8 Things Season 8 of ‘Dexter’ Must Have: The End Begins
Warning: Spoilers ahead! If you are not a Dexter fan and have not seen the previous seven seasons or do not want to know anything about the coming season, do not read this.
With Season Seven of Showtime’s Dexter quickly approaching (with the premiere broadcast on the 30th of June), lovers of the Miami Metro Homicide blood-spatter analyst by day, serial killer-killer by night are beginning to dread the inevitable end of the series. With Debra now a killer and the whole department hot on their heels, it seems that Dexter’s carefully constructed and controlled world is crumbling around him.
Questions will be raised as to who he can trust, who he will lose, who he will kill and who will see his dark passenger. Yet, the most prevalent question being debated is: How will it end? Without further ado, let’s jump (with both feet) into the countdown of the 8 things which Season 8 has to have.
8. Cody and Astor
Kids in television are almost always annoying and detrimental to a show, usually only being used to just be “cute” or to provide a challenge for the protagonist. While this may have been the case for Rita’s children Cody and Astor Bennett (played by Daniel Goldman/Preston Bailey and Christina Robertson respectively), they created a necessary force of normalcy in Dexter’s life during the first four seasons. Following Rita’s death, they became more of a persuasion to maintain humanity. The pair only seemed to be an extension of Rita: as Dexter became more attached to Rita, he consequently loved Cody and Astor more, while they became more and more in danger throughout each season.
However, over the last few seasons, their appearances have been few and far between. We have watched them ‘grow up’ for the past 8 years, even seeing Astor smoking ‘pot’ and Cody swearing in “Argentina”. Therefore, it would be a bloody crime to omit them completely out of the season. There should be a similar situation to that of the Season 2 finale, wherein Lila trapped them in her burning apartment, raising them out of the depths of Orlando to play more of an involved role in Dexter’s life. However, it should not be for comic relief or fan service; but rather, they should once again become a consequence of Dexter or Deb’s actions, as well as a wake-up call to Dexter that his actions will always have consequences.
One of the most interesting concepts in Dexter has been whether his humanity is only a mask used to blend in to normal society, or whether he is really a good person. Essential to this juxtaposition were the Bennetts, who also had their own dark past with Paul, the abusive father figure. To Dexter, they were his responsibility and when he put them into danger, he blamed himself, especially after Rita’s death. Now that he is in more danger than ever, they too should be targeted as well and thus contradict Dexter and Harry’s code.
Are they truly disposable to Dexter now? Does he still love them? Does his legacy still extend to them? To what lengths shall he go to save them? How will they react when they see who he really is? Seeing that they were there at the beginning of the series, the targets that fall on Dexter should also fall on them and these questions should be asked and answered when the plastic curtain finally falls.
7. More creative kills
Now, this is not to suggest that Dexter should go to the extent of Travis Marshall and his tableaux. However, seeing that this season is allegedly based upon the concept of legacy, Dexter should diverge from the usual kill-rooms (i.e Season Seven’s Ray Speltzer and Victor Baskov). Consequently, he could also deviate from his usual routine, not having to vet or stalk, just killing impulsively and not having to always clean up the mess.
The most enduring element of this series has been “Harry’s Code”. While it has definitely been challenged, it is what allows Dexter to truly be himself. However, since Debra’s discovery of her foster brother’s secret, more and more leniences have had to be taken. As Dexter begins to deviate from the “Code”, following the fact that Harry was repulsed at what he had created and a sense of independence from the disembodied mentor, we begin to see Dexter exhibit all of the unadulterated passion and anger more openly than before, such as his decision to give in to his desire for Hannah, rather than implement his own type of justice.
Consequently, this is starting to detriment the most essential part of Dexter, that the audience can, for the most part, justify his actions down to cleaning up the mess of society that trickles through the cracks of the justice system. Yet, as he begins to act more upon his own desires and moral code, his actions are less justifiable. Similarly, he is becoming less likeable, by neglecting her sister’s plea to return her love for him, ruining her own moral code and rejecting Hannah’s plea to return her twisted love. While his situations are understandable, they are consequently becoming more human. As he abandons the code, what humanity remains is rising to the surface, thus challenging our idea of who Dexter is and what he may stand for.
Consequently, Dexter should express his humanity or his emotions through his kill-rooms, leaving them open to Miami Metro Homicide, and kill instinctively rather than by his usual lengthy vetting and researching process. Season 8 should be the end of Dexter’s arc from Harry’s deformed monster to confused and compassionate human who still has the urge to kill, as an expression of his humanity unfiltered by “normal” human morality or laws. Chaos and filth will reign in this season and Dexter’s and, potentially, Deb’s kill-rooms should reflect this in all of their usual bloody glory.
