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Dexter: Season 8 (2013)

DVD Cover (Showtime Entertainment)
Movie Connections:
Dexter
> Dexter: Season 1 (2006)
> Dexter: Season 2 (2007)
> Dexter: Season 3 (2008)
> Dexter: Season 4 (2009)
> Dexter: Season 5 (2010)
> Dexter: Season 6 (2011)
> Dexter: Season 7 (2012)
> Dexter: Season 8 (2013)
Genres:
Cop Show, Crime, Crime Drama, Crime Thriller, Prime-Time Drama, TV Horror

8.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: December 25, 2013
It was a little bittersweet going through this season of Dexter, one of the shows that I have most enjoyed over the past decade. I really enjoyed this season and had a hard time putting the remote down, and it was always "just one more episode", but the downer here was that this was the final season of the show - this is it, no more episodes, ever. So, watching these final twelve hours, I couldn't help but keep thinking that the number of new episodes was quickly dwindling, and soon, there would be nothing left but repeat viewings. There's nothing wrong with revisiting a show down the road, but you only get that genuine surprise and shock once. That saddened me, but not nearly as much as... well, there are some shockers this season.

As always, there will be major spoilers here from the previous season, and there will probably be minor spoilers from this season. It's hard to detail the major plot points without giving something away, so continue on at your own discretion.

The crux of the season - the opening part of the season, anyway - is Debra's (Jennifer Carpenter) strained relationship with her brother Dexter (Michael C. Hall) after the events in the previous season's finale. Debra blames Dexter for "making" her kill LaGuerta, which was bad enough as the two women were friends, but it also went against everything that she believed in. She became a cop to catch the bad guys, and here she is shooting cops and covering for serial killers? It's a hard thing to come to grips with, and as a result, she is completely avoiding Dexter. She has even quit the police force, taking on a new job as a private investigator for a shady man named Jacob Elway (Sean Patrick Flanery). Dexter doesn't take too kindly to the rift between the two, and wants to set things right with her.

Help comes by way of Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling), a psychologist who shows up with a major revelation for Dexter. You see, when Dexter's dad Harry discovered what Dexter was as a child, he went to a psychologist for help, and together, they came up with "The Code" that Dexter has followed all of these years. She knows all of his dirty little secrets, but she doesn't use this as blackmail or anything: she actually sees Dexter as a spiritual son. Oh, she does have a small favor to ask, that being for Dexter to protect her from the latest serial killer to hit Miami: a man (Darri Ingolfsson) dubbed the "Brain Surgeon" who scoops out chunks of his victim's brains and sends them to the good doctor.

Meanwhile, Quinn (Desmond Harrington) is in a new relationship with Jamie (Aimee Garcia), while Masuka (C.S. Lee) discovers that he's the father of a twenty-something lady (Dora Madison Burge) courtesy of a donation to a sperm bank back in his college days. A young, spoiled little punk named Zach (Sam Underwood) may be a budding serial killer, and a conflict of interest arises when Vogel takes him under her wing... and asks Dexter for help with him. Finally, a familiar face returns: Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) is back and wanting to rekindle things with Dexter. Bet you didn't see THAT coming, huh?

I have to kick this review off with that series finale - holy shit. That was an amazing episode, and in my opinion, it really wrapped the show up nicely. It wasn't an especially happy ending, but it was a great ending none the less. A major character is killed in a particularly devastating way, while another is completely changed... and not necessarily for the better. I'm not going to lie, I may have gotten a little something in my eye at more than one point in this episode - it was just that hard-hitting. The writers set things up to where it would be incredibly difficult to resurrect the show down the road, and while it wouldn't be impossible, it would be incredibly unlikely based on the events found here. While some of it may have hurt, I do like when a show gives us a definitive ending and doesn't try to blatantly leave the door open for another season or a movie that will likely never happen.

I also thought that the season moved along at a great pace, and I enjoyed all of the little side plot devices... well, most of them. I wasn't a huge fan of the Zach storyline, mainly because I didn't like the character. There are times when this was intentional, when the audience is supposed to be against him, and they nailed that perfectly. However, there are times when we're supposed to care for him and maybe even root for him, and... well, we're still against him. I also thought that the Hannah part dragged in spots. I enjoyed seeing her again and I loved the overall story that she brought to the table, I just felt that there were points where the writers were simply rehashing things with her to keep her character on the screen, even when they really didn't have anything for her. This is more of a minor gripe though, as again, her overall contribution to the season was highly enjoyable.

Of course, the main plot elements are what really sells the show, and I thought that this season had some of the best. The strained relationship between Dexter and Debra is sold incredibly well, and watching them go back and forth was great. A little uncomfortable at times, perhaps, but enjoyable all the same. I also thought that Dr. Vogel's introduction was pretty neat, and the way that they wrote her character in worked well for me. Sure, this may have been a last-minute character, written in solely to move certain pieces along in this season, but her inclusion makes sense - why wouldn't Harry confide in someone? Then, her involvement with Dexter (and later, Debra) is handled excellently. Dr. Vogel was a great character, and Charlotte Rampling was a great choice as an actress to bring her to life.

Honestly, I think that this was one of the better seasons in the show's history. It has a few weak spots, but they are few and far between. The bulk of the season is incredibly intriguing and will more than hold your interest, and unlike in some of the previous seasons, the filler is almost non-existent. There are no silly little "shocking twists" just for the sake of adding something for the characters to do, there are no little side stories that are there simply to kill time, and - aside from the aforementioned thing with Hannah - there is very little in the way of padding. Everything has a meaning and a place, and everything clicks together nicely.

Overall, I have to rank this season up there with the best that the series has to offer. It has everything that made the show so enjoyable to me, the writing is phenomenal, and although it saddens me that we won't be getting another season, I'm glad that it went out on such a high note. Here's hoping that some other show comes along that can captivate me like this one did. 9.5/10.
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