Dexter Finale - Top 5 Biggest Flaws in TV's Top Psycho Thriller
Dexter in Action
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with this TV show - Dexter is a serial-killer TV series that was aired on Showtime from 2006 to 2013.
What made this show stand out was that it was entirely narrated by the psychopath himself.
Dexter went on to become the most popular serial-killer thriller on American TV and inspired other TV shows like Hannibal and The Following - all of which portray the killer's perspective.
You may also be interested in Dexter - Best Serial Killer TV Thriller
Quick Plot Summary
When Dexter was just 2 years old, he witnessed his mother getting slaughtered with a chainsaw by a drug dealer inside a shipping container. He stayed trapped inside the gruesome shipping container, until a Miami Metro PD police officer name Harry Morgan rescued him and adopted him. As Dexter grew up, Harry realized that the childhood trauma had left a deep irrecoverable psychological scar in Dexter, who had started showing violent and homicidal tendencies.
Not ready to give up on his adopted son and not wanting him to land up in prison or a mental asylum, Harry approached Dr. Evelyn Vogel, a neuro-psychiatrist who specialized in psychopaths. Together, they came up with a solution - a moral code to be taught to Dexter that would allow him to kill only other killers. This would give him an outlet to satisfy his hunger for killing, and doing a secret favour to society in the process. Dexter named it Harry's code.
With Harry as his moral guide, Dexter learnt how to hide his true nature and blend into the rest of the crowd. He became a blood splatter analyst in the Miami PD, the ideal cover for a blood-thirsty killer, his forensic knowledge allowing him to easily cover his tracks while pursuing his nightly hobby of stalking and killing.
Season 8 - The Finale - Why It Failed
Dexter gave us some of the most diabolic villains in serial killer history:
- The Ice Truck Killer in Season 1 - Dexter's own brother, who would drain out the blood from his victims and display their gift-wrapped body parts in public places
- The Trinity Killer in Season 4 - a religious social-worker and a happy family man, whose side-job was a series of triple murders.
After dishing out such villains, one would have had high and mighty expectations from the final season. Especially after Season 7 delivered the most awaited moment - Dexter's sister Deb finally discovering that he was the much-dreaded Bay Harbour Butcher.
Season 8 started looking promising as it introduced the Brain Surgeon, a serial-killer who would dissect and scoop out a part of his victim's brains. But too many sub-plots were added, some of which were quite lame. Many new characters were introduced but were not given a chance to develop.
Dr. Evelyn Vogel
Flaw #1 - Creator of The Code
Dr. Evelyn Vogel, the co-founder of Harry's code is first introduced in Season 8. She is brought in by the Miami Metro PD as an expert profiler of psychopaths, to help out with the Brain Surgeon case.
While we constantly see the long-dead Harry Morgan appearing as Dexter's alter-ego across the episodes, it is a surprise that the Dr. Vogel, who had literally shaped Dexter's current moral code, came so late into the picture.
A few of Vogel's recordings showed how Harry had come to her one night, full of distress about his son and his increasing violent urges. It is astonishing though, that Dexter was never brought face-to-face with the doctor.
The quickness with which her character was killed off was difficult to digest. Her role had great potential. As the shaper of Dexter's moral guidelines, she certainly deserved more screen space than that.
Flaw #2 - The Brain Surgeon
The elusive villain of Season 8 aka the Brain Surgeon turns out to be Dr. Vogel's presumed-dead psycho son Daniel. Having escaped from his mental asylum during a fire, Daniel took up a new identity as Oliver Saxon, a construction site inspector.
Daniel aka Oliver was the reason why Vogel has taken up a career in psychopathology in the first place. However, Daniel could never forgive his mother for letting him rot in an asylum. He greatly resented Dexter, because according to him, Vogel had chosen to help him rather than her own son.
All the murders that Oliver had committed was to draw Vogel's attention. A deprived son desperately seeking a relationship with his mother made perfect sense. Yet, when Vogel did reach out to him and wanted to start over, Oliver rejected it and chose revenge on Dexter instead.
