Sep. 23, 2013 at 10:42 AM ET
"Dexter" garnered mixed reviews for its series finale, which few will count among the top 10 lists of best — or even memorable — sign-offs.
But the series flatlined long before Dexter Morgan unplugged his sister's life support, changed careers and tossed out his razor.
Since we have the gift of hindsight (if not a job on the writing staff), here's how we'd revamp the last 12 episodes and bring "Dexter" to a more gratifying, exciting end.
Miami Metro learns Dexter is a serial killer
The public revelation of Dexter's guilt is a payoff we'd been anticipating since season one. Why did the secret have to die with Doakes and LaGuerta? How would Masuka react when the doughnut-delivering blood-spatter expert was the one doing the splattering? Who didn't want to see Batista's face shatter when he also realized that Deb shot his ex-wife? Would Quinn's shady past make him accepting of Dex and Deb's crimes? Instead being publicly humiliated and demonized, the Morgans were deified in death. It's such an unfair ending for viewers — and for the actors who were robbed of the chance to play out that ultimate betrayal.
Debra's murder-suicide attempt succeeds
We'd cut that little detour in the lake entirely (no one seemed to notice or remember it happened anyway) and craft a different, deadly scenario for the Morgans in the series finale. Instead of passing gently into that good night, Debra would kill her brother and herself after confessing all to her colleagues. We're only rewriting season eight, so unfortunately we can't undo that dreadful "incest" story line. The damage is done, and "Dexter" has no right to pretend it never happened with the siblings' heart-wrenching, family-is-everything farewell and flashback. In fact, Aunt Deb's adoring encouragement in Harrison's nursery — "I know you'll be a great father because you've always been a great big brother" — is really kind of icky. Instead of the poignant scene they didn't earn, Deb and Dex should go out with a bang.
Saxon kills Jamie Batista
Instead of Cassie, a random new character who interested no one — even Dexter — why didn't Saxon murder Dexter's nanny? She'd be much more interesting dead than alive, and it would actually give Batista a memorable story line besides "sympathetic boss." Quinn's attraction to Deb would then be complicated by bad-boyfriend guilt, and the lieutenant would whitewash Saxon's murder out of vengeance rather than just loyalty to the Morgans.
Hannah McKay poisons Harrison
We offer a few options here: First, instead of that ridiculous treadmill mishap, Hannah accidentally drugs the boy. No one loves the blonde beauty more than we do, but she did poison both Deb and Dexter and killed another husband. Second, Hannah gives the boy and herself a fatal overdose after learning of his father's death. Seriously, something dark needs to happen to counter all those rainbows and unicorns in Hannah's sunny story line.
Masuka never donated his sperm
The last-minute introduction of Niki, the wisecracking forensics investigator's surprise daughter, is one of "Dexter's" biggest head-scratchers. The producers' blatant attempt to add some dimension to Masuka's character failed miserably. (Or was the topless waitress this season's answer to the Koshka Brotherhood's Foxhole Club?) We waited for an a-ha twist to this pointless story line, but Niki never even appeared in the final episode. The biggest crime? Masuka's paternal role resulted in fewer pervy one-liners.
Harry Morgan is alive
Executive producer Manny Coto admitted on "The Writers' Room" that he actually pitched this idea. We wish his colleagues hadn't shot him down because that would be such a fun twist. Absurd, yes, but maybe his yawn-inducing, sanctimonious screen hogging would be more forgivable if he'd faked his death. You'd think someone would've noticed him lurking about — but if the eye-catching Hannah McKay was able to elude arrest, surely Harry could've ridden shotgun with a beating heart? (Bonus: This would save us from one of season six's silliest twists — the ghost of Professor Gellar.)