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'Dexter' finale

Posted by Matthew Gilbert  December 13, 2010 07:12 AM

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Can you live with giant plotholes? Some "Dexter" viewers just don't mind the botched plot logic -- they're more engaged in the emotional side of the story. Maybe they fully enjoyed last night's finale. I need both an emotional throughline and a tight plot, so I'm feeling pretty dissatisfied this morning.

But first, on the plus side:

--I loved the way the writers brought Deb right up to finding out about her brother -- seeing and yet not seeing Dexter and Lumen on the other side of that opaque sheet, after they killed Jordan Chase. That scene was a smart visual representation of what's happening in Deb's consciousness. She kind of knows that Dexter and Lumen are in the room with her, but she kind of doesn't want to know, too. She's coming so close to letting the truth into her mind, to seeing her brother for who he really is.

--I also admired the way the writers -- and actress Jennifer Carpenter -- have handled Deb this season. Deb is figuring out the moral complications of working in law enforcement. In a strange way, "Dexter" is becoming Deb's story as much as Dexter's, as she comes of age as a cop and as a woman and sheds her early naivete. By the time she can admit to herself that her brother is a serial killer and vigilante, she may just be ready to accept him (in the way Lumen has).

--And I was glad Lumen lived, much as I disliked Julia Stiles' performance. If the writers had killed her off, it would have been too much like last season's finale. Also, Lumen and Dexter worked out their separate issues together. She exorcised her hurt and anger with Dexter's help, and he exorcised his guilt about Rita and his loneliness. It's as if they shook hands and parted, both satisfied, a positive version of "Strangers on a Train."

--I smiled when Dexter told Lumen he was a "breakfast connoisseur" -- it made me think of the show's opening credits.

And now, on the down side:

--Wow. First of all, Quinn has to know that Dexter killed Liddy, as well as others. So why was he telling Dexter, "I owe you one"? The writers TOTALLY fudged the Quinn thing, in the same way they fudged the whole Kyle Butler thing. And Quinn wouldn't have gotten off the hook about Liddy so easily, given his phone records, his fingerprints on the van, and his signature on the surveillance equipment. When he and Deb showed up at the party, happy and free, it was absurd. 

--We deserved a good, juicy scene in which we heard more about Jordan Chase's pathology. What was behind the way these men gang raped and murdered these women? Why did Chase have Emily's blood hanging around his neck? And speaking of Emily...

-- So many small but critical events were dropped, just like they were last season. Emily's murder; the overturned car that Dexter stole; the fact that Dexter and Lumen smuggled out Chase's body while Deb waited; Deb's gunshot at the Chase crime scene; and the way Dexter just stayed out all night and no one in his family seemed to notice or care.

--The first two seasons of "Dexter" were air tight. The writers covered all the bases, leaving no obvious questions when all was said and done. Since then, and particularly in the past two seasons, the writers have completely changed their approach, leaving plot strands hanging everywhere. Last night, when the fruit vendor on the street -- the one who heard Lumen in Chase's trunk -- instantly directs Deb to the camp, I knew the writers had given up all concern with the show's details -- and with respecting our intelligence.

Tick, tick, tick, that's the sound of "Dexter" running out of logic.

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