With the close of season seven Dexter has managed to claw itself back up to something approaching its old form. It also feels as if the show has reached something like a point of no return, with Deb gradually realising the gruesome extent of Dexter’s activities over the past few years.
Now that she has irrevocably stepped over to the dark side herself the show’s formula has been changed for good. This is definitely something of a relief as the show has lacked a clear direction since Rita’s death – it should really have reached this point a season or two ago. Now having the end in sight has allowed things to matter again.
Breaking this season into smaller, bite-size story arcs has also set it apart, and though it traded in some of the tension of the show at its best it allowed the Deb and Dexter dynamic to remain central. If the show was always hanging on the promise of Deb finding out, now the question is whether Dexter will be punished or reform himself, and how far they will both sink to protect themselves. This was a smart move, as there were any number of moments the writers could have strung out over the season – Deb’s realisation that Dexter is the Bay Harbour Butcher, discovering Dexter and Hannah’s relationship, or Sal Price’s threats to publish everything in his next book – but none of these would have moved things forward.
It was a shame that some things were lost in the rush to move the story on – Ray Stevenson’s Isaak Sirko was gone just as he developed into a genuinely interesting character (despite that comically bungled attempt at a drive-by shooting on the donut shop). His confrontation with Dexter in the gay club was one of the highlights of the season, but it was soon time for him to bite the dust as well.
The issue of Deborah’s slightly inappropriate feelings for her brother finally returned in episode eight, now a more plausible part of their relationship and encapsulated by Deb’s sweary outburst: “It’s one thing to be in love with your brother, and another to be in love with your brother who’s a serial killer. You’re a serial killer and I’m more fucked up than you are!”
The focus of the season has in many ways been Dexter through the eyes of LaGuerta and Deborah, a less appealing light that shows him as self-righteous, controlling and amoral. There’s always been the far nastier bad guy to justify Dexter’s actions, but Isaak and Hannah were comparatively clear-sighted; Dexter’s darkest moment came as he prepared to chainsaw into pieces the man who killed his mother, and acknowledged how closely he now resembles him.
Besides all this there was poor Joey, after everything he’s endured – falling in love with a stripper, blackmailed into tampering with evidence, finally shooting her boss – the final indignity was Nadia’s goodbye related to him by her indifferent workmate while performing a lap dance for another man. Meanwhile Angel’s retirement is flagging some warning signs – if you follow the cop-cliches, he’ll either be tempted back by a big case and stay where he belongs, or take a stray bullet just as he hands his badge in.
Are there any other hints for next season? With Hannah leaving the orchid for Dexter it’s safe to assume she won’t be far away. But there are no real contenders to take over from LaGuerta on the side of the law – Lundy would have been an excellent choice, but he’s dead, along with most of the other likely candidates. Is it safe to assume that LaGuerta kept some sort of back up file of the case she was building?
The closing scenes of this season were as good as we could have hoped for, coming full-circle as Deb once again catches Dexter about to kill, with the chance to intervene, only to make the kill herself and confront the horror of her actions. Despite this season’s excess of story and hurried pace, there were some great confrontations between characters you had finally come to care about – things are looking hopeful for what could be Dexter’s final season.
Check out the Season 8 Promo Below: