“Surprise Motherf*****r” is the perfect name for last nights episode of Dexter. For 7 years now, Showtime’s Dexter has been the crème de la crème of plot twists and cliffhangers, leading the millions of fans to nearly lose their minds trying to figure out what could possibly happen next. The show runners and writers are so brilliantly twisted, they have you rooting for a self-proclaimed serial killer who has killed at least 123 people over the last 7 seasons. Per usual, this years’ season finale was chock full of nail biting moments, enough to give viewers a near heart attack. Luckily for my heart, this year’s finale had less of a cliffhanger and more of a game changer to finish out the season.
**Disclaimer: the following article is intended for mature audiences only. It also reveals key plot points and spoilers for the Season 7 finale.**
The episode opens with Dexter (Michael C. Hall) coming to terms with his decision to choose his sister’s safety over the first person he’s ever really loved, Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski). An emotional Dexter explains to Hannah that putting her in jail was the only way to keep Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) safe and Hannah alive. Despite his betrayal, Hannah promises to keep Dexter’s serial killing secret safe because she loves him too. While Hannah has sufficiently proven multiple times that she can’t be trusted, especially after unsuccessfully poisoning Deb and lying about it, I somehow still believe her. In typical conniving Hannah fashion, she’s able to escape from custody after using her precious poison on herself. Like with Deb, it wasn’t a fatal amount, but enough to get her committed to a hospital and left unsupervised, where, surprise, surprise, she escapes.
The episode is peppered with minor plot revelations to provide some comic relief and a break from the mounting heart stopping tension. We learn that Angel Batista (David Zayas) is officially retiring from the force to focus on his restaurant, Quinn is trying yet again to hook up with Dexter’s scantily clad nanny/ Batista’s niece, Jamie (Aimee Garcia), and it actually seems like she might be down. We also learn Masuka (C.S. Lee) is dead set on dressing up in a diaper and parading around Miami dressed as the New Years baby, much to Angel’s chagrin. Despite these somewhat lighthearted subplots, the episode primarily focuses on Maria LaGuerta’s (Lauren Velez) steadfast determination to prove Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher, and exonerate her former colleague and lover Sgt. Doakes (Erik King).
After Dexter’s confrontation with Hannah, LaGuerta shows up at his home to arrest him for the murder of Hector Estrada. She found evidence of Dexter throwing away Hector Estrada’s blood stained shirt and wallet. This seems like a rookie mistake for the ever so careful Dexter Morgan, but Maria seems to have him cornered this time. LaGuerta parades a shackled Dexter him through the homicide department and boldly proclaims he is the Bay Harbor Butcher, this is a bit premature considering she only has evidence linking him to one murder. Dex is placed in interrogation, while the rest of the department struggles to understand what just happened. Nearly everyone thinks LaGuerta is off her rocker, and this is only supported when Vince Masuka reveals that the blood on Estrada’s shirt, along with his wallet, are from the old crime scene back in 1973, which are now missing from the evidence locker. Looks like Dexter has prevailed yet again and managed to set up LaGuerta and get her off his back for good, while also getting her fired from the force, and subsequently ruled nuts by all of her colleagues. Deb knows Dexter set Maria up (and is furious about it), but seems relieved that this madness might be over, LaGuerta silenced, and her family safe from a lifetime in orange jumpsuits.
Unfortunately for the Morgan family, LaGuerta won’t back down. Maria reveals an ace up her sleeve when she shows Deb security footage placing the lieutenant at a gas station filling up a gas can just a few blocks from the burned down church where Travis Marshall’s body was found. Deb nearly spills the beans on her involvement with the church fire and Dexter’s serial killing ways, but somehow manages to keep it together. Deb lacks her brother’s knack for lying, so it becomes obvious something sinister is afoot and LaGuerta plans to expose it. After being alerted of LaGuerta’s latest move, Dexter breaks into her home and finds search warrants for his and Deb’s cellphone GPS on the night of the church fire. This will certainly prove both Dex and Deb were involved in the murder and arson. Despite of ghost Harry’s protests and blatant violation of his code, Dexter has decided that killing LaGuerta is the only option to maintain his and Debra’s freedom.
Dexter manages to capture Hector Estrada and uses him to lure LaGuerta back to the storage unit where he initially planned to off Estrada via chainsaw. There is a moment of irony when Estrada, strapped to Dex’s table, reveals that he “had” to kill Dexter’s mother because it was the only way he could survive getting caught (even though it ultimately backfired). Dexter’s inclination to murder, aka his “dark passenger” came about after Dexter witnessed the bloody murder of his own mother by the hands of Estrada. Little did Estrada know, Dexter planned to use him to frame and kill an innocent, albeit annoying, police chief for Dexter’s own survival. Up to this point, Dexter had resolved to use his murderous tendencies for the “betterment” of society, only to find himself coming full circle and killing Maria for the same reasons his own mother was slaughtered 40 years before. Dexter justifies his deeds quoting Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” however it seems as though the code has been broken and something even darker within Dexter has been unleashed.
Right before Dexter has the chance murder LaGuerta and finish the set up, a gun toting, sequin clad Debra bursts in and Maria comes to from her M99 induced sleep. In the final moments of the episode, Deb is forced to choose between her civic duty as police lieutenant and her saving her family from life behind bars. Dex and LaGuerta try to persuade Debra to see their sides and Deb must choose between shooting her serial killing brother OR her morally upstanding but meddling police chief boss.
In a surprising moment of clarity, we see Dexter concede to whatever tiny moral compass he has left, put down his knife, and encourage Deb to end his life and murderous ways. As Deb hysterically tries to make her decision, I hysterically worried that we might be left wondering who she shot until next season. Thankfully again for my heart and this Dexter induced ulcer, Deb ultimately decides blood is thicker than badge and shoots LaGuerta. Deb is clearly upset by her decision, but her fate is sealed – she’s officially crossed to the dark side and proved she will stand by her brother, no matter the cost to her own psyche or how many laws she will break in the process. Dexter aptly describes the situation as not the end of their problem with meddling police officers like Doakes and LaGuerta, but it’s merely the beginning of the end to this lifestyle that has spun out of control.
The final episode wasn’t a total cliffhanger, but it left me was quite a few burning questions. Has Dexter lost all regard for his code and become an unhinged serial killer? Will Deb’s dark side cause her to completely come undone? Will Hannah be back next season for blood or love? Does Quinn want to use Jamie to get close to Dexter and resume his investigation from Season 5? Will Angel come out of retirement to resume LaGuerta’s investigation after her suspicious demise? Will we ever get to see footage of Masuka ringing in the New Year wearing only a diaper?
While nobody can predict what possible mind f*** will result from the 8th and final season of Dexter, it’s without a shadow of a doubt that 2013 will be an especially trying year for the Morgan family.