Dexter season 5 episode 12 review: The Big One: season finale

Billy sees the greater problem the team behind Dexter created, and how they failed to find a way out of that...

Dexter: The Big One

This review contains spoilers.

5.12 The Big One

I’ve already seen some very negative reports about the end of Dexter this year, but what actually happens in The Big One is realistically all that could happen.

The problem that the Dexter team wrestled with all season, and eventually worked out that there was no solution, was how to top the ending of season 4.

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With the best will in the world, they couldn’t have another ending like that one, as it was so dramatic that a show only ever gets something like that to happen once. But it would have probably put the character in a mental institution to have a repeat loss of that magnitude, so that avenue was blocked from the outset, which then limited the options available.

The only choice left to the writers was to kill Lumen, either accidentally or at the hands of Jordan Chase, or for her to leave Dexter’s world on two feet. They chose the latter, which at least offers the possibility of bringing her back at some point, or for her to start her own Dexter franchise elsewhere in the USA. I can’t say that bothered me. It’s nice to occasionally leave returning characters, and Dexter has rarely done this.

If there is a big disappointment in here it’s how ineffective Jordan Chase ultimately was, because he was no match for Dexter either intellectually of physically. When he’s finally ready to be dispatched, he’s so wrapped up in his own personality he’s unable to reference the danger he’s in, and just tries to continue like he’s giving a conference speech. When Lumen actually killed him it was a relief, if only to shut him up.

The better tension of this story was what happened moments later, when Debra turned up at the crime scene, and the delicate dance that Quinn is forced to do to avoid being prosecuted for Liddy’s murder. I was never a big fan of Quinn, but he’s developed significantly in this season, and I think he could become pivotal in the future.

The other significance of this episode is that the page has turned on to a world where there are people who know who Dexter really is, but for whatever reason choose not to reveal that to anyone. Before we’re done it’s now a certainty that Debra will work it out too, it’s just a matter of time, isn’t it?

When the main story was wrapped up with at least 14 minutes of running time left, I did get that slight paranoia that we were about to get sandbagged again, but it was more about giving Lumen an opportunity to leave in a more gentle fashion than Rita managed.

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Julia Stiles as Lumen has been excellent, and I’d be really surprised if another TV show producer isn’t trying to entice her into a main character role for the coming fall. If they insist, as they seem to be doing, that they want to make another Bourne movie (without Bourne, apparently), then they could do worse than make it about her Bourne persona, Nicky.

While they were hamstrung by previous glories to a degree, Season 5 was enjoyable. I’d say it was behind Season 3 and 4, but better than 1 and 2. It didn’t have the menace that Mr. Lithgow brought to it, but it did have some memorable moments. My personal favourite was the one where Lumen saw a picture with Vince on it, and immediately commented that he was a ‘freak’ without ever having met him. The story where Astor came back home was also very good, as it came entirely out of left field.

It might not have been the hair on fire ending that was expected, but the Dexter world has been reset once more, much like a scary amusement ride, ready for another set of willing screamers.

Dexter season six is already on my to-do list for 2011, and I hope it’s on yours too.

Read our review of episode 11, Hop A Freighter, here.

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