Yeah, yeah, I know the joke’s on me for even watching this show to the bitter last, through all eight—eight!—seasons, riding out what horrible twist after another, half-baked subplots and supporting characters that went nowhere, goofy voiceover and whopping implausibility, in the expectation of what, exactly? I’ve abandoned other series for much less. So maybe there’s something to recommend here after all.
The finale was, like most of the series, rather bad—but in this case, it’s because it reached for something grand and somber, in the tradition of other “serious” dramas, lacking any of the camp that made the show such a guilty pleasure. The fact remains, too, that Dexter wasn’t really a show that was building toward an ending. It was more of a comic book, a creep-of-the-week feature. To try and conclude it on this elegiac tone, with a real misstep of a final scene, was to deny Dexter’s narrative DNA.
I don’t think anybody watched Dexter for the story arcs, really. It was just another antihero fable with a nifty hook, but one that didn’t beat around the bush with its messy, cathartic killings. It was willfully cheesy, the only program of that genre willing to embrace high-wire soap opera status. Screening an episode left you chuckling and shaking your head, while stuff like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad had you wound up and shaking by the credits. As with the programming of a generation before, it allowed you to turn your brain off. Blood and guts without the consequences. In other words: TV.