Dexter: The End Begins… Finally?





Television shows are a tricky matter to deal with. You have to be able to attend to the needs and pleasures of your audience in order to keep the show going strong. Although not all shows can be proven a success story and last as long as ‘Seinfeld’ or ‘Friends,’ but they all have their own opportunity to leave the fans with a feeling of satisfaction and gratitude.

Having a certain time frame for a shows run allows the producers and the writers a chance to flesh out the stories and tie any loose ends that the show has created. When knowing ahead of time that a show will end, it can either be a good thing, like ‘Breaking Bad,’ in which most aficionados thought was really good and it tied up loose ends very nicely, or a not so good thing, like ‘Heroes,’ a show that had so much potential in the beginning and immediately flat lined.

Most recently, another hit TV show just went off the air, ShowTime’s ‘Dexter,’ a drama series about a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Dade Police Department that lived a secret life as a serial killer. He was taught a morality system that was referred to as “The Code,” a set of rules that his deceased father created that allows him to suppress his thirst to kill by killing people that deserve to die, such as criminals and murderers.

The eighth and final season had the tagline of “The End Begins” in all of the ads that were created. But did the final episode prove worthy enough to be in the ranks of other great shows? The problem was that one does not want to see a vigilante like Dexter have a happy ending. Even though he had a difficult life growing up, being adopted and his mother being murdered in front of him, he was still considered a villain of some sorts. This isn’t like in Bryan Singer’s ‘The Usual Suspects,’ where Kevin Spacey’s character was the mastermind behind all the deaths and robberies, and his lying and manipulation allowed him to work around the feds and escape without them even having a clue. A twist like this was possible because it was done in a way to give the audience mystery and suspense, something that no one saw coming. Dexter lived by the code, but the fact still remained that he was still a serial killer. Albeit he was doing it for the right reasons, it can be considered immoral and unethical.

Although the show had a troubling season, by introducing characters that we thought we should have cared for but were killed off an episode or two later and bringing up past characters whose story arc ended just fine. It was starting to close every part of the show, up until the final scene. After a very gratifying ending that left Dexter running head on to an upcoming tropical storm, giving the allusion that Dexter was done for and dead. They decided to pull a bait and switch and have him fake his death so that his son can live a normal life, something that he was afraid he wasn’t able to provide for him. Even though he left his son, Harrison, under the care of a wanted fugitive, Hannah McKay. Not one of his brightest moves.

One of the smartest things that the writers did with this show was how they handled the death of Dexters adoptive sister, Deb. She was also a part of the police department, first as a homicide detective then, as the show progressed, the police lieutenant. She eventually found out about her brothers secret life and that was the beginning of the downward spiral that was her life, especially since she realized that she was in love with him. She was finally starting to make amends with herself as a person, but then ultimately she was shot and taken to the hospital in critical conditions. The doctors told Dexter that her vitals looked promising but unfortunately, moments later, she was induced into a coma. All signs during the episodes leading up to the finale looked promising for the conclusion of her character, but that sudden twist was a strong emotional connection that reached out to the audience.

The final season of Dexter was a roller coaster of highs and lows, especially with an ending that left the viewers thinking to themselves “what the heck?” It had a beautiful conclusion with Dexter holding his beloved sister in his arms and then throwing her into the water, as he did with all his other “victims,” this in a way brought the show full circle. Disregarding the final scene and how they let Dexter live, he shouldn’t have deserved a happy ending, arguably enough since he put himself in a state of isolation that proved to be questionable.


20 thoughts on “Dexter: The End Begins… Finally?

  1. Kerel Cain

    First things first. I agree with your opinion of dexter not living up to the great ending of other shows and I also agree that dexters fate should have condemned him for his life as a serial kill. Now with that out of the way let me lend my opinion to make your piece better and ultimately your argument.

    First, the analogy about Spacey in Unusual Suspects is flawed, or not clearly stated. It’s comparing apples to oranges because, as you said, Unusual Suspects is a mystery movie and dexter is more of a suspense. A better analogy would have been American Psycho, Django or even Kill Bill where the protagonist kills criminals or people who have wrong them but we root for them because they are the lesser evil. It seems your arguing for Dexters death to mirror that of Breaking Bads where the end condemns the means, but I will argue we already had that with the death of Deb. Even the death or Rita ( his wife), the lost of his adopted kids, the death of Doakes (fellow cop), LaGuerta (former supervisor) and a lot of other people. That’s the point of dexter and the season finally, that everyone he is involved with dies because of his ways. That explains the series finally, even though I agree it was underwhelming and could have gone in a different more satisfy direction.

