Spoilers for the "Dexter" season two finale coming up just as soon as I floss...
Well, that was... inevitable, wasn't it?
I would call the season two finale "predictable," but that doesn't seem fair. Unlike season one, which had a genuine mystery about the identity of the Ice Truck Killer, season two hasn't been a whodunnit -- it's been a character study. There was always the question of how Dexter would get out of this mess, but we all knew that he would. And I can't fault a series for delivering a payoff episode that builds off of everything that's come before and plays fair with the audience, can I?
And yet... after what had, for the most part, been a superb sophomore slump-avoiding season, I came to the end of "The British Invasion" saying to myself, "Huh. That seems about right, I suppose."
Where the season went wrong in the end -- and, before I continue, let me say once again that I consider the season as a whole to be outstanding, something that's easily going to be near the top of my Top 10 list for '07 -- was with the Lila character. There was so much potential in the idea of Dexter trying to take a slightly eccentric but not irreraparably damaged person under his wing, but making Lila out to be just as crazy as Dexter was the easy way out.
They already had Dexter confront his cracked mirror image with Rudy in season one, and at least there, they forced Dexter to make a choice between his own blood and the life (and Code) Harry had created for him. Here, Dexter did make a choice in the previous episode when he decided to continue the frame of Doakes, but Lila's actions then absolved him of having to deal with the consequences of his choice. Doakes died before Dexter had to tell him he had changed his mind, before he could loudly protest his innocence and argue for Dexter's guilt during a protracted trial, etc. Sure, it's Dexter's fault that Doakes is dead -- both for leaving him in the cage and for "creating" Lila -- but he still gets off pretty clean.
(This clean feeling was symbolized by the hilarious recreation of the opening title sequence -- which I'm thinking might have just been alternate angles of each shot, as opposed to something they filmed a second time.)
Also, with the death of Doakes -- the far more interesting character and dilemma for Dexter -- so early in the episode, we had to spend the bulk of the hour on more of Lila the kooky-crazy stalker. And for the second season in a row we had the villain (if you can call Lila that; more in a second) abduct and attempt to kill people Dexter cared about. The episode wasn't so much bad as anti-climactic. We spent so much of this season on Dexter (the true villain, a danger even to himself) wrestling with his confidence, his methods, his history, only to wind things up with him deciding everything's okay because the kooky vampire lady solved his Doakes/Butcher problem for him? It seems like one of the least imaginative destinations the creative team could have arrived at.
I'm glad the writers didn't sell out Lundy in the end, that Dexter escaped the noose without Lundy having to look the fool. (Even here, you could tell Lundy knew something wasn't right with the way he said the evidence against Doakes was "overwhelming, really.") Even his affair with Deb came to a better end than possible. Sure, Deb could get on another plane at some point, but she knows she won't, because Lundy is right about her needing to be a cop. Following him from city to city as his groupie isn't the life for her, even if he's a hell of a cook. Bye, Keith Carradine. Please bring your flinty goodness to another show I like, soon.
But back to Dexter. He and Deb both spent this season recovering from what Rudy did to each of them. Thanks to Lila, Doakes and Lundy, they're back to normal -- relatively -- and Dexter is already talking about "new rituals." His monologue at the end about no longer caring about the morality of his actions is an interesting approach for the character -- part of what's always made Dexter so vaguely sympathetic is his own awareness that what he's doing is wrong, and his attempt to be as good as possible given his condition -- and while I think I'm okay with an amoral Dexter moving forward, I don't want the series to let go of those questions.
I don't know what kind of story arc they can do for a third season -- Dexter's been hunted in different ways for the first two seasons -- but whenever this damn strike is over, I can't wait to see what it is.
What did everybody else think?