Ever since Fonzie strapped on a pair of water skis and ramped over a shark, people have used the term “jumped the shark” to describe shows that cross from rationality into absolute absurdity. Even though Dexter may have jumped the shark way before the series finale aired Sunday night, it left quite a legacy in its wake, not the least of which is a brand new phrase to describe what happens when a program’s finale fails to live up to the rest of the series: “riding into the hurricane.”
Fans had their concern about where the series would find Dexter when it finally reached its conclusion. Perhaps the biggest fear was that Dexter and Hannah would get away free of consequence, but others were worried that Dexter would off himself in a bid to seek redemption. In a way, both of these came true, albeit in ridiculous fashion.
The set up for the ending was almost more disappointing than the last few minutes were, but only because Deb was reduced to a mere plot device, which is sad after witnessing her really develop as a character in the past few seasons. Her death, although somewhat emotional, hardly felt justified. An off-screen blood clot takes her out? That’s hardly a dignified end for one of the more prominent and loved main characters. Saxon also got the shaft when it comes to endings, but considering that he was the least compelling baddie to come across Dexter, it seemed fitting. It also set up the scene for Dexter, Quinn and Batista to watch the security footage, which was easily one of the best of the season. The shock is palpable, but the men are happy Saxon is dead anyways.
Deb’s death in particular highlights a huge issues that I’ve always had with the show: Dexter is never forced to pay for his mistakes. Those he loves and anyone else around him are usually the ones paying the price for his mistakes, and just to nail the point home, Deb is dropped to the ocean floor because of Dexter’s decisions. If he had died in the hurricane, it would have been fitting retribution, but the fact that he gets a second chance might just be too generous for the anti-hero.
It’s hard to believe this episode takes place in a single day, as Dexter rushes back and forth between destinations in a matter of hours, just as Deb goes from recovering gunshot victim to corpse in the water. This season was definitely lacking in urgency, but this late attempt to add some tension felt rushed and insubstantial. Dexter’s decision to take Deb off of life support especially seems a tad unjustified, especially since only hours before she was declared healthy. And the fact that nobody noticed a stranger wheeling a body out of the hospital and onto his boat is more than a little odd.
I think the biggest problem with this finale is that it didn’t leave a lasting impression. As an individual episode, it was probably one of the best of the season, simply because even if it wasn’t great, it was engrossing. Despite the muck that the series has been drug through the past few seasons, I still care about a majority of the characters. That’s why it’s such a shame that almost none of them received sufficient closure. Most of Miami Metro made an appearance, but none of the stories this season crammed into each episode amounted to anything worthwhile. Masuka’s daughter continues to work with her dad, Quinn didn’t get the sergeant position and nobody cares, and Elway sort of fades into the background after Hannah shoots him up with tranquilizers.