The penultimate episode of Dexter should be thrilling. It's centered around two manhunts -- one for Hannah and one for Saxon. And two huge, earth-shattering character moments happen during the course of the hour. Plus, there's a cliffhanger.
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Yet none of it feels earned. It feels like a pre-determined ending that producers decided on years ago. For a season full of promise that is squandered in episode after episode, the show seems to be limping to its big finish next week.
The Search for Hannah
Throughout the episode, the audience is given hints that Dexter and Hannah's happy ending is all but likely. Early on, the US Marshal comes to visit Deb and tells her that the emergency room attendant from last week said that Hannah brought Harrison in. Deb claims, however, that it was her.
Now more suspicious, the Marshal goes to talk with Jacob, Deb's former private investigator boss, to talk about the case. Jacob later heads over to Deb's place and, after pushing his way into her house, is forced out by Deb.
At this point, I start to wonder, why couldn't Hannah head to Argentina by herself only to be joined by Dexter and Harrison later? Happily, the show answers my question with the fact that Hannah can't get an earlier flight because of a coming storm. (But shouldn't this option have come up way earlier?)
While Dexter awaits Saxon's arrival at his home, Deb forces her way into his apartment, insisting on having dinner with her brother on the last night of him living in Miami. While she's away, the Marshal and Jacob are going through her apartment and learn that someone was looking at flights to Argentina on the computer.
The Marshal realizes that something is up and decides to tail Deb, which is when the search for Hannah begins to overlap with the search for Saxon.
The Search for Saxon
At the beginning of the episode, Dexter is cleaning the blood off his hands. His cleaning goes beyond his hands, however, as he rifles through Vogel's personal things to make sure any mention of him amongst her files is gone. Afterwards, he calls Miami Metro to say he found the body, and oddly while still wearing his usual "kill clothes."
The next morning, Dexter tells Deb about what happened to Vogel. Deb is just as upset about Vogel's death as Dexter is since they credit Vogel with them finding "their way back to each other." Yes, it's sometimes easy to forget Deb murdered LaGuerta last season and was dead inside because of it at the beginning of this season.
Knowing that Saxon is a building inspector, Dexter starts investigating closed buildings in the area. When he learns of an abandoned hospital, he suspects Saxon is there. He doesn't have time to go there, however, since he's called in to a meeting with Quinn, who's there meeting with Saxon.
Saxon came by to answer additional questions about Cassie's murder -- oh, remember her? Neither does Dexter since he doesn't even acknowledge her name being said. Saxon provides a DNA sample, even though he looks uneasy about it.
Deb asks Dexter why he's helping them get Saxon, wondering wouldn't he just want Saxon for himself (to kill)? Dexter acknowledges he just wants it done.
Then again, he heads to the abandoned hospital that night anyway. When he finds Saxon's kill room, he tells Ghost Harry, however, that he wants Saxon dead, either at his hand or someone else's. It's then that he finds Saxon recorded all his kills.
Saxon is one step ahead of Dexter again shortly. Early in the episode, Dexter is chatting with his real estate agent, and there's quite a bit of interest from buyers. When she calls later on to say there's another buyer, it's easy to assume it would be Saxon. (And it is.)
This time, he has a proposal. He wants Dexter and him to walk away from each other. When Dexter refuses, Saxon starts to threaten his family, including Hannah. Dexter then agrees to Saxon's arrangement, though his inner voice-over says differently.
Hannah tries to talk Dexter out of killing Saxon, but he presses that he has to do it. And not because he wants to.
Of course, Dexter's way of getting Saxon starts with uploading the videos of Saxon's kills. At the same time, Quinn and everyone else learn Saxon is Vogel's son.
Saxon does show up at Dexter's apartment after seeing the news footage asking for the public's help in arresting him. Dexter is pretending to be asleep in his bed, while Deb sneaks up behind Saxon to help ensure Dexter captures him. And then Deb walks out to let Dexter kill him. Yes, that really happens. Deb is back to being a willing participant in letting her brother kill people.
Dexter takes Saxon to his own kill room and Saxon warns Dexter that he'll eventually kill Hannah. But Dexter promises he really loves her. He suddenly realizes he's not even that excited to kill Saxon, let alone even be there.
This is a huge moment for Dexter -- the character and the show. But it feels completely unearned and it feels like they're reaching an ending that the producers decided they wanted years ago.
Dexter then calls Deb to tell her of the change of plans -- he apparently wants the police to take Saxon in. (Did it never cross his mind that Saxon might try and implicate Dexter?) She arrives, but the US Marshal is right behind her. Dexter leaves as the sun is coming up to go meet Hannah at the airport, while Deb stays behind to arrest Saxon.
Another big moment comes when Ghost Harry tells Dexter as he's leaving that he doesn't need him anymore. It's supposed to be an incredible moment, one that fans have been waiting years for, but again, it feels completely unearned.
We can't dwell on that too long as the Marshal heads inside and finds Saxon, who pretends to be a kidnapped victim. Saxon attacks the Marshal and even gets off a shot at Deb. As she lays bleeding on the floor, she places a call for help.
Given that we learned Quinn still had her engagement ring earlier in the episode, were producers setting us up to assume Hannah would be killed, but instead it would be Deb? We won't know for sure until next week's series finale.