Monday, December 14, 2009

Dexter, "The Getaway": I want to break free

A review of the "Dexter" season four finale coming up just as soon as you give me all your jewelry...
"This Dark Passenger is ruining my life." -Dexter
"It is your life." -Harry
"I don't want it to be." -Dexter
Whatever issues I've had with "Dexter" season 4, or with the series as a whole in recent years, I have to say that "The Getaway" was the show's strongest finale since season one, and possibly ever. (Been a while since I watched Brian go bye-bye, so I can't compare right now.) Michael C. Hall was as good as he's been on the series at showing a Dexter seriously questioning the path Harry put him on, and wanting desperately to be a real boy, and Jennifer Carpenter continued her recent strong work as Deb found out (some of) the truth about her adopted brother. And if Trinity wound up plastic-wrapped to a table like we all assumed he would be, at least he left a shocking surprise behind with Rita's murder.

As Myles McNutt points out, they lifted the Rita idea from the end of "24" season one, but I didn't see it coming, and I'm glad the writers had the guts to get rid of Rita, a character who's been offering diminishing returns for several seasons now.

I'm not sure I'm off the "'Dexter' should have ended after season two" train, but I'm at least curious to see where they go from here, and if Rita's death will have permanent ramifications (other than making Dex a widower), or if it will wind up being an excuse to again justify the status quo. (Dexter could easily say that if it's his fate to be covered in blood, and to have those he loves suffer the same fate, who is he to fight it?)

After all, Deb only got so close to Dexter's secret and no closer, and Trinity still got chopped up and thrown off of Dexter's boat. "Dexter" is still Showtime's biggest hit, so I don't think it's in anyone's financial interest to radically alter the series, or take steps to bring it closer to an ending.

But if season five finds Dexter to be a genuinely changed man - still a killer, obviously, because no one wants to watch a one-hour drama about a socially awkward blood spatter expert who's only a single dad when he leaves work, but changed in how he relates to the world, and to his need to kill - then I'll be pleased. And if not, at least season four was a big improvement on season three, and had a better ending than season two.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

it was good

bgt said...

I wonder if Arthur managed to get a woman to jump to her death after killing Rita, thus pulling off one final cycle once Dex made him the final bludgeoning victim. (a la Kevin Spacey in Se7en...I guess you could almost count Arthur's daughter's suicide as part of the final cycle).

Shocking ending, will be interesting to see where they go from here.

suncore598 said...

I thought the episode was good up until the final scene. With Rita's talk of accepting the darkness within Dexter and wanting for them to go off to some getaway together, I thought the episode would have ended with their getaway and Rita taking Dexter aside to tell him that she knows he's a killer somehow. But when the ending turned out to the fulfillment of every Rita hater's sick dreams, I was sad, disappointed, and angry. If things had turned out the way I thought it would have, Rita's character could have undergone an interesting change for the better. Now I'm wondering if I should continue to watch the show after this and join up with you, Alan, on the "Dexter should have ended with Season Two" train.

bsangs said...

That whole scene with Lithgow under plastic needs to be rewatched after the shocking ending. It was TV gold.

That is how you do a season-finale. I stayed in "wow" state throughout the entire Giants game afterward - and sadly that "wow" had nothing to do with the Giants.

Not sure where they go from here, but am very interested to find out. This will be quite a challenge for the writers.

Myles said...

I think the show could have something special in Season Five based on these events, but only if the show announces that the season is the show's last.

There needs to be a sense of suspense of just how far Dexter will fall as a result of these events. There needs to be that ability to depict Dexter at a point of being fundamentally changed, to avoid falling into the same formula all over again.

Essentially, the show is at the point wherein it truly has to decide: is it 24 (or House, or Monk) and only willing to pay brief lip service to these sorts of tragic events, or is it a show that could institutionalize Dexter for most of a season and have Deb serve as the secondary lead on the outside?

The finale was strong, and the finale has potential, but Dexter has always had the latter and the former isn't enough to convince me they're on the right path here.

Anonymous said...

When Dexter came back to the house at the end and heard Rita's message -- which because of noise in my house, I didn't get to hear -- I'm guessing she was explaining why she had to come back to the house?

She left in a cab with the baby earlier in the day, right?

Can someone tell me what she said on the message? All I heard was her saying something about "tonight still being great"


Great ending, too. Liked the parallel with their baby sitting in blood, like Dexter so many years ago.

JanieJones said...

It was definitely strong finale. The juxtaposition of Harrison sitting in blood and the memory of a young Dex sitting in blood, terrified, really drew it home for me.
When Arthur was on Dex's table and he talked of fate, I knew that it wasn't the end. Yes, Arthur got dropped in the seas but he left behind a permanent reminder for Dex.

Dexter's struggles were brought to a pinnacle as he seemed to loathe where his Dark Passenger has taken him (when he was internally conversing with Harry).

I was a bit shocked to see that they did kill off Rita. Finally, her and Dex seem to be at peace with another (after their talk and Dex's realization) and then her life is eradicated in the end.

The writer's took a chance. (I also noted some very strong reactions through tweets and the one of Dex boards after the east coast viewing.)

Will Dexter change? Will he become filled with revenge, loathing and hate that his Dark Passenger takes complete control of his life? He cannot fulfill any type of revenge against Arthur, he's gone.
Will he get legal guardianship over Astor and Cody? (Does anyone recall, Dexter never adopted the two, by my recollection, I think it was always assumed that since Paul was gone, Dex had free reign)

There are so many ways to take this series in S5, but will it happen? There's a laundry list of thoughts that were in my mind last night.
Kudos to Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter and John Lithgow for their strong work in S4. Also, I wish Julie Benz much luck in her future endeavors.

Oskar said...

@Anonymous: She was calling to say that she had left her ID at home so she couldn't board her flight and had to take a later one. She also said something like "I know it's not your thing, but look at the moon tonight, isn't it beautiful", mirroring what Dexter had been thinking on his boat (I'm sorry, but I smile every time we see the name of that thing, "The Slice of Life")

I think that many people give Dexter (the show, not the character) much more grief than is really warranted. Yes, these last two seasons haven't clicked as much as the first two (especially the second season, which was TV-history in my opinion), but judging the show by that is unfair. If you look past the context of its previous seasons and just judge what the show for what it is right now, it is still absolutely one of the best dramas on TV.

It may not be up to the standards of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights or Sons of Anarchy, but it's vastly better than 24 ever was. And don't even try to compare it to network tv. Aside from Lost (and FNL, but that's like a cable show now), there's not a single network drama that can even come close to it, and there's no actor that can come close to Michael C. Hall for sheer acting powerhouse.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say they "got rid of" Rita. I suspect Julie Benz will be back for the next season; just expect her to be in more eerily lit scenes with James Remar. My fear is that Rita's death will be used to further justify the status quo, and that we'll just see her character advise Dexter on parenting and related issues just as Harry advises him on the Code. (That Rita, though, as a figment of Dexter's mind, will likely have knowledge of the dark passenger, though). But aside from that, no real game changers other than a major character death. Dexter is still at Miami Metro; the staff of Miami Metro is still the same; Dexter is -still- off the radar of the authorities, despite all of the coincidences and screw-ups of this season and those in seasons past. (Apparently, having a weary dark passenger only affects your family life and does not get you caught for anything other than a hit and run). Deb finds out some information, but does so in a way that is only about her and does not affect the show's central premise in any way. (Although how selfish of Deb to reveal to Dexter what she thought he didn't know!) Next season, the only difference will be that we'll have tired single parent Dexter rather than tired parent. We'll still have the murder of the week and the big bad (whose arc is drawn out slowly over the season until the final, hasty episode). This show needs an end date.

freestyle55 said...

I'm not so sure you can say he's off the hook and nothing has really changed other than Rita. How is he going to explain the coincidence that Rita was killed by the Trinity Killer? How is he going to explain where he was? What happens when Arthur's family sees that local police expert "Dexter Morgan"'s wife was killed by the serial killer menacing Miami? There are a ton of angles that could radically alter this show, and the possibilities just have to be put to film...

Anonymous said...

Great episode with brilliant writing, not least in the way that the writers can take the expected (Arthur's execution) and twist it into the unnerving (Rita's murder). As Dexter was monologuing on his boat near the end of the episode, I thought, "ho-hum, how sentimental... what a let down for a great season." That made the closing revelation all the more brilliant and painted everything that came before it in that episode between Rita and Dew with bitter-sweet irony.

Anonymous said...

I was asking for either Rita or Deb to get killed (for more than this season), and considering MCH's real life relationship with Deb, it had to be Rita. There are so many directions they can take it now, I can't wait to see what they do.
I do hope they go right into the aftermath, and not 6 months forward or something. How is Dex going to explain why Trinity killed his wife? Possibly for revenge - that Trinity blames Deb for his daughters suicide? So many possibilities, and so much time to wait to see them.

Anonymous said...

How is he going to explain the coincidence that Rita was killed by the Trinity Killer? How is he going to explain where he was? What happens when Arthur's family sees that local police expert "Dexter Morgan"'s wife was killed by the serial killer menacing Miami? There are a ton of angles that could radically alter this show, and the possibilities just have to be put to film...

