'Dexter' Fan Columnist: The Getaway Recap
'Dexter' Fan Columnist: The Getaway Recap
Alison Stern-Dunyak, BuddyTV Fan Columnist, recaps the season 4 finale of Dexter. If you're interested in writing about your favorite TV show, click here for details.

Rather than "The Getaway," a better name for this week's episode of Dexter might be: The Game Changer. After this, everything is different. Mind-blowingly, heart-breakingly different. 

Warning! Spoilers if you haven't watched the finale yet.

We picked up where we left off, with "Trinity Killer," Arthur Mitchell, confronting Dexter at the station. Surprisingly, rather than cause a commotion, Arthur simply tells Dexter to disappear from his life--"like a ghost." Dexter ignores Arthur's request and follows him, driving like a madman and knocking off the mirror of another car. He catches Arthur in a bank parking garage and sedates him. Dexter finds wads of cash in an envelope Arthur carried and assumes he intended to use it to flee the country. 

With Arthur still knocked out in the back of the van, Dexter ends up in jail following a scuffle with sheriff's deputies over the broken mirror.  While there, he argues with the ghost of Harry, who says Dexter is hurting his family. Dexter is who he is; he can't change. Dex tells his father that's not true--and he's no longer willing to allow his avenging "Dark Passenger" to rule his life anymore.

After Rita picks him up from jail, Dex discovers Arthur has escaped the van. Dexter knows his family faces real danger. Rita's kids are off to Disneyworld with their grandparents, so Dex urges her to take Harrison and go to the Keys, where he'll meet her. He not only wants them out of harm's way, but also wants to give Rita the honeymoon they've never had.

The homicide team figures out the real pattern of the Trinity cases--three murders preceded by the disappearance of a young boy. By interviewing kidnapping victim Scott the team learns about the Four Walls logo on Arthur's van. A cross-check of the organization's records leads to Arthur.

At the Mitchell house, Dexter--who the Mitchells still think of as "Kyle Butler"--is almost killed in a SWAT raid. He manages to convince the others he arrived early. Deb, who has finally learned the truth about the murdered Laura Moser and her sons Dexter and Bryan, "reveals" to Dexter that his brother was the Ice Truck Killer. He's relieved she still doesn't know that Dexter killed Bryan. Moreover, she tells him he's the best, most consistent force in her life. A thrilled Dexter concludes both Deb and Rita value and love him.

Dexter discovers a clue to Arthur's whereabouts--a body shop receipt for the classic Mustang Arthur's son damaged. And in fact, Arthur is driving happily out of town in the now-repaired car. As day turns to night, the car breaks down on a lonely road. Unfortunately for him, Dexter has trailed behind. Finally, we reach the moment we've been waiting for all season--Arthur on Dexter's table, awaiting his fate.

It turns out Arthur believes his end is indeed fated--by God. Though Dexter disagrees with him, Arthur says everything has already happened. This is all part of God's plan, he says. As a skeptical Dexter raises a framing hammer (one of Arthur's favorite murder weapons) to land the final blow, he thinks, "Now, it's all over."

After dumping the body in the harbor, we see something rare: A lighter, happier Dexter. He now knows he's a committed family man--nothing like Arthur Mitchell. He goes home and checks his voice mail. A loving message from Rita says was returning home to get her ID and would be taking a later flight to the Keys, but would see him tomorrow. He calls her phone. It rings. In the house.

He finds Rita's purse, along with the ringing phone. He frantically runs through the house and then hears a baby crying. To his horror, he discovers Harrison in the bathroom, sitting in a puddle of blood. He flashes back to his own mother's death, when Harry rescued him. As the worst happened to him before, so the worst has happened again. Rita is dead in the bathtub, bloody water overflowing onto the floor. Arthur had struck one last time before Dexter stopped him. Dexter scoops up his crying son, agony written on his face.

As the picture fades out, Dexter has the last words. "Born in blood, both of us. Harry was right. I thought I could change what I am, keep my family safe. But it doesn't matter what I do. What I choose. I'm what's wrong. This is fate."

This shocking ending to a satisfying season made it clear there's no "getaway" here. Not for Lundy, killed by Christine to cover her father Arthur's guilt. Not for Christine, who killed herself after being rejected by her father. Not for Deb, who lost Lundy and bitterly watched as the FBI took control of the case. Not for Rita, who died at the hands of a madman. Not for Arthur, who believed God's will drove him to do evil. Not for Arthur's family, whose lives are shattered. And especially not for Dexter, whose Dark Passenger will probably come roaring back as he tries to keep his life together.

I have to agree with Michael C. Hall in his post-show interview with John Lithgow--this ending will tie the audience in knots. And as Lithgow said, "I don't know what will happen next season, but I know I'll be watching."

-Alison Stern-Dunyak, BuddyTV Fan Columnist
(Image courtesy of Showtime)