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‘Dexter’ recap: Don’t be sorry your darkness is gone

Dexter_511_0531 Those who tuned in to the “Dexter” finale hoping to see a jaw-dropping cliffhanger to top last season’s may have been disappointed. I admit I am not necessarily always a fan of “full circle” season finales (so neat and tidy), but despite my initial “That’s it?” reaction, I realize it was actually a very solid finale. In some ways, like with the finale of the show “The Big C,” I liked the finale more than the majority of the season.

The episode begins with Dexter tracking down Jordan and Lumen, but before he can even leave the apartment, his entire family shows up to surprise him with Harrison’s birthday party. It was a rather ridiculous scenario but it set up a theme for the first half of the finale: Dexter’s going to have to let a lot of people down. Astor, suddenly friendly and polite, asks Dexter if he’ll have breakfast with them, and if she and Cody can live with him for the summer.  Sorry, Astor, Dexter doesn’t have time for your love — he needs to find Lumen. 

Dexter gives Jordan Chase a call and the two have a sassy little conversation, just two smooth criminals, that reminded me a little bit of the give-and-take between Sherlock and Moriarty in PBS’ “Sherlock.”  Dexter doesn’t know where they’re going but a fruit vendor hears Lumen kicking and hollering in Jordan’s trunk as he zooms off in his jerky black BMW. 

The next scene tied more of the season’s story lines together, as Dexter finds Deb, back at work, watching the torture videos from Jordan and Co., obsessed because she too had experience at the hands of a psycho — Rudy, Dexter’s brother. Dexter ponders, again, “Is this what I do, curse everyone around me?”

Before Dexter can go find Lumen (now letting her down in addition to Deb and the rest of his family), the Miami police are called to the site of Liddy’s murder. Right before they leave, Dexter and Quinn exchange a little glance: the “I know you’re involved, but how…?”  interaction between Dex and Quinn was amusing. This was a great scene in general, not just because of the cool police speedboat (how come they don’t take that all the time?) but because Dexter had to examine one of his own murders, praising the genius of the killer.

At the crime scene, Laguerta figures out that Quinn’s likely connected to the murder thanks to the blood she sees on his shoe.  Quinn requests to speak to a lawyer, and he’s taken away, giving Dexter the opportunity to smash the window of a shiny red car (the better to crash in slow-mo with), which he hot-wires in order to get Lumen.  At this point in the finale I was really excited: Not a scene of the show had been wasted.

Jordan finally pulls Lumen out of the trunk so he can torture her at the old summer camp where Eugene Greer found himself and his new name.  They get reacquainted; he notes that she’s braver than she used to be, and while he just used to “like to watch,” like her, perhaps he changed.  Right after Jordan  makes as if to bite Lumen’s face like an apple, she kicks him and runs off, but he speedwalks after her and grabs her. Jordan’s character and Jonny Lee Miller’s personification of him here reminded me of Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho," compelling and unpredictable and frightening. Miller really stepped it up as Jordan Chase in tonight’s finale.  I had been enjoying him as the bad guy all season, but in the finale he showed us a really engagingly twisted psychopath. He was creepy and charming at the same time, and a little funny too. He clearly seemed to think that he, Dexter and Lumen were part of some ménage-à-trois of blood. 

Dexter, having found the camp, crashes his red car spectacularly. He climbs out, and just when all signs point to him not being able to get to Lumen in time, Jordan steps in to save the day to bring Dexter to Lumen for him and tie them both up.  See, Jordan didn’t care that much about Lumen on her own: he wanted her and Dexter.

Everything looks dire for Dex and Lumen, when along comes Deb, thanks to the tip from the fruit vendor.  For a moment I thought Deb would have to save Dexter and Lumen, but they get the best of Jordan before she arrives, with Lumen stabbing Jordan herself (I liked how Jordan was unimpressed and unafraid up until the end).

Instead, Deb arrives in time to see Jordan’s dead body on the table, but, spotting Dexter and Lumen through a translucent screen, decides to give them a head start before she calls in their murder, assuming they’re the vigilante team that’s been taking out Jordan and Co.  I liked that Deb was still a cop but got to use the pain and damage she’s gone through for good. 

Newly lightened, Deb gives Quinn the benefit of the doubt and decides to believe him when he says he didn’t kill Liddy. Later, seeing how much his sister loves Quinn, Dexter fudges the bloodwork.  Did Quinn know Dexter did that on purpose? And did Deb know that Dex and Lumen were the vigilantes?

Dex and Lumen have a little smilefest after they deposit Jordan’s body parts into the sea, but you know Dexter can’t be content and happy for too long. The next morning he putters around in the kitchen, excited for the family party, talking about how he’s something of a “breakfast connoisseur” (“Really, you should check out the intro to my television series,” he said).  Lumen then bursts his bubble: Now it’s time for her to go home. Since she’s killed Jordan, her dark passenger is gone and she’s a different person, different from Dexter and so they must separate to his dismayed understanding. Later, at Harrison’s birthday party, Dexter eyes all the happy couples and blows out Harrison’s birthday candle for him, wishing for the chance to be human.

