FLOATING ON THE SURFACE
Seems there couldn’t have been a happy ending for Dexter in any scenario, no matter how. In the end it was as if this fellow, born in blood and morphed into a disciplined serial killer, had no actual say in anything, even though he might have believed otherwise. Intertwined with his soul, the dark passenger devoured everything and everyone in its way, bringing death and destruction. The double ending of the series definitely opened doors to interpretations, of why it happened, what could happen to Dexter from now on, was it ‘authentic’, whether Dex is an unreliable narrator and most importantly, whether it had to happen that way.
In the following sections we’re going to examine the premonitions of Dexter’s inevitable tragedy throughout the series, which in one way or the other indicated that he was perhaps doomed from the very start.
1 – Dearly Deceased Debra
“I don’t think I have feelings about anything, but if I could have any feelings at all, I’d have them for Deb.” (1.01) – Was this grim fate bound to catch up with Dexter and Debra? Were they always destined to come at odds, reconnect then lose one another again?
- In Season 1′s esoteric “Return To Sender” Dexter experiences his first true nightmare when fear strikes him. In the sequence we see a psychopathic version of Debra attempt to kill Dexter with him strapped to the ritualistic table. At the end of Season 1 this premonition takes a twist and it’s Deb who’s left in hands of Brian, with Dexter breaking through to lucidity in the final moments only to save his sister from a brutal death. Ironically, it’s Debra who in 8.12 lies on Dexter’s figurative deathbed, as he takes her final breaths out of her lifeless shell and in effect marks her his final victim. Was it an act of kindness or selfishness?
- In a way, with Debra finding out his secret and then dying in his arms (basically) you could say that Dex started disintegrating as well. So in the end, the nightmarish premonition of her killing him, comes to life only with a twist; Dex takes her life, and then symbolically ends his own in the hurricane only to be resurrected as a lumberjack (we’ll get to that later).
- You could say that Debra’s death is perhaps a reenactment of Rita’s gruesome murder. Dex made the same mistakes he did in Season 4 and it cost him Deb’s life. In 7.04 Deb has a horrid vision of ending up in a bloodbath similar to Rita, with a menacing Dexter standing in the door frame holding a big machete/knife. If only she’d shot the ‘right’ person in that trailer…
- We’ve seen these two tackling with their own darkness; Deb, when she hit rock bottom this season, and Dex whenever the harsh reality snapped him out of his intangible fantasies. This theme is one again highlighted in the series finale during the flashback where Deb talks about her fear of the dark: “Don’t you remember the monsters? [...] They are the shadows. You came in and explained it in your dorky little voice, “Oh, it’s just the absence of light, Deb.” [...] You’ve always taken care of me.” — In the end, the blinding lights didn’t absolve Dex, but instead pushed him further into the darkness. Dex was a night creature after all, and as much he was there for Deb in the end, he failed to overcome his nature; he had no choice but to re-embrace the dark.
- Dexter’s act of mercy killing brings the events of 3.07 to mind, where he did agree to poison the beloved Camilla via the best lime pie to put her out of her misery, so to speak. In the same episode we have this conversation between Dex and Deb: “I hope she goes fast…just shoot me if I ever get like that [...], I’d do the same for you, pull the plug, put a pillow over your head, whatever. I’ll never let you suffer.” - Foreshadowing, ‘reverse plot engineering’ or coincidence? Either way, that’s what big brothers do. “This is mercy, but only for a friend.” (3.07).
- “If Deb dies, I’ll be…lost.” (4.05) – Notice how these bedside scenes play out similarly, visually:
- “I dream I’m floating on the surface of my own life…” (1.02) – Drowning is a major recurring motif in the series, which perhaps first truly came to shine in Season 1′s “Crocodile”. The ocean is where Dex’s victims lie, symbolizing his subconscious existence as an elusive monster, it’s the metaphorical stage of the series, where his secrets come to haunt him from beneath the surface, where he lets go of his demons like the haunting memory of Brian (2.02): “I had to say goodbye, in order to reconnect with what’s really important, with who I was, with who I have to be. Rest in peace… I am.” – - Dexter offers Debra to the waters of Miami as his final victim; this juxtaposes with how she almost drowned him in 8.04 and also brings the symbolic ‘fish in the tank’ sequences from 1.06.
- In a way when Deb stops breathing, she has already drowned in the overwhelming consequences of Dex’s actions, or rather the symbolic ominous tides mentioned in “Swim Deep“. Dex pulling the plug is only an act of sealing her fate by which he affirms his own demise in a poetic way and punishes himself for his ‘wrongdoings’. He needs to accept the fact that he’s been responsible for the deaths of two of the most intimate people in his life, Deb and Rita. “It’s the grief that makes me uncomfortable [...] I just don’t understand all that emotion, which makes it tough to fake.” (1.03) - Then again, by letting go of Debra, Dex also represses the guilt. Facing her funeral would be too devastating for him, because he never truly learned how to fake the emotions and above all, to accept responsibility. Erasing her from his memories and setting out on a new journey to live in isolation, deprived of all joys, is a way for him to process the burden, to come to embrace it while away from all who depend on him. It’s an easy way out but also a fitting life sentence.
Next: Storm’s Coming…