The following sentence was in the episode summary for "Goodbye Miami" on the Showtime screener site: "In the end, an important person in Dexter's life is murdered right in front of him." As I watched the episode with that text hanging over the video window, I couldn't help but imagine all the gruesome possibilities. Who could the important person be—Deb? Harrison? Hannah? And in what circumstances would the victim perish? Would Deb kill Hannah, or would Hannah take out Deb? (Or, perhaps in a perfect world, would Harrison kill them both?)
Of course, I should have known by now—some 10 hours into Dexter's final season—that the show can't even really kill somebody right, much less make that kill compelling. Instead of the people truly close to him, Dexter lost Dr. Vogel in "Goodbye Miami," redefining the word "important" in such a way that I couldn't help but laugh. This is a season that could have had so many things going for it, but one that never really figured out exactly what to do, or when to do it. Frankly, that sums up Dr. Vogel's arc as well. It feels like ages ago now that we were all really jazzed about both the character and Charlotte Rampling's performance, and yet, after a few fascinating conversations about what it means to be the anomalous serial killer/emotional feeler that Dexter is, Vogel became another tired, inconsistent victim of the show's typical storytelling engine. Rampling did the best she could, and she and Michael C. Hall had great chemistry until the bitter end. But her role in the story never clicked after Deb ran Dexter off the road. Vogel had to die—because that's what people on this show do—but for her to ultimately be so hapless and ineffectual is supremely disappointing.
Worst of all, though, is that the show actually wanted us to think that her death is important. We're all used to the kind of character inconsistencies this show produces, but it sure seemed like every week, Dexter had a fairly substantial reason to distrust and/or want to kill Vogel. And now he's crushed over the weight of her death? Ehhhh. I'm guessing that if you asked the writers to explain this season's story, the B.S. company line would be something about Dexter's place between these two worlds. You know how I know that? Because they've said it once a week for six episodes. Okay, so Dexter's distracted by the possible life he could have with Hannah and Harrison (but really just Hannah), and maybe before that he was distracted by his attachment to Deb, and both of those things are at war with his inner sociopathic desire. In theory, I buy that—and it almost sounds like a solid idea to explore in a final season. Yet, the manner in which the show has gone about actually exploring that story has never worked, partially because no character has acted the same two weeks in a row all season, and partially because it's not like Dexter having feelings is a new development. The show used Vogel to tell us that it was SO WEIRD for Dexter to care and to kill, but we at home already know that; we've known that for about a decade now. So what's the point, and what in the world is the payoff? If it's Vogel's death, something of a reckoning for Dexter and his split lifestyle, then it's going to be hard for me to type anything other than LOL in the next two reviews.
Again, there's a version of this story that works more interestingly, and there's a chance that some of it will still comes to fruition as the series wraps things up for good. Deb and/or Hannah are likely to die as well, probably at the hands of Saxon. However, think about how many of the final two episode's big stories are really just things that have been introduced in the last few weeks. As the Brain Surgeon, Saxon's technically been around for most of the season, but we didn't learn much about him until a couple episodes ago. This is your final season Big Bad, played by a poor man's Ryan Gosling? He's nothing more than a blunt instrument, and if the show tries to keep pushing the idea that Dexter could have turned out worse, it's going to be end up lower in the Atlantic than most of the bodies Dexter's thrown off the Slice of Life over the last eight years. Not only that, but reinforcing how special or great Dexter turned out to be is just about the worst thing the show could do at this juncture.
Furthermore, we know that Dexter's search for Saxon is going to coalesce with the Marshal's search for Hannah, which Deb has now been pulled into. Dexter and Deb's relationship hasn't been as remotely complex or compelling as it was last season, so much so that when she found out he was taking the makeshift family to Argentina, neither one could barely muster up THAT much crap to argue about. Remember when Deb shot LaGuerta and basically had a mental breakdown? Dexter doesn't. Deb deserves to get out of this mess, but she was always going to get pulled back in. That's not the problem; rather, it's that the show didn't come up with any solid reason for her to be in a position to hide Hannah and lie to a U.S. Marshal about it. That's where the show's writers need Deb to be, just like they needed the Marshal character as a threat (because heaven forbid Batista figures something out, or even Elway or Quinn). It's sloppy, and it's a dumb.
And there's not even that much to say about Hannah this week because she, like everyone else on the show, acted like an idiot. YOU HAD ONE JOB. Also: a treadmill? Seriously? If both Deb and Hannah die by Saxon's hand, it won't be a surprise. It also won't have any impact whatsoever. Dexter can keep telling us that people like Vogel are important, or trying to convince us that Saxon is a worthy adversary, but by now it's absolutely clear that the show is full of empty BIG moments and toothless characters. The end is very, very near, and thank goodness for that.
– This episode had so many problems that the Quinn-Deb scene was somehow the best one of the night. Desmond Harrington tries, people. But I couldn't help but think of these AWESOME REDDIT "SPOILERS" while watching that scene.
– Jamie graduated from "School," turned down a cool opportunity for Quinn, got dumped by him, and then told Deb that she could go f*ck herself. Nice week for her.
– Masuka's daughter came to the crime scene high, everybody. There were less than three hours left in the show's history when the writers sat down to do this script and they thought that Masuka's sperm -pawn tokin' up was relevant.
– Batista has literally done nothing this season. So that probably means he'll be the next IMPORTANT PERSON to die.
What'd you think of "Goodbye Miami"?
AIRED ON 9/22/2013
Season 8 : Episode 12