6. A focus on Harrison as an essential character in Dexter’s life
Ever since his first appearance in Season 4, Harrison Morgan/Bennett has grown up to be a legitimate major character in Season Eight. Despite primarily being introduced for his ‘cute’ factor and for some light comic relief, he has become one of the most precious things in Dexter’s life.
Since Season 6’s climax, Harrison has been rarely been seen on the screen, with anticipations for hearing an actual coherent sentence in this coming season running high. Now played by Jadon Wells, he should become more of an extension of Dexter; a partial copy of him. Harrison’s character depends on whether his “Dark Passenger” will arise. While there have been scenes which allude to him having urges to kill (i.e. his first words of “Die, Die” and the scene where he cuts the boy’s cheek at the playschool) throughout the past few seasons, it is challenging to wish Harrison to grow up like his father.
However, with the theme of this season being legacy, it is inevitable that some of Dexter will rub off on him. Yet, the lessons he will learn will be human, of doing what is necessary and justifiable for those you love, which has been the growth of Dexter over the prior seasons. Therefore, we should see him kill to save his father, not necessarily to satisfy his urges, but to do what is morally right, which would see a transition between a monster who must kill to remain human or a human who must kill to prevent becoming a monster. This would see a deviation from “Harry’s Code” and rather a creation of a new one.
Consequently, Harrison should also be in the most danger during this season. While Dexter could previously just hand him over to Rita or the nanny, he is now personally responsible for his son, who is now consciously aware of what is happening around him. Therefore, he should shape what actions Dexter takes and make Dexter question what is right for him to know, not just be forced into a “Heavy Rain”-esque kidnapping situation where he is absent for the majority of the season.
The focus should be on creating an arc for Harrison to fulfil during the season, where he will learn new things about who he is and make his own decisions about where his life will take him. Will he want to grow up like his father or like his foster aunt? How will he satisfy his urges? What will he sacrifice to save his father? This season will see an emergence of a new character in Harrison Morgan, a character which has been laying dormant since Season 4, one which will influence those around him absolutely.
5. An investigation and close look at LaGuerta’s death and its repercussions
While Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez) did grate at times, she was an essential part of the show and the treatment of her death should be dealt with accordingly. Throughout her seven-season run, she has had her ups and downs as a character, from betraying justice to marrying Batista, sleeping with Bertrand Pascal, blackmailing Matthews into becoming Captain and constantly hating Debra since day one. Despite all of her flaws, she was a likeable (for the most part) character for the first six seasons and a necessary antagonist for the seventh.
The last few seasons have swayed the opinion of LaGuerta, as it is easy to forget the gruff, yet human Lieutenant of the first 5 seasons, rather than the less important, and forced presence of her as Captain. Like every member of the department, she primarily stands for the corruption of the police and, by extension, the justice system of Miami. However, her character grew into a much more human character than that, symbolised by her undying love and trust for Doakes and just good police work. Forcing her together with Batista and giving her a back-seat to Debra degraded from what her character was, to the extent where they had to kill her off. While her death was ultimately necessary for the show to continue, it was still utterly heartbreaking to see her go.
Therefore, her death should be followed up a bit better than previous murders in the series (i.e. Debra letting Dexter and Lumen go at the end of Season 5, the treatment of the whole Bay Harbour Butcher case in Season 2 and the investigation of Travis Marshall’s death in Season 7). It would be quite a nice surprise if some one in the Homicide Department actually did some police work. The only character who should discover such a secret should be Joey, mostly because he spent most of Season 5 searching for “Kyle Butler” and conveniently forgot about it just because Dexter faked the blood report on his shoe. With so many loose ends during the LaGuerta/Estrada case, or the events following Travis Marshall’s death, there must be at least one lead which will eventually lead to Dexter/Debra. Laguerta was the back-bone of the Department and indeed the foundations for many of the character’s formations. Just because they began to overshadow her does not mean that she should be forgotten.
4. More Hannah McKay
Amongst a plethora of great characters in Season 7, Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski) was the stand-out character and potentially the most double-edged sword in Dexter’s life. Having the most impact on Dexter’s life, both in terms of realising his humanity and of the danger she imposes (i.e. attempting to kill Deb, killing Sal Price), she transformed how the audience views Dexter forever.
After the sixth season having no love interest, Season 7 brought in what may be the best in the series, with the final reincarnation of Dexter’s true soulmate, with Lila and Lumen seeing his “Dark Passenger”, but essentially manipulating it to their own ends. Hannah seems like the corporal form of Dexter’s “Dark Passenger”. She was the only person who he could be with and not hide his true feelings from her. He even considered growing old with her, living a relatively normal life, which is hardly what he had with Rita.
Having her become the major antagonist of Season 7 was bitter-sweet poetry, because it was almost like Dexter had looked in a mirror and was repulsed at what his urges could do. To think that his counterpart could kill innocent people, even his own sister, shocked him to the core. This concept was almost a throwback to the first season, where Brian wished Dexter to join forces with him and let free his “Dark Passenger”. Yet, once again the most important person in his life remains Debra.
Following on from her brief appearance on Dexter’s doorstep in the Season 7 finale, she now seems to be a fully-fledged antagonist. However, seeing that there was a complex relationship between them, problems of whether she can be trusted and her own motivations need to be resolved. Would she kill again to regain his love? Her character needs to be made more complex than the fact that she will target everyone he loves just to get him back. Concepts dealt with in episodes such as “Argentina”, like her own urges to kill, why she needs Dexter, her experiences with Wayne Randall must be re-visited. To reduce her to a simple antagonist motivated only by her unrequited love or connection with Dexter would be derivative and would soil what was a great character of Season 7.
Similarly, she must also challenge what Dexter feels: Is being with her worth letting her fulfil her urges? How are they different from his own? When she leaves (with information suggesting she will only remain for another 3 or 4 episodes), she must leave with all of the fury in which she entered, leaving Dexter a changed man, either for better or for worse. There can be no middle ground.
3. A more tortured Debra
Ah, Deb. How can one not be “peachy fucking keen” to see the expletive-filled, emotionally vulnerable foster sister of Dexter again? Once being probably the funniest of the bunch (other than Masuka), her character has definitely taken a dive down the serious route in the past few seasons. Hell, if anyone needs a break, it is Deb, with a fiancee serial killer, Lundy leaving her, Anton leaving her, Lundy dying in front of her, Quinn proposing to her and finally finding out the closest person to her is a serial killer, just before she was about to tell him that she was in love with him. Wow.
Considering all of this, Jennifer Carpenter has done a consistently brilliant job of portraying the tortured and broken character. Deb’s scenes throughout the series still remain the best, including at Lundy’s murder location with Dexter and her admission of love for Dexter. While her character has drastically changed from the funny and lively character of Season 1, Jennifer Carpenter has masterfully displayed this gradual downfall.
Following her murder of LaGuerta, it seems as though she has finally hit rock bottom, abusing drugs, breaking the law and being a haphazard police officer. Similarly, she seems to have lost all care or love that she may have had for Dexter. With all of these emotions running through her, Season 8 is bound to have the most broken of all Debra’s, with barely any remnants of her former self. She is morally confused, as well as confused about her feelings towards Dexter, which should be addressed or otherwise resolved. Therefore, the show should portray her as such, a complete juxtaposition of the confident rookie cop of Season 1. She will question her own moral structure and her own “Dark Passenger”, whether the justice she has been supporting is as righteous as she once believed. This should return to memories of Harry and even a young Dexter.
However, the writers should not write her with traits of her old self, but rather embracing the dark and chaotic tone that the seasons seems likely to take. Will she turn herself in? Will she turn Dexter in? Is she now an extension of Dexter? Can she salvage her humanity? Regardless of how these questions are answered, Debra needs to be another extreme on the spectrum of this season, being a manipulative force towards Dexter, while also being irreparably changed by Dexter’s actions. But, by the end, she needs to be more than the character who says “Fuck” a lot, but a perfect example of the consequences of Dexter’s actions and a flawed guardian of justice.
2. A memorable and devastating villain
The most essential element of Dexter are its villains, from Season One’s Brian Moser (the Ice Truck Killer), to Lila, Miguel Prado, Arthur Mitchell (the Trinity killer), Jordan Chase, Travis Marshall(the Doomsday Killer), Hannah McKay and, to an extent, Isaak Sirko and Maria LaGuerta. They are the backbone of what make this show great, not only by creating a challenge for the protagonist, but by creating more complex and human story-lines each season. Gradually, they have become more and more legitimate characters, rather than just the “bad guy” that Dexter has to kill.
They have transformed how both the audience views Dexter and how Dexter views himself. They incite a shift in not only the protagonist, but those connected with him, especially Brian. With this season being the last, and thus most memorable, this season’s villain should also be the most memorable. This does not necessarily mean that they will be the strongest in terms of physical attributes (i.e. Little Chino), nor in terms of proximity to discovering his secret (i.e. LaGuerta), but one who puts all of his morality into question (i.e. Trinity or Hannah). This season’s villain must contradict all previously held beliefs about what is righteous or justifiable in his world.
However, after the three-antagonist structure, there should also be several antagonists throughout the season, creating and maintaining an consistently high level of tension throughout the season. The stakes must be raised, not only by direct challenges to Dexter and Debra, but by allowing several characters becoming closer to discovering their secret. This would reflect the feelings of Season 1, in that an enemy would not be revealed until near to the conclusion and Season 4, in which an enemy becomes gradually closer to discovering Dexter.
With the Brain Surgeon case being the centre of Homicide’s attention, as well as the LaGuerta/Estrada case, and Dr. Evelyn Vogel, as another side-kick character shoved into the mix, anything is possible. Dexter should be pushed into new epiphanies and realisations about his own origins and identity.
In saying this, the villain should not be necessarily be made the centre of the story, which should rather be Dexter and Debra’s masks slipping off and their true selves revealed. The moral foundations of the show – the justification of Dexter’s actions, the corruption of the justice system and the nature of humanity – should remain paramount. However, in order to maintain attention and suspense, there needs to be several adversaries. These can span across physical, emotional, mental and moral challenges.
Dexter needs to lose and question everything this season, and thus, the villain within Season 8 must be the most memorable of them all, with no holds barred.
1. A sad and hectic ending
Here comes the big one. Speculation and rumours are already rife concerning how Dexter will come to a close and it is already a contentious debate with several sides.
Firstly, what the paramount priority for the creators and producers of the show should be is on creating a consistently exciting and interesting season, rather than a satisfying or fantastic ending. Secondly, no matter how it ends, no one will be completely satisfied, as said by Michael C. Hall in the Behind the Scenes video, there will be a “spectrum of experience”; there will be love and hate equally spread. Thirdly, the ending can not be happy. ‘Dexter’ has never been created to be a feel-good show. The comic relief or happier elements are only inserted to give the viewers some space between the graphic violence and unadulterated hatred or malevolence of Dexter.
Therefore, to make Dexter, Debra and Harrison walk off into the sunset with Dexter’s urges satiated and no charges on them at all, or to leave Dexter or Debra to rot in some maximum security prison would be to neglect the moral groundings of the entire series. The most interesting element of Dexter is its subtle manner of persuading you to fall in love with even the most evil of its characters, as well as emphasising the inherent corruption of the justice system. For that reason, the ending and indeed the whole season should consistently remain aggressive, both in its pace and tone.
In order to enforce the idea of Dexter’s legacy, the show should again raise the moral challenges faced in Season Two, in relation to Miami’s feelings towards the “Bay Harbour Butcher” and potentially even publicly show to Miami that for eight years there was a serial killer within the Homicide department. Without leaving the bureaucracy of Miami’s legal system in ruins and indeed his own life in ruins, the 8-season arc of Dexter’s character would be unfulfilled.
His evolution from monster to human has taken the past seven seasons, but now that he is a different person, he must be judged and punished as such. He is beginning to truly realise the human consequences of his actions. Before, he could just put on a happy face and blend in. Now, he is a human who has to put on the monster mask to satisfy his urges. With his usual method of re-stability, in Debra, lost, he must resort back to being a monster. Consequently, he will do anything to get Debra back from the depths of where he sent her. He feels personally responsible for her safety and well-being. Therefore, without his usual code constricting him, he is vulnerable to more dangers than before.
If the producers of the show truly want Season Eight to be the final season, it needs to be definitive and as thrilling as all of the other season finales. This means that Dexter needs to be either drifting down the Gulf Stream, killed via different means or continue as the same vigilante killer for the show to end properly. Either way, the ending should be bloody and unfettered, both in terms of its narrative and visuals. Regardless, there is no point speculating how it will end, nor to analyse or regret, but to simply enjoy what is bound to be an exciting end to this great television series.
With that said, what are you expecting from Season Eight of Showtime’s Dexter? Do you think it will be the last we see of our beloved Dex, as well as Angel, Masuka, Joey, Debra, Jamie and Harry? With many bodies lying in his wake, will Dexter finally face justice? Nevertheless, Dexter will remain one of the best shows in television history and will be sorely missed for its confronting concepts, challenging characters, graphic violence, dark, satirical humour, striking visuals, haunting score, masterful writing and the “Dark Passenger” we all love.
What do you think? Leave a comment.