earlier in the season, but no, out of nowhere everyone is concerned about this big storm that’s going to hit right when Dexter needs to take a plane. It just sounds lame, right?

In the main showdown between Dexter and Saxon, I was conflicted. During Dexter’s “I don’t need to kill you speech,” I loved how the camera remained fixated on Dexter’s face, and I felt Michael C. Hall did a great job with the monologue. It’s just the timing of this big revelation that I didn’t like. I thought the whole purpose of Vogel dying was to motivate Dexter into realizing he needed to get rid of Saxon, but instead Dexter just forgets about the supposed anger and rage he had over her and Zach’s death and decides to let Miami Metro handle things, even though Saxon could totally spill information on Dexter. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense, but still worked all right as a scene.

The big cliff hanger this week was Deb getting shot, which seemingly happens for no reason other than a.) to provide something to shock us and make us return and b.) to keep Dexter in Miami for another sixty minutes. Cliffhanger for cliffhanger’s sake is never a good thing. The only thing to counter balance the senselessness of that final scene was the end of Dexter’s Ghost Dad conversations, so glad those are over. At least there’s a silver lining.

Score: 3 out 5

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