These are the types of questions that the show typically doesn't address. I wouldn't be surprised if the next season begins months later and these questions are never answered, or even addressed. Dexter certainly has its moments, but if there is one thing the writers have consistently refused to do, it's "radically alter" the show. In fact, the only true changes they have made to the show since season 1 is to make the protagonist the cuddly "American's favorite serial killer" that stands in stark contrast to the sociopath of the show's early days.

OldDarth said...

Those last 5 minutes blew me away. Had expectations of Season 4 going in a direction of Dexter putting his dark passenger to bed but now? Wow - the dark passenger could very well reign supreme next year.

Awesome, awesome, finale.

belinda said...

At about the 40 minute mark, I was like, eh, so this was the usual predictable ending - cat and mouse chase, Dexter gets bad guy at the end, and even Deb finding out about Dexter was lame because she didn't find out everything. All very well acted, but pretty much exactly like any other season. Yet again, the writers were too chicken to step out of their usual Dexter storylines. Yawn.

Cue to Rita's voicemail. Then Rita's phone ringing inside the house. Then Rita in the tub and bloody Harrison. OMG OMG OMG. I believe I will have the imagery of the scene for a very, very long while.

I immediately rewound to Arthur and Dexter's last talk, which is totally eerie now that we know Arthur knew he's killed Rita by then while listening to Dexter boasts about his life.

But mostly I'm glad to see that the writers are changing the game up - kind of perfect timing, in fact.

Shane Sparks said...

Can someone help me out... I'm pretty sure that I'm overthinking.

The reason why Trinity's car overheated was due to the fact that Dexter had removed the Radiator Cap correct? (Dexter had the cap in his hand after knocking him to the ground)

Which leads me to believe Dexter somehow removed the cap before Trinity picked up his Mustang which was during the afternoon and then Dexter followed him until the car overheated. (I wont even ask how did Dexter know it would happen on a deserted road?)

So when did Trinity have time at night to kill Rita who was commenting on how beautiful the moon was?

If Dexter did not remove the radiator cap, how did he find Trinity so quickly then?

I'm usually not a stickler on continuity but I'm confused by this.

PS: Alan, I really enjoy your work. It's a must read for those who love quality television.

Anonymous said...

I thought the episode was great but the final scenes were weak. Of course that was going to happen. They can't let go of their cashcow/critical darling. So, instead of drawing up a believable arc that ends in season 5, we will watch the show get dragged out for 4 more seasons. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

Shane Sparks wins the thread.

Based on those continuity plotholes (including the issue of how Trinity even found Rita), it seems like the Rita death was something which was just tacked on the end for shock value. As Belinda pointed out, the first 40 minutes was lackluster, and obviously, the writers wanted to gloss over that with a shocking ending, whether it made sense or not.

Anonymous said...

That was a great, season redeeming episode but (and this is a big BUT) if they dont address the situation that Dexter finds himself in (dead wife in the bathtub, serial killer's family able to identify him, kidnapped kid able to identify him, evidence planted on that trucker to make it seem like he was Trinity) then this show is going to lose me. They can't gloss over this situation.

Great episode, but the next episode is that one that will ultimately determine the fate of this show. Hopefully the writers are feeling up for a challenge.

erin said...

I enjoyed the heck out of it. Of course, there were always holes (no good Dexter episode is without them!) like the family not seeing "Kyle Butler" as their led away from the house, or how Trinity found Rita's house (although i'm sure that's not that hard to do) and whether putting the baby in the blood was an unintentional mirror of Dexter's history (it had to be...he wouldn't know how Dex was "born" otherwise, right?) but I liked the gamechanging ending. I don't want Deb to go--ever--so Rita was the next logical step, besides Harrison or the other kids. I don't believe the writers will REALLY change it up in Season 5 (and man oh man how I wish that Deb would figure out more connections between Brian and Dex besides just their blood ties--maybe the Trinity link will move that forward), but even a lackluster season (which I don't think this was) is still appointment tv for me. MCH and Jennifer Carpenter (yes, it's true!) make this show for me. Really, really satisfying finale.

erin said...

Also, there is SO MUCH the writers could do with Deb finding out Dex's secret...I wish they could figure out how to make that happen successfully. It would be absolutely amazing to watch.

Anonymous said...

Is it a game changer to simply have a character die? I tend to be more limited in my definition of the term. Chuck getting powers, Sidney Bristow defeating SD-6, a flash forward to new Caprica, flash forwards on Lost. Those are game changers. I am not sure one character getting killed necessarily means it's a game changer.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I think the arrival of the feds to take over the case signals the end of all of the issues which might trap Dexter (body found in home, planting of evidence, Arthur's family knowing him, kid knowing him). The feds now have the case, and we'll probably not hear of it again (save for Rita's death).

Rose said...

I don't think Dexter will let Rita be discovered as a Trinity victim. It's too dangerous for him. I think he'll either change the crime scene to look like something else or he'll make Rita's body disappear using his usual methods. Either way, it will be really interesting.

suncore598 said...

You're right. Those are game-changers. Those are things that alter the fabric or premise of a TV show. Killing off a major character is just shock value.

Anonymous said...

But there must be more to follow - the cop saw Dexter speaking with Trinity at the police station. He will have seen photos of trinity, and you'd think he'd remember that he'd seen him at the polcie station a day before.

I didn't get Rita's death at all - as others have observed. She left during the day to go to the airport, but her message references the moon. Dexter has Trinity's reciept for the car, whcih trinity picks up during the daytime. Dexter either follows Trinity or is is in the car for the long ride. So when did Trinity kill Rita?

She'd be easy to find - Trinity made the mistake of going to Dexter's apartment, but he could have found Dexter's house after that. But the timing doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Rita said the moon was "supposed to be beautiful" that night, not that she was actually looking at it. I assumed she left the message much earlier in the day and that Arthur showed up at the house shortly after he was in Deb's apartment.

I can't say I was that shocked by the finale. In part because, while I avoided spoilers, I knew the finale was supposed to be "shocking." But since fans had been complaining about Rita all season, she seemed like a fairly obvious character to bump off. And I don't think her absence from the show will alter it in any huge way. If Trinity had killed Deb instead I think that would have been hugely shocking and really changed the show forever. That being said, I'm glad they didn't go that route as I think Deb adds a lot to the show...something Rita never really has.

JamesG said...

Excellent finale, one in which I think redeems many of the other issues I've had with the show this season. It's great to see that Trinity was more than just the serial killer of the season, and that Dexter could only hunt these monsters for so long before one of them eventually got a leg up on him. Trinity was clearly the most cunning and worthy opponent Dexter has had yet, and it played out very well.

I thought the most interesting scene was the dialogue with Dexter and Harry in the prison. For once, Harry raised one of the most fundamental questions to Dexter's character -- is Dexter a monster who is simply feigning emotion (his love for Rita and kids) and manipulating situations to fit in, OR, is he a decent person at heart who has the capacity for redemption but simply uses the "Dark Passenger" label as a convenient excuse for succumbing to his weaknesses?

In season 1, I felt like the portrayal of Dexter was far more sinister -- he was aware that his interactions with others were contrived and that he was clearly not like everyone else. His feelings were feigned and his behavior in social situations was calculated and deliberate. In season 4, it almost felt like the show had come full circle. Dexter was a decent family man who acted as a noble vigilante and genuinely loved his family and valued his relationships.

But which Dexter is real? For the first time, I feel like Harry addressed this duality, which I had always attributed to careless/sloppy writing or the writers simply trying to make Dexter more likable and mainstream. I think season 5 has the potential to take a much darker twist, to show us a more evil Dexter than the one we're seen the past two seasons.

My best guess for next season would be that Astor and Cody are turned over the Rita's parents and that Dexter raises his child as a single father, teaching him to be a skilled murderer just as Harry did. That would seem to fit in well with Trinity's final monologue on fate and Dexter's inability to make lasting changes given his true nature. If nothing else, the show took a gamble and has opened the door for something far more interesting than what we've seen the past two seasons. There is real potential something exciting, and, for a change, I am genuinely looking forward to the next season of the show.

Anonymous said...

As for Rita's death, without the other 3 victims coinciding to alert the authorities of the "trinity" killer, won't it just look like a suicide? that's what all the other bathtub bleedouts looked like?

Hutch said...

I found it interesting in last year's season finale...that one drop of blood on Rita's white bridal dress. Thoughts? bgt: Brilliant observation, hopefully we will find out. Shane Sparks: I know continuity has never been the series strong suit. I doubt if the excellent points you made regarding logistics will be dealt with in a timely manner next season. Thanks for putting it all together. I was tired when I was watching last night and only noticed some of the inconsistencies.

Anonymous said...

One of my biggest problems with the finale was the way Dexter suddenly had a Peter Petrelli style labotomy when he was in the garage with Arthur. Why didn't he just use Arthur's keys and drive him away in the van? He could have killed Arthur right then and later claimed his own car was stolen and that the thief was the one who clipped the guy's mirror and then abandoned it at the bank.

dez said...

And if Trinity wound up plastic-wrapped to a table like we all assumed he would be, at least he left a shocking surprise behind with Rita's murder.

It would have been if someone hadn't spoiled it in the comments awhile back :(

I was a little surprised Dexter granted Harry's wish to go out with the train running and the music playing. Guess it's a professional courtesy. That scene was pretty awesome, though. Need to rewatch it in light of Rita's death.

As for the plot holes, those bugged me, too, though I'm guessing Trinity figured out where Rita lived from something he found at Deb's. Still, I enjoyed the ep, and I hope the writers grow some balls and follow through on the predicament they've created for Dexter.

KrisMrsBBradley said...

The one thing I'm questioning is once they figured out who Trinity is and now that the police have his pictures, did NO one remember him as the guy who just walked through the precinct and stopped to talk to Dexter?

I guess we've already established Miami Metro's lack of observational skills, but the dude was just there the day before!

dez said...

Oops, I mean Arthur's wish, not Harry's.

dez said...

I bet Quinn will remember, if he was there (will have to rewatch to see who was around). They've been setting Quinn up to be Doakes-lite, so I won't be surprised if he starts dogging Dexter more determinedly next season.

Anonymous said...

Okay. Shocking ending. OMG. OMG. OMG.

But, how will they deal with Dexter's indirect causation of his wife's death? The number of innocent victims mounts.

Deb: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But must every sentence begin with the word "f***in'"? Please.

Rita: I'm an old married man, but did Ms. Benz have her boobs done between season 3 and 4? And did they spend a lot of time with a side view in the car after she picks Dexter up from prison? Did Ms. Benz waste her money on plastic surgery, having been written off the show?

merseydotes said...

@Shane Sparks - I think Dexter was hiding in the trunk of the Mustang for the whole ride. I think while Arthur was off killing Dexter's wife (I assume he got there and back by taking a bus or taxi), Dexter was tampering with Arthur's car and stashing himself in the trunk. The irony being that if Dexter had listened to his voicemail earlier, he would have raced home but instead he was too focused on trying to head off Trinity. Would be interesting to go back and watch and see if we can hear the phone ringing for Rita's missed call and what Dexter is doing when the phone rings. Against Harry's caution, he answered her call even in the high speed chase the day before - what made him miss her call that day?

Unknown said...

RE: Shane Sparks

The reason why Trinity's car overheated was due to the fact that Dexter had removed the Radiator Cap correct? (Dexter had the cap in his hand after knocking him to the ground)

Which leads me to believe Dexter somehow removed the cap before Trinity picked up his Mustang which was during the afternoon and then Dexter followed him until the car overheated. (I wont even ask how did Dexter know it would happen on a deserted road?)

-I don't know much about cars so I could be completely wrong - but maybe Dexter knew that it would take a certain amount of time before overheating/causing a problem. We don't know exactly what time it was that Arthur picked up the car so it could be late afternoon and Dexter could have assumed that by the time the car got screwed up it would be dark enough that he could quickly sneak up and get Trinity. If it was a busy road i'm sure Dexter would have waited for an opening. Also, many believe he didn't follow Trinity but actually hid in the trunk of his car. I'm not sure which happened but either seem possible.

So when did Trinity have time at night to kill Rita who was commenting on how beautiful the moon was?

-Trinity killed her earlier in the daytime. She stopped home to pick up her ID shortly after she left in the taxi that Dexter waved to. Her goal was to run in the house, grab her ID, run back out and catch the next earliest flight. She just happened to be at the house when Trinity was. She comments on the moon and says "it's supposed to be beautiful tonight" implying that she heard from the weather report or friend or news that the moon would be out that night. She also comments on the moon in the voicemail that was left shortly after she departed from her house in the morning. She never saw the moon that night.

If Dexter did not remove the radiator cap, how did he find Trinity so quickly then?

He did remove the cap.

Unknown said...

RE: Anonymous @ 11:11

One of my biggest problems with the finale was the way Dexter suddenly had a Peter Petrelli style labotomy when he was in the garage with Arthur. Why didn't he just use Arthur's keys and drive him away in the van? He could have killed Arthur right then and later claimed his own car was stolen and that the thief was the one who clipped the guy's mirror and then abandoned it at the bank.

Too dangerous and too many lies would need to be created. Think about it. Quinn just saw Dex speeding away in anger. He would also need to explain HOW the car got stolen as he's not the forgetful/reckless type to just leave his keys in the ignition. I also don't think it was a very far distance from the police station, so it would be odd that his car was stolen at that time. Keep in mind, too, that Dexter was clearly not thinking straight. His world just exploded because Trinity knows his name and job and that puts his family in danger. So while being a little on edge because of what happened minutes before and worried about getting caught...he assumed that he would get off easy by flashing his credentials (which has worked in the past). The cops weren't being friendly with "Metro" police and then the guy with a broken mirror starts recording a video of Dexter sets him off. The video of Dexter is clear evidence of where he was and at what that set him off.

His mind was racing and he had a bunch of split second decisions to make. Is it too hard to believe that he didn't come up with a perfect plan in 30 seconds?

Anonymous said...

Trinity actually said where is my fucking oil cap and it looked like dexter was holding a oil filter in his hand. With no oil pressure you cant go on for long until the engine breaks down we are talking minutes.

The 30 sec gap between dexter entering trinity's house(unsean) and swat storming the place is also pretty stupid. If they have chopper in the air they must have spotters and snipers covering the house long before it arrived.

Think they could have done something much stronger with ritas death and still have som shock value left when dexter finds his son in the blood puddles next to her.

Unknown said...

The 30 sec gap between dexter entering trinity's house(unsean) and swat storming the place is also pretty stupid. If they have chopper in the air they must have spotters and snipers covering the house long before it arrived.

Do they usually bring snipers in for a situation like that? I would've just assumed that they have swat guys there to apprehend the guy and a chopper in case he escapes.

Also, it's possible that the garage and house are connected to the house somehow or in an area where no SWAT guys went yet.

It was stretching a bit......I agree.....but still possible/believable IMO.

Susan said...

I don't have a problem with the continuity details of the episode like some others did.
* There seemed to be enough time for Arthur to kill Rita between leaving his house in a rage and getting the Mustang.
* Trinity will be blamed for planting the evidence at Beaudry's.
* Trinity clearly knew the police were closing in (he closed his accounts, etc.), so it doesn't seem completely shocking that he would target a Miami Metro staffer's wife as his last victim.
* The kidnapped kid never saw Dexter - he was unconscious when Dexter found him, and we can assume that Dexter got him back to his family somehow without being seen.

I also thought it was a fairly expected ending until those last few minutes. I did like Deb's reaction to finding out the truth about Dexter's family - because she loves him and relies on him, her first reaction is to be glad he was saved and became part of her family, rather than to assume he became a monster like his brother.

I also really liked that Dexter abandoned his usual knife kills to kill Arthur with his own hammer. Nice touch.

Count Screwloose said...

Wow, what a gutsy move! They threw out the...premise of Seriously, it's a disappointment that makes no narrative sense or emotional sense, for that matter. It's a cheap way to goose the show in the short term, but will prove ruinous in the long run. Despite the opinions I've been reading to the contrary, it's too drastic a change in tone. You mean the show that's been advertising itself with pix of Dexter and a cute baby with a bib reading "My Dad's A Killer" has him end up screaming and sobbing in a pool of his mother's blood? That is hilarious! This is a huge miscalculation and I doubt the show can recover from it. There's not much point in watching it anymore - it's not going to have very much to do with storytelling as the story's gone. It will now be an empty, though possibly diverting, exercise in empty posturing and clever plotting. The show will no longer have a heart, though, and the things that require one rarely seem to last long without one.

MIss Otis said...

Count me as one who was shocked.

Obviously, it sets up a myriad of fallout scenarios. His worst nightmare of his life was recreated for his infant son, due in part, to his own play with Trinity. He was starting to create a normal life with a connection to his family - now that has been ripped away.

I don't think the writers handled it very well but now the fact that Dexter worked so to be sure Trinity was not caught by the police carries an enormous personal and moral weight for Dexter.

PS: Alan, I really enjoy your work. It's a must read for those who love quality television.

You said exactly what I have been thinking. It's a real pleasure to finish the watching experience by reading the reviews here.

My sincere thanks, and there are some wonderful posters as well.

Anonymous said...

After re-watching the last scene between Dexter and Trinity (Quadrinity?), I think that when Arthur says that Dexter will have to accept that it's God's plan and that "it's already over" he wasn't referring to his own death or to Dexter's role as a serial killer - he was referring to Rita's murder.

dez said...

The only "good" thing about Harrison sitting in the blood is that he's too young for the memory to take hold. At least the writers won't have to tackle that psychological mess.

@Susan, good point about Trinity targeting a staffer's wife because he knew he was toast soon. Dex can play that off as Trinity coming in to ask questions and Dex pissing him off by being rude or whatever because he was busy working. Only Quinn would be suspicious because of the confrontation they had in the parking lot immediately after.

Yeah, the kid never saw Dexter since he was out cold. I would like to know how Dex ensured he was found.

Forgot to mention last week what a great scene it was with Trinity looking at the photo array of his kills and being so proud. Great job from Lithgow making Trinity extra creeeeeepy.

SJ said...

Reminds me somewhat of the ending to "Epitafios". The shock is just a little too much...what a gut-punch.

I don't like the way the writers kept deceiving the audience though. The whole time we knew Trinity was going to go after Dex's family, and they showed us that they were now safe. Kinda smacks of lazy writing to be honest.

ShayDetta said...

I have no problem with Trinity killing off Rita but to make the baby watch and potentially turn him into a psycho? That was just messed up. I feel bad for little Harry =(

Anonymous said...

