Maybe it's because I watched it after viewing two of the scariest things I've ever seen, Black Swan and an episode of Hoarders in which a woman hoards DOLLS (!!!), but last night's Dexter season 5 finale felt much less intense and terrifying than Dexter season finales tend to be. Or maybe that was just the episode itself, weirdly titled "The Big One," since it, more than the other Dexter finales in my memory, seemed to be made up of smaller, safer story threads that tied up quite nicely by the end of the hour. That's not to say that "The Big One" wasn't a great episode of Dexter: It had a few brilliantly paced moments of high suspense, and on an emotional level, especially with the developments for Lumen and Deb, it hit its marks just right.
But very little about the chain of events surprised me or did anything to change the stakes for the series or the characters. There was no real sense of danger in "The Big One," since anyone who's watched the show for this many seasons knows that Dexter the man will end up safe, and Dexter the show will end up back at status quo, and the episode did nothing to challenge those assumptions at any point within the hour. And, in order to tie up its season 5 storylines so cleanly, the show left quite a bit of baggage behind in the form of unanswered questions (and unsatisfying answers, or hints to answers) about this season's stories. Questions which I've tried to outline here, below, with the hopes that they will spark a discussion among us about not just the quality of last night's finale or season 5, but also about where the show can go from here so that it might avoid becoming completely formulaic and, consequently, dull.
Spoilers are ahead for those who haven't seen the Dexter season 5 finale. Be advised.
How much does Quinn know? And will he ever do anything about it?
Yes, Dexter did Quinn a favor when he faked the blood evidence and said the blood on Quinn's shoe wasn't Liddy's. But WHY? And how, in Quinn's mind, does that "make up for" Dexter probably killing Liddy? Why would Dexter clear the man who knows (or should know by now) what he really is, and why would Quinn so easily let it go? I refuse to believe that Quinn's love for Deb would keep him from pursuing what in his mind should now be very clear evidence that Dexter is a (possibly serial) murderer. I understand why Quinn would keep his mouth shut to Deb about his suspicions about Dexter, but it seems out of character for him to completely let them go and allow a murderer to roam free, especially within the department. Will he turn full Doakes next season and actively pursue Dexter until he has enough real evidence to put him away? The fact that Dexter would leave that option open, even for Deb's happiness, is rather ludicrous.
And how is he now completely cleared of Liddy's murder?
There was a lot of evidence pointing at Quinn besides the blood on the shoe. How is he completely exonerated of the murder just because of that? In order to explain away the other evidence, like the surveillance equipment and phone calls, wouldn't he have been forced to talk about why he and Liddy were working together, and who they were tailing? Maybe Batista really IS the only one who cares about solving the murder, because the person who clearly knows whom Liddy was tailing was apparently never forced to talk, and there was no hint of another suspect to pin the murder on. Crime unsolved.
How big of a cop-out was that plastic sheet between Dexter and Deb?
A massive one, if you ask me. Deb's conversations with Dexter after that scene seem to indicate that she has no idea he was involved, and that she has also conveniently forgotten about Lumen's entire existence. Like I said, on an emotional level I liked how Deb opened herself up to the morally ambiguous world of vigilante murders. But her getting so close only to allow them to vanish without even having seen their faces just felt so contrived and left me frustrated. The whole thing rang as such an outrageous plot device--a literalization of the Dexter writers' refusal to ever "go there" and let Deb in on the show's big truth.
What did Deb mean when she said that Dexter must be "relieved that this is all over" at Harrison's birthday party?
DOES SHE KNOW SOMETHING? Or was that just lazy wrap-up writing?
How, exactly, did Deb "solve" the barrel girls case?
Deb is the only one (besides Lumen and Dexter) who know that Jordan is dead, not on the run. All Deb did was discover the place where the rapes and murders took place, and associate it with Jordan--that should have fueled the fire for his arrest within the department, not doused it. So how exactly does LaGuerta get off announcing that Deb cracked the case? Another crime unsolved, at least in regards to how much Deb told the department about what she saw.
Has the hunt for the Trinity Killer been completely abandoned?
My suspicion is "yes." Yes, he's dead, but they don't know that. These Miami Metro police seem to forget about a case as soon as the suspect goes missing. Crime unsolved, again.
Is the door closed on Lumen?
She finished her job and hit the road so quickly that, even as I understood the message that her Dark Passenger had vanished and she needed to move on, I just felt unsatisfied. They spent so much time building this relationship and Lumen's character that it felt like a cop-out to explain her away in the last few minutes, and for Dexter to let her vanish so easily. Will she ever come back, and will her association with the vigilante killings have anything to do with her return? My guess is "probably not" and "definitely not," but I would be much happier with the Dexter writers is the answers were "yes" and "definitely yes."
There's no point in asking these questions if, deep down, we feel like the Dexter writers
will never bother answering them and instead choose to send Dexter down another familiar dark path with another familiar, convenient happy ending in season 6. I hope they will address at least some of these loose ends and allow Dexter's world to get more complicated and complex. But after five seasons of intense complications that always lead to a clean slate for Dexter, I'm not sure they will.
I still love Dexter, but last night's finale left me feeling underwhelmed and, clearly, a bit pessimistic about the fate of my beloved series. What did you guys think?
(Image courtesy of Showtime)