What exactly do we expect final seasons to be? Meaning, does our collective idea of a good conclusion dictate that shows should fundamentally altering themselves to reach a unique conclusion, or should final seasons simply be more of the same, with a nice button? No two series are the same, but I'm beginning to realize that above all else, this final season of Dexter is totally, 100 percent a season of Dexter. It's full of unfulfilled promise, stalling, boring side stories, and an embarrassing amount of unnecessary voiceover.
Now, is it my fault for thinking that the show would offer something more, or at least something a little better, because it's in its final year and the table was totally set for a good season of compelling stories? Probably. Really, how dare I assume that the middle chunk of any Dexter season could be all that good, because that's basically never happened in the show's eight years on the air. So I'm just not going to let it bother me anymore. The final season had a lot of fascinating options for what it could have done, but it didn't take advantage of them, and if it had, then it would be a season of Dexter anyway.
Nevertheless, I didn't think "Dress Code" was particularly good. Suddenly, for a show that has, like, two main characters and three supporting ones, there are way too many people involved in Dexter and Deb's orbit. Hannah's return in this episode was problematic in its own right (more on that below), but it also marginalized Vogel pretty substantially. What was so interesting about the good doctor in the season's early episodes has been stripped away so that the show can offer up In Treatment minisodes with Vogel and Deb, and that's just a poor use of the character and Charlotte Rampling. Meanwhile, Hannah's new and now-dead husband won't be an issue going forward, but "Dress Code" had to spend a whole lot of time describing their relationship, only to kill him off. That's time taken away from Deb, or Dexter and Zach, or heck, Quinn and Jamie (I may have Stockholm Syndrome with those two at this point; don't mind me). But like any mediocre mid-season episode of Dexter, this one was stuffed with a lot of exposition and dead-end stories.
And while I was about as excited for Hannah's return as anyone, the way it was handled, in general, didn't sit too well with me. I appreciate the show's attempts to make Hanna and Dexter fall in love again, and to rebuild the tension between Dexter and Deb (which the writers pissed away two episodes ago), but Hannah went from poisoning Dexter and Deb to trying to avoid them in like eight hours. "Dress Code" literally went out of its way to accentuate how pointless it was for this to happen! Worst of all was the way Hannah acted in the second half of the episode. In one scene, she told Dexter how grateful she was that her new man had helped her in a dark time, then immediately said (more or less), "Yeah but, I was going to have you kill him because he's also a creep." Sure, Hannah's relationship with men and her definition of love is complex at best and horrifying at worst, but even for her, that was ridiculous. I don't understand the necessity in making Hannah a damsel in distress for Dexter to save and/or make feel better. We already know who she is and what she's capable of. It was a lot of wasted effort to reestablish a relationship that isn't that hard to understand.
I felt the same kind of frustration during the scenes with Zach and Dexter. The idea of Dexter taking on an intern is super interesting, but this episode bobbled the execution a little bit. There's something to be said for Dexter's negligence that led to Zach almost certainly killing Dex's neighbor Cassie, and the show went out of its way to emphasize that occurrence with the final lines about what happens when two murders get together. But it also seems like Zach could become more of a problem quicker than perhaps he should, which means less opportunity for Dexter to teach and/or learn about himself.
We can see all the pieces starting to form with regard to Dexter's forthcoming end-game. Hannah's back and Zach is causing trouble, which means Dexter is now on the hook for the actions of two sociopathic murders who he either cares for or is trying to help. That's not good for him, even if he thinks it is in the moment. And with Vogel still scheming in the background (she's clearly fascinated by Hannah's presence), Deb starting to seethe in the shadows, and Quinn still trying to tie Zach to his previous murder, there's little doubt that it's all going to blow up in Dexter's face, as these things always do. There's a very, very good chance that most of those people I just mentioned will die in the coming episodes, and by Dexter's hand no less. BUT, that's all in the future, and maybe the show will still do something vastly different in its final episodes. Though as of right now, Dexter hasn't shown it's actually is interested in that.
– Cassie was kind of interesting, so of course they killed her. It keeps the number of recurring and supporting characters down a little.
– The scene outside the club with Harry trying to convince Dexter to go home was so silly that I enjoyed it way too much.
– If you've ever thought that this show needed more of Masuka awkwardly looking at his long-lost daughter's breasts, this final season is for you!
– Quinn only decided to move in with Jamie because Batista was mean to him. Great decision, I'm sure that'll work out very well.
– I mean seriously, how long are we going to have to wait for Elway really try to push himself on Deb? This is Dexter I'm watching, right? It'll be the one final-season surprise!
What'd you think of "Dress Code"?
AIRED ON 9/22/2013
Season 8 : Episode 12