This is the way the world ends
You know how you bitch and moan about something – like, say, an intensive training class you have to take at work or a really sucky season of Dexter – and then when it is over you actually feel a mellow glow of kindness to the whole experience and linger a little too long at the goodbye cookies and punch? You know it is all nostalgia and retrospect and some cheap sentimental ploy by the speaker, mixed with the euphoria of being done with whatever you were stuck doing, but you can’t quite help it. That is how I feel about the finale to Dexter. I know this was a pretty terrible finale to an increasingly terrible season, and yet, two things left me feeling at least mildly forgiving: the final twist and the episode title.
I know the final surprise wasn’t even really a surprise. I mean, they’ve been building to this all season and Deb figuring out she is in love with Dex is just the final piece in the puzzle to dispose her to at least stick around to hear his side of the story. Really, it is like being grateful that the writers did not so coke-out this week they actually decided to follow through on their heavy-handed hints and allusions. But things have been so bad lately, I do feel grateful and even warm to the writers for remembering to connect the dots, however baldly and ungracefully – good job guys; you didn’t completely drop the ball again.
And they get even more sympathy points for coming up with a pretty kick ass title. I will give them that. This is the way Travis thinks the world will end, the way Travis’s actual world does end, and thanks to Deb’s improbable interruption, it is also the way Dex’s world, at least as constructed, ends. So bravo, writers.
My good vibes buzz starts to harsh however when I think about the rest of the episode. All the promises to imperial Harrison’s life for the sake of tension were kept. Except, it didn’t work. I mean, I have a blond-haired boy toddler who looks remarkably like Harrison at moments and not once did my protective-mama alarm go off. I never actually believed Harrison was in danger, which meant the whole thing just felt cock-eyed and half-baked.
Speaking of half-baked, so this is the season about religion/spirituality? Really? I guess it did all end in a church and Dexter’s last words were a kind of prayer/expletive. But there was no serious effort to wrap up the various meandering religious themes. I guess that is because they never really knew what they were doing with them anyway. I found myself kind of wishing there would be at least one sappy incoherent speech about the religious meaning of it all. All Dexter seemed to learn about religious this season is that some religious people are OK and others are wackos he needs to kill. Did he really not know this already?
OK, I’m running long and my Harrison-look-alike just woke up from his nap. Final thought: do you really think they needed to make Deb realize she was in love with Dexter in order for her to handle the truth about who he is? Isn’t it easy to forgive a sibling than a lover?
Please let me know if you found anything redeemable in any of it that I have missed.
No, I actually think you were much more generous with it than I would have been. I concluded the episode by thinking, “those sneaky, low-down, no good bastards!” There was no way in hell I was going to watch next season…but of course, now I will because they did the one thing (the one, obvious, of course they were going to do this, thing) that will make me tune in – Deb’s discovery.
So I love your final question – no, I absolutely don’t think Deb needed to realize she was in love with Dexter to be able to handle the truth! In fact, this storyline only muddies what could have been – in the hands of better writers – a very interesting exploration of the depths of sibling love (this theme was much better explored in earlier seasons…the original ITK storyling was, in fact, a subtle version of this complexity…but I’m learning Dexter is done with subtle and complex).
Indeed, I think the fact that they needed to invoke this sexual love demonstrates how clueless the writers actually are about human emotion. It’s a clear repetition of the way they crowd plotlines with multiple possibilities without actually sorting out and making the tough editing decisions of picking one strong narrative arc and going with it. Deb could either be in love with Dexter (potentially complex and interesting story) or figure out the truth about him (another potentially complex and interesting story) – but doing both will almost certainly result in a shallow hatchet job of each.
And can we just question this whole “in love” thing for a minute?! Really, “in love”?! Couldn’t she just have realized that there was sexual tension, or that she had some sexual feelings, and then explore that entry level foray into the oldest taboo for a minute before deciding she was smack bang in the middle of possibly the most complex of human emotions? My hunch is that the incest taboo is deep seated enough in all of us (Deb included) that if we realized we had sexual feelings for a family member, we would question that emotion a little more – we wouldn’t jump straight into love-confessions and the desire to share our feelings.
Am I wrong here? Wouldn’t the Deb we know – who isn’t all that romantic and lovey to begin with – ask herself a little more carefully if her feelings were completely screwed up and freaky before celebrating them so intensely? I get that she’s supposed to be coming into her own, learning to experience and “control” (strange language option, actually; wouldn’t “manage” or “integrate” be better options) her emotions for the first time in her life. But I find it incongruent with the Deb – and the best versions of Deb – we have known that she would so readily accept her incestuous feelings as romantic love and not just spend a little time wanting to process them as, like I said, a freaky, interesting, certainly something to ponder, set of desires before shouting them from the rooftops? When did sex and desire become incomprehensible outside of a romantic love framework?
Oh, that’s right – when confused teenage Twilight fans started writing the show.
I’m so glad to hear your thoughts on Harrison’s kidnapping. I’m not a parent, so I wondered if I was just being a jerk – but I found the whole thing completely unbelievable and stupidly boring. And on the note of unbelievable: Travis’ ability to wander around Dexter’s house without being detected was completely unbelievable…was the fact that Harrison basically has his own apartment a long plotline this season just so Travis could sneak in in this episode? I wondered if the symbolism of Harrison’s sprawling rooms looking like Dexter’s rooms, paired with their matching lion costumes, was supposed to evoke the ways in which Harrison (now doubly traumatized at the end of two seasons by Dexter’s nemeses being all violent around him) will undoubtedly become Dexter one day?
Now there’s a thought for the season after the next: we jump 10 years into the future, sort of Desperate Housewives style, and check out Harrison’s early training by Dexter as a killer. Or worse, we go through 10 more years of this to get to that storyline.
Blerg. What a waste. It’s going to take an awful lot of awesome guest stars to make me happy about the fact that I’ve been strong armed into watching next season.