'Dexter' Season 6 Finale Review

Showtime wraps up season 6 of 'Dexter' amidst the news of the series’ eventual completion. Read our review to find out whether this season has rekindled our love for the show, or if we’re just glad it’s over.

Michael C. Hall Dexter season 6 finale

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After a somewhat disappointing downturn for season 5, the Dexter hype machine – started by Showtime head David Nevins – proclaimed season 6 to be a chance to bring Dexter Morgan “back to his roots.”

While that may have been the goal – and there is plenty of evidence to suggest this – the execution of season 6 has been such that Dexter doesn’t really resemble itself any longer, and with the quality of the program arguably waning, one begins to wonder how the show’s final two seasons will fare. Since there’ll be several months to wait until season 7, one bright spot to point out is that after season 6, the only place Dexter can go is up.

The season started off promisingly enough with Dexter (Michael C. Hall) up to his killing ways and Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) in yet another ill-advised romantic endeavor, by continuing her relationship with Quinn (Desmond Harrington). Meanwhile, we were introduced to the two antagonists in the fire-and-brimstone preaching Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos) and the acolyte under his tutelage/control Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks). The pair’s religious-themed killings coincided well with Dexter’s search to bring some notion of faith to his young son, Harrison. More so, however, the Gellar/Travis relationship served as a comparison of the relationship Dexter had with his father Harry (James Remar).

Instead of mining these potentially rich aspects, however, Dexter focused too intently on pulling a fast one on its audience, and unfortunately sacrificed much of the season in the process.

One of the missteps for the season has been the way in which the Dexter crew handled (mishandled) the nemesis, or threat of the Doomsday Killer. Because the disclosure of Gellar being a figment of Travis’ imagination was revealed at the three-quarter mark for the season, it left precious little time for the necessity of Dexter’s involvement. While the DDK killings felt like good spectacle, they did so especially to the characters – who seemed to be waiting idly by as one tableau followed another, as if letting the ritualistic killings run their course was an actual option. For the majority of the season, Deb, Batista, Quinn and Masuka were chasing down the prime suspect with all the effervescence of a child walking to school. They were all looking for DDK, but they seemed to be doing it out of obligation – there was never any sense of urgency or even real interest.

More troublesome is the fact that the Gellar delay effectively took Dexter out of the equation for the majority of the season. Instead of building Travis or Gellar into any kind of suitable threat for Dexter to extinguish, it became a superimposed ornamentation, designed to keep the characters trudging toward the inevitable end, while Dexter explored the concept of faith like he was leafing through some religious pamphlet.

Colin Hanks as Travis Marshall Dexter season 6 finale

That brings us to the concept of Mos Def’s Brother Sam, who seemed to be putting Dexter on a different path that might have served as an organic arc for a character that has been battling proverbial demons for so long now. Unfortunately, the untimely demise of Brother Sam summoned visions of Dexter’s biological brother Rudy (Christian Carmago) – allowing Rudy to take over as voice of reason in Dexter’s mind. This, too, could have been an interesting concept, one worthy of an entire season, actually, but like the Brother Sam storyline, it fizzled out before it really got going. And once more we were left waiting for the show to tell us exactly what everyone already knew.

At the onset of season 6, Nevins also suggested that the relationship between (adopted) siblings Dexter and Debra would undergo a certain change. “There will be a microscope on the Deb/Dexter relationship this season. Over time you’re going to see that relationship evolve and change, no questions about it.”

Many thought this meant Deb would finally uncover Dexter’s secret, or that it might mean her relationship to Dexter would become distant or strained; few could have imagined Nevins’ statement meant Deb would be exploring the possibility that she actually has romantic feelings for her adopted brother.

As disturbing and uncomfortable this notion may be, is it possible that the examination of the siblings’ relationship is the one thing Dexter got right this season? While you would be hard-pressed to find anyone cheering for this to happen, it does make sense – in its own twisted little way. How else could one of Miami’s finest be oblivious to the fact that a serial killer is not just among them, but spending much of his off time in her presence? Sure, Deb loves Dexter as a brother, but the idea of her affection being more than that might help ease the transition of her bearing witness to Dexter’s true nature.

Which, of course, is exactly what happened in ‘This is How The World Ends,’ leaving not only the episode’s title open for interpretation, but also the course of the remaining two seasons.


For the most part, the final episode was a typical cat-and-mouse game between Dexter and the now-obligatory big bad, who conveