Dexter Review: The Best Laid Plans

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After last week's nearly abysmal Dexter, it was hard to tune in tonight with any sort of excitement or expectation that the episode would be even sort of good. 

Well, "Monkey in a Box" was sort of good. Also sort of bad. But good? It's complicated.

Matthews, Deb and Dexter

Does anyone else besides me have mixed emotions about tonight? On the one hand, that first half was incredibly slow moving. On the other, OMG!

I had a laundry list of things that just pulled me out of the show completely tonight.

For instance, why hasn't Hannah died her hair? She's smarter than thinking she could continue to look exactly like herself and get out of the country. 

Or why wasn't their plan to take the boat to the Keys or somewhere in the Caribbean and then fly to Argentina? Or buy a bigger boat and circumnavigate a continent!?

And so much of the first half of the night was spent on silly little things like Vogel's memorial and a conversation between Masuka and his daughter about her penchant for pot smoking that I felt the urge to throw the remote at the television.

We're so close to the end! No one cares about that!

In those moments, I found myself wondering what in the world Dexter has become and when it should've already ended. (Personal thought: Debra should've pulled back the curtain on Dexter and Lumen as the vigilante killers. Annnnnd scene. Fade to black. The end.)

I'm so mad that the writers took what could have been such an epic final season and turned it into this bogged, action-less shadow of the show we used to know and love.

But then there were these really great moments tonight that remind us what's at stake for the main characters that made the end of the episode so much more shocking. And most of them had to do with Debra.

Debra finding her ring and the conversation with Quinn. Her lying to the US Marshall to cover for Dexter and Hannah. Her acceptance of Hannah as someone that makes her brother happy. Dexter and Debra's last meal together and her helping him catch Saxon. Dexter giving Saxon to her. 

Saxon shooting her in the stomach and leaving her to bleed out while Dexter goes home to pack his bags for his new life in a new country.

If we thought Dexter had a choice to make last week, we were sort of wrong, and this choice will be a much more difficult one to make. 

Dexter never should've let Saxon live and because he did, his sister's life is in the balance as well as the lives of everyone else he loves. Dexter screwed up. Sure, he can still try to leave the country, but now he has to choose between Hannah and Deb. If Deb even makes it out of this alive.

Will Deb die? Is that...I can't say I expected that. 

We probably should have expected it, though, because things were just going too well for her recently. She was getting her life back together, returning to Miami Metro, getting the guy. She was even okay with Dexter leaving. It makes the most sense that if anyone should die, or be near death, it would be her.

I can't say that I like it, but then I think we're not really supposed to like it.

We're supposed to be left feeling uncertain and ill-equipped to deal with the possibility of losing a beloved character this close to the end. Bravo to that, writers. You got something right this season after getting so much so very, very wrong.

What did you think of tonight's episode of Dexter, "Monkey In A Box"? Did you see Debra's shooting coming? Are you ready to see how this will finally play out?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.2 / 5.0 (100 Votes)

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


I think this season of Dexter is underrated. First, Breaking Bad is sucking the oxygen out of every other tv show. There isn't another show that matters as much as that one does right now. All that said, Dexter has already had at least 3 or 4 seasons like Breaking Bad's final season. Second, Dexter is taking an unorthodox approach to a finale. Instead of building tension and pointing everything to a climax (something the show has already done in prior seasons) they are going for an anti-climactic finish. Through the Vogel character, we have learned a lot more about Dexter's backstory than we ever learned in the first 7 seasons. Just watching those episodes made me forget that this is the final season. The season is also very funny, especially the dialogue between Deb and Dexter. They are like an old married couple because there are no secrets between the two any longer. Zack Hamilton was a great character and had great potential. My one complaint is Hannah McCkay - while the chemistry with Dexter is palpable, she is the worst fugitive in the history of television. In all of this, the writers are intentionally not focusing on a tension filled ending. Instead, I think they have contemplated that Dexter should get away with it and live a quirky, yet normal life. The key is having people know him as he is and accepting it to a certain degree. Deb, Hannah and Vogel all represent that point of view. Throughout the show, the writers have always come back to the argument that there is a social purpose for Dexter. So the writers don't really want to have a season where he is on trial for his life. Instead, they want him to be able to live a quasi-normal life.


Dexter is a F*CK*NG IDIOT.


I don't foresee any exciting finale to the series because the writers have failed to build suspense. I guess a quick shot of Saxon drilling into Harrison's head followed by a "cut to black" would be pretty impressive but I don't think Showtime would OK that. ("Ow ow ow ow," says Harrison insipidly) Miami Metro and its staff -- Batista, Quinn, Matthews, Masuka, and yes, LaGuerta-- have all been reduced to throwaway characters in Season 8. And we've spent years with them. How satisfying would it be to see Batista and Matthews putting real heat on Dex? Charlotte Rampling was brilliant as Vogel but her character was abandoned by poor writing. Early on it seemed Vogel was a little nuts and could have been an unlikely but very creepy villain. Instead, she became a ditzy old lady serving supper and tea. And then she died, boringly. Thanks writers, I didn't see THAT coming. I also don't like Debra's soap opera-ish reunion with Quinn. We know Quinn is just a horny guy but what does Debra see in Quinn? These characters should evolve but they're going in circles. The moral fork-in-the-road facing Dexter is a little too familiar if you've seen the movie "Heat" (Deniro/Pacino). Right now, Dexter & Hannah have a clear path to success but the writers will make them jump through hoops. Good writing (by contrast) would put Dexter in a corner where escape seems impossible, and then we watch him maneuver his way out. "Dexter" could have been one of the best TV shows of all time. But I think "mediocrity" and "hit-and-miss" will be the final verdict.


This is a stupid show. glad its about to end.


My wife commented after the episode that Dexter is like Pinnochio. From the beginning of the series, he has wanted to become a "real" boy/person/human. I had been thinking along these lines with regards to Dexter's character development, but never articulated so clearly as she did. I think that's what the show runners are exploring, and the question is, "Can Dexter actually accomplish it?" Can he not only escape the pull of his Dark Passenger, but also all the baggage that a life as serial killer has heaped on him? I'm rooting for him, but I think the best conclusion would be that Dexter must suffer the consequences of the life that he has led -- whatever losses that might entail.


Anyone else wonder why the deserted hospital being used as the killers lair, due to be demolished has working EXIT lights? Just one of many flubs that has me hitting fast forward on the remote. On a scale of 1-5 it gets a 2 from me. It will be a relief when the show is put out of its misery.


What were the writers thinking? Dexter suddenly decides not to kill Saxon? Really? He is already threaten his family,knows about Hannah and that Dexter is a serial killer. How could he not kill him? I knew Deb would get hurt when Dexter called her after he did not kill Saxon. I just hope the finale makes more sense and gives the fans closure. I blame the writers not the actors. I will miss Dexter (cast) I looked forward to it every Sunday night.


Well, for the starts I thought it was very predictteble that Saxon would get free from the trap... I mean, c´mon Dexter and Deb leaving the man alone to hug eachother and blah blah balh???? ew ew ew. I totally saw Debras getting hurt coming! Toralt. Now what I see for the final ep: Dezter bnot leaving Miami, not leaving Debra, not leaving anything, mostly, not leaving his Dark Passeger and so everything will get back to "normal" meanning Debra and Quinn living in a romance-hell, MiamiMetro going on w/ the poklice work, and Dexter, well, being Dexter we know...
BTW, I still don´t buy that Masuka´s daughter.. idk, I think she´s kinda odd and plus I still don´t get the purpose of her character in the end of the series. Just saying....


Was it my imagination, or did the preview for next week show Harrison being carried off by a cop, a la Dexter's childhood in redux? I'm wondering if that means that Dex and Hannah are both being killed in the finale and Harrison then being doomed to repeat Dexter's life and serial killing ways. That would be a real irony!

Miranda wicker

My husband's comment at the conclusion of the episode was "HOW did the Marshall not know who Saxon was!? It's his job to catch wanted people!" So, yeah.

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