The eighth and final season of Dexter starts tonight on Showtime. Over those first seven years, we’ve seen Dexter Morgan and his deadly persona, the one he calls his “dark passenger” kill people who, according to his code, deserved to be killed. They were the worst of the worst, who had escaped justice, slipped through the cracks if you will, and, as a result, were either never caught or had been let back into society to continue their own mayhem. I didn’t count, but some sites have reported that his number of victims stands at 125 to date. As viewers, we watched and hoped that Dexter himself would elude capture. There was something about his mission, his life’s work, that brought out that side of us, our own dark passenger, which wanted these people to pay for their crimes, because the normal and legal route had failed.
We’ve seen Dexter the brother, who loved his sister, Debra, and wanted nothing more than to keep her from ever learning his terrible secret. We watched him fall in love, get married and become a father, only to lose his wife at the hands of the Trinity killer, in a bloody crime scene designed to resemble the one where Dexter’s own mother was killed, leaving him to be raised by an adoptive father – a police officer and Debra’s father.
It was the relationship between Dexter and Debra, along with the ghost of their deceased father, that grabbed and held our attention. In spite of the fact that they often worked together, she as a police detective, then sergeant and finally a lieutenant, and he as a police laboratory technician, specializing in blood spatter, for six of those seasons, he managed to protect her from the truth. Then she walked in on one of his “kills”, that of Travis Marshall, who was responsible for several murders of his own. Debra, acting out of love and loyalty, helped her brother to cover it up. This one moment changed their relationship to that of co-conspirators, but even more devastating was that Debra was no longer the good guy. She had always taken pride in her fierce determination to be the best kind of cop. She had relentless in her investigations and hated anyone who refused to play by the rules. All of that was gone, in one awful stroke of Dexter’s knife, and there was no turning back for either of them.
Season seven was devoted to the despair, confusion and fear that both of them were experiencing. Dexter was trying to show his sister that what he did was necessary, a service to the community. She, however, struggled between her love for him, and her dedication to her career. As their Captain, Maria LaGuerta, began to suspect that Dexter was the real Bay Harbor Butcher, Debra and Dexter were forced into a game of cat and mouse, manipulating and manufacturing evidence to point Maria in another direction. As she closed in on Dexter, he continued his killing sprees, often abandoning his own code and killing out of personal necessity.
Season seven ended with Debra shooting and killing Captain LaGuerta, having been forced to choose between her and Dexter. This season begins six months later and we’ll see how Debra and Dexter have dealt with her murder. There are some rumors that we’ll see the return of Hannah McKay, Dexter’s serial killer soul-mate. The last we saw of her was as she left one of her greenhouse orchids at his apartment door, then simply walking away. The biggest question is who will survive the final season. Will this mean the demise of Dexter Morgan in every sense of the word? Until that last episode, I’m sure we’ll be treated to a terrific and horrific ride. See you on the dark side.