Warning: This Article May Contain Spoilers


Trinity“It’s already over.”  

These words, which were the final utterance of the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow) at the end of Dexter’s fourth season, will resonate as either ironic criticism or despondent mourning for the fans of one of television’s most phenomenal series, depending on their experience of Sunday’s impacting series finale. Some had felt the series had pushed past its expiration date, while others argued such an attitude to as merely self-fulfilling prophecy.

Murmurs and misanthropic grumbling about a lackluster and over-reaching final season began long before its June 30 premier.  In late 2011, when Showtime announced its mega-hit series Dexter  had been contracted for not just a seventh but also an eighth season, it caused jitters of gloom as much as glee among the Dexter fan base, which had surpassed the two-million milestone.

Some felt the show’s creative depth had bled out shortly after Rita was found in her bathtub, believing two more seasons would ultimately suffocate the show’s creative brilliance, tarnishing the prestige of its 144 awards and nominations, while deflating the enthusiasm felt by its millions of fans.


“Tick, tick, tick, that’s the sound of your life running out.”

-Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller)

Midway through this year’s eighth and final season, Dexter had lost 23% of its viewership, suggesting the show had indeed run out of air before going off it.  The official ratings of Sunday’s 96th and final episode remain announced at the time of this writing, but the 2.4 million viewers attracted by September 15th’s second-to-last episode indicated the Dark Defender fought tirelessly and successfully in its creative effort to captivate our attention and conflict our moral opinions.  [Update: Hollywood sources say the finale made TV history with a record-breaking 2.8 million viewers

The Dark Defender

Ultimately, few would disagree the show had failed to accomplished its goal:  to solicit our sympathy for a serial killer, to conflate the virtuous and the vicious, and to shine a light on the moral grey areas of human nature.

Ordinarily, psychopathic killers aren’t the sort of people you miss, and their killing usually overshadows the rest of their personality.  Dexter flipped that convention upside down, and this was no doubt a component of the show’s incredible success.

In its second season, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) generated more outrage indulging an adulterous affair with the eccentric and accented Lila Tournay (Jaime Murray) than he did with the high-voltage pleasure surging through the handle of his blade as it was plunged through the chests of his victims.

“You can’t be a killer and a hero.  It doesn’t work that way.”

-Rudy Cooper, aka Brian Moser, (Christian Carmago)

Leading up to Sunday’s finale, the whirlwind of speculation was more intense than the beginning of this year’s unusually placid hurricane season, and this intensity is likely to make landfall as a stormy debate thundering through the entertainment world.  What some may see as the show’s triumph, others may see as its falling flat.

In the final frames, we’re shown a lonely, bearded, blue collar Dexter Morgan, a self-vanished monster with a weathered soul, finally accepting the burden of his sins.   The final body to be thrown from Dexter’s boat, a powerfully poetic end to what Dexter himself described as “a trail of blood and guts”, was a poignant illustration of a unique darkness and anguish few of us will ever know.  

“I have to protect them.  From me.”

– Dexter Morgan

Our final glimpse into the eyes of one of televisions’ most captivating characters distilled the potency of the show’s central idea: even the most pitch-black of shadows are instantly dispelled by the light of our own good nature.  This idea and its moral ramifications raises a gripping question: is the fastidious-yet-menacing bladed ritual of Dexter’s plastic-wrapped judicial desistance a fate unquestionably deserved by some, or is true that redemption itself has no desistance, and that there are none who are truly unredeemable?  

All such philosophical analysis aside, it’s safe to say that yesterday’s conclusion left us al feeling stranded. Whether its stranded by an outcome that didn’t live up to your expectations, or stranded by the conclusion of one the most beloved and complex characters in TV history, the vacuum left behind by the conclusion of the Dexter phenomenon is likely is perhaps as poignant as the series itself.

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