I felt like the ending set up the next season well...Dexter will be forever examining his baby "born in blood" Not only do they have the same DNA but now also the same grim blood bath experience (heh heh). I think we'll be fastforwarded to the baby being older starting to make decisions that Dexter will always be second-guessing. Harrison as a loner. Harrison in preschool slightly off. Deb might even move in the house to help with the kids. This will give her ample opportunities to see Dexter's supposed "work" habits up-close. Some of the leftover loopholes in the Trinity story line might be easily fixed with Dexter spinning some story about being undercover or trying to avenge Lundy off the clock. He will give the Trinity family their money and that will be that.

Unknown said...

The whole time we knew Trinity was going to go after Dex's family, and they showed us that they were now safe. Kinda smacks of lazy writing to be honest.

Can you explain how that is lazy writing? To me it was just a twist...because we thought everything was okay but it wasn't. I didn't expect that to happen and it did. How is it lazy?

SR said...

Looking back on the season, all I can think about is that Dexter's sloppiness and hubris killed his wife and ruined the lives of three innocent children. On some level, what Dexter's done to Astor and Cody - directly killing one parent and indirectly killing another - is at least as bad as what Arthur did to his kids. Instead of leaving me excited for next season, I'm kind of just sickened.

I hope the writers have a plan for season 5. I kinda doubt it, but I'm sure I'll be there for the premiere to find out.

Anonymous said...

Good writing & acting should leave an impact on you. While at times she was a bore and a pest I was sad to see her go.

They need a deadline. The show needs to know when it's going to end.

Anonymous said...

Additionally, I wan them to explore how Harry made Dexter who he is. He got around. Yeah, that's bad but he also made a serial killer.

Captain Spork said...

I thought it was a hack job. This finale is only "brilliant" if they actually go somewhere worthwhile next season. The Rita "twist" was telegraphed with all of the long "acceptance of Dexter" dialogue. Shock value only, they have no clue where they're going with the characters anymore. There's doing things for dramatic effect and then there's just being lazy.

The reason Rita was "annoying" to some of the audience was because the writers did a horrible job of shaping her. He's changing into something new and then we get this Rita business which confirms "head Harry" and his notion that Dexter is monster. This show has lost it's balance. I hope they can write Dexter out this horrible corner they've put him in.

George said...

Dexter would be suspect number one in Rita's murder. The spouse is always the first suspect in a murder. And Dexter has motive (jealousy over that kiss with Elliot), he has demonstrated violent episodes (punching Elliot, smashing the lights, getting arrested for scuffling with police). He was last seen with Rita when she bailed him out of jail, which could have led to a violent argument on the way home.

How could he possibly blame it on Trinity? Trinity isn't even supposed to know Dexter, let alone his wife. And if Trinity had been after Debra, he might have killed Dexter (her brother), but Dexter's wife? Nope.

And it's unlikely that he has an alibi - he was out chasing after Trinity when she was killed.

Moving on to another plot point, what will happen to the kids? Will the writers simply write them out of the picture by giving custody to the grandparents (who were conveniently introduced in this episode)? Dexter's not a blood relative, so they could well win a custody battle.

And what about his own baby? They can't simply write him out of the picture. It might make sense for the writers to eliminate Dexter's family, to return him to his original lone wolf status, but if so, it makes no sense to burden him with a single baby.

Will they bring back Rita's horrid mother to take away the baby? Stay tuned...

And what route will Dexter now take? Two paths seem obvious. One is the admit defeat, to admit that he is doomed to be a serial killer and just accept it. The other is to pursue his train of thought in this last episode: that he is a man capable of at least some goodness after all, and make an effort to get rid of his dark passenger.

It would be interesting to see a battle of sorts, between Dexter's good and evil sides. Until now, he has always tried to have it both ways, to balance his acts. What if he no longer values the ritual of killing? What if it becomes something that he now despises, but is still drawn to? Would he wind up as Arthur? An aging serial killer who knows his deeds are evil, but can't stop? Or would be be capable of defeating his dark side in a battle of wills? That would be an interesting story...

blinky said...

The strangest moment of the night was seeing the Lithgow/Hall interview. The actor looks nothing like Dexter! I did not expect that. And to think he is married to his sister

Joseph said...

I am torn. A lot of good posts on the blog, both for and against. I have to say I have enjoyed watching the past two seasons so didn't personally feel the need for a "game changer". And I am with the others who are unsure how much this will actually change anything. Killing off Rita actually solves none of the problems people were complaining about this season: a show revolving around "single dad" Dexter - whether it is one kid or three - is going to create the same issues as a show about "married dad" Dexter. Maybe worse, since there is no spouse to watch the kids while Dexter does his thing.

I may be a little more optimistic if I hadn't read the EW interview with the exec producer where he basically admits the decision to kill Rita came about because they had no idea how to end the season. It was done purely for "shock" reasons, not creative ones (although it makes sense that Dexter's mistakes would come back to hurt him at some point), and it sounds like they have no idea what to do from here. Killing a character, in any entertainment medium, is the easiest and cheapest way to spur interest and get attention.

DT Strain said...

Earlier in the day we see Arthur go to Dexter's apartment, see it was Debra Morgan and get upset. After that, what we don't see is him looking around some more and discovering who Deb is and finding information on Dexter's real address. Meanwhile, we're watching Dexter as he's trying to figure out where Arthur would be. Once he finds out he's going to pick up that car, he goes there and takes the part out. This is what he's doing while Arthur's killing Rita. Then Arthur goes to get his car, Dexter's watching from far away and follows him with lights out (why we don't see a car way back there). He didn't know exactly where the car would break down, but if in a populated area, he'd simply continue to follow him after he got out of the car looking for an opportunity. It was luck it was on a small road.

Anonymous said...

While it would have been totally gruesome, I actually think it would have been a better finale had Trinity killed the rest of Dexter's family. Not only would it have been more shocking, but it would have made sense thematically to have Astor be the young woman in the bathtub, Rita be the mother thrown from the roof, and Cody be the young boy buried alive. The final bludgeoning of the father figure would have been Dexter's bludgeoning of Arthur. Dexter would have essentially become Trinity by (indirectly) killing his entire family and completing the cycle by bludgeoning Arthur. The only one spared would have been Harrison who was left in the pool of blood to be the new Dexter.

Craig Ranapia said...

And what about his own baby? They can't simply write him out of the picture. It might make sense for the writers to eliminate Dexter's family, to return him to his original lone wolf status, but if so, it makes no sense to burden him with a single baby.

George: Why? IN the books, Astor and Cody had "dark passengers" of their own, and Dexter assumes the responsibility of teaching them the Code. Carrying on Harry's legacy.

Since the producers decided not to go there, why would Dexter abandon his own son? I don't think it's any coincidence that Harrison is in the same position as his father and (late) uncle were. Dexter is a sociopath, but he's also intensely loyal to his family, and it just makes no sense to me that he'd dump his own son -- or even Cody and Astor, who I think he genuinely loves as far as he's capable of loving anyone.

3333/afa said...

Dexter is a sociopath, but he's also intensely loyal to his family ...

I'm not a psychological expert, but I'm pretty sure those are conflicting ideas.

Unknown said...

While I'm not sure if they're going to go that route of Dexter teaching Harrison.....I definitely thought that's the route we're going when I watched the finale. I knew about how he teaches Cody/Astor in the books so I always had that in the back of my mind.

Here's how I envision it (as others have said):

Cody/Astor go to Paul's parents. Rita's mom seems too mean but even she can be the one to take the kids. Cody/Astor have no blood relation to Dex so it makes sense that Paul's parents (who were introduced as loving and caring and the opposite of Paul) would get them.

Dexter will hang on to Harrison claiming since he's the real dad he'll take care of him. He'll start to notice odd tendencies and choose to teach "Harry's Code" to him. Just think of the "Born in Blood" saying and flashbacks to how Dexter became who he is.

Even if Dexter gives all the kids to Paul's parents and visits them occasionally he can realize the signs that Harrison will be like Dex.

I believe the best way to do this is to have a flashforward through time....maybe 5 years or more. Explain what happened and start off with Dexter on his own with baby Harrison.

It will be interesting to see the path they take in Season 5

Unknown said...

I like the finale, felt like Lithgow's death was a bit of a let down until Rita was found dead.

I think the way to make season 5 unique/a game changer, is for Dexter to tell his sister the whole truth. Its only a matter of time before she figures it out, she has gotten so close so far. I know some of this has been mentioned in other comments but bear with me.

Inevitably Deb will become the surrogate mom to all 3 kids, or at least the newborn (Cody and Astor might be shipped off to grandma). If she is living with Dexter she will not be oblivious to the hints that Rita was.

Dexter did tell Deb in the book and the latest one dealt with a lot of the complications of her knowing. I think season 5 could have a whole new twist to it where Deb knows about Dexter and fights with what to do with that knowledge.

People might say this is a repeat of the Dexter-Miguel Prado storyline but it wouldnt be because Deb is family and not a sociopath.

Alex Mullane said...

Good episode, but I couldn't help but feel disappointed as I was watching it. As others have said, it all played out pretty much exactly as we had expected it too.

But the shock reveal at the end (Which I genuienly didn't see coming, simply because the rest of the episode had implied that the writers didn't have the balls), was brilliant. On a purely visual level, the image of Harrison sitting in the blood, made sense within the show, and was so haunting and vibrant it will stay with me for some time.