Part of what I liked about this episode was that it was just easy on the eyes: It was one of the most beautifully-shot episodes of "Dexter," clearly with a gigantic budget — boats, swooping crane shots, an extremely unnecessary and over-the-top but still-cool-looking car wreck.  I especially enjoyed the seaside scenes, which looked more natural than a lot of the sometimes overlit and oversaturated “Hey, this show’s set in Miami!” episodes. 

In some ways the finale was totally predictable in that Dexter and Lumen had their final showdown with Jordan and Lumen disappeared into the sunset. I initially felt a little disappointed that the season ended on such a tidy note, but some things have to come full circle, I think, and perhaps it’s more promising to think of Dexter having a fresh set of issues next season rather than picking up something that happened in Sunday’s episode.  Maybe the writers just didn’t want to try to top last season’s over-the-top finale, which I respect (“It was all a dream!”) 

Plus, Dexter’s finally broken a chain of relationships that end in blood and death, partially thanks to Deb learning, with Laguerta’s help, to be merciful and have faith and not just barge around expecting the worst from everyone.  So this “clean slate” thing may open up the next season as Dexter actually has the chance to figure out on his own what to do next, and not have his destiny foisted on him by someone else’s death. 

Were you happy with the finale? Was there anything (within reason) that you hoped would happen that didn’t? Did anything surprise you?

-- Claire Zulkey (Talk to me: @Zulkey)

Michael C. Hall as Dexter and Angela Bettis as Emily Birch. Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime
Comments () | Archives (32)

I liked it, but I feel like Quinn has to know that Dexter is the one who killed Liddy. He knows he didn't do it and he knows Dexter was the person being monitored by Liddy. He also knows that he was supposed to go to Liddy's van to arrest Dexter.
So, when Quinn thanked Dexter for fudging the blood work, it made NO SENSE.
I thought he would say something like...I knew it was you.
Oh well, we got a happy ending.

When Deb said "you must be happy too, now that this is all over." was she alluding to the fact she knew it was Lumen and Dexter in the house?!

I was happy with the finale. I really appreciated the fact that they didn't try to top last season. They stayed true to Dexter's character and used it to build the season. It was "sort of" a natural progression. And I loved the part where Astor talked to Dexter if it made him feel better, helping Lumen. It was nice throwback to his grief over Rita.

I didn't mind that the Lumen issue ended here. I preferred it because, honestly, I'm not a big fan of Lumen. While I was watching the birthday scene, I thought it's okay not to have hanging storyline. Although, there is one actually, his relationship with his kids. It'll be interesting to see how they'll tackle this in season 6.

Anyway, all I'm saying is I think it's a good finale for the season. I still enjoyed it. And I'm still frustrated that I have to wait nine whole months before season 6.

nice summary. i liked the ending a lot, since i did not expect it to end this way.

last few episodes of this season were spectacular.

I actually enjoyed this season. It's true that there were no grand twists, no Dexter-getting-caught, etc. But with the exception of Season 4, the show has never ended on twists. What I like about each of these seasons is that each has a theme and that Dexter is never the same person at the end of the series. Theme to Season 1: Self-discovery, of where he came from/why; Season 2: Acceptance; he undergoes a existential crisis, trying unsuccessfully to "break" his addiction before coming to accept that it will always be with him; Season 3: Friendship/Personal Relations: Can Dexter really make a friend who will accept him as he truly is? Season 4: Family Roles: Can Dexter serve the "Dark Passenger" while also fulfilling responsibilities of being a husband and father? Season 5: Renewal of Purpose: Faced with the terrible consequences his addiction has had on those around him, can Dexter rediscover a sense of purpose and mission or will he be done in by guilt? Obviously Lumen serves as that vehicle for that revival.

I thought they wrapped up things very cleverly. Rather than just an ordinary "near miss," Deb's stumbling upon Dexter actually leads her to make a character-changing decision: for the first time in her life, she acknowledges life's complexities, rather than grouping everyone and everything as black and white; The thing with Quinn was wrapped up very nicely; Quinn knows there is something up with Dexter, but he wont' do anything about it - he will put it out of his mind - due to his love for Deb and Dexter's favor of clearing him in the crime.

All and all, a successful season. I was a little uncertain how the new showrunner would handle it, but I feel like the seasons fit very well in the show's tradition.

does deb know ? what will quinn do ? will he trail dexter next season ? i liked the ending, but I did see it coming. overall, still it was entertaining .. 10/10 for me, now onto my exam in the morning ..

What has happened to American culture and society that it celebrates and entertains a TV show in which the hero is a serial killer?! What kind of values does this show uphold and instill in the young? How is it possible that nobody protests this degradation of art, which seeks its justification in some unchecked claim of open-minded attitude? Where are the family men and women of this country? Does anyone really believe that a systematic praise of acute and sick criminal attitude has any redeeming value? And where are the media editors, that should protect the viewers from sociopathic or cynical ideas? Have we come to the point that in order to overcome the numb senses from all the coroner-inspired TV shows, we need to raise the volume more and shock the minds further in order to make some money? I, for one, really don't appreciate driving down the freeway with my son and being hit with billboards of Dexter cynically smiling while holding a severed limb of one of his victims, or holding a baby splattered in blood! It is really sick! Please have some respect for the rest of the people and specially the young.

