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Dexter Review: The Beginning of the End

by at . Comments

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?

Review

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.

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Fair enough, Mrs. Wicker. :-) But you should have stated what you were comparing to in the review itself. We all thought, you were comparing it to previous seasons of Dexter itself, not the The Walking Dead.

Miranda wicker

And when I say it's been "ridiculously slow" I realize I'm making a slightly unfair comparison. Dexter is up against The Walking Dead which has brought its A-game in terms of keeping viewers hooked. When I had to choose between which to watch on Sunday night, I often found myself choosing Dexter so that TWD would record and I could skip commercials. But then by the time Dexter was over, I was too tired from the pace of Dexter to fire up TWD. The last several episodes of the season, however, increased in their excitement because La Guerta was closing in on Dexter, and that was really the point of this season. Deb knew and grappled with his secret. Hannah knew and accepted it. What would happen when someone else, someone who didn't love him, found out?

Miranda wicker

Hey everybody, new reviewer here. I thought I'd chime in about a couple of the differences you're noticing between my opinion and Matt's. First, I haven't disliked/hated/been disappointed in this season at all. In fact, I've been quite impressed with the emotional/mental development Dexter has undergone. Hannah, and whether or not there's any sort of future for him that doesn't involve his own demise, has been interesting and different. This season has been more cerebral than previous seasons as Dexter's "Big Bad" this year was himself. I did feel like there were many competing story lines that distracted from Dexter, namely Quinn and Nadia and Angel's retirement. (Though whether the latter comes to fruition now that La Guerta's dead remains to be seen.) Continuing so I don't get cut off by the character allotment--

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Ah I see why I was so confused with your take on this season! Different reviewer. I have to say I am with Matt on this season, great overall.

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Strange that the reviewer seems to be hard on this season. I've read every review and was under the impression it had been much enjoyed. I think this and the trinity season are by far the best ones! It may have been a slow burn but very, very good tv. So glad they didnt spend alot of time in Quinn tonight too by the way!

Jose t

I also strongly disagree with the reviewer calling this season slow....and just lost credibility by saying season 6 was more exiciting.... 6 was a MESS.... It seriously made me consider stop watching the show but season 7 has been top 3 minimun (it has been my favorite season to date because all episodes were good!). As for tonights episode I like the twist they had with deb shooting laguerta because she couldn't take the shot against her brother and the man she loves. My only complain was having hannah admit she poisoned deb, I so wanted to believe deb did it to provide some additional conflict for season 8, apart from that excellent episode!

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I think we need a flow to the reviews....Matt did it for the first 10 or so episodes, and you did for the penultimate episode, and this one. I don't mind either of your writing styles, but it's the fact both of you have such contrasting opinions on this season. I agreed with Matt, and others here - that this season has been so much of a step-up, and I for one could not disagree more with this statement - "There's no denying that season 7 has been a labored, less exciting season than the previous 6" or "Ridiculously slow".....So damn inaccurate imo.

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Honestly while most people say season 4 is their favourite I find it hard to choose between the first 4 and even 5 was decent but 6 was god awful (get it haha). But still I put 1 at the top even though it was the novel but since I had never read it and was introduced to a show with such an interesting concept, it sticks as my favourite, that is until now. Season 7 did not have one bad episode IMO and as become my favourite because of all the things the reviewer said he didn't like about the season. This season was all about survival and connecting with others who knew his secret. There didn't need to be a kill every episode for it to be satisfying and it was (I think this reviewer is on crack when he says laboured season, clearly wasn't watch the same show especially since he called season 6 decent). I loved every second of it and you could tell where the ending was leading when deb was heading to the pier but not a moment sooner. I haven't felt this on edge with dexter since season 2. Even 4 had a pretty clear ending aside from the Rita thing, that is why the big bad thing was a double edged sword and why this season was so exciting. Anyways can't wait for the final season, no idea how its going to end but I trust the writers as they redeemed themselves and more after last years misstep.

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"There's no denying that season 7 has been a labored, less exciting season than the previous 6." Are you freaking kidding me?! This season was far from perfect, but it was a step up from the previous two, particulary a big step up from last season, which was one of the worst seasons of TV ever.

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Interesting, I found this to be the most gripping season of the series since season 2. Season 1 was novel, the bay harbour butcher storyline of season 2 was also great, and I think I may be the only one who thought Trinity was just okay. This season, on the other hand, explored so many more things rather than Dexter just having some adversary to hunt. The fact that they had to spend time exploring Deb's and Dex' new dynamic brought such a freshness to the show. Even though the ending was pretty horrifying, I loved it and I can't wait to see where they take it in the last season. We have this notion a serial killer can't win because "that would be bad" and "what would people think" but it's just a story, and sometimes the bad guys win, what can you do.