How the writers approach this revelation in the next season is crucial. We should essentially be able to say after the first episode whether the show will be worth sticking with. If the writers follow through on the groundwork here, it could be brilliant. If they ignore it, well... I'm out.

Assuming they treat the show properly, my biggest worry is how Dex will have to answer questions as to why Rita was killed by Trinity. Deb will be looking at that link, and I wonder if her seeing him in Arthurs garage might start to seem a little more suspicious... That could genuinely lead to her discovering the dark passenger. Will she cover for her bro? Or turn him in? I'd love to see Carpenter play THAT!

Whereas if all we get is lots of stuff about Dex being a single dad... Meh. If Dex were to ABANDON the kids... that could be more interesting.

Anyway, it was a good finale, to a season I enjoyed (primarily thanks to Lithgow's character, and the acting of him, Hall and Carpenter), but the real proof will be in the pudding of season 5.

captcha: mancon.

(You could say that Dexter himself is something of a "mancon" ; )

LoopyChew said...

Seeing as Dexter was renewed for two seasons after S3 was up, I think they have an idea as to what they're doing from here.

I personally love Julie Benz, and I'm sad to see her go in such a "shock-ending" twist which was fairly telegraphed (particularly since Shotime basically said that the most shocking twist was going to cap the season, and they kept on piling on the Dexter/Rita emotional moments that there was nowhere ELSE to go but the fridge).

Season 5 will have to be the end of the show, I think. As is, the show is starting to wear thin, and only John Lithgow and MCH's performances were really able to save it (I do think this finale was stronger than 2 or 3, but maybe I'm just upset at 2 because Doakes mofoin' died in it).

It'll be interesting if they decide to set Harry and Rita on one another, though--the angel AND devil on Dexter's shoulders.

Anonymous said...

I have been a big Dexter fan since the first season, in spite of my qualms about his serial-killing ways. But as he had his Code and he "only" killed people he was absolutely sure were guilty, I made my peace with his murdering and enjoyed the show.

But this season, his obsession with being the one who had to mete out justice resulted in deaths that had nothing to do with the Code. First off, the fashion photographer. Dexter felt bad for what, five minutes? Then poor Kyle Butler, who had the misfortune to be impersonated by Dexter. Then Stan the Man - killed by Dexter for his own convenience, nothing to do with the Code. The little kidnapped boy almost died and certainly underwent a hideously traumatizing experience. And then finally Rita, and the pain her death will bring to her children for ever. All those people had to die while Dexter was busy obstructing justice for his own ego-gratification.

No matter how much I love Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter as actors, I think the show is losing me. It's not so much the plot loopholes - I've forgiven them before in Dexter. But for me the premise is gone, the reason I could enjoy a show about a guy who murders people. Now there is nothing making him different from your run-of-the mill self-obsessed killer. Would you watch a whole season with Trinity as the hero?

Like others, I'll try the Season Five premiere, but if I don't see some evidence of the Dexter I knew and trusted, I'll be gone. There's too much good TV out there to waste time on shows that don't work for me anymore. And so I'm off to watch Season Two, Episode 10 of Six Feet Under. Yay DVDs!

Craig Ranapia said...

I'm not a psychological expert, but I'm pretty sure those are conflicting ideas.

Heh... pointed granted and taken. But the textbook sociopath also has poor impulse control, compulsive sexual acting out and a poor work ethic. None, I think, of which you can say about Dexter Morgan. Then again, I've never heard of a RW sociopath having a Harry in their lives, so what the hell do I know? :)

belinda said...

Craig said:
George: Why? IN the books, Astor and Cody had "dark passengers" of their own, and Dexter assumes the responsibility of teaching them the Code. Carrying on Harry's legacy.

I haven't read the books yet, but I was thinking the same thing! Mostly because we got to see Christine ending up the way she did for the sake of protecting Arthur and keeping his lie, and a few episodes ago we saw Cody defending Dexter in a fight (and quitting boy scouts or whatever that camping trip was for) defending Dexter's lie. And now, with Harrison possibly being traumatized (and Cody and Astor being traumatized by Rita's death), it certainly seems possible that the show would head down what is apparently the same path as the books do.

Landlady in Distress said...

Please, please, please no ghost Rita. She was insufferable enough when alive. The anonymous poster who talked about Trinity Killing Dexter's whole family to re-enact the whole cycle was right. But either the writers didn't have the guts or they simply didn't think of it. Going for shock value with a killing is different that tying the ending up with an intricate bloody bow. Anonymous who came up with that should apply for a job on the show.

That said, still love Dex and his struggles. He was a bit of a mess this season, and I hope he is back in form next season (I don't need him reformed, just conflicted in an interesting manner). I also hope for better subplots with the other characters next season. Angel and LaGuerta were pretty well nauseating this season.

Did anyone figure out if Arthur's family was really his family or victims of some kidnapping? How about Arthur's son seeking Dexter out? Wouldn't life with Arthur be enough to really screw someone up? There are all sorts of possibilities for the genetics and the code to be continued.

But isn't it too easy to say that any little boy born to blood (or whatever) will necessarily start torturing little animals when he grows up? I think that would be a lousy turn in the story, and I just wouldn't buy it without massive suspension of disbelief.

Jill said...

There's something NO ONE is commenting on anywhere, and that's what seems obvious to me on second viewing: That the way Dexter has "followed" Trinity it to hide in the trunk of the Mustang. There are at least 3 shots of the trunk as A. Mitchell drives away; more of the car than of the character's face.

When the car breaks down, it is foggy but you see NO signs of life from behind the car and no headlights. The Dexter just appears from what looks like the back of the car. I don't know if a vintage Mustang has fold-down rear seats, but if it does, it's an easy matter to go from the front to the back seat.

I see it is Dexter having secreted himself in the Mustang perhaps while Mitchell was paying the bill...and in the trunk while Trinity was killing his wife....which makes it even MORE grotesque and disturbing.

Intergalactic said...

I don't get how people think it's a good ending. I see 2 major problems - one, Trinity did not have the time to kill Rita. Two - Rita is a mother of THREE children and Dexter's only hope to loose his "dark passenger". And for a mother of 3 she was beautiful. Now with her dead - I mean come on, does anyone feel angry about this or am I the only one to see how lame this is? Yes, it's a drama. Awesome, great: get it, got it, good.

But how about some moral instruction, good always prevails even in a long and unbalanced struggle? Why can't Rita live, Trinity die, and Dexter become a better person? I know why - because of money. Showtime, or whoever makes the show, likes money. I like money too. They just like it more. How do you keep millions of people watching a show - make it interesting and appeal to their dark fantasies. We know the good should prevail, but every once in a while we find ourselves rooting for the bad side, just because. Think Bruce Willis in "The Jackal", "Watchmen", and Anthony Hopkins in "Fracture". Who didn't want Bruce to win and make a getaway, or the smart guy in Watchmen to succeed over the annoying naked blue man, or Anthony Hopkins to get away clean? Maybe some, but most found themselves interestingly divided and rooting for the main characters, who weren't on the good side.

Here, however, you have an entire show (4 seasons) dedicated to a serial murderer? So, the fact that in every episode someone dies (idk, that's almost 100 people dexter's killed now?) is not enough? I get that audiences like action, drama, death, etc., but once in a while can we get a break and have a good resolution? Or is that too mundane because nobody is swimming in blood? Personally, I'm a bit disgusted that the ending turned out this way. Will I watch season 5? Of course, who here can say that they are not? Emotional ending for sure, whether I'm satisfied with the way it turned out or not. I really want to see where they go from here. Maybe Quinn will try to blame Dexter for his wife's death, who knows.

Bottom Line: Rita should have lived!!!

EssPee said...

Now there is nothing making him different from your run-of-the mill self-obsessed killer. Would you watch a whole season with Trinity as the hero?

I'll take that as slightly metaphorical to say, I might. How many seasons of sociopathic Tony Soprano did we watch? Or of Al Swearingen (admittedly in a different context)? No, these characters weren't classic serial killers drawn specifically by the love of the kill -- but they certainly didn't see anything wrong with the act, and you'd be hard-pressed to say they got no satisfaction from it.

Or is it different to view the depersonalization inherent in killing as somehow unique when it's divorced from momentary rage or business calculation? Which is not always the case where Dexter is concerned. Sometimes it strikes me that Dexter is just a little more self-aware about his urges -- natural or trained by Harry -- and that, plus the ritual really skews our view of him.

But if the ritual is just a means of conforming Dexter's sense of what's societally expected with what he feels drawn to do -- again, by nature or by coaching -- what really makes him different from anyone else on TV who kills for a living?

ZucchiniFlower said...

I thought about possible endings on Saturday and decided Rita would be found dead in the bathtub by Dexter.

However, I predicted that Dexter would save Cody from Trinity, and Cody would witness Dexter killing Trinity and would keep Dexter's secret.

I thought that after saving Cody, Dexter would discover Rita. Killing Rita would make Cody cling to Dexter even more, and he would keep Dexter's current and future secrets.

Sonia said...

I knew it was going to happen...all that "I accept you Dexter" stuff from Rita was just begging for something hideous to happen to that poor woman. I knew it would happen, and I was still shocked when it did...never saw the "Harrison sitting in his mom's blood" thing coming....gross...and super creepy.

Do you think Arthur discovered a bit about Dexter's past -- maybe he found some information in Deb's apartment and recreated Rita's death and Harrison sitting in her blood specially for Dexter?

Also...I am a little concerned about how Dexter is going to handle the questions about why Trinity targeted him? Deb has awesome instincts, and Quinn hates him. Do you think he'd just cover it up and pretend Rita left him and the kids? Hmmm...maybe not...don't think he'd do that to Astor or Cody...but I do wonder if his complete self-involvement will take over.

I think Astor and Cody will go live with their grandparents. Poor Harrison is going to stay with Dexter...and genetics suggest, he's doomed.

And whoever pointed out that Dexter might have been in the trunk of the car while Arthur was killing!!! Good one! That's SO messed up but so possible!

Anonymous said...

Many are positing a situation, parallel to the books, where Dexter is teaching one of the kids the ropes. There are two problems with this, purely logistical:

(1) That's asking a lot of a kid actor, to the point of maybe being impossible. If it's the baby it's obviously not an option, and neither of the other two has shown any inkling of being able to handle such a load. That's probably because no kid that age could, so even swapping actors won't suffice. Where's the 11-year-old actor able to credibly portray what a kid would be going through in that mess?

(2) The other option, then, it to flash forward in time. Any of the three kids is a prospect, then, because you could find a teenager to play any of the parts depending on how far forward you go. The problems with this are (a) it deprives the audience of seeing first-hand how Dexter and those around him deal with what just happened, a cop-out that probably would kill the series, and (b) it causes general aesthetic problems, because if it's 2020 or something, everyone has to wear aging makeup, and Dexter's going to be riding around on a hovercraft to kill the next guy.

What happened last night seems not to have been thought out too well, a guess furthered by the producer's admission that they decided on killing her at the end of the shooting season. Whatever they do will either strain credibility further than the already-accepted levels for this show--"Geez, this Dexter guy sure has a lot of dead people show up around him"--or otherwise renders almost all of the past four seasons a complete waste of time.

Lindsay said...

There is no way that they just slapped that ending on for drama. That was a well thought out plot for the whole season.

The season opens with us seeing, step by step how he kills someone in the bath tub and it ends with Rita experiencing it. All we are left with is knowing how it was done...Sweet pure Rita in the tub with Creep Sleezy Authur...I will never sleep again...

I think that they will start they show with blaming the murder on Dexter. I know it sounds crazy but there are all kinds of loopholes in the story, and all kinds of mess and suspicion that Dex has left behind...They were in counseling, he disappears all the time, the Miami metro may think that Dex did it and is trying to cover it up...

I will be totally scarred for life if it is revealed that Aurthur killed Rita while Dexter was Hiding in the Trunk...I will just die...

I think it makes complete and total sense to kill off what small levels of innocence and purity Dexter had left...He and we are screwed...

Lindsay said...

I also think it would become wicked cool if Rita showed up as a representation of Dexter's conscious. Maybe her and Harry switch off. Maybe Rita is there about family issues and Harry shows up for killing advice.

I don't know it could be cool.

Seriously if Dexter was in the trunk while Trinity killed her he is officially the dumbest man ever...

T00L said...

There is no way that they just slapped that ending on for drama. That was a well thought out plot for the whole season.

Actually the writers said this was a last minute decision. They didn't have this in mind when the season started.

Jill said...

Alan, you know you've arrived when the comment spam keeps coming in.

Sorry, Lindsay, but "ghost Rita" would be too obnoxious for words. This is Dexter, not Blithe Spirit. And I'm convinced that "ghost Harry" is the physical manifestation for our benefit of Dexter's Dark Passenger. Remember, it's ghost Harry who says that Dexter can't change, can't have a family, can't be normal.

Now I understand why ghost Harry was so omnipresent this season. At first I thought it was sloppy writing, but now I think it's deliberate. As Dexter started to really make progress towards becoming a "real boy" this season, ghost Harry/Dark Passenger asserted himself more forcefully. Some elsewhere (at TWOP) are positing that Dexter was taken over by the Dark Passenger and actually killed Rita, but I don't buy that. The Dark Passenger is simply trying to protect himself. And you can't have a series unless Dexter elicits some sympathy.

It's harder to "like" Dexter after his colossal screwups this season, which have now resulted in the deaths of three innocents (four if you count Lundy among them): the photographer, the real Kyle Butler, and Rita. As annoying a whiny harpy as Rita was this season, the bathtub murder method is so psychologically disturbing and so haunting that while we were watching the episode again last night I had to leave the room during the last scene. Not even Rita deserved that.

I have no idea where they go with this now, but somehow I have a sense that the FBI takeover of the Trinity case is eliciting some of the same feelings in Deb that Dad Harry had when he kept seeing killers set free. I do think that she will find out about Dexter and we will see a lot of her struggle to be OK with it.

Persial said...

One possible cause of Rita's murder is that it's a plan by Michael C. Hall to get more scenes with his real life wife Jennifer Carpenter. Who is the most likely person to help Dexter out with his family? Deb. You could see Dexter and Deb get closer and closer to the point that Deb becomes a partner to Dexter's urges.

Unknown said...

The following is an excerpt from the first of two Q & A's that Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello had with Dexter exec producer Clyde Phillips. It answers a lot.

When was the decision made to kill off Rita?
CLYDE PHILLIPS:I would say we made the decision pretty late in the season. We didn’t quite know what we were going to do [in the finale].

Why Rita?
PHILLIPS: The story evolved and it kind of became inevitable. We knew that we had to do more than kill Trinity. It’s a little bit of a corner that we paint ourselves into. Last year we tried to avoid that and actually I think we didn’t do as well as we could have. We killed off Jimmy Smits’ character [in the 11th episode] of 12 episodes and then we had to figure out what we were going to do in the 12th episode. This season, we knew that we were going to take Trinity out in the 12th episode and we think that the audience knew that, too. We had to raise the bar to as high as possible and then figure out what to do next year.

Might she return as a ghost like Dex’s dad?
PHILLIPS: The answer, at the moment, is no. However, had you asked me two years ago if Lundy was coming back I would’ve said no. We didn’t know he was coming back until this year. It just seemed expedient to the story — to Dexter’s story and to Deb’s story.

you can read the whole post here and part 2 here. Hope it helps :)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Some commentators have already mentioned the time angle. What I thought was the most unbelievable was that the baby was still sitting neatly in the blood.

Trinity has to kill Rita then pick up the car then drive to wherever Dexter apprehends him. Trinity is then killed, the body needs to be chopped up and then disposed of before driving home. I estimate that the time passed must have been at least 6 hours. Was the baby just relaxing in that spot for 6 hours. Surely he would have moved and subsequently become drenched in it. Was there even a bathroom door? I would have imagined the wee nipper may have got a tad bored at some time and ventured out.

erin said...

@sean...grr. That interview frustrates me. I don't understand how the writers can have such rich material and just not know what to do with it. Deb knowing about Dexter IS a game changer...SO USE IT. Don't be so lazy! I want them to be more creative, and they're just being propped up by the terrific acting. It's frustrating when you know a show can be brilliant (like Season 1 was, which was working from the book almost exclusively) and the writers are just half-assing it. Step up your game, folks!

dez said...

@Jill, actually, other commenters did mention the possibility of Dexter hiding in the trunk of the Mustang.

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts:

Trinity killed Rita while Dex was at Trinity's house. Nothing happened after Trinity picked up the Mustang that we didn't see. Trinity found Dex's new address at Deb's place.

Rita's death will be thrown onto Trinity's pile and lost in the FBI bureaucracy. No more questions will be asked about it - the timing was right for a bathtub slaying in Trinity's pattern. Actually overdue.

All other Trinity related questions will wrapped up the same way. No more Trinity victims + Suspect disappeared means everything associated with the case will be lost to the pressures of the FBI workload. The case will be left to rot in a basement somewhere before a year is out.

Stunning finale. They had me fooled that everything was wrapping up nice and neat Season 3 style.

Anonymous said...

Consider Rita's principle problem for the story: she affirms the goodness of woman and this is too affirming in a story about the bleak proposition that responsible man with a true sense of justice is a serial killer. That proposition is endlessly intriguing raising questions such as when does justice justify the vigilante killing, what about mistakes and hence another form of injustice. And so on. But here is Rita, the innocent (my god, she worries about kissing her neighbor with a bit too much enthusiasm), the perfect mother, the caring wife--all of which seem like annoying outlier traits in the grisly context of the rest of Dexter and like the rest of TV. So off with her and in a way that is so perfect. SAS

Anonymous said...

I understand where the writers are coming from, but this ending leaves some huge plot holes.

1) Arthur appeared in the police station talking to Dexter? None of the cops noticed? Unikely.

2) How is Dexter going to explain how his wife just happened to be a victim of the Trinity killer? Although I know this show is fictional - and there has to be some suspension of disbelief - this seems a bridge too far. And won't his picture be on the TV news and be seen by Trinity's family?

Perhaps the writers will explain this, but if they think that the season's ending tied everything in a neat little bow, they need to think a lot harder.

And if they do have to revisit the Trinity storyline to explain it, the season might already feel stale.

suncore598 said...

Anyone frustrated about the ending of Season 4, have more than a low opinion about Rita, and want to chat about what could be truly a game-changer for the show, go to this:

Anonymous said...

why all the rita bashing? first off,she is beautiful to look at, and her initial submissive thing was a turn on.....their dynamic ,as a mis-matched couple , was interesting and highly going to miss her.........

