Whoa. WHOA. For what has been a ridiculously slow season, the Dexter Season 7 finale, "Surprise, Motherf--ker," sure did end things with a bang instead of a whimper.
A moment of silence for Maria La Guerta, people. And Deb's soul. RIP to both of those things. Someone get Deb's therapist on standby.
There's no denying that Dexter Season 7 has been a labored, less exciting season than the previous six. There's been no single "Big Bad" for Dexter to hunt. Instead he spent the season both being hunted and searching for a human connection with Hannah.
But tonight's finale went a long way to redeem what was otherwise a slow run, at least in my opinion. Starting from the end, the discussion of tonight has to jump off with Deb and all she's dealt with this year.
Hannah's words to her in court were incredibly important. Deb is moral. Her world has rules. Cops are good and take down bad people. But that belief has been shaken for her and is no longer true for Deb where Dexter is concerned. Hannah called her out on her hypocrisy. Deb has carried the burden of protecting Dexter, and herself as an accomplice since she knew his secret. She's grappled with whether or not she's been doing the right thing this whole time and for a split second, I expected this episode would end with Deb arresting Dexter, or having another officer do it.
Deb's rules are all broken now, as Dexter's closing monologue aptly expressed:
"We all make rules for ourselves. It's these rules that help define who we are. So when we break those rules we risk losing ourselves and becoming something unknown. Who is Deb now? Who am I? Is this a new beginning? Or the beginning of the end?"
Was the fact that La Guerta had evidence tying her to the church burning the proverbial straw?
When given the choice between shooting Dexter or La Guerta, with La Guerta telling her to shoot Dexter and Dexter saying, simply, "do what you have to do," Deb shot La Guerta. Did she shoot La Guerta to protect Dexter or herself? Or both of them? Not only does Deb know Dexter's secret, she now has a secret of her own and that secret will no doubt be an integral part of the final season in 2013.
Dexter has played fast and loose with his own rules, too. In order to frame La Guerta for killing Estrada, he had to steal and plant evidence. When that didn't work, he was ready to forgo his code completely to kill La Guerta and frame her posthumously for the murder of Hector Estrada so that his sister wouldn't be caught and ruled complicit in his life.
But Dexter being sloppy, is really what this entire season has been about, hasn't it?
The rules that Harry created for him have kept him alive and out of jail this long. But that doesn't mean he's been safe. That doesn't mean he's been able to keep those around him safe. He admitted to Hannah that he would never be able to trust her and that, even though he loved her, he had to turn her in. It was the only way to be sure that Deb and Harrison would be safe from her. The fact that she escaped, and left a lone orchid on his doorstep, should prove interesting if she makes a return next season.
As the series has progressed, Dexter has increasingly made mistake after mistake and proven that he's not perfect. He's fallible. He can be outsmarted and caught.
This early seasons of Dexter dealt in large part with Dexter's attempts to fit in. The flashbacks to Doakes and the way he was always able to see through Dexter's facade were well-placed and well-done. He grappled with being able to make and maintain connections to other people, with Deb, and later Harrison, being the constants in his life, especially after Rita's death. Aside from Harrison, all of his interactions with others were a carefully scripted cover to hide his true identity.
What we've seen since then is, as Dexter said, that "somewhere along the line the fake life that [they] created for [him] became real."
And real life is messy and complicated, much like this mess that Dexter and Debra found themselves in tonight and in which they will no doubt find themselves in Season 8. My only question now: is it September yet?
What did you think of the season finale of Dexter? Where do you think Dexter goes from here? Argentina? Prison?
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.