Dexter, Season 7, Episode 12: Surprise, Motherfucker!, Review

Okay, it's true, they had us at "motherfucker." Even so, the final episode of this uneven season of Dexter is, well, pretty uneven.

Michael C Hall In Dexter

“May old acquaintance be forgot,” a familiar question posed at the beginning of the year, contained within the song Auld Lang Syne. For a person like Dexter, the past can never be forgotten. The teaching by his father Harry and his promise to honor a code and protect his sister, keeping track of all the lies and deceit, reflecting on old foes and hurdles, Dexter must always remember the past and never let it be forgotten. The past may also be even harder to forget when it’s being drummed up and used against you. Dexter’s past comes back to bite him in this finale to a uneven season, but he’s not the only one. LaGuerta may be hunting who she believes to be a guilty man, Dexter, but is only doing so because of her past relationship with the alleged criminal, Officer Doakes. Deb uses Hannah McKay’s criminal past to try and jail the femme fatale, but her own past, assisting Dexter in a murder and harboring his secret, tears at Deb’s conscious and makes her as guilty as Hannah. In a tangled mess of intersecting games of cat and mouse, all the animals are slowed and made vulnerable by their past. Old acquaintances cannot be forgotten when one has so many people to watch out for. 

Really emerging in the back half of the season, LaGuerta’s hunt for Dexter becomes top priority and the focus in this season-ending episode, but is this the ending we wanted? Before talking about how the ending was executed, one must talk about all the things that were not executed well this season, like keeping up the pace and story momentum, the mishandling of potentially Dexter’s most formidable opponent yet, and the ill timed introduction of a love interest for Dexter. The season showed a few warts, but also featured a lot of good moments as well, although most of them came in the first half of the season, with Deb and Dexter adjusting to their newly complicated relationship. So how does the finale reflect upon this middling season? Well, pretty accurately, being quite middling itself. 

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LaGuerta’s investigation story completes its arc with a mixed bag of satisfying and frustrating plotting. LaGuerta puts Dexter in handcuffs, arresting him for the murder of Hector Estrada in his home during a quietly powerful scene. Dexter enters Miami Metro in cuffs with his colleagues looking on in utter shock. Batista and Deb make their protests heard on this rash decision, but LaGuerta gets Dexter alone in an interrogation room to present her evidence. On dock surveillance, Dexter is seen hulking around black trash bags, but Dexter per usual makes a quick, logical excuse. However, Dexter seems out of excuses when LaGuerta also says that Dexter is seen throwing something in a dumpster, which upon her investigation, happens to be the shirt of Hector Estrada covered in blood, along with Estrada’s wallet. Just when it seems our anti-hero is doomed, Masuka, of all people, comes to Dexter’s rescue, alerting the police chief that upon further review the shirt was actually very old, taken from evidence, and containing a fingerprint of LaGuerta. Dexter planned the whole thing and it’s a very interesting way to make LaGuerta’s crusade against Dexter seem insane, what with the apparent planting of evidence.

Despite everyone in her life telling LaGuerta to drop it all, she will not let up. Instead, she focuses her energy on last season’s Travis Marshal case.  LaGuerta comes across surveillance of Deb at the gas station, filling up a gas canister in the same time frame that the church burns down. Though putting Deb’s back against the wall is a good move, the way that LaGuerta acquires this evidence is quite a stretch of writing, a convoluted story that involves Mike Anderson’s widow and a whole lot of other convenient happenstance. Deb runs right to Dexter with this news of damning evidence and after a search through LaGuerta’s apartment finding warrants that will lead to other substantial evidence,and a longwinded conversation with Ghost Harry (the gimmick has run its course), Dexter decides he must kill LaGuerta. 

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After tracking down the very much alive Estrada and bringing him back to the storage container, Dexter has Estrada make a call to LaGuerta, leading her to their whereabouts. After a typical “Dexter learns a lesson through one of his victims” speeches, Dexter stabs Estrada. When LaGuerta arrives, of course alone and without backup, he quickly drugs her and as he is setting up the scene, a plan to make Estrada and LaGuerta’s death look like a shoot out between the two, Deb finds Dexter. She is horrified by what she finds, but Dexter explains all the logistics; he used a low dosage of tranquilizer so it doesn’t show in LaGuerta’s toxin screen and he planned the positioning and use of guns perfectly. As Deb desperately tries to persuade Dexter not to kill LaGuerta, LaGuerta awakes. She asks Deb to shoot Dexter and plays on her morality to convince her. Dexter very solemnly agrees with LaGuerta, telling Deb that she is a good person, and he drops his weapon and calmly tells Deb, in a shout out to Hannah McKay’s famous line, “do what you gotta do.” In a flash of action, Deb shoots LaGuerta, then clings to her lifeless body, crying hysterically over the death of not only LaGuerta, but her moral innocence. The emotional scene caps a solid season performance from Jennifer Carpenter, who turned Deb from annoying, foul mouthed sister, into emotionally complex and deeply conflicted and compromised secret lover.

The other main plot, the Hannah McKay saga, doesn’t get such a concrete ending. Dexter visits Hannah in jail and the two discuss their complicated love, both accepting that they knew one of them would end up dead or in jail. Hannah promises to keep Dexter’s secret and the two share one last kiss, before Hannah turns the kiss into a vicious, bloodying bite. She bites Deb too, in a different way, taunting her on her knowledge and help in Dexter’s “hobby” and calling attention to Deb’s hypocrisy right before her plea in court. After her hearing, Hannah hugs Arlene, who  was called upon for help and Arlene slips Hannah something unknown. In the transportation vehicle back to prison, Hannah begins forcefully seizuring, assumedly under the effect of whatever it was Arlene gave her. Hannah is taken to the hospital, where she is revived and, of course, escapes. She’s last seen leaving a plant in front of Dexter’s door, a sign that she’s out there and most likely returning for next season. 

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So with LaGuerta out of the picture and the Morgans’ bound tighter than ever, what else could possibly lie in wait for Dexter? With only (let’s hope) one season left, will Hannah become the final loose end that forms a noose for Dexter or will someone notice the framing of LaGuerta’s murder; like the newly retired Batista? With no solid cliffhanger like last season, there’s really no other questions left to be asked.

The Best of the Rest 
  • Doakes returns in flashbacks to showcase the two’s troubled relationship. It’s nice to revisit with the character, but most of scenes only solidify things we already knew about the two characters’ relationship instead of bringing a new element to their history. It’s definitely another example of a useless reprisal (see the return of Brain, Dexter’s brother, from last season)
  • Batista retires for good and throws a party, also celebrating New Year’s. Deb leaves the party to find Dexter and LaGuerta after both she and Batista become concerned about their absence. Batista’s definitely going to be shocked and inquisitive when he learns what Deb “finds”.
  • Sad Quinn is less sad when he hits on Jamie. Poor Jamie, no one should have to suffer by interacting with Quinn and that includes the viewer.
  • An angry Deb asks Dexter why he framed LaGuerta with the Estrada evidence and Dexter tells Deb it’s better than his “usual method of conflict resolution”
  • LaGuerta tries to get Deb to confess, telling her “I’m not the only one who made a mistake trying to protect someone I care about.”
  • “I’m just a creep motherfucker!” – Dexter before killing Estrada.
  • That’s it for this season of Dexter! We hope you’ve enjoyed following the show along with us!
Final Season Grade: B-
Best Episode: Swim Deep
Actor of the Season: Ray Stevenson
Honorable Mention: Jennifer Carpenter
Season Rank: 5th (in order from best to worst Seasons 4, 1, 2, 3, 7, 5, 6)