Dexter Review: The Beginning of the End

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Whoa. WHOA. For what has been a ridiculously slow season, the Dexter Season 7 finale, "Surprise, Motherf--ker," sure did end things with a bang instead of a whimper.

A moment of silence for Maria La Guerta, people. And Deb's soul. RIP to both of those things. Someone get Deb's therapist on standby.

Dexter Season 7 Finale Photo

There's no denying that Dexter Season 7 has been a labored, less exciting season than the previous six. There's been no single "Big Bad" for Dexter to hunt. Instead he spent the season both being hunted and searching for a human connection with Hannah.

But tonight's finale went a long way to redeem what was otherwise a slow run, at least in my opinion. Starting from the end, the discussion of tonight has to jump off with Deb and all she's dealt with this year.

Hannah's words to her in court were incredibly important. Deb is moral. Her world has rules. Cops are good and take down bad people. But that belief has been shaken for her and is no longer true for Deb where Dexter is concerned. Hannah called her out on her hypocrisy. Deb has carried the burden of protecting Dexter, and herself as an accomplice since she knew his secret. She's grappled with whether or not she's been doing the right thing this whole time and for a split second, I expected this episode would end with Deb arresting Dexter, or having another officer do it.

Deb's rules are all broken now, as Dexter's closing monologue aptly expressed:

"We all make rules for ourselves. It's these rules that help define who we are. So when we break those rules we risk losing ourselves and becoming something unknown. Who is Deb now? Who am I? Is this a new beginning? Or the beginning of the end?"

Was the fact that La Guerta had evidence tying her to the church burning the proverbial straw?

When given the choice between shooting Dexter or La Guerta, with La Guerta telling her to shoot Dexter and Dexter saying, simply, "do what you have to do," Deb shot La Guerta. Did she shoot La Guerta to protect Dexter or herself? Or both of them? Not only does Deb know Dexter's secret, she now has a secret of her own and that secret will no doubt be an integral part of the final season in 2013.

Dexter has played fast and loose with his own rules, too. In order to frame La Guerta for killing Estrada, he had to steal and plant evidence. When that didn't work, he was ready to forgo his code completely to kill La Guerta and frame her posthumously for the murder of Hector Estrada so that his sister wouldn't be caught and ruled complicit in his life.

But Dexter being sloppy, is really what this entire season has been about, hasn't it?

The rules that Harry created for him have kept him alive and out of jail this long. But that doesn't mean he's been safe. That doesn't mean he's been able to keep those around him safe. He admitted to Hannah that he would never be able to trust her and that, even though he loved her, he had to turn her in. It was the only way to be sure that Deb and Harrison would be safe from her. The fact that she escaped, and left a lone orchid on his doorstep, should prove interesting if she makes a return next season.

As the series has progressed, Dexter has increasingly made mistake after mistake and proven that he's not perfect. He's fallible. He can be outsmarted and caught.

This early seasons of Dexter dealt in large part with Dexter's attempts to fit in. The flashbacks to Doakes and the way he was always able to see through Dexter's facade were well-placed and well-done. He grappled with being able to make and maintain connections to other people, with Deb, and later Harrison, being the constants in his life, especially after Rita's death. Aside from Harrison, all of his interactions with others were a carefully scripted cover to hide his true identity.

What we've seen since then is, as Dexter said, that "somewhere along the line the fake life that [they] created for [him] became real."

And real life is messy and complicated, much like this mess that Dexter and Debra found themselves in tonight and in which they will no doubt find themselves in Season 8. My only question now: is it September yet?

What did you think of the season finale of Dexter? Where do you think Dexter goes from here? Argentina? Prison?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (203 Votes)

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.


"ridiculously slow season" are you high???????? this was one of the best episode for episode seasons of Dexter EVER, not to mention its easily the best show on cable (then again thats not hard)


Great final! I will miss this show (and Homeland) on Sunday nights now, at least for another 9 months. For a moment, I thought Hannah killed herself and that would be it for that character. Kind of glad they didn't end her, but I have a hard time thinking how she will be used next season. I still have yet to watch the first 4 seasons of Dexter. Recently got the first novel on my Kindle and plan to do some reading this weekend. Great show. Keep up the good work, writers and producers.


I heard the scene were Deb runs to Laguerta after shooting her was NOT scripted. Someone should give ALL THE AWARDS to Jennifer Carpenter!


I believe this is the only show on TV that proves crime pays and police is as bad as the villian.


Here it is the 18th and I'm still reeling from this episode. What an amazing amazing show. I totally expected Deb to shoot her at the end. You could see the wheels turning as Deb kept the gun pointed at Dexter, as she heard La Guerta repeatedly tell her to shoot him, and processed the fact that not only would he - the man she has conflicted feelings for - be dead, but that she'd be in jail. She knew full well that shooting him would end her own life, her whole world - so she did the only obvious thing she could. And this is where we see Dexter's world unravel. Top to bottom. Awesome writing.


Just watched season 7 - oh my goodness!! But yes I suppose it is plausible that LaGuerta went by herself. Being in law enforcement, I can tell you that on rare occasions, you just want to do something right now without waiting for backup. Also, LaGuerta was off duty and basically 'on her own' due to her accusations. Quibble: after LaGuerta's murder, wouldn't the police station's gps tracker on Deb's company car show that she also went to that spot? After all, the show introdueced the idea that many departments track their vehicles via gps. There's also the matter of the cell phone GPS records.... But all in all, it was a great emotional ending to a fabulous season!


To Suzanne who said, "Another major quibble: It wouldn't occur to LaGuerta, given her suspicions, to bring back-up? I thought she'd have the brains and survival skills to have at least one other person with her." Everyone was at the party plus she was already walking on very thin ice given her new-found reputation as a framer in the department. Dexter assumed correctly and was able to make the risk of calling her because she knew Laguerta couldn't call for backup even if she wanted to.


I read a few comments before posting my own, but I'll start by agreeing with just about everyone in the fact that this season was not slow at all. There was maybe one slow episode in the entire season. Isaak was great. I would be first in line to see a movie feature him as a villain in a similar role. The storyline with Hannah was/is intriguing as well. It will be interesting to see how the writers factor her into the final season; I imagine there are ideas, but nothing definitive yet on how that will play out. I think a defining moment of this series was when Dexter told Harry his fake life had become real, and he had no intentions on running. The flashbacks with Doaks made a good filler, and I think the main point in that was to show the character development of Dexter as the series has progressed. In the beginning Dexter tried so hard to fit in and often talked about his lack of humanity. Present day Dexter has finally connected with himself and refuses to give up the life he has created. I have mixed emotions about the ending. There were some serious holes. After receiving that call, why on Earth would Laguerta not call for backup. She has made it clear in getting warrants for Dex and Deb's cell GPS info and her convo with Deb that she has no intentions on backing off of this, so she certainly wouldn't be fearful of losing her job. She is too smart to think Dexter wasn't up to something, especially with Estrada calling saying he is at the same shipping container as the other night. I will stop there, because there are just way too many holes there. Obviously Deb wasn't going to kill Dexter, but I also thought there was a moment where Deb might end up arresting Dexter. Deb knew everything Hannah told her in the courtroom about being a hypocrite was true. When Laguerta came to in the shipping container and told her to shoot Dexter telling her she isn't like Dexter, she is good, Deb had that defining moment where she had to choose whether she was going to be a cop or a criminal. Most of these TV/Movie situations conclude with "and I chose cop." Not this time. Although Deb is in fact a cop, she went the other direction for what she loves most, Dexter. The only thing that really hangs me up about the end, other than the holes, is that this changes the game in a way I am not completely comfortable with. I didn't want Laguerta dead at all. I think there were workarounds here. I love Dexter's code, and I love the fact that he always kills bad guys. Dexter didn't end up killing her obviously, but the same point is reached, only now it is Deb. I always liked the fact that even if everyone knew about everything Dexter did, I think the majority of people would praise him rather than crucify him. That goes out the window now.


I must agree with everyone who disagrees with the reviewer about this season being "slow." The Dex-Deb dynamic took the story in a new direction that was really fresh. I felt like the story arcs from the last couple of seasons had gotten repetitive. I was glad that there was no single "Big Bad" this season. The single thread throughout the season was tied around Dexter and Debra's relationship, in light of her discovery of his true identity. I really enjoyed how that developed. And in some ways, I think it hearkened back to the end of the first season, when Dexter had to choose between Deb and his brother. Deb has always been Dexter's truest connection to his humanity. However, that has not prevented the poisoning of Deb's humanity. It would be fitting, but heart-breaking, to have the ultimate outcome of Dexter's "Dark Passenger" be the destruction of Deb's soul. That might well be his worst punishment.


I disagree. This was not a slow moving season at all. In my opinion it was the third best season of the show, just behind the ice truck killer and trinity. Can't wait for the final season!

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