Dexter doesn't normally end on twists??? Finding out Rudy was Dexter's brother in season 1 wouldn't have been considered a twist? That first season set the bar ridiculously high for this show, and its still yet to disappoint. Yes, season 3 was weaker than the others, but still very enjoyable. I would like to see Lumen realize that she essentially used and blackmailed Dexter into helping her now that she's gone. A nice surprise for next season would be to see her return to seriously try and help Dexter rid himself of his dark passenger. Harry harnessed it, Lila thought she was curing an addiction, Rita offered him an out unknowingly... Lumen can actually be the person to tie it all together and really drive him out of it, give her some purpose instead of being just a runaway bride.

I read one of the Dexter books. In it, Deb is fully aware of, and apparently condones, Dexter's avocation. Could the series be working up to this realization? And how did they they get Dexter's one-year-old son to be so preternaturally calm during the cake and candle scene?

Awesome Ending. Couldn't have made it any better. Love Dexter since the beginning.

Everyone else that wasn't satisfied is dead inside.

I just loved it. Nothing could out-top season 4, and the writers didn't try to go there. I liked Lumen a lot, and I'll miss her. But I'm glad she didn't die (I thought she would).

i'm glad lumen is still out there; the door is open for her to realize she loves dexter and wants to be with him no matter what. when the show eventually wraps up, she would be a good person for him to drive off into the sunset with. or maybe she'll come back sooner. anyway, the season's theme of atonement and retribution came together nicely in this last episode. i thought it was a great season. i am one of the dexter-lumen fans and thought that relationship brought a whole new dimension to the show. i liked seeing dexter in the eyes of a victim/survivor.

to some extent, i agree with the guy who has moral qualms about the show, but only as far as it's marketed. as far as i'm concerned, the show is not really about a serial killer but a vigilante who stops the bad guys and takes them out. any show about a true serial killer would be unwatchable, as few could identify with such a character. most of us aren't missing a moral compass and cruel in the extreme to innocents for no reason.

Great finale! What a writer! Amazing twists and turns and then a closing that leaves one waiting anxiously for the start of 6th run!! Best thing on TV!

"Don’t be sorry your darkness is gone...I'll carry it for you".... One of the most romantic scene ever!!!!

I love Dexter! I enjoyed the season. I was surprised by the story line with Lumen because the special guest usually ends up in garbage bags thrown off the boat. I actually liked that Dexter could finally show someone who he truly was and I was disappointed that Lumen left. I felt badly for Dexter.

Get over it Javier. It's fiction. It's a TV show about a vigilante. This stuff has been around forever. If you don't want to watch it, or it completely hurts your PC feelings or puffy chested sense of morals, then DON'T WATCH IT. It's on a premium cable station that YOU don't have to pay for anyway. I swear these people today who are so high and mighty about inconsequential stuff like this. Get a life...

BTW, great season, can't wait till next year!

Remarkably predictable and full of way too many unsatisfying plot holes. "Dexter" has become a poorly written show. The scene in which Deb allows Dex and Lumen to get away with murder is a "jump the shark" moment. The new team of writers that came on this year decided to stay pat and conservative, and allowing Deb to discover her brother's "dark passenger" would have been a bold, risk-taking move. Unfortunately, we now know that this show has no balls. As a long time fan of the show, I am horribly disappointed.

I was pretty underwhelmed.

I understand that just as they're having Dexter get more in touch with his humanity and by contrast Deb getting into the fact that not everything is black-and-white (which kind of began with the killing the guy at the club and her not feeling bad about it), but man! I thought it was wayyyyyyyy too convenient that she just let Dexter and Lumen go! Not to mention let them have enough time to dismember Jordan's body.

I understand that it will be hard to top last season, but I'm really feeling the loss of Clyde Phillips and Melissa Rosenberg. =(

I loved this season. I felt it was a natural (as much as possible) progression of Dexter's evolution. We root for Dexter I imagine for many reasons. He is the ultimate vigilante isn't he? He is a nerd. He's living by a code. I mean how many people have a code they follow these days? Yet it's at his very core. It is his consceince. Because his was taken from him at a very young age. His father did what he was supposed to do. Teach him how to be a citizen of the world despite his "afliction".
I thought Lumen was excellent. Julia Stiles..Emmy anyone? I think everyone came full circle this season.
Yes there were a few stretches but should be interesting to see how they tie that into next season or not?

I thought Quinn would go down for Liddy's murder. I thought Deb would arrest Dexter. I thought Dex would have Lumen as a partner. I am still a bit creeped out by the Irish baby sitter with the Madonna fixation. I thought Deb would shoot Quinn for having Dexter surveilled. I was let down at the end, and I'll be depressed until next season, but I'll live. I thought Jonny Lee Miller should be the next one to try to play Joker in a new Dark Knight. I love Dexter because I identify greatly with the dark passenger theme, and the desire to be more than I am, better than I am, to love and be loved as I am on the way to a better unknown in my future.

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