Monday, September 23, 2013

Showtime’s Dexter, #812, “Remember the Monsters”

Slice of Life
By Catherine Giordano

Did the series finale of Showtime’s Dexter, #812, “Remember the Monsters” bring the series to a successful conclusion? Well, yes and no. Some loose ends were tied off too easily and some were left hanging.
Dexter and his boat, "Slice of Life"

The season finale began in the same manner as the season premiere—brief clips of the actors talking about the characters, themselves, and the show.  It was nice to join in their reveries.

Dexter and Harrison make it to the airport and are on line to board the plane when Dexter gets a call from Hannah who is hiding out in the ladies room. She has spotted Elway looking for her. Elway has not yet seen either Dexter or Hannah. Quick-thinking Dexter heads to the gift shop, buys a backpack and some items to put inside, and leaves the backpack under a chair.  He then reports the backpack to a ticket agent—“if you see something, say something” he tells that agent as he points out Elway at the man who abandoned the backpack. Soon Security has surrounded Elway and marched him off.  One problem solved, another created. The flight is scuttled due to security concerns and everyone must leave the terminal.

Dexter gets a call informing him that his sister who was expected to recover from her gunshot wound has taken a turn for the worse. Debra is now on life support and nothing short of a miracle will keep her from living the rest of her life as a “vegetable.” Quinn says, "Debra is strong. She will come back.” Dexter says, “I’ve never seen a miracle.”

Dexter tells Hannah to take Harriosn and finda way to leave Miami without him. H has to return to the hospital to be with his sister  Hannah finds a bus leaving Miami going to Jacksonville as part of the evacuation plans necessitated by the oncoming hurricane. She and Harrison board the bus, but who do they find sitting across the aisle form them—Elway. Hannah, who still has made no attempt to disguise herself, was recognized by one of Elway’s ticket-agent contacts. He informs her that when they reach Jacksonville, he will call the authorities to arrest her and Harrison will be placed with child protective services.  

One Small question: Hannah is a wanted fugitive. Why not call ahead and have the police waiting at the station?For that matter, why not call immediately and have the police stop the bus.?  (Because it would ruin the plot, that’s why.) Hannah pulls out a thermos of tea and offers some to Elway. He responds by saying, “H ow stupid do you think I am.” Stupid enough to be distracted long enough for Hannah to stab him with a hypodermic filled with horse tranquillizer that she just happens to have with her.  (Maybe she got it from Dexter since this was his favorite knock-out drug, but could they have gotten that through airport security. Oh wait, Hannah went back to the motel room to figure out how to leave Miami. But would they have left a hypodermic needle filled with horse tranquilizer at the motel. Oh never mind.  It’s not good to think too logically about these things.)

In the meantime, Oliver went to a vet to get his gunshot wound attended to.  Then he kidnapd the vet and headed over to the hospital intent on killing Debra.  He cuts out the vet’s tongue and pushes him through the emergency room doors. This creates enough of a distraction for Oliver to get into the hospital and with no tongue, the vt can’t warn anyone.  When he approaches Debra’s room, Batista and Quinn are there to point a gun to his head and arrest him.  

Dexter is now determined to kill Oliver. He goes to the jail, flashes his badge and says he is there to perform a blood draw for a test for evidence.  He is admitted to Oliver’s cell where they are alone except for a security camera. Dexter opens his kit and starts laying out his equipment. Oliver asks, “Why are you here?”  Dexter calmly nods to the pen he has placed on the table and says, “To kill you with this pen.” Oliver makes a grab for the pen, and Dexter stabs him in the neck with a hypodermic needle. (One small question:  Wouldn’t a dangerous prisoner like Oliver been better secured?  Oh, never mind.).

Dexter waits until Oliver is dead and then yells for help. He is interviewed by Batista and Quinn. Dexter explains his presence by saying he was not technically off the force until the end of the week, and he wanted to look Oliver in the eye. We can see that Batista is not buying it, but he goes along, and declares that Dexter clearly acted in self defense.

Dexter has one more task to perform before he can leave Miami. He gets his boat and sails it to the hospital which just happens to have its own pier. The hospital is being evacuated because of the hurricane.  Dexter takes advantage of the confusion to go into Debra’s room and turn off her life support.  When she is dead, the chaos in the hospital allows him to wheel Debra’s gurney out of the hospital and then carry her onto his boat and speed away.  

He does this as his one last act to protect his sister. Earlier Debra had told Dexter how he has always been her protective big brother. “Remember the monster’s?” she asks him. As a little girl, she was afraid of the monsters, that were only shadows, and Dexter slept on the floor of her room so she would feel safe. Nice resonance here because Dexter’s voiceover spoke about the “shadow of my dark passenger”, and the monsters could be all the serial killers Dexter dispatched as well as Dexter himself. Turning off the life support is the last thing that Dexter can do to protect his sister.

Dexter’s takes his boat (named “Slice of Life”—an apt name consider Dexter’s avocation), and heads full speed into the oncoming storm. He stops the boat and reverently slides Debra’s body into the water. When she has sunk from view he continues full-speed ahead into the storm. This is the “eerily-beautiful-and- beautifully-eerie” moment of the week. The solemnity of the moment, the impressive ferocity of the gathering storm, and the nobility of Dexter’s suicidal dash into the storm.


The next scene is a small bit of the wreckage of Dexter’s boat—the part of the boat with the boat’s name on it is floating in the water after the hurricane has passed.  Then we see Hannah and Harrison sitting at a café somewhere in South America.  Hannah is reading about Dexter’s death in an online news story. 

This is a fitting ending for the story. Dexter pays for his sins with the nobility of his suicide. (Howeve , I do question the wisdom of leaving Harrison in the care of Hannah.  Yes, the two clearly love each other, but if Hannah resumes her killing ways and is discovered, what happens to Harrison?  But with Debra gone, there is no one left to care for Harrison, but Hannah.)
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Wait, there is more. Dexter is not dead. He has grown a beard, and is working in a remote logging camp. How are we supposed to interpret this? Has Dexter faked his death to avoid having to answer for his latest two crimes? The security camera from Oliver’s cell will reveal that events did not transpire exactly as Dexter reported them, and when Debra can’t be found, someone will identify Dexter as the person seen wheeling her out on a gurney. Does he want everyone to assume that Harrison died on that boat with him? Does Hannah know that he is still alive?

Why has Dexter not assumed his new identity and joined Hannah and his son?  Is this some kind of penance he must perform? Dexter said what appeared to be his final good-bye to Harrison on the phone. “Remember that I love you. But then he added, “Remember that until you see me again.”  Is this supposed to mean that he will eventually join Hannah and Harrison?

It seems like the writers felt that killing Dexter off, even if he died nobly, wouldn’t be acceptable to be viewers. On the other hand, they couldn’t just have him waltz off and live happily ever after. It would have been unsatisfying for him to pay no price.  Is that why they gav us this ambiguous, perplexing, ending?

Oh well, it is just a TV show, not an actual slice of life.

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