Standing at a window, he slit his own mother's throat while Dexter watched from outside the house in horror. To him, watching Dexter suffer seemed to be more important than getting what he craved his entire life, a mother-son relationship.
Flaw #3 - Return of Hanna McKay
We were really excited to see Hanna McKay make her return in the final season. Among all the women in Dexter's life, she was the only one who understood him perfectly. Once accused as an accomplice to a serial-killer ex-boyfriend, Hanna was no stranger to killing. It was the flaws in her character that made her intriguing and worth-watching.
However, Season 8 completely strips Hanna of all the intrigue. A killer is suddenly toned down to a hapless arm-candy of a billionaire husband, who needs to be rescued by Dexter. Not only is she trapped in a loveless marriage of convenience, she comes back to Miami where she is a wanted criminal, without making any attempts to disguise her appearance. Come on story-writers!!
She is able to kill her high-profile casino-owner goon of a husband and then escape from their private yacht with Dexter, without getting caught by the body guards. Then one fine day, Dexter's son Harrison hurts himself running on the treadmill, and Hanna is forced to rush him to a hospital, where public cameras catch her. Of course, Dexter's phone is unreachable at that very moment. It looked like the writers were in a rush to wrap up the story.
Flaw #4 - Useless Characters
Season 8 saw three of the most lame sub-plots and new characters who had no reason to be there:
- Zach - the student
He is a youngster fascinated by crime scenes and feels intense urges to kill. Initially landing up on Dexter's killing table, he reveals that he only wants to punish his murderer father. Seeing a younger version of himself in the boy, Dexter decides to free him and teaches him Harry's code. Just when their bond becomes interesting, Zach is killed by the brain surgeon, but not before he has managed to plant the killer's DNA under a table. Too abrupt an ending to a character that had potential.
- Cassie - the new neighbor
She moves in next-door to Dexter and is attracted to him. Debra even sets up a date for Dexter with her, which fails badly. Guess what happens next? She is suddenly dating the Brain Surgeon - Oliver Saxon, only to be killed by him days later. Not sure why this character was even added.
- Niki - Masuka's daughter
Yes you read it right. Masuka, a colleague to Dexter whose only role was to fool around and make perverted comments encounters a long-lost daughter. This is literally the most lame sub-plot ever written. To top it, the daughter is a waiter at a strip-restaurant. Nothing about this sub-plot is worth mentioning.
Lumberjack - really??
Flaw #5 - Finale Ending
The finale saw Dexter faking his own death because he believed that everyone he cared for was getting hurt because of the enemies he had made. So the only way to protect them was to remove himself from their lives. Makes sense.
What does not make sense are the following events:
- Why did Dexter not kill the Brain Surgeon? He had him tied on the table, only to walk away and let Debra capture him - which is what got Debra shot in the first place. His urge to give up killing Hanna could not have a more wrong timing.
- Why did Dexter throw Debra into the ocean? Dexter held himself responsible for Debra's death, for not killing the Brain Surgeon himself. But how is throwing her into the ocean a tribute to her? And how did nobody in the hospital or on the streets notice him wheeling out Debra's body on the stretcher. It was too hard to miss, even during a cyclone.
- How can a fiercely protective father abandon his own son? Dexter left Harrison to the mercy of Hanna in an entirely unfamiliar country, so that they could make a fresh start without him. How could Hanna or Harrison ever be happy without Dexter. Just like that, Dexter was ready to give up the two people he loved most - his soul-mate and his only son.
- Why become a lumberjack? The last scene shows Dexter working as a lumberjack in an unknown place. Somehow he manages to survive after driving right into a hurricane. Seems rather pointless, unless the producers plan to renew the TV show or create a spin-off.
For such a great TV show, the story seriously lacked a sensible ending. I hope that the TV show gets renewed and we, the viewers, get some closure.