Dexter: Season 8
It has been said that all good things most come to an end. In the context of television series it is inevitable the only question is whether it occurs in a controlled, planned fashion or as a result of a sudden cancelation. All too many series go out in the later way frequently leaving fans perpetually wondering about the cliff hanger that will never be resolved. Then there are the shows were the networks demonstrated sufficient respect for the fans to provide a final episode that will wrap up as many loose ends as possible and give a modicum of closure to the progression of character development that the fans have been loyally following. In the instance under consideration here, ‘Dexter’, the hosting premium cable network. Showtime gave the fans an opportunity to say goodbye to their favorite serial killer. It is quite natural that no matter how this departure from Sunday nights was handled loyal fans will be split between those that were satisfied with the grand dénouement and those adamantly opposed to how they decided to end a series they were dedicated to follow.
For eight seasons we have watched Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) navigated the treacherous waters of living a dangerous double life. By day he worked as a blood splatter criminologist for the Miami-Dade police department. Then by night the façade of a pleasant widow and single father dissolves revealing the psychopathic serial killer that is his true nature. There is an iota of mitigation that help the legion of enthusiasts of the show justify accepting a cold blooded murderer as the protagonist. Dexter strictly adhered to the ‘Code of Harry’, a set of rules, procedures and restrictions to guide Dexter as he satisfied the demands of his Dark Passenger, the nom de guerre Deter uses to refer to his deep rooted compulsion to take human life. Throughout the duration of the series we watched as Dexter’s subconscious was visited by the specter of his late father Harry Morgan (James Remar). This reinforced the code with Dexter; tactics to avoid detection and apprehension including anti-forensic techniques, and most importantly how to select his victims. Dexter only killed those that deserved it and managed to escape the due course of our system of jurisprudence. This encompassed other less controlled serial killers.
The final season begins six months after the shocking conclusion of the previous season. His sister, Debbie (Jennifer Carpenter) had finally discovered the truth about her brother and spent much of the season desperately trying to reconcile her love of her brother with her dedication to her job, lieutenant in the police’s homicide division and ostensibly Dexter’s boss. Over the duration of the series Captain Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Vélezas ') has gone from having a crush on Dexter to suspecting him as ‘The Bay Harbor Killer’, the name given to him by the police and media. The closing scene depicted LaGuerta realizing Dexter’s true identity forcing Debra to choose. Against everything in her nature she kills the captain. As the final episodes begin to countdown Debbie is torn apart with guilt, self-doubts and recrimination. She reacts in a drastic manner breaking ties with her life. She resigns from the police department taking a job as a private investigator and all but cutting Dexter out of her life. In her new job Debra takes too many risks and breaks the rules confining her new profession. At work Dexter maintains his well-honed human face morning the loss of a friend and co-work while trying to get his head back in his covert nocturnal activities. His young son, Harrison, remains his only touchstone to the modicum of normality in his life now that Debbie is estranged. His caregiver for his son is Jamie Batista (Aimee Garcia), the younger sister of Dexter’s co-worker Angel Batista (David Zayas). His partner is Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington) who is romantically involved with Jamie behind Angel’s back. While it is certainty true that these entangled interdependent relationships are reminiscent of a soap opera they serve a much different function here. Such familiar plot devices have the effect of providing the proper amount of grounding affording the audience with something readily relatable. Considering the main character is a serial killer this is more crucial than usual in this context.
The season includes the elements we have grown accustomed to over the last eight seasons. There is a rival, unbridled serial killer that the Code of Harry demands Dexter address. The murderer dubbed the ‘Brain Surgeon’ for his trademark removal of a piece of the brain, the amygdala, the portion of the brain identified as being responsible for emotional response. This region is believed to be damaged or absent in psychopaths such as Dexter and other serial killers. Noted psychiatrist, Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling), shows up with a keen interest in the case and a more intense interest in Dexter. It is revealed that she worked with Harry to develop the Code of Harry. She is an expert in the field of serial killers with an intimate knowledge of Dexter and his Dark Passenger. The Brain Surgeon has been targeting people involved with the doctor.
During the investigation Dexter comes across Zach Hamilton (Sam Underwood) the son of a prominent local politician. Dexter is certain he murdered a young woman and that his infatuation with blood indicates he is a nascent serial killer. Dexter decides to save him by teaching him the Code of Harry with woefully limited results. Adding to the confusion that has pervaded Dexter’s life more so than usual is the return of Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski) a serial killer with a perchance for poisoning and Dexter’s former lover. They understand the deadly urges that drive each other and in some strange fashion are mutually complimentary. Dexter plans to leave Miami behind and run off with Hannah and Harrison to South America to make a fresh start.
Of course considering the track record for exceptional writing this series is known for you know that this exit strategy is certain to encounter a significant number of obstacles. Red herrings abound, plot twists arise that threaten to derail Dexter’s goal to find some measure of peace. Many of the anti-hero series have been concluding lately. In most cases the public needs to witness some degree of accountability; a balancing of the cosmic scales of justice. In the case of Dexter Morgan fans seem to want him to break free of that dark passenger and find some measure of happiness. His psychopathology was a result of a serve trauma as a young child and he did his best to channel his deadly predilections in a socially constructive, albeit morally reprehensible direction. In an odd way we have cheered for him for eight seasons and Showtime did not disrespect the fans that supported this show all this time.