Sep. 23, 2013 at 10:33 AM ET
The reaction to the "Dexter" series finale will definitely be mixed —and our money's on the scales tipping toward disappointment. But on that final scene, we can all agree: No one saw that coming.
We certainly weren't expecting to see a flashforward of all the characters' deaths to the tune of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" ... but this?
Bearded, weatherbeaten, wretched and alone, Dexter Morgan contemplated his hopeless existence in a Spartan rented room after a day's work delivering logs somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Or Alaska. Somewhere with a lot of trees that aren't palms.
Ultimately, he paid for his crimes — in a prison of his own making.
Instead of flagellating himself for the dozens (hundreds?) of people he murdered, Dexter is consumed by remorse for a single death: his sister, Deb's.
Sail away, sweet sister
Debra Morgan actually survived her shootout with Saxon. In fact, her surgeon was "optimistic" that she would enjoy a full recovery. Instead, hours after offering absolution to her brother in one of the series' most emotional scenes (Quinn also tugged on our heartstrings), she suffered a stroke that left her virtually brain dead. The emotional impact of this moment was unfortunately softened by a flashback to Deb and Dex marveling at the newborn Harrison in the same hospital. Deb's uncharacteristic giggly giddiness was just as astonishing as that distracting wig.
After endless waffling (which ultimately resulted in Deb's death), Dex finally killed Saxon. In a badly framed self-defense scenario, he stabbed the prisoner in his jail cell with the same weapon Hannah used to kill true-crime writer Sal Price: a pen. It was bloody but mostly drama-free, especially given Batista and Quinn's willingness to accept the scenario (on the heels of their uneventful arrest).
The writers deserve some props for naming the storm after Dexter's real mother. (Or maybe they're just realizing the coincidence now.) Although the hurricane complicated Dexter, Hannah and Harrison's escape to Argentina, the family separated because of Elway's dogged pursuit — and Dex's devotion to his sister. While Hannah and his son eluded the bounty hunter and made their way to Argentina, Dex bid the unsuspecting pair a final farewell on the phone. His goodbye to Deb was much more personal: He removed her life support, absconded to the Slice of Life with her body and tossed her overboard as the storm raged on the horizon. Then he gunned the throttle and headed directly toward the hurricane.
Aftermath of the storm
When the skies cleared, the Coast Guard found the wreckage of Dexter's boat and he was presumed dead. Hannah read the news on her iPad in what passed for Argentina, but hid her grief and took Harrison for ice cream. But in the end, Dexter did survive (you just can't drown a Morgan) — if you can call his private hell living.
In addition to being anticlimactic and depressing, the finale underserved most of the supporting characters. Dexter's colleagues never learned he was a prolific serial killer, robbing both the viewers and actors of a huge payoff. Why did the show devote so much time to minor players and story lines — Masuka's daughter, Jamie Batista, the unmemorable detective promoted to sergeant over Quinn — that never really factored into the series' sendoff? And what happened to Dexter's razor?