Addiction, compulsion, crutch. Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) called his a "Dark Passenger." A cute nickname or not, it defined who he was as a man from the minute he acknowledged and accepted it, setting down a clear and distinct path that made him one of the most unique characters but had him calling himself a monster. Dexter never pined for "normal" because he never believed he had a shot at it-- because he never believed he was human and therefore worthy of it in the first place. But all of these years later, through time and relationships and exorcising demons the only way he knew how-- the only way he was taught how-- Dexter has come to want something bigger and better than a solitary life. Whether or not he can actually have normal is neither here nor there. His insistence on going after the Brain Surgeon proves that even though he may have a dream now, old habits don't just die hard, they may not die at all.
If I had my way, my perfect ending for my favorite show, Showtime's Dexter would see the man himself acknowledging just how much he lost out on by succumbing completely to his compulsion at the teachings of Dr. Vogel (Charlotte Rampling). In what he thinks and perhaps hopes would be one final kill before he heads off to Argentina with Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Harrison, Dexter would strap Vogel on his table, surrounding her with photos of his younger self. He'd kill the woman who killed his chance, and then he'd set off. He'd dump his kill tools in the water along with her body. But the show wouldn't just fade to black with this odd but still happy family waving at Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) from an airplane window. Instead it would open back up with a final scene, a few months in the future, to see Dexter once again taking notice of someone who might be worthy of his table, this time by the Argentinian water rather than Miami. He's living his nice, normal life, but his old demons can't help but creep up. Vogel didn't make Dexter something he wasn't, after all; she just gave him a justifiable and safer way to give into his compulsions. This time, though, he's actively trying to fight them, and whether or not he'll succeed will be a story about which we'll just have to wonder.
Of course, the third to last episode of Dexter, "Goodbye Miami", proved I would not be getting that dream ending. After Harrison hurt himself running on Deb's treadmill and Hannah rushed him to Urgent Care, only to "out" herself, Dexter had to make a choice between staying with and protecting his family and giving into his Dark Passenger to "do his duty" at least one more time, taking out the Brain Surgeon. True to the Dexter we've known for eight seasons, he chose the latter, but it really wasn't a case of keeping the polar parts of himself all that separate. After all, he has come to think of Vogel as part of his family, too, and killing the Brain Surgeon has become much more about protecting her (and now post-"Goodbye Miami", avenging her) than "just" following a code or scratching an itch or succumbing to his compulsion. The final moments of the episode, in which Dexter broke his own rules by hugging a nearly decapitated Vogel to his chest proved just how much he cared. And how sloppy that could make him.
Dexter has been so focused on a quest for "normal" all of a sudden that he is failing to see things around him that could get him into severe trouble. Unknowingly, he is relying more on those around him, as well, whether it's covering for him or steering people away from him (and Hannah). It's making it so that others-- namely Deb-- see the threats coming at him when he has no idea. So how will Dexter end? Right now, there are a few key theories:
- Arrested-- but for the wrong crime. Dexter has Vogel's DNA on him and undoubtedly left some of his own on the scene, as well. Unlike when he found Rita murdered in his own bathtub, here he arrived on the scene hastily (neighbors had to see him erratically pull up and double park his SUV, right?), and will probably leave the same way, only with blood on him. After years of being so damn careful, he could go down for something he didn't even do-- just because the evidence is there, and if Dexter knows anything, it's that evidence doesn't lie.
- Arrested-- as an accessory or for aiding and abetting. Marshall Cooper (Kenny Johnson) just won't go away. This is a guy who has popped up on the scene, and the show, so late in the game no one, least of all Dexter took him very seriously. He's not even on Dexter's radar at this point. How could he possibly catch up, right? Well, the Urgent Care nurse tipping him that Hannah came in with Harrison was enough to have his attention turned to Dexter, and though Deb will undoubtedly warn Dexter of that as soon as she gets in touch with him again, it may already be too late. He could be caught mid-flee, which would look even worse for him.
- Murdered-- and his brain is put in a jar. The promotional materials for this season featured images of Dexter staring at a wall of his past victims, much like how he makes his victims do. They also featured images of him wrapped in Saran wrap on his own table. While I always hoped that was metaphoric, denoting reflection Dexter would have to do as he came to realize he wasn't purely a monster and contemplated where life would take him next, he has been making so many mistakes, it would not be a stretch to see him succumb to the Brain Surgeon. It would be a shame, considering the Brain Surgeon is a lesser serial killer, and it would be sad to see Dexter fall so far to not be able to outsmart this guy, but in a way it would be poetic. He killed his brother in season one, and this would bring it full circle in that with their relationship to Vogel, Dexter and Saxon are like brothers, as well.
- Murdered-- by the one he gave it all up for. After Vogel, after Deb tells Dexter that Cooper is hot on his trail, Dexter packs up and hightails it out of Miami. Only the show doesn't end there but rather tacks on a "six months later" or even "six years later" last scene to show that though Hannah and Dexter have been living together and trying to make their relationship work ever since, she can't turn off her own darkness completely, either. He ends up getting on her nerves or getting in her way, and the only way she knows how to deal with people like that are to kill them. He tried so hard to change for her, to focus on her, and in the end, that came back to stab him in the gut. Maybe literally.
- Argentina. Let's face it, the amount of times this country is name-checked in recent Dexter episodes means they better follow through with the promise and the plan, right? We've spent eight years following Dexter in all of his ups and downs, murderous moments and sentimental ones. We learned we could care about and root for a serial killer just as much as he learned he could care about other people in general. We should want to see him have a happy ending, and if he thinks a happy ending looks like Hannah, Harrison, and a country in which none of them speak the language, who are we to say otherwise?
- Sopranos-style black-out. I have this image of Dexter alone in his apartment, police sirens in the distance but drawing nearer, Argentinian tickets on the counter, his knives (too sentimental to actually get rid of them) just within reach. And we end on a shot of Dexter as he contemplates what his next move should be-- what his next move can be. Does he try to make a run for it; does he turn himself in; does he kill himself? We see all of the possibilities flash in his eyes, and he reaches for something off-camera, but we never learn what it is or what he chooses because the show, and Dexter with it, fades to black.
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