Ron Ozer said...

The best episode in a good long time. I don't understand the anger with Rita's death. Her character was a drag on the show, the emotional scenes between her and Dexter were the most annoying of any in the show, so I cannot get too exercised about her death. That said, the way it was added and the filming of it and the references to Dexter's own mother's death were excellent. I still think the odd early arrival at Lithgow's house and Rita's death (or disappearance?) will make Angel and Deb suspicious of Dex next season. This will add to the series. Note how Angel saw Lithgow with Dex in the workplace, wonder if he will recall that?

empee said...

For all the people who say there are plot holes:

1) The voicemail that Rita left Dexter was on her way back from the airport to get her forgotten ID. It was quite obviously from much earlier in the day; Arthur probably killed her while Dexter was hiding in his trunk with the Mustang still at the mechanic's shop.

2) Arthur was in the police station, sure, but did you see all the visitors there? It was also at the time when the cops thought that Stan the Man was Trinity. Why would anyone give him a second glance, and who would ever consider that the "most successful serial killer of all time", who is currently being investigated by the Miami PD, would walk right into their "Trinity Room" and be snooping around. I find it entirely plausible that however far in the future (at least a day) that they got the photo of Arthur that they wouldn't remember him from the 5 minutes he was in the homicide department.

2b) Suppose for a moment that one of the police did remember seeing Arthur at the PD. Arthur's daughter already shot Dexter's sister earlier in the season when Lundy was getting too close, couldn't Rita's murder easily be explained away the same way? Trinity came after another Morgan, didn't find him home, and killed his wife instead... Someone seeing him at the police station could be precisely what exonerates Dexter as a suspect in Rita's murder. "Hey, I saw that guy at work yesterday. He looked through our room of evidence, and then had some words with Dexter. He must have known we were getting close, cashed out his bank accounts and taken some time for one final piece of revenge against us..."

Unknown said...

Anonymous said: I understand where the writers are coming from, but this ending leaves some huge plot holes.

1) Arthur appeared in the police station talking to Dexter? None of the cops noticed? Unikely.

2) How is Dexter going to explain how his wife just happened to be a victim of the Trinity killer? Although I know this show is fictional - and there has to be some suspension of disbelief - this seems a bridge too far. And won't his picture be on the TV news and be seen by Trinity's family?

1.) You're expecting these cops to be really alert and on top of their game? Since season 1 it has been portrayed that they aren't really that great at their job. They are constantly getting things wrong and Dexter always seems to be a step ahead of them. Also, like others have said: there was a lot of activitity going on and they thought they had their suspect.

2.) Perhaps it will be thought of as a suicide? Maybe they could say its coincidence. Maybe Dexter will be a suspect? We won't know until next season, so I hope you're right and the writers do explain it somewhat.

Anonymous said...

Why do so many people seem to want this show to become about Dexter training little kids to become serial killers? I can't imagine a more boring show. 11 episodes of Cody killing cats and squirrels before finally getting to pull the respirator on an old lady in the season finale. Wake me when that's over.

This show is about Dexter, a serial killer that kills bad people. It began to lose its way when it became a show about a serial killer who kills bad people and tries to have a normal family life. That is just melodrama. I'll watch Lifetime channel if I want to see the difficulties of relationships and parenthood.

Next season Dexter needs to either be on the run or in constant fear of being revealed as a result of all the mistakes he made this season. And while he is on the run, he still has to satiate his dark passenger. Remember, Dexter kills because it is a compulsion, the code was designed to allow him to satisfy that compulsion without killing the innocent and, most importantly, not get caught. So no matter what, Dexter has to kill.

That is the show I want to see next season. Dexter is not a good guy. He is psycopath. Abandon the kids, be a loner. Entertain us!!!

Unknown said...

Remember, Dexter kills because it is a compulsion, the code was designed to allow him to satisfy that compulsion without killing the innocent and, most importantly, not get caught. So no matter what, Dexter has to kill.

I disagree. No matter what, Dexter has to not get caught. that's what the code is all about and watching Dexter toy with the idea of teaching his son (while getting flashbacks of Dexter's own training) would be good for the show IMO. I've always been fascinated with the scenes that show Dexter learning how to take someone down or what mistakes not to make.

Eldritch said... just reported that the showrunner for the last four seasons is being replaced. I guess that means that all those hints and loose strings at the end of season 4 may now have nothing to do with season 5. There's a new sheriff in town.

Intergalactic said...

Deb should find out about Dexter, and either Cody or the baby should become Dexter's protege.

It will be difficult to pull off, but I think most will agree that it will make the series interesting. A hard role for Cody of 11 years, yes, but not impossible; he could pull off a convincing performance I'm sure. As for Deb and Dexter, Michael C. Hall can carry it all by himself. As long as they look to the book for guidance it'll turn out well.

Who doesn't want Deb to become privy to Dexter's secret?

George said...

No, Dexter will not abandon his kids. But the writers will still find a way to write them out of the picture. It's not that hard. Paul's parents can earn custody of his kids, arguing that Dexter, as a full-time police employee, can't give them the time they need. The same argument might be made by Rita's mother to claim the baby. Or, if they get desperate enough, they can simply kill the baby. Newborn babies die of natural causes all the time, including unexplained crib deaths. But the bottom line is that if the writers want to get the kids out of the picture, they can do it.

Don't think for a moment that the writers are planning to have Dexter train any of the kids to be a serial killer. Repeat after me: "The Dexter in the TV series is not the same Dexter in the books."

The writers have gone out of their way to make TV Dexter a much more likeable, much more human character.

The reason is simple: they want to keep their audience.

That's why they changed his style of murder from what was initially very grissly torture murders (most likely dismembering his victims while they were still alive), to very clean, swift kills with a single stroke. They want audiences to like Dexter, to root for him, and most audiences would find that hard to do if he was as cold and sadistic as the character in the book.

And that goes double for his behavior around kids. Audiences would bail on this series like passengers off the Titanic if they had Dexter training a baby to chop people into pieces. Trust me, it won't happen. The bloody ending was just a tease, an interesting twist. And it worked as that, but it's as far as it will go.

Dexter himself remarked, when Harrison was getting shots, that he was too young to remember any of it. The same goes for his mom's death. He would completely forget it. Dexter was a significantly older child at the time of his mother's death, and she was chain-sawed into pieces, a much more horrible thing to behold than Trinity's quiet bathtub killings.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to consider how many times Dexter could have prevented Rita's death:

- if he had strangled the unconscious Trinity in the car at the bank garage (before he was arrested).

- If he had avoided getting arrested and come back to kill him before he woke up and escaped.

- If he had taken a second to chop his head off with that shovel before diving in to recuse the kid from the cement grave.

- If he had killed him at the Thanksgiving dinner after he attacked his son.

- If he had simply let the guy commit suicide when he jumped off the roof!

- If he had killed him when they were staying together at that Tampa hotel.

- If he had killed him with the ax when he killed the deer.

- If he had killed him with the chain saw when they were cutting down the tree.

- Or, better yet, if he had simply turned him in to the police when he first found out that the Trinity Killer was Arthur Mitchell.

But no, HE wanted to be the one to kill him, so he misled the police, framed innocent men, got Kyle killed, almost got the boy in cement killed, endangered his sister (Trinity came to her apartment - she was lucky to have been gone at the time), and eventually got his wife murdered by the guy he deliberately kept out of prison for weeks.

Talk about your major f**k-ups...

Unknown said...

Great season and I thought for a second that they might hold Lithgow over to next season with maybe a cliffhanger b/c he's been so awesome.

Since MCH & Jennifer Carpenter are married, it makes sense that they are now at show's end:

-Both Single
-Both more messed up than ever
Plus letting Dexter know about Laura Moser + saying HOW IMPORTANT
he is to her..

I see Deb moving in or maybe they all move somewhere else so she can help Dexter with the kids. Possibly Astor & Cody go live with their grandparents so they only have to deal with Harrison.

Deb and Dexter aren't biologically related so I think they'll wind up together and bypass the brother/sister thing...probably keep it a secret like Batista/Laguerta did.

Deb is a good detective and won't keep buying Dexter's crap while living with him. She'd actually follow Dexter in a car while he goes on a "kill". I think she'll discover what Dex does on her own and wrestle with what to do with it. She may very well cover/help Dexter without his knowledge at first and then together?

I wonder if Dexter will just spill it all about Harry's code, everything that's happened, etc

Should be an awesome season that might not have a season character to deal with b/c all the focus will be on Dexter...

Dex wouldn't be able to get rid
of Rita's body off his boat...
--He might change things around so it looked like an accident

Or does everyone think he'll leave it as is? Maybe even call Deb in for help?

They've been setting up the whole QUINN on Dexter's ass all season
which will have to end badly for Quinn next season...I think.
Dexter might have to kill Quinn and it'll leave Deb wrestling with what to do?!

I'd love one episode focused on Masuka..just do it!!!

Love the show!

Kujo said...

Dexter is still one of the best dramas on TV, but season 4 was easily the worse season so far of it's existence. The writing just wasn't as good as past seasons. The first two seasons were exceptional, and season 3 was much better than season 4 imho.

The shocking ending to the season finale didn't redeem what I thought was a lacklustre season. The finale was ho-hum until that ending.

