In the Dexter season 7 finale, “Surprise, Motherf****r!”, Dexter’s past returns to turn his world upside down, forcing Deb to risk everything in order to protect her brother. How long can you protect a killer before becoming one yourself?

As LaGuerta continues to investigate Dexter as the Bay Harbor Butcher, the Dark Passenger finally finds himself in handcuffs, haunted by a familiar face from his past. Fortunately, after a few pieces of (planted) evidence helps Dexter escape his legal restraints, the battle between LaGuerta and the Bay Harbor Butcher gets personal, and Deb soon finds her own activities under investigation.

Without many options left, Dexter attempts to kill Hector Estrada and LaGuerta at the same time, allowing his secret to remain as such. However, when Deb steps in to prevent Dexter from making a grave mistake, she’s forced to make one of the most difficult decisions in her life. Meanwhile, Hannah accepts responsibility for drugging Debra, and escapes prison.

The finale itself is a roller coaster of suspense, following Dexter as he attempts to stay one step ahead of LaGuerta in their game of cat and mouse. During this past season, Dexter’s decision to share his Dark Passenger with select individuals has allowed him to intimately explore his desire to kill. However, as Dexter revels in his new-found openness, he still remained unaware of how knowing his secret impacts those around him – those who want to protect him, at all cost. And although Hannah’s storyline is largely pushed aside, quickly progressed, and then concluded during the finale, it was her relationship with Dexter that helped fuel his hope for happiness and, unfortunately, revealed to him the difficulties of trusting someone who kills, no matter how earnest their intent.

While it’s true that Dexter initially revealed his secret to Debra, not Hannah, Dexter’s revelation with his sister was, thanks to her surprise visit in the season 6 finale, a forced explanation for the purpose of self-survival, for his own self-interest. It wasn’t until after (many) further conversations and confrontations between Dexter and Debra that she become aware of the full breadth of her brother’s dark desires.

What Debra’s awareness of Dexter’s secret did do, however, was establish the fact that Dexter can, in fact, happily exist in a world where those close to him know his secret. Unfortunately, after moving beyond understanding and into justification, Dexter began to step outside his familial circle, seeking to make connections with those who are more like him – not simply those who care about him.

As the number of bodies of friends and foes (sometimes one in the same) continued to rise, Dexter’s want to further explore his dark elements – and how to happily exist with them – resulted in him making many sloppy decisions, always putting the weight of his actions on Debra, his protector. However, like Dexter’s desire for a relationship with Hannah, Debra’s need to keep her brother safe pushed her to the limits, forcing her to instinctually protect her brother by killing LaGuerta.

The Dexter season 7 finale may not be the most shocking episode the series has seen, however it certainly is the most propound. While the Trinity Killer may have ultimately forced Dexter’s hand by killing his then-wife Rita, this is the first time that Dexter has concluded with so familiar characters involved in a single, shocking event, beautifully setting things up for Dexter season 8, the final season. With as strong of a cast as Dexter has, their inclusion in any plot is always welcomed. But one directly relating to Dexter’s kills? Even the Trinity Killer will have a difficult time standing next to the palatable potential that an intimate story between co-workers and friends brings.

And now that Debra has already crossed the line and murdered someone, her role in Dexter’s tale is as important as it’s ever been. Because as viewers watch Dexter continuously attempt to find happiness – sometimes seeing Debra as someone who could prevent that from occurring – the tables have more than turned now, forcing Debra to decide if she can ever truly be happy with Dexter in her life. And if the answer is “No,” what is she going do to change it?

If Dexter season 7 is any example of what’s to come in season 8 (which it is), a fitting and appropriate ending is all but assured for television’s Dark Passenger. What kind of ending will that be? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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