In season after season of Dexter we’ve seen a familiar pattern: Dex gets himself into what looks like inescapable trouble, then with one bound – either in the cliffhanging season finale or the next season’s opener – he frees himself. With this being the final season, you’d think that the stakes would be higher this time round; there are no further seasons, so there’s no guarantee – in theory anyway – that Dexter will walk away this time, alive and at liberty.
Not for the first time this year, though, this episode felt remarkably inert, as if sight of the finishing line has induced creative exhaustion rather than a sprint finish. Our friend Snoskred suggested last week that Michael C. Hall had lost patience with the show. I’m not so sure – Hall remains an exec producer, and to me he still looks engaged. Jennifer Carpenter, on the other hand, is managing a very convincing performance as someone who no longer gives a shit – the scene this week, for example, in which Deb was obliged to sit down and share a meal prepared by Hannah, the serial killer who’s already poisoned her more than once, and who she wants to keep as far away from her brother as possible. Last week – bringing her in. This week – gal pals. Carpenter’s demeanour over the past few episodes, as her character changes from week to week and, indeed, scene to scene, is that the end can’t come soon enough.
And the writers are giving in to the temptation to self-parody as well. (I’m not even getting into the increasingly dumb Dexter voiceovers, in which he’s now doing little more than providing audio description of what’s on screen, presumably for the benefit of those with sight impairments.) This week, DNA left at the scene of the murder of Zach has a familial link to Vogel, and Dexter wonders whether one of Vogel’s sons, thought to have died in a fire as a teenager, is alive. He obtains a photo of Vogel, Jr., puts it through some “ageing software”, adds a bit of facial hair for no good reason… and suddenly it looks a bit like Cassie’s boyfriend Oliver, which is confirmed with 97% certainty by ”facial comparison software”. Presumably no-one said “Hang on a minute, but is this not completely stupid?”
So anyway Dex goes after Oliver, but Vogel is conflicted, torn between her two favourite psychopaths. Does she want quasi-son Dexter to strap Oliver to the table, or actual son Oliver to live a full and happy life? Probably the latter. Meantime Elway’s got wind of Hannah’s presence in Miami, and is working with a bounty hunter – confusingly, Tyler Gray from Burn Notice – to capture her; and Quinn, sniffing around the murder of Cassie and the disappearance of Zach, questions Oliver himself, which will presumably bring him once more into Dexter’s orbit. With only three episodes to go, is Quinn going to be the person who, finally, realises that Dexter’s been surrounded by a vortex of death and destruction pretty much since the first episode, and that it isn’t coincidental? Perhaps not; Deb is present for the Oliver interview as well, and Quinn, as ever easily distracted by the babes, kisses her.
After all these years, I really would like to care more how this show is going to end up.