8.10 "Goodbye Miami"
Confession: I've contributed to the demise of some of your favorite shows.
TV shows get canceled because of goons like me. See, I have this rigid rule about watching serialized TV programs in their first season. Even if I'm really into the premise I'll forgo indulging until it's well into its second year. There a few good reasons for this: a) Binge watching is the shiiit b) Shows rarely make it out of the first season, and I hate being set up for longing and disappointment and c) The material that makes up plotlines for first season is often predictable and sometimes grueling (i.e. an attractive, opposite sex pairing that hate each other but eventually hook up).
What the hell does this have to do with Dexter, a show in its final run of episodes? Well, it's that last point I made. Those slow, frustrating beginnings that are necessary but confounding in the routine. That feeling has riveted through me over this last segment of episodes, a peculiar mix of apathy and interest. I want to see this show off, but fuck, can we just get there already?
If you watched "Goodbye Miami" you know what the hell I'm pissed about. No, there isn't some singular tragic failing; some scene or line or creative choice that ruins an otherwise good hour of television, the whole thing is unadulterated crap. Dexter's blatantly foolish choices, side characters receiving too much screen clout and the lack of a prime antagonist worthy of Dexter's resume make for a painful antepenultimate episode.
Sorry, Daniel Vogel/Oliver Saxon just does not cut it as a "final boss" in a show with the prestige of Dexter. I welcomed Dr. Evelyn Vogel at the start of Season 8, she represented a callback to the protagonist's roots, but I could never imagine they'd delude that promise so greatly. Daniel kills his mother at the episode's end, slicing her neck right in front of Dexter and it means nothing. Yes, even despite the laborious, though hollow, efforts in the episode to establish Dexter's affection for Dr. Vogel Dex has no real reason to stalk and kill her son. In fact, he only aggravates the issue and that leads directly to her death.
Again, I can't wrap my mind around this show's stagnant and mundane routine. The episode tries to paint Vogel/Saxon as a Dexter clone, a version of the killer unformed by the Code. They've done this concept many times, and hiding the weak device by juxtaposing the Brain Surgeon and the Bay Harbor Butcher as Evelyn's two sons isn't clever enough to work.
A big part of the show has been Dexter's balancing of two lives. Early seasons centered on his attempts to create an inconspicuous facade while remaining an efficient murderer. As the show matured, the facade manifested itself into a wife, kids and real life emotions. When Debra walked in on Dexter stabbing the Doomsday Killer back at the end of Season 6 those two worlds crashed together unexpectedly and Dexter's been coping ever since. Now the primary concerns in his "home life" are Hannah and creating a new life in Argentina.
Yup, South America. For a couple of non-Spanish speaking serial killers with a young child that's probably a few shades from ideal.
This does not impede the lovers though, and they prepare to leave… right after Dex kills just one last itty-bitty serial killer (as detailed above). I mean there's no rush, I guess, except there is a fucking US Marshall sniffing all around Miami for Hannah, and he clearly knows Dexter is actively involved with her. Things get hairy when Harrison, whilst being a brat, slices his chin open and requires medical attention, Hannah, again, a goddamn wanted murderer with a six figure bounty on her head, tries to call Dexter once (his cell is off), then takes young Harrison to the hospital. Do I even need to tell you that she doesn't bother wearing any sort of disguise? One of the hottest blondes in the Sunshine State and you think no one will recognize you, Hannah? Undoubtedly, this catches the attention of the Marshall (who is just waiting to prove his ineptitude to us).
Meanwhile the various meanderings are continuing their course. Remember early on this year when I proclaimed Debra's near co-star status on this show? Well, that's my bad, guys, those plot lines are deceased. Deb began the season a complete mess, and while we always hope for our favorite characters to improve and better themselves Deb turned around a little too quick. From model cop to cop killer and back the last two seasons of Ms. Morgan's storyline have made little sense cohesively. The writers micromanaged her storyline and I'm wondering if they ever possessed a bigger plan other than "Know what would be cool? If Deb found out about Dexter's nighttime habits."
Debra represents the caretaker of the side-character subplots, which makes me believe that a spinoff is still possible, but at this point I'm not sure many people are clamoring for it. Most prudently, she accepts a return to Miami Metro Homicide, indicating to Batista that she'll be ready to continue duties sooner than later. He's delighted, obviously, because he heads up one of the country's most inept law enforcement divisions and can use the help. Deb goes to bossman Elway to put in her two weeks but he'll have none of it and requests she leaves immediately. He won't even accept a goodbye hug! Dude is sour grapes he never got to hook up with the skinny, clinically depressed, possibly alcoholic chick with all the terrible secrets. Bummer, Elway.
Let's make it clear: I'm still trying to figure out this character's utility.
For the entirety of the season, the copious amounts of focus on the Quinn/Jamie relationship has been, at best, tangential to what's going on in Dexter's life. That subplot comes to a big time climax near the end of "Goodbye Miami." Earlier in the episode Jamie informs Quinn she's been accepted to a good school out of the state, but won't consider it because the move might jeopardize their relationship. Here's a simultaneous misogynist and feminist thought: I'd slap any woman that hold backs her personal progress for my sorry ass. Especially if I looked, acted and spoke like Joey Quinn.
This leads to Quinn breaking up with Jamie. Uh-huh, like right after they moved in with each other. Jamie calls Quinn out: he's still in love with Deb and won't admit it. Quinn, forgetting how to use his pokerface (or maybe it's good acting from Desmond Harrington, I can't even tell anymore), denies this completely. Later, Jamie gives Debra a nice, brisk "go fuck yourself" while passing each other at the police station and her brother Angel dismisses it as nearly nothing. Yeah, your best
friend breaks your kid sister's heart and it's no big deal, I guess. Laugh it up, Batista!
This leads to one of the more surprising, though tragically disappointing, moments of the season. Deb immediately confronts Quinn about the breakup, and he admits he still has feeling but he understands nothing will maturate from them. Deb corrects him, those feelings are reciprocated, and they share a passionate, impromptu kiss. Holy fuck, poor Jamie!
Deb implies that she turned down Quinn's marriage proposal a couple seasons back because she needed to figure out her feelings for Dexter first. Uuuhh, what? Is that some sort of dreadful retcon or something? So, writers, you broke Deb and Quinn up to peruse the intriguing, but semi-disturbing, incestuous romance, it went nowhere, and we're right back where we started two years later? Great! Thanks for wasting our time. Also: soooo damned oblivious this new happiness won't last since it takes place with so much show left to go.
Two other scenes that I can't seem to slot anywhere else:
- Captain Matthews actively searches for Zach Hamilton. Well, I mean he makes some inquiries from behind a desk. He speaks to Vogel about it before her death and I'm not sure if this was just a moment to give Charlotte Rampling more screen time or if that particular plot point is going somewhere.
- Masuka's daughter shows up blunted to a crime scene. Most fucking random thing in Dexter history. I would probably just dismiss this but I'm in a cranky mood so let's go: Nikki arrives to the scene of a fatal hit and run and immediately Masuka smells marijuana on her. He berates his daughter, and she informs him she didn't think she'd have to work because "It's a Saturday." What?! So people don't get murdered on the weekends? Masuka, justifiably pissed, calmly tells her to go home for the day. Nikki rebukes with a "don't tell me what do when I'm at home" line. What? What?! Yo, you work for the MURDER POLICE. Part of your job is having 24/7 availability.
Is it clear? My disappointment in Dexter reached new depths (or new highs) with this latest episode. I am near flabbergasted at the quality of material put forth by the writers and producers. I hate haters. I try to take everything in stride and remove myself from making absolute statements like "best" or "worst", but I slip into some extreme areas when I put forth that this last season of Dexter (and maybe since the end of Season 4) represents one of the most egregious examples of missed opportunity and complete blunder in recent TV history. Dexter Morgan holds distinction as one of television's best characters, too bad he exists in one of its most disappointing shows.
Jamil Scalese is just like you — an avid comics reader and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, devotee of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation. Check out his original, ongoing webcomic And Then There Were Zombies and follow his subpar tweeting at @jamilscalese.