I had to give this episode some thought before I wrote this post. My first impression was that it was a letdown, maybe even a cop-out – the same way I felt about The Sopranos final episode. After eight seasons of murders , Dexter didn’t die or go to jail – instead he survived a monster hurricane and ended up somewhere in the Great Northwest, working as a logger. I stewed about it for most of the day and finally came to a different conclusion. Dexter not only redeemed himself, to some extent, but also ended up suffering a living hell, just like Vic Mackey in The Shield.
His biggest wish was to shed his Dark Passenger, a wish shared by his dad, Harry, and learn how to experience things normal people do, like love. He also knew that everyone he cared about eventually suffered simply because of their love for him. The Dark Passenger and the “code”engrained in him by Harry and Dr. Vogel had kept him from becoming that person. His struggle between being just Dexter and being the Dark Passenger became the focal point of the last two seasons, making us wonder if he really could shed his psychopathic side and emerge, happy and whole, on the other side.
No one was more important in Dexter’s life than his sister, Deb – not Harry, not Harrison, not even his wife Rita, and this episode took their relationship full circle. In flashbacks, we saw Dexter and Deb visiting the nursery where he first saw his brand new baby son and Deb assured him that he would be a good father. She reminded him of how he would calm her as a little girl when the monsters crept into her bedroom in the middle of the night. The sheer joy and pride in Debra’s face was all Dexter needed. He may have kept the monsters away, but the truth of the matter was that if Deb said things were alright, then Dexter believed her. She gave him the hope that he could be okay, too.
Debra wanted nothing more than for her brother to be happy and if his happiness meant that he would move to Argentina with his son and serial killer girlfriend, then so be it. She’d been to hell and back with him, accepting his dark side, trying to change him and realizing she couldn’t. Even after she was shot by Saxon, the Brain Surgeon, she begged her friends and colleagues not to call Dexter, hoping that he’d get away and start a new life, far, far away. Their bond, though, is what brought him to her side and forced him to carry out his last acts of “code” justice, compassion and selflessness. So he killed the Brain Surgeon for his sister, then went to her bedside, where she was hooked up to that awful life-support equipment and gave her her freedom and dignity, letting her die. He carried her body, wrapped in a sheet, to his boat and took her out to the spot where he left so many others. He made one last call to Hannah and to Harrison, knowing that he’d never see them again, and told them that he loved them. He then threw his cell phone away, lowered his sister into the water and watched her sink until she was out of sight. He gunned the engines of the Slice of Life and raced into the eye of the hurricane.
The screen went black at this point and I was certain that it was over – Dexter had committed suicide. After a few beats, however, the sun came out over Miami. The Coast Guard came across the splintered remains of his boat. Battista, Quinn and Hannah, sitting at a cafe in Buenos Aires with Harrison, were reading news reports about the horrible accident and the fact that no remains were found. Then a man was seen getting out of a truck, at the end of his workday as a lumberjack. The man walked into a cabin – Dexter stared straight ahead, in the darkened room all alone. This ending shouldn’t have surprised any longtime viewers. I remembered something Dexter had said in Season 5 which helped make sense of the finale – “I like to pretend I’m alone. Completely alone. Maybe post-apocalypse or plague … whatever. No one left to act normal for. No need to hide who I really am. It would be … freeing.”
Empress (clutching my “I heart Dexter” lanyard)