Monday, March 24, 2014

The Butchering of The Bay Harbor Butcher

I put it off long enough. For the last two seasons I pained my way through the slow decay of one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I dragged that last season out to almost a year after it ended...but tonight was the night. I have finally finished "Dexter".

Before I get into this I'm going to reveal how I wanted the show to end. I've never been one to write fan fiction, but if ever there were cause to do so, this is it. 

I came up with this theory after season four's brilliant finale, and I felt so proud of it. Season five would happen in real time, and after that there would be a huge jump in time. Harrison would be in his teenage years and would be killing squirrels and neighborhood dogs. After all, just like Dexter, the death of his mother would have left him permanently scarred. Dexter would try to teach him The Code, but wouldn't be able to bring himself to reveal who he was to his son. He couldn't scar him more, he had to protect what was left. 

Naturally, Deb would find out who Dexter was, and, being true to her character, would force herself to turn him in. Not wanting to hurt anyone any more, Dexter would abandon his life in Miami and go on the run. The last season would follow the fugitive Dexter Morgan as he tried to outrun the police. But in the end, Harrison would catch-up with him. Just like Dexter did for his brother, Harrison would put Dexter in his own kill room, and take his life the way Dexter took so many others'. The last shot would be coupled with a final narrative from Dexter as his life ran out of him.  Fade to black.

But oh no. The writers didn't want to bother with well-constructed plots and foreshadowing and all that awesome writer stuff.  Harrison's not a serial killer, the world never finds out who the real Bay Harbor Butcher was....Dexter doesn't even get arrested.

I'll give this to you writers: you almost had me. Despite the ridiculous and impossible events that led up to it, when Dexter dropped his sister in the water and sailed off to kill himself...the tears built nevertheless. I came this close to crying over the end of a once-great TV show. Sure, the rest of the episode, hell, the rest of the season may have been complete shit written by the seat of your pants...but at least you made a tear-jerker out of the final moment.

But oh no.

He's not dead. He's a lumberjack! And he's ok. He sleeps all night and he works all day.

I shouldn't be surprised. If I hadn't been so far behind I would have live-tweeted this season about how farfetched it was. Every episode felt like the men and women of the writer's room just went: 

" let's introduce this psychiatrist who actually knew about him his whole life, basically made him who he was, and never wanted to meet him until now." 
"Yeah, yeah...and what if this random under-five character turns out to be her son!" 
"...who's really going to be the main antagonist of-"
"-The last four episodes!"
"And how about in the last two episodes we introduce the concept of hurricanes!"
"Oh yeah, we're in Miami...but somehow we made it through eight years without that ever being a thing!"
"You think anyone will notice?"
"Nah...we got away with there being a new serial killer in Miami every couple of months."
"True, they haven't even noticed we completely forgot he has two adopted step kids."

I don't think I'm far off. With all the great villains the show made over the years...the final season just decided not to have one. In its place, a bunch of loose ends that...kind of get tied up? There are too many moments to mock and too many out-of-character moves to dissect for me to even begin. Instead, all I can do is sit here and be sad. 

There was a time the start of a new "Dexter" would be such a thrill. I'd hear those first few notes and I'd smile right along with Dexter as he smacked that pesky mosquito. But towards the end I couldn't even bring myself to pay attention to the full episode. I'd dream about the days where John Lithgow was on the screen, the story was actually pretty brilliant, and the twists were shockers instead of poorly conceived deus ex machinas.

It's unfortunate that there isn't more to say, but even the actors didn't seem to want a part of the final season. There were no interviews, no talk show appearances...everyone just stopped caring. Poor Michael C. Hall did his best up there, but even his brilliance couldn't save this train wreck. "Dexter" suffered a long and painful downward spiral. When I think of this show, I will do my best to focus on the good times: Biney, Trinity, Rita, Miguel, The Skinner...hell, by the end I even missed Doakes and Lila, and I hated those two. 

Now I will begin my plan of reading the novels. Originally I saved them so I'd have something to continue the legacy with. Now I will read them to hopefully restore it.

Rest in peace, Dex...I'm sorry they did this to you.

I understand there's talk of a spin-off. Producers, consider my above alternate ending my application for the writer's room. And uh...I guess...ignore the bashing? No, you needed that.

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