    Getting back on topic, this piece can be better if you explain, in your opinion, why other shows had more satisfying endings.

    The best argument you made, in my opinion, is that most successful shows have an end date in mind when the shows starts, As oppose to trying to keep a show alive until the wheels fall off. The model that should be adapted is the model of British television and American movies. Have your complete story before the season and tell that story, even if it only takes one or two years. Even if, by the time your show gets an audience it’s almost over. Good work is always recognizable and can be appreciated after the fact. However, good work is only part of the equation when it comes to making money, the majority of the equation.

    I think your piece should focus on the problem with potentially great TV shows like Dexter and Homeland and how economics impedes art.

  2. Orhan Gokkaya

    I agree television shows are a tricky matter, I would have learned more about Dexter, the main characters more about the plot, or different scenes. Often time’s shows put people in suspense or leave audiences with questions. I like how you concluded with, “Disregarding the final scene and how they let Dexter live, he shouldn’t have deserved a happy ending,” your standpoint is shown in this sentence. I like how you gave facts from the show to demonstrate your viewpoint. Good piece.

  3. Suresh Ramdhanie

    Ahhh it has to be said, we are graded on our responses to these stories and also have to attend the workshops lest we fail, so out of courtesy I believe it is most gracious not to post any piece that contains spoilers. Even if there is adequate warning, which you did provide, the reader is nevertheless assigned to read the story; or at the very least, sit through a workshop where the story with said spoilers is being discussed. I’m not a huge Dexter fan, so I’m not too bummed about reading the ending here- but I would have preferred not to read it, also want to avoid a precedent being set.

    Grammatically, there are no issues. I liked your description of how the murders went full circle with Dexter throwing Deb overboard. I didn’t see the season, but from what you described, Dexter did not have a “good” ending at all. He had to give up his son because he felt he would not be a good father to him- well not only that but fake his death, so that now the boy thinks he’s dead. That’s terrible! Imagine being alive and knowing that someone who you love thinks you’re dead and you can’t have any contact with that person lest you ruin the lie that you’re dead- that’s a sad, reflective, regretful ending. Sure you might be alive, but since the person you love doesn’t know you’re still around, you might as well be dead. I’m just thinking what Dexter will be doing after he faked his death- following the death of Deb and him forcing himself out of his son’s life, it appears to be a very sad, lonely ending.

  4. Vanessa

    I don’t feel like you really closed it properly. I felt like you left us hanging, like it was only the last paragraph of a paper and there was no conclusion. There isn’t a balance between the beginning and end. I think you had a good start, but you weren’t sure how to close, or you ran out of time. While reading about your opinions of Dexter the show, it seemed that the argument became whether the main character should have been rewarded with a happy ending due to his questionable moral compass, as much as I understood that this was an example you decided to delve into. However, this may have been misleading because you did not seem to have elaborated enough on your actual point about satisfying endings in regards to television shows. You might want to bring other examples into the mix to really make this point multidimensional, able to be analyzed from different angles. Otherwise, not bad. Good critical eye with the show Dexter. I’m curious about your opinions on other shows.

  5. Nadya Antoine

    As one who lives for Suspense and Drama, I really enjoyed this piece. I like the way you used your passion for TV shows to express your views on Dexter.
    Although it was quite fluid, your piece came off more as a summary you’d find on Showtime rather than a personal memoir. I think once you find places to incorporate more of your own thoughts rather than generalizations, it’ll be great.

    Overall, good piece.

  6. Sergio Narine

    I appreciated that the narrator began discussing some older shows like “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” which are the epitome of a successful television series because it established some credibility with the reader. But as the piece progressed this credibility diminishes because the narrator doesn’t use specific examples of television that flopped because they could not produce “satisfaction and gratification” for its audience. The voice of the narrator is fastidious in regards to the plot for Dexter, but he does not tie this back to the original theme of the essay.

    I was a bit thrown back with “The Usual Suspects” reference because the piece talks about television shows and this is a movie. So I would suggest that the narrator use other well-known television shows to explain this idea. I also think that the narrator should try to not summarize the plot of Dexter, but instead the writer should keep the details vague since it is a review type piece.

  7. Li Huang

    This was a very good piece. The author thought the story was about how Dexter couldn’t have finished off its series better. The author thinks that the audience perceives Dexter’s ending with similarity to his understanding.

  8. Diali Montalvo

    I appreciated your piece, I felt like the examples of other shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Friends” showed you were credible in writing an criticism essay. I have never seen Dexter and after reading this I couldn’t see why I’d like to go judge for myself but nevertheless I appreciated you including enough details you included of your knowledge and opinion. I was a bit confused about how you chose to end your essay because I didn’t understand why putting himself in insolation was questionable. I think you needed to build on that opinion a bit more. I feel it’s difficult to write a criticism and ultimately you did a good job on this piece.

  9. Ruket Negasi

    I think this piece is pretty good. The author does a good job in describing how producers and writers struggle with making the audience want to watch more of the episode. I am not that much aware of the TV-show Dexter, but I have some sense of what the show is about. I would liked to have read more about the main character in order to understand the ending of the show. I am a very big fan of suspense and I believe nowadays having suspense in a TV-show brings a lot of audience. I think you could improve this piece by adding a paragraph or two of a particular scene where suspense is created so readers like myself who has not seen Dexter can relate.

  10. Alicia Camano

    Your piece was well written being a criticism piece. I have never watch dexter, but I have seen the commercials once and twice as we’ll as the posters in the streets promoting the show. I was intrigue after reading your piece of what Dexter was. I watched the promos and I felt dragged in to watching what it was. I do agree that there are shows that are dragged out more than one season making me wonder why another season of this pointless show. Some people might enjoy the show, but everyone has their own perspective of things. A criticism piece has to convey the reader in to thinking the same. You did a good job, but I would like to know more about the show. Maybe adding a description of an episode will help me know more about the show. You should add more details so that you piece can be better. Other than that good job.

    1. Daniel Song

      This piece seems like an opinion on Dexter, but it does highlight some of the more difficult parts of the business of show. It is very difficult to satisfy an audience, and close up a story, especially one that’s been going on for so long. Often, these shows work best when the end has already been determined, so in that way the producers have to assume that the show will last long enough to end. Babylon 5 was one such series, and it did so well that the creator Michael Strazinski had to write a 5th seasons, which more hardcore fans of the show say was not as good. The show itself was only intended to last four seasons, and while it did have it’s slow moments, the storytelling overall was amazing. You also bring up a moral debate about how a serial killer, who serial kills for good, should not have a happy ending, but what if he had a happy ending and that was part of the message? Usually these conclusions try to tell us something.

  11. Li Huang

    Not all shows are meant to be good shows. You happened to step on land mine that that exploded with high ratings. The author wrote this in my opinion because he had personal concerns with the way the Dexter series ended. I believe he wants the audience to agree.

  12. David Castro

    you voice your opinions well but i think in an informative piece as this one it needs a definite thesis. idk what your trying to say here: are you talking about the show business and the conflict of satisfying the audience vs artistic integrity or that you just dont like the end of dexter?

  13. Amilka Lopez

    Very informative piece on the show. I like the examples the narrator gave in order to describe what is a good ending to them. I am a dexter fan so as I began to read the piece I was hooked. I didnt like when the narrator said Deb died since I myself didnt see that part just yet instead of saying the name maybe saying that someone important died. Why this you pick this show? Is this the only show you think had a bad ending?

  14. Deviniti Donnabella

    Although I am not a big tv watcher, I do agree that the show would need to make sense and what not. There is only one show that I have watched season after season. This is True Blood. I have never seen Dexter, and the reason why I don’t really watch tv is because you have a need to keep up with every last second of every last episode in order for it to make sense to you. I just don’t have the time although I do make time for True Blood because I have seen every single episode. This piece is valid for me and gives great details to support your position. Perhaps you could use more ppopular shows but even still I may not get direct insight since I dont really watch tv.

  15. Josie

    I would like to know why the writer liked Dexter so much. I think you could use more shows as examples of what you like and dislike. I hope the author does not want to glorify serial killers. This paper does not make me want to watch the show. The writer could do a better job describing the creator’s intent. The paper spoils the show for me.

  16. Julianne Reynoso

    Sometimes spoilers in reviews can be reasons to flame the author, but I think this was appropriate. At the end of shows many times people would like to know if others felt the same way as they did about series finale and I believe that validates this work. What I liked best was the narrator’s tone as it was fitting for the type of piece it was.

  17. Krystal Temple

    I usually don’t like pieces about movies or TV shows, probably because I have limited knowledge about both of these things. Lucky for you I have actually seen an episode or two of Dexter and Friends. I have also faithfully watched Breaking Bad on Netflix – without seeing the end. Although you did spoil the ending of Dexter, it did not take away from your piece, as it was needed to prove your point. You established your credibility well in the beginning, by mentioning an array of different shows, that seemed to fall into different categories. I think some outside research on Tv shows, their timeline ,plot etc. could have possibly made this piece stronger. However, it was still a strong piece, with a great narrative voice that kept me interested – even though I’m quite ignorant of the subject matter.

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