It’s not easy reviewing a show that you’ve grown to hate. You try to remain objective, but often it becomes a case of “waiting to be disappointed.” For the greater part of ‘Monkey In A Box’ I hoped that Dexter would prove me wrong. Inevitably it didn’t.
Let’s bitch it out…
Let’s be honest here, folks: when Dex (Michael C. Hall) finally walked away from a kill – in this case the far-too-drawn-out case of Oliver Saxon (Darri Ingolfsson) – and left it for Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) to handle, we all knew something stupid would happen. I, for one, sincerely hoped that Deb would handcuff the guy, march him into Miami Metro, once again become a celebrated hero of the dept, thereby leaving the finale to focus on Dex and Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) fleeing the country.
Instead resident idiot Deputy Marshal Cooper (Kenny Johnson) lets Saxon out so that he can escape to stalk another day. And shoot Deb. Because how else are we going to keep Dex in Miami, amirite?
Why are the writers so determined to draaaaaaaaaaag these storylines out? Do they honestly believe that we’re super interested in this one-note villain? It’s the same as so many plots/characters in this final season: everyone from Masuka’s (C.S. Lee) dumb stripper daughter to Zach (Sam Underwood) to Elway – for some reason we’ve had a plethora of annoying/unimportant/a*shole characters forced on us by the writers, as though the final season needed a bevy of peripheral characters. It’s as though the writers wandered into work one day and said “this show is boring, let’s load it up with extra characters and drag six episodes out into twelve and see how many suckers come along for the final ride?”
What’s doubly frustrating is that there’s good stuff in this episode. All you have to do is watch ‘Monkey In A Box’ to know what the writers should be focusing on: Dex’s emancipation from killing (which could have been covered significantly faster and with a great deal more subtlety) and – most importantly – the relationship between him and Deb. If you think about it, S8 (and maybe even the entire series) has been exploring the idea that Dex and Deb need to move on from the other (non-romantically…because that storyline was gross). Their closest connection has been with each other, they share a unhealthy bond over their dead father, they even protect and steer each other straight over steak nights and poor choices in lovers. But ultimately what they need to do is let the other go.
We now know that Dexter can actually love. Ultimately this will allow his exit from Miami and a life of serial killing (your satisfaction of this will depend on your tolerance of Hannah).* Deb, meanwhile, has learned that she still has a viable romantic partner in Quinn (Desmond Harrington), and an interest in helping people through her work at Miami Metro. But to truly succeed she needs to get out of her brother’s shadow and be free to act on her own.
*This assumes that the series doesn’t end with Hannah’s death in next week’s finale, though I think the show has been preparing us since her return for a happy ending.
This is why the scenes between Hall and Carpenter are the highlight of the episode. It doesn’t hurt that the Morgan siblings often have the meatiest, most emotional content to work with on the show, but when you throw these two in a scene together and let them go, there’s an energy and a gusto that’s lost when they’re interacting with other characters (or, lord help us, when neither of them are onscreen and we’re stuck with the D-listers).
It’s taken a lot of ups and downs (eight seasons worth) to get Deb and Dex to this point (again, one could argue you could cut a few seasons out *cough five/six cough*). At this point, with only a SINGLE episode remaining, should we really be spending time on these other (stupid) characters? The answer is no. So why can’t the Dexter writers figure that out?
- I have to raise how ridiculous it is that Saxon gets away and Deb gets shot again. I know it’s meant to be a “cliffhanger” but Deb will so obviously survive. Plus, I’m willing to bet that this will be the event that prompts Quinn to pop the question. I can write this sh*t!
- I loved Dex’s reaction when Hannah read him the flight manifest: “And then no one can trace us.” Umm…how so? Because it all seems pretty obvious. There’s a single transfer and an end destination. It’s not exactly rocket science, especially when Hannah continues to refuse to hide anything about her appearance. She’s a wanted fugitive who is thisclose to being apprehended approximately eighteen times a day, but she can’t even wear a freakin’ hat and sunglasses, never mind dye her damn hair?!
- The goodbye scenes are expected, but nevertheless important. This episode covers Dex’s final day at work and while his sign-off from Miami Metro doesn’t really have a huge dramatic weight behind it, it’s still nice when Angel (David Zayas) speechifies about Dexter to the others. In hindsight it’s obvious why there’s so little emotion: it’s as though the writers knew that this wouldn’t be Dex’s final interactions with them. Hmm…
- There’s also a goodbye between Dex and Ghost Harry (James Remar), though it seems clear that with Saxon still on the loose, GH will also be back in next week’s finale. But seriously, can someone get that ghost some schizo medication because I can’t figure out what he’s advising Dex to do anymore. One minute he’s all “let Saxon go” and the next he’s all “you’re really going to let him go, do you think that’s wise?” Make up your damn mind, man!
- Finally, I know it’s been joked about by many Dexter watchers & reviewers over the years, but I do love Jamie (Aimee Garcia) and her magical babysitting hours. She basically takes Harrison for two full days and never once mentions being inconvenienced, or wanting overtime. The way this character is written is so hilariously out of touch with reality
- Masuka (after pulling an all-nighter at Vogel’s crime scene): “Oh man, I could go for some hookers and blow right now. But since this isn’t the nineties, caffeine it is.”
- Matthews (following Vogel’s service): “It’s important to remember those no longer with us. Now who wants a drink?”
- Dex (when Deb incorrectly suggests they’ll be eating tacos and Tequila): “Yeah it’ll probably be steaks. It’s Argentina, not Mexico.”
- Deb (when Dex reassures her that their parting is just temporary): “I know that, f*ckface”. Classic Deb
And that’s this week’s rant. What did you think of the penultimate episode? Were you shocked that Saxon escaped and Deb got shot? Can you believe that Elway managed to crack Hannah’s not-at-all-complicated plan to flee the country? Will Deb and Quinn end up married because of this latest injury? And how much will Ghost Harry hold this over Dex’s head when they learn what happened at the sanitarium? Sound off below
Dexter airs its season finale next Sunday at 9pm EST on Showtime