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Dexter's Killer Ending: A Farewell to Our Favorite Anti-Hero

(The Verge) – Before you go any further, be warned: HEAVY spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the series finale of Dexter. With that out of the way, let’s take a look, shall we?
I wont lie; as far as endings go, Dexter disappointed.  The highly decorated Showtime production masterfully worked its way up to a finale that had many viewers wishing it was Sunday night again as soon as the latest episode ended.  The transformation of the title character, Dexter Morgan, was truly enchanting.   From the pure psychopathic serial killer that we met in season one, to a family man ready to settle down in Argentina with his Bonnie and Clyde-like soul mate Hannah McKay and young son Harrison, Dexter became what he thought was impossible: human.
The final episode was approximately 56 minutes long, and the first 55 minutes and 15 seconds were, for the most part, very well met.  Things made sense, aside from one technical issue that I’m sure had nurses and other hospital employees rather perturbed.  The last 45 seconds were the biggest disappointment in the entire series, and it’s not even remotely close.
When Debra was in the hospital, she received surgery in order to repair the damage from her gunshot wound.  After a successful surgery, we find out later that  a blood clot formed, which caused her to have a stroke.  The effects of the stroke left her in what essentially would be a vegetative state for the rest of her life.
Here’s where the problem happens.  I have a large amount of friends who are nurses or completing their nursing degree.  One of them in particular watched the episode, and had this to say about it:
“What happened to Deb was COMPLETELY unrealistic.  She was in a hospital, which is ideally the best place to form a blood clot and have a stroke because there is a drug called tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) which reverses the effects, but it only has a 3 hour window to be given. They check patients after their surgery hourly, so realistically, they would have noticed signs and symptoms and could have given her the drug.”**
Well, then.
This seems to be a gigantic oversight on the part of the writers.  Something as important as the death of a main character should be taken as seriously as possible and nothing should be overlooked.  For such a significant moment in the show (probably the most important part of the entire series), more care should have been utilized in order to give the final episode a more authentic feel.
One part that I found particularly interesting was after Deb had died. The hospitals were evacuating due to a large incoming hurricane that was to hit the shores of Miami at any moment.  During the chaos Dexter had snuck into the hospital.  He found his sister, who was in her hospital bed hooked up to machines and feeding tubes. With his sister in a vegetative state, Dexter turned off her life support and feeding tube, euthanizing her.  (I won’t get into how totally unrealistic this part actually was, but bear with me.)  He eventually took her body out on his boat, and like so many times before, dumped the corpse into the ocean, sending his sister to her watery grave.
Here’s where the symbolism comes in.  Previously, Dexter always would put his victims into black garbage bags, seal them up and dump them.  Debra was still in her white sheets from the hospital, and her body was not bound by anything.  You could see the look in Dexter’s eyes as he dropped his sister into the black abyss: he was truly, without a doubt, heartbroken.  The one person that he had loved unequivocally his entire life was dead.  And he killed her.
This was a metaphor for Dexter.  The white sheets represented the last bit of “good” in his life.  He dropped it into a black, stormy ocean, where it would never be seen again.  He had lost the part of his life that always kept him together.  At this point, Dexter realizes that he cannot allow himself to ruin the life of his son or Hannah.
He drives his boat into the impending storm, and we see that he is assumed to be dead.  However, that is not the case.  This is where the episode really tanks.  The screen shows his friends and Hannah separately finding out about his apparent death, and then fades to black.  Series over?
I wish.
It then cuts to Dexter, with arguably the worst fake blonde beard in the history of television, working as a lumberjack in a place that looked a lot like Canada (they never say where he actually is).  This is the 45 seconds mentioned earlier.  Without dialogue, the viewer is shown that Dexter faked his death, and is now living a quiet life as a lumberjack.

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Wait, what?
It seemed about as effortless as any ending in the history of television.  Is he still killing people?  Where is he?  Doesn’t he own a mirror and see that his beard looks awful?  Are there no razors to shave with where he lives?  There were so many unanswered questions, and not in a good way.  Part of the charm of Dexter is that in addition to being the main character, Dexter was also the narrator.  Nothing was ever hidden from the viewer.  You were given a full disclosure of everything that he was feeling, thinking and doing.
Some opinions were that writers of stories often hesitate to kill off the main character.
But why?  What could possibly be a better ending?  We’re supposed to believe that he’s stopped killing, and now chops up logs and trees instead of people?  That hardly seems likely.
As a fan, I was disappointed.  Instead of the ending, I will choose to instead remember the deliciously evil nature of Dexter that was so easy to appreciate.  Episode after episode, I found myself rooting for the guy plunging a giant surgical knife into saran-wrapped people.  He was so wrong, but for all the right reasons.
If that isn’t fanhood, I don’t know what is.
**Special thanks to Kayla Ganiel for providing insight on the hospital scene.

4 Replies to “Dexter's Killer Ending: A Farewell to Our Favorite Anti-Hero

  1. Neil, Gregg here. Yeah the same guy you share a kitchen with. I’ve never really watched dexter for a long period of time, but I will say I felt like I have been after reading this. Really well written article, and it’s clear your passionate about this. Solid first post.

    1. thanks buddy! much appreciated. you gotta catch up on dex and breaking bad though, less than 2 weeks until zombies invade our entire life.

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