Dexter Showrunner Defends Finale, Former Showrunner Offers Alternate Ending

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This past Sunday, Showtime’s dark hit drama Dexter wrapped up its eight-season run with a finale that most fans and critics, including our own Christian Law, saw as weak, unsatisfying, lazy and haphazard, but showrunner Scott Buck stands by his decision to end the show in the way he did.

Spoilers for the series finale of Dexter follow.

Following the finale’s overwhelmingly negative reception, Buck told THR that he, for one, was fully satisfied with Dexter‘s swan song, stating:

I’ve also heard that some viewers are not happy with this season, and they all have different reason for it. So much of the stuff you read is that people want the show to be like it was the first few years where Dexter would go out and kill people. If we had continued to follow that line, the show would have gotten old very fast. This is a show that’s run for eight years, and in order to sustain interest you have to continue to grow and evolve. So yes, I am happy with where we ended the show. This is absolutely the ending I wanted.

The finale, titled “Remember the Monsters?,” saw lovable serial killer Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) give up his dream of living in Argentina with his young son Harrison (Jadon Wells) and gorgeous girlfriend Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) after foster sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) ended up a vegetable following a near-fatal shooting by antagonist Oliver Saxon (Darri Ingolfsson). Instead, Dexter took Deb off life support then faked his own death in a hurricane, choosing to pay for his crimes by becoming a lonely lumberjack in rural Oregon.

On that bizarre ending, and the vacant look Dexter shoots the audience before the episode cuts to black, Buck said:

We wanted to leave it all in the viewers’ head. I don’t know what he’s thinking in that moment; I know he’s in this self-imposed prison and the reason he locked eyes is essentially so we can feel as uncomfortable as he does in his world. He’s someone who was just moments from taking that final step toward humanity who then has to face himself as the monster he believes he is and decide his own fate. He gives himself what he deserves. I don’t think in that moment he’s fighting the urge to kill; he’s dealing with the reality of the misery of his life in that moment.

That explanation just didn’t cut it for most fans of the show, many of whom voiced their disappointment and outrage on Twitter and Reddit. One such commentator was former showrunner Clyde Phillips, who left the show after its critically acclaimed fourth season. Responding to a dissatisfied Redditor, Phillips wrote that the finale ultimately suffered because, “They broke the code with the audience” and that, “It’s so important to keep the rules in place when doing a show like that.”

Phillips had his own take on how the show would have ended, which may appease the fans angered by Buck’s decidedly ambiguous take on Dexter’s grand exit:

In the very last scene of the series, Dexter wakes up. And everybody is going to think, ‘Oh, it was a dream.’ And then the camera pulls back and back and back and then we realize, ‘No, it’s not a dream.’ Dexter’s opening his eyes and he’s on the execution table at the Florida Penitentiary. They’re just starting to administer the drugs and he looks out through the window to the observation gallery.

And in the gallery are all the people that Dexter killed—including the Trinity Killer and the Ice Truck Killer (his brother Rudy), LaGuerta who he was responsible killing, Doakes who he’s arguably responsible for, Rita, who he’s arguably responsible for, Lila. All the big deaths, and also whoever the weekly episodic kills were. They are all there.

That’s what I envisioned for the ending of Dexter. That everything we’ve seen over the past eight seasons has happened in the several seconds from the time they start Dexter’s execution to the time they finish the execution and he dies. Literally, his life flashed before his eyes as he was about to die. I think it would have been a great, epic, very satisfying conclusion.

Wow. That’s certainly a drastically different conclusion for the series than Buck’s version, and, as a long-time fan of the show disappointed by the finale, I can admit that I actually like the idea of Dexter ending up dying on someone else’s table a lot more than an ending that will probably lead to the character making a cameo in the new season of Ax Men.

While packing a potent emotional punch, Phillips’ version also allows the series to bid adieu to its cast members in a more definitive, dramatic way. How the show would have arrived at Phillips’ vision, we’ll never know, but it likely would have been more focused and exciting than the actual final season, which drew widespread criticism for confused, extraneous B-plots, as well as a less-than-thrilling main storyline involving the psychologist (Charlotte Rampling) who developed Dexter’s code.

Check out the full interview with THR here, in which Buck elaborates on the finale and notes that Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski) and Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington) could potentially both be exciting characters to center on in Dexter spin-offs.

What were your thoughts on the Dexter series finale? Whose vision for the show do you prefer: Buck’s, or Phillips’? Sound off in the comments section.

Source: /Film

Comments (14)

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  1. I used to love you Dexsays:

    No to spinoffs. This show died after season 4. Let it stay dead.

    1. Shrdlu42says:

            I agree as to spinoffs, but not as to when the show “died”. Season 6 was to my mind the best. Seasons 7 and 8 were so-so, with the latter ruined by the ending, which just kept getting worse and worse. I could have stomached Dexter alive and happy in Argentina, or even Dexter dead, but Dexter as a lonely lumberman (after somehow surviving the hurricane)? Worst ending since the finale of Rosewell! (Which was literally unwatchable. I fast forwarded through most of it.)

  2. serene23says:

    I would watch just about anything with Yvonne Strahovski, so yeah, bring that on. I assume we would see her trying to stay honest, and slowly see young Harrison developing some Dexter like tendencies. And in the end, we could see Dexter come back at some point tohelp his son. and also perhaps get the closure everyone wants. I was okay with this ending. i didn’t want to see dexter die. Yes, he is a killer, a killer that killed killers but also caused the deaths of some innocents. But overall I would say he saved more lives by ridding the world of evil doers who would kill more. Thats what i always loved about the show, that ethical question. The one Dex brought up to Doakes in season 2, how many people did doakes kill in the military? “bad” people and as in war many innocents. I am not condoning Dexters killing, but in this morally ambiguous world, who is to say he is a bad person. i didn’t want to see him dead or in jail. I wanted him to somehow find happiness and be free of the code and the urges. Sadly, he is locked alone in his own prison. A log cabin in the middle of nowhere, alone and sad. He was almost normal and now hates himself more than he probably should. The season and episode had holes, but overall was good. Him dying on the electric chair seeing all his victimes….eh…thats pretty cliche as well.
    if he was to die I had thought it would be at the hands of Deb, him asking her to kill him. OR…in the end hannah never forgave dex and put him on the table like he was going to do to her.
    But really, its a show. It was a great show with many brilliant moments and some holes.
    A show about quinn? I liked quinn, especially at the end. I think Quinn could be part of the Hannah spin off, looking for deb and harrison. shrug, who knows.

    1. Shrdlu42says:

      No spin-offs!

  3. brian tapiasays:

    I think the show should have ended with Rita’s death. In truth, the biggest flaw in it being a series at all was the fact that Season 1 was perfect and could have just stood alone. Everything after Rita’s death just seemed like they were dragging on and running out of ideas.

    1. Shrdlu42says:

            I respectfully disagree. Season 5 (with Lumin) was quite good, and Season 6 (with its philosophical discussions about religion) was the best of the entire series. The last two seasons however, (7 and 8) suffered from disjointed story lines, plot holes big enough to swallow Miami, and endings that were less than good (to put it mildly in the case of the series finale).

  4. Kyle Fultonsays:

    I would have been fairly satisfied with the ending they chose if they had added a single three word sentence after it cut to black.

    “Tonight’s the night.”

    1. Shrdlu42says:

      Huh?

      1. Kyle Fultonsays:

        I’m… not entirely sure why you “Huh”ed. They were the first words of the series, and the ones he repeated when he was going to kill. I would have liked to have seen the ending as the humanity Dexter has built through the series dying now that he had nothing to truly live for, and the Dark Passenger inside him fully taking the wheel once and for all. “Tonight’s the night” would have indicated that.

  5. SaucySnoopsays:

    That’s actually pretty much as boring as what we had, except even more cliché.

  6. eaglesays:

    So you wanted an ending that was pure crap and anybody with a creative cell in their body or who had invested themselves in these characters, hated? What a douche.

    1. Shrdlu42says:

      Well said.

  7. Shrdlu42says:

          My view is that they should have employed a “Lady or the Tiger” ending, putting the moral dilemma the whole show is based on squarely in the audience’s lap: Do we endorse Dexter’s murders or condemn them?

          This would have involved changing the ending to the great Season 6 (wherein Debra learns the truth about Dexter), or eliminating the ending of Season 7 (LaGuerta’s Death), and instead of the Brain Surgeon, the final season could have been about the capture and trial of Dexter as the true Bay Harbor Butcher. The first part could have focused on how the Police come to realize the Butcher is still alive and active, and how they finally come to realize it’s one of their own – Dexter! Then the second half of the season could have focused on the preparation for and the trial itself, during which everyone tries to come to terms with the different sides of Dexter. The second half could also have reviewed his past kills, with the defense bringing forward all the survivors of the psychopaths he eliminated (who are grateful for thus getting revenge), plus discussing all the people who would have been potential future victims had he not intervened.

          Which brings us to the finale. The jury returns to deliver its verdict. Dexter rises to face them. The head of the jury slowly declares: “In the case of the State of Florida versus Dexter Morgan, we the jury find the defendant . . . .” BLACKOUT, roll closing credits.

          People would be debating what the verdict would be, and why, for the rest of the year! That’s the finale Dexter (and we) deserved.

  8. Angel Kunkelsays:

    At first I was kinda outraged by the ending too,the first time. Then I recently rewatching the entire series beginning to end, because I believe the whole thing is brilliant..and also I wanted a new perspective on the ending. You know what? After rewatching everything, the ending they chose I believe is the better ending. It’s gut wrenching and real, like life is. The personal journey he goes through is important, and he said over and over here couldn’t see a life without deb. He was starting to do things the way that would make deb happy, it makes sense that he’s punishing himself while in mourning. I hate that he’s not with his son and his love, but he truely felt that being around them was putting them in danger. He chose to put them before himself and what he wanted. I hope someday their is a part 2 or spinoff where he gets to be with them..but as much as it hurt, I do understand this ending. Dexter doesn’t deserve to be on anyone’s table. The other ending would just fulfill some viewers sick since of righteousness. When everyone watching knows they have a monster in them in one format or another. <3

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