After eight years, 96 episodes, and countless kills, Dexter’s series finale can be summed up in one word: controversial.
Here is a warning for those who are still catching up on eight. There are major spoilers ahead.
Season 8’s finale of Dexter was a somewhat strong performance considering how mundane and lackluster the final season was.
Somewhere over the course of the final 12 episodes, Dexter (Michael C. Hall), an unassuming Miami Metro blood spatter analyst who’s also a serial killer, evolved from an anti-hero to hero.
However, the last hour of the series returned the serial killer to his roots as he claimed one final victim, Oliver Saxon.
The big bad, Oliver Saxon (Darri Ingolfsson), aka “The Brain Surgeon,” of the last 12 episodes was finally dealt with.
After leaving Saxon alive in the series penultimate episode, “Monkey in a Box,” Dexter finally took out the fellow serial killer by slaying him with a pen in the Miami Metro’s interview room.
Dexter’s foul-mouthed sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), got the ending and the death the character deserved.
After discovering her adopted brother’s horrifying secret, at the end of the sixth season, she dove head first into emotional turmoil.
In the end, she never fully recovered.
As a detective, she felt she was betraying her sense of duty knowing about her brother’s secret.
Her death served as one last lesson for Dexter.
Typically, in the show’s kill room scenes the protagonist would use that time to gain personal growth.
As Dexter took his sister off life support, he learned one final lesson.
“I destroy everyone I love. And I can’t let that happen to Hannah. To Harrison. I have to protect them. From me.”
Like all of his other victims, he took Deb and sunk her body in the ocean.
The imagery was beautiful, with Deb wrapped in white linens and the blackness of the impending storm in the background.
With that, Dexter drove his infamous speed boat, “Slice of Life,” straight into Tropical Storm Laura.
The final scene of the episode left off with Dexter, still alive, working in a lumber yard far away from Miami.
He placed himself into self-imposed exile, away from his son, Harrison, and his girlfriend, Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski).
Dexter could’ve had a happy ending, but he purposefully robbed himself of one.
In the last moment, he sits down in his solitary cabin and looks straight into the camera, with nothing but silence.
Earlier in the series, a voice over would occur simultaneously as Dexter would look into the camera, but this time nothing.
The protagonist had nothing to say. He had nothing left.
There were a few nice moments in the episode. Toward the beginning of the episode, there was a quick reference to season one’s “Ice Truck Killer” before Saxon stole a car.
In the early days of Dexter, the series would use flashbacks to the serial killer’s younger days.
The finale brought that back, but this time flashed back to Harrison’s birth.
With Deb’s death looming, Dexter and Deb’s bonding over Harrison’s birth was arguably the most touching part of the episode.
So many aspects of the final season were not what fans were expecting or wanting.
Instead of Dexter atoning or paying for his crimes, the serial killer was able to get away with all of his murders.
Not only that, the writers softened Dexter to the point of no return. He became a shell of what he used to be.
The serial killer rid himself of his “Dark Passenger,” the persona Dexter gave to the draw inside of him to kill people, and he fully felt emotion.
Some would say that’s character development and signs of a good character arc. But, making a sociopathic serial killer, who the audience actively roots for, into a soft and reformed killer just didn’t work.
Throughout the series, Dexter had been meticulous in committing his crimes, but in the last few episodes he became sloppy.
The more he began to feel and the more emotional he became, the less perfect his crimes became.
His romance with fellow serial killer, Hannah McKay, fell short.
The relationship reached its natural end in Season 7, so bringing it back felt tired and worn-out.
Even though the final season and the series finale were far from perfect, the early days of Dexter were some of the most riveting pieces of television.