I've like Julie Benz since she was on "Angel", but I'm glad they got rid of character (though I suppose we'll still see her next season ala Harry scenes). She was beyond annoying at this point. Her character had run it's course.

I echo what many have said here regarding the writers needing to address the implications of Rita's murder. One theory I've read is that some think perhaps Dexter will try to cover up Rita's murder. It'll be very interesting to see how they handle this.

Intergalactic said...

nyactor, please repeat after me: "Deb and Dexter will not get over the "brother/sister thing" because they are - brother and sister!"

As someone pointed out to me, Dexter won't be training a kid to kill to keep audiences - they want a likable character. If he goes with his sister like Batista and Leguerta...they'll lose much of the audience, that's not right - brother and sister I mean. Lets keep it real.

What will probably happen is this:
kids go away, Quinn thinks Dexter killed his wife, Deb supports him but does not find out (not the book after all, its the show), and Dexter continues to kill people. Out of all the directions they can go, this is the most likely.

No child training, no "on the run" series because, well come on, who runs away successfully from the cops, it's not possible. Would have been interesting if Deb figured it out, but I think they're afraid that it won't go successfully.

Either way, Season 5 will either be boring (because it'll be the same as the other ones), or will be interesting. If they make a mistake, it may even fail. Hopefully they make the right call.

dez said...

I have a hard time seeing the Deb of the series knowing Dexter's a killer and not turning him in. She'd have to have a serious trauma to cover up Dex's true nature, but what could top being the Ice Truck Killer's kidnap victim or being shot by Trinity's daughter? I'd hate to see them try to top those and put her through more misery.

OTOH, I *really* want her to find out and NOT turn him in. Like in the books. It could work, maybe, I think...I hope!

Dennis said...

Dexter seemed very calm at the scene of Rita's murder given the circumstances so I wouldn't bet against him tampering with the scene in order to paint it to his own benefit.

Is there any way he could make this look like a suicide? It would be on the record that him and Rita were taking marriage classes and Mazuka saw her kissing Elliot so if he tried really hard he could paint her as confused and depressed and generally unhappy.

Anonymous said...

what if Rita's neighbour killed her in a copycat fashion

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the "Rita is a nag" comments. Sure, she was pushier than in the previous seasons, but all she wanted was to make sure that Dexter would be open with her instead of withdrawing (if nagging means she wanted to go to therapy at the first signs of trouble instead of waiting the problems to get worse), and I actually thought Rita of the previous seasons was too much of an unbelievable saint. The most unbelievable thing probably was when she was willing to let Dexter walk out on her after she got pregnant instead of making him take responsibility of is actions. S4 Rita may not be easy to deal with, but she was human in ways Stepford's Wife Rita from the earlier seasons wasn't.

Anonymous said...

I for one enjoyed the Rita character a lot. But that aside, I think this show needs to commit to a theme. Sociopathic murderers don't save suicidal people from jumping off roofs. Furthermore, sociopathic murderers are rarely suicidal. Lastly, what interest would a sociopathic killer have in killing his rival's wife? Wouldn't he understand Dexter has no real emotional attachment to Rita? Why would he possess the emotional motivation to care to even the score with Dexter?

Larry said...

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the "Rita is a nag" comments.

One simple phrase: "Karma Chameleon." Remember that scene in the car? (I was hoping he would kill her right then and there.)

George said...

There will be no Dexter/Deb romance on the show. Although the characters are not blood-related, they ARE brother and sister. They were raised together in the same house as just that.

Studies have shown that the anti-incest instinct in humans is brought on by upbringing, not genes. Unrelated children who were raised together in Israeli kibitzes (communes), for instance, often failed to become romantically interested in each other because they thought of themselves as brother & sister.

Plus, it would just be too creepy. ;)

Unknown said...

Ok - Deb/Dexter being involved wasn't ever something I thought could happen...but A LOT happened in this last episode..

Plus they set up Batista's romance in S3, just to throw us into the middle of his secret romance with Laguerta..

Deb found out about Laura Moser + Deb/Dexter have both just gone through heavy ordeals (Rita dead but even more so Harrison having to watch her die) and Deb watching Christine blow her brains out (not to mention Lundy & Deb's messed up history in general)..

They only have each other right now. Unless they decide to have Deb get involved with Quinn or someone new. We all know Deb cannot go a season without sex (or any character really on the show..mostly).

Also the finale had some unbelievable things happen...
Guess we'll either accept them or maybe they'll address them next season?

Anonymous said...

One simple phrase: "Karma Chameleon." Remember that scene in the car? (I was hoping he would kill her right then and there.)

You hoped he would kill her because she trusted her husband to be non-judgmental enough not to mind her singing along to a song she liked? That's pretty depressing to hear. :(

Anonymous said...

You hoped he would kill her because she trusted her husband to be non-judgmental enough not to mind her singing along to a song she liked? That's pretty depressing to hear.

No, because at that moment, she was one of the most irritating characters to ever hit the small screen. Obviously, you fail to see that the writers deliberately made her that way this season so that the audience would be happy to see her go. (For most of us, it worked.)

Unknown said...

Loved this ending when I saw it, but the more thinking about it the more problems arise, most of which people have brought up.

They rushed through how Dexter found Trinity before he left. When did he have time to remove the radiator cap? And how did he get in position when the car broke down? Apparently Dexter did all this at night after Trinity had time to kill Rita at night after she left the moon message.

There is the theory that Trinity didn't kill Rita that's been floating around. That might be the only way to redeem these plot holes. Dexter would be the first person to realize this, would be my guess.

So my suggestion for Season 5: Copy the Shield. And by that I mean bring in a kick-ass guest star ala Forrest Whitaker as an FBI agent who is pestering Dexter after investigating the family, Trinity's last interactions, etc. They can't gloss over the trail Dexter left. And Dexter has to compromise his code left and right to keep from getting caught. But I like the "Trinity didn't kill Rita" idea. Dexter should put it together and find out who did kill Rita. I'm sure Debra will figure it out. In fact it would be great if he wanted Deb's help to find the killer this time. But how does he get his revenge without the new guest-star-FBI-agent on his ass? And it's time to make the kids real characters. Now they're his responsibility and he has to teach them codes himself. There is a lot to play with next season. But they have to 1.) Cover the holes they left and 2) Not get into a rut

But I must say I liked this season for sure... In fact Dexter was my Halloween costume.

George said...

I assume that Dexter was hiding in Trinity's car (either the trunk or back seat), after removing the oil cap, which is how he made an appearance so quickly after Trinity broke down on the road. (Remember, he had found the receipt for Trinity's Mustang at Julio's Auto Body.)

As for who killed Rita, I think it's clear that Trinity did. Remember that in the police station, he threatened Dexter's family, if he didn't back down from his blackmail threats. Instead, Dexter chased him, knocked him out and stole his money (or at least that's how Arthur would see it - not knowing that Dexter was a serial killer.) So Trinity followed through with his threat and went to Dexter's home. And Rita happened to be the family member who was there at the time. As Arthur saw it, he had gotten back at Kyle/Dexter, and was now free to hit the road in his Mustang and disappear.

Other than the obvious, another reason to believe this is Arthur's remarks on the killing table, in which he appears to know how futile are Dexter's hope of being "good for his family" (since Arthur knows Dexter has already caused Rita's death). As he says, "It already over."

HaroldsMaude said...

it's been a week and the choice to kill off Rita still seems like a good move for this show. It packed an emotional wallop (even if the details can be questioned for continuity) and leaves us wondering about next season far more than we have the last 4.

Of the scenarios mentioned, I hope that they
- move Deb in with Dexter and let them both deal with the kids. Probably there will be a nanny to help. But the scenes with Deb uncomfortably playing Aunt to the kids in the Thanksgiving show was priceless.
- find a way to probe uncomfortably into Rita's death that will closely expose Dexter's secret. As someone recently noted, this will keep interest in the show alive. For me those near misses of Dexter being found out are compelling. I'm not sure if Quinn has enough Doaks in him to be the one to push the buttons. My guess is that next year's guest star is a another Fed brought in. But it won't be a season 2 Lundy repeat. Except Deb probably will sleep with him.

Unless it's a her. And I would guess Deb would still be interested.
- decrease Harry time. Enough already. And DO NOT do the Rita giving Dexter parenting advice from the grave. Occasional flashbacks are one thing. As another ghostly sidekick is too much.

AND I seriously doubt that they will
- link Deb and Dexter romantically (ewww. Just ewww.)
- get rid of Laguerda and Batista (they help to give the show a Miami feel)
- or Matsuka, because they are very smart people.
- have Dexter train Harrison to follow in his footsteps. Let's face it, this is a baby. They would need to do some serious fast forwarding to bring this kid to an age of useful training. Rather the kid will continue to serve as the proxy humanizing influence for Dexter.

thanks all for the intriguing posts and ideas, and Alan thanks for not giving up (space) on Dexter.

Mike F said...

All in all, a very strong season finale and a great way to return the emphasis of its show back to its Dexter's origin story, to the relationship between Dexter and his sister, and to Dexter forced to confront and deal with what he is and what he will become.

I'm hoping we're mostly done with Harry's ghost and I'm pretty sure we're all done with all things Trinity.

Hg said...

I think the neighbor killed Rita. Dexter will figure out the Trinity did not do it and be on the hunt for the real killer... like OJ.