Dexter 7.11 "Do You See What I See?" & 7.12 "Surprise, Motherfucker!"

A tv review article by: Jamil Scalese

 

"My God, Dexter. How did we end up here?"

Reflective as he's ever been, Dexter Morgan's fatherly conscience poses the question that is on the minds of Dexter fans everywhere. The event of the last two episodes of this fairly awesome (penultimate?) season of Dexter managed to cap off the season-long arcs and point an eye to a possible conclusion for one of the best antiheroes doing it.

"Do You See What I See?" set up the pieces for the finale, and those pieces are three women with powerful positions in Dexter's life. The most pressing is lover Hannah, a fellow killer who is nearly a perfect match for our sinister protector. The duo grow closer by the day, and for the first time in his existence Dexter looks forward to a happy future, even presenting us with a flash-forward of a teenage Harrison. For once he can have it all: family, love and murder.

To his detriment, a sense of justice and sisterly instincts drives Debra to bust Hannah on any murders she can unearth, and subsequently she grills a childhood accomplice of Dexter's girlfriend. This causes Hannah to take action, first trying to convince Deb to abandon the investigation so Dexter can be happy, then poisoning her, causing Debra to have a serious, though relatively harmless, car accident.

The eleventh episode ends with an unanticipated development when Dexter turns Hannah in for the murder of Sal Price. Dex decides that his responsibility to family is more important than carnal happiness, which reveals some thread of credibility after his recent shedding of the Code.

Hannah and Debra represent the first two women, and Maria LaGuerta rounds out the trio. Her investigation of the Bay Harbor Butcher murders has assembled slowly all season and accelerates to break neck speeds in the last two episodes. Captain LaGuerta is now positively convinced Dexter is an active serial killer, and refuses to back down from charging him. Former Captain Tom Matthews agrees to question Dexter, but after the smooth death-bringer dodges that tense scenario, LaGuerta is on her own.

Blinded by all the dramatic love and lovely drama in his life Dexter doesn't notice that his newest prey, Hector Estrada, the primary figure behind the murder of Dexter's mother (impetus for the whole damn show) is really bait put out by LaGuerta. Dexter only realizes this as he's about to deliver the final slice, and as LaGuerta approaches the scene, she only finds a rumbling chainsaw in a plastic-clothed room. Awesome imagery. Dexter is forced to let Estrada go and to flee the scene knowing that LaGuerta has definitive proof that she's right.

It's all about Dexter versus LaGuerta in the final hour of the season, and from the first minutes Maria is all over Dex like saran wrap. First she appears on his doorstep and has him arrested, then interrogates him against the advice of all her colleagues and friends at Miami Metro. Her questioning knifes into Dexter, but as is his technique, he stays calm and even arranged a contingency plan to set her up by planting evidence to make it look like she planted evidence (clever!). Following this confrontation, LaGuerta is convinced to stay away from Dexter if she wants to keep credibility, not to mention her job, and it appears she takes the advice everyone and their mother is giving her.

We've gotten used to it, but is it not off the wall that we're rooting against the cop trying to catch a prolific serial killer?  It's an extremely odd dynamic, one that makes Dexter a bizzaro cathartic experience that few other TV shows can match. We love the killer! We root for him on a weekly basis, and for the first time maybe ever, it seems unnatural to want him to win.

Well, maybe not the first. The last time I felt wrong about the fate of a Dexter antagonist was way back in season 2. Yes, I'm talking about Doakes, the formidable sergeant who had more than a clue about Dexter and his peculiarities

The treat of the finale is that there are a series of flashbacks revealing the first interactions between Dexter and Doakes, taking us to a time before the first season of the show. The scenes have almost nothing to do with plot points of the main action but do kind of serve to disclose the seedlings of the LaGuerta conflict. They're meandering, but it's excusable because it's more than fantastic to see actor Erik King back in action. The booming, thick-armed super cop would have made the perfect long-term adversary for Dexter, but alas, season 2 kicked ass because the creators pulled that trigger earlier than we expected.

