Dexter has, quite smartly, subverted expectations this season. Instead of falling into its typical, often very plodding rhythms, the show has managed to keep the story moving at a relatively fast clip. Dexter and Deb’s relationship evolved quickly in the first half of the season, and his feelings for Hannah developed similarly rapidly in the second half. Along the way, the Isaak story reached a satisfying, if unfortunately early, conclusion. I like that the writers have let the story progress at a natural speed instead of holding back until the last few episodes. However, moving the story along and wrapping up some threads quickly means that it has to be moving towards something else. That’s where Dexter might be in just a little trouble.
It’s not that the penultimate episode of Season 7 was especially bad. In fact, “Do You See what I See?” presented Dexter with an important choice, one that I think reflects how he both has and has not changed this season. But this episode also over-relied on old Dexter tropes and in many ways, suggested that the conclusion to this season isn’t going to be as compelling or complicated as other portions of it.
Look, I think we all knew that LaGuerta’s 98-year search to find the real Bay Harbor Butcher was going to come to some sort of head. Hopefully, like me, you were also dreading it. Dexter avoiding his dimwitted colleagues is one of the least interesting things this show does, and with LaGuerta being the most dimwitted of them all, I haven’t been looking forward to what developed in “Do You See What I See?” for two months. This episode heavily relied on LaGuerta’s search, resulting in a good six or seven minutes of wasted screen time as Dexter and Deb plotted—unbelievably easily, I might add—to frame Doakes one final time by planting evidence in a hilariously obvious spot.
And while I will admit that I appreciated how this episode built to the “reveal” that LaGuerta actually pushed to get the man who ordered the hit on Dexter’s mother out of jail in hopes of catching Dexter in the act, one (still fairly predictable) beat doesn’t make for a good story. We’ve seen Dexter slither away from his cohorts before and even if this time Deb was directly involved, it’s hard to believe that after an entire season's worth of interesting storytelling, the show might end with the Morgans eluding and/or killing LaGuerta. Although I’m hopeful that this move actually tells us something important about Dexter and Deb’s relationship and shows that they’re clearly wearing to sacrifice anything for one another, this is not the sort of conclusion I was hoping for this season—even if I do hate LaGuerta.*
* Side note: I pretty much despite LaGuerta as a character, but based on some of the truly horrible things Matthews has said to her over the past three episodes, the Dexter's writers must hate her more. Everything that comes out of Matthews’ mouth is hateful, sexist, and misogynistic. That dude—or someone on the writing staff—has some real issues.
The rest of this episode was stronger, though still curious. The weird triangle between Dexter, Deb, and Hannah reached another stress point, with Dexter ultimately deciding to choose his sister’s safety over his newfound and still-growing love for Hannah. The show telegraphed Deb’s car accident with the lingering shots of Deb taking her anti-anxiety medication in recent episodes, but it was only a matter of time before the tension between the two ladies in Dexter’s life forced him to make a substantive choice. This story worked for me, however, because even though Dexter showed us the pill usage, it didn’t actually reveal what happened to Deb, leaving us, like Dexter, to question what really occurred. Furthermore, the aftermath of Deb’s crash unspooled like so many of the season’s great episodes and sequences: with people having calm, honest conversations. Dexter didn’t put a knife to anyone’s throat or make lame threats. His relationships with Deb and Hannah have been so well-cultivated over the season that none of that is necessary; he can be clear and direct with them. I would never have expected this show to be so reliant on people talking about their feelings like rational (well, as rational as murders can be) human beings.
Dexter’s eventual choice, to protect Deb and help put Hannah in jail, was a little surprising. Dexter is always going to protect Deb and though the show has really emphasized his feelings for Hannah, I guess the move only further confirms who Dexter really cares about. Despite everything the Morgans have been through, including Deb’s still-queasy response to Dexter’s essential desires, he picked her over Hannah. I don’t want to tread back into the capital-L Love waters the show has splashed around in, but Dexter’s choice is a powerful, telling one. Literally nothing means more to him than Deb, even his own kid. In a season that’s been all about Dexter stripping away some of his barriers and trying to manage both sides of his life, he still wants Deb more than anything else.
Unfortunately, though Dexter was honest and direct with the ladies, one of them is lying to him. We know that Hannah was in Deb’s apartment the night before the crash, but we also know that Hannah, like she admitted, is really good at poisoning people. If Hannah wanted Deb to die, Deb would be dead. So, if I can prognosticate for a second, I’m willing to bet that Hannah did not, in fact, poison Deb. Instead, I think Deb purposefully put the excess drugs in her water in hopes of framing Hannah. Before you even say it, yes, I know that would mean that Deb stupidly put herself behind the wheel of a car and could have killed herself to prove a point. And I think that’s why it happened: Deb wants to remove Hannah from the equation so badly that she took a really, really stupid risk. That’s who she is, and that’s the kind of thing she does for her brother.
Therefore, the show has built to what is not the most exciting but still hopefully emotionally powerful conclusion. Dexter is going to need Deb’s help to avoid (or dispose of) LaGuerta one final time, but then he also might find that she ruined his possible future. My hope is that this conclusion doesn’t actually involve knives, plastic wrap, and murder rooms. This season has been driven by people talking out their feelings and really embracing honesty. Why stop now?
– If you haven’t listened to the most recent Totally Tublar! podcast, you should. I joined Price, Tim, and Jen to talk about a number of things, including Dexter. I also posited a horrible-but-likely theory that Dexter and/or Hannah will kill Deb in the finale, only for Deb to become a ghost that follows him around in the final season. When that happens, remember that I said it first. And I apologize in advance.
– It's nice to know that Dexter actually bought Harrison Christmas gifts, but it was really crappy of him and Deb to let Jamie prepare Harrison for the Santa photo and then basically push her to the side so they could take a “family” picture.
– Why did everyone, including Dexter, suddenly refer to Deb as Deborah in this episode? Did someone play around with CTRL+F in Final Draft?
– Batista is going to retire on the first of the year. He’ll probably host his own retirement party. Because he has a restaurant. But I loved that he said Mike’s death is what put him over the edge, you know, as if they were really close friends or something.
– Quinn is heartbroken because Nadia has moved to Vegas. I thought those crazy kids were going to make it. If this story plays any role in the finale, I’m going to punch a wall.
– Dexter totally wants Harrison to grow up to be a mega-bro. And apparently he doesn’t want Hannah to age, at all.