LaGuerta and Doakes were partners, lovers, and friends, and both are known for mean streaks and getting results. Doakes only quit coming after Dexter because Layla blew him up, and his amiga shares his tenacity.

So, even though said she was done, LaGuerta continues to press the Morgans. She corners Debra by showing her a tape confirming Deb's participation in the Doomsday Killer murder, and the game is afoot again. Now with definitive proof, LaGuerta is more powerful and dangerous than before. Not only is Dexter in deep shit but Debra is certainly going down with him. 

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

To Dexter the options are slim and the path is unfettered: LaGuerta must die. He checks her home for something useful and only finds more evidence incriminating him. Dex contemplates his position, and Ghost Harry suggests fleeing, which has always been the emergency backup plan. Dexter of just a few years ago would have been on-board without issue, but this Dexter, the one with a kid and pretty adjusted life, wants to fight for what is he has built. It's noble, especially cause he's about to kill a cop.

The plan caries no complexity. Dexter tracks down Estrada and kills him, finally getting the long-awaited closure on the first chapter of his life. He then lures LaGuerta to the scene and knocks her out, intending to put bullet wounds in both subjects to stage a mutual murder. The gum in the machine is Debra, showing up as Dex is about to do the deed. She pleads with her brother not to stop, and LaGuerta wakes up to encourage Debra to kill him before he does anymore harm. It's an unwinnable situation, and Dexter uses the words he learned from Hannah, the Creed that replaces the Code:

"Do what you gotta do."

So Debra shoots the main character in the face.

Hahah. Naw, dawg. She shoots LaGuerta of course, killing her instantly. Deb cradles the body, getting her DNA all up on that, then tells her brother she hates him.

The final scene of season gives us the obligatory Dexter voiceover as Dex and Deb roam a crowd on New Year's Eve. Dexter ponders their trajectory, wonders how the events will shape their future. Is this "the beginning of the end" he asks?

Most certainly, Dexter Morgan. Even if unintentional, corrupting Debra to the point of murder is a huge development, particularly for a show that refuses to mettle with the status quo in dramatic ways. This is a big one. Debra was always a slick choice for the one who would eventually discover Dexter's lifestyle and try to apprehend him in the name of the law, and now, seemingly out of nowhere, she is an unquestioned accomplice.

More than a few threads are dangling from the end of this year, more so than I can remember from seasons past. The LaGuerta/Estrada murder scene has to be messy, with Deb's gun traceable to the crime, and it's impossible that the Captain dies and no one thinks to take up the reins on the pursuit of Dexter. It's just too fishy for a bunch of policemen to ignore. Looks like Angel Batista only gets to enjoy about 48 hours of retirement.

Nope, I'm not forgetting her. Hannah will assuredly return even if yearly guest stars normally don't reappear after their one stint. Dexter's love looks to slide back into the antagonist column, but who the fuck knows? That character has kept me confused since frame one.  The beginning of "Surprise, Motherfucker!" features an emotionally wrought interaction between Dexter and Hannah; the slant is that it takes place in prison. Both parties are still affectionate and a tad regretful, yet the conversation enters the initial stages of a beautiful rivalry. Hannah won't forget about the love her life betraying her, and after escaping custody via circumstances that just border on believable, she is shown late in the finale placing a dark shaded flora on Dexter's doorstep.

The last episode is extremely dismissive of Hannah, which points to her return down the line. Or a complete flub by the writers. I dunno. Yvonne Strahovski looked awesome without makeup, though! 

The end of season seven was disappointingly decent. The entire dozen episodes are collectively one of the best sets yet, and I generally liked the finale. We got some surprises and a handful of interesting thought-nuggets. However, I'm a bit fretful of Dexter's abandonment of the Code, and of Debra's corruption. In 2006 the audience embraced a serial killer as its main character, but how will they respond when he goes full bad? Not everyone is Walter White. It looks like we'll discover out how dark things can get, and if anyone is capable of stopping Dexter, the man who has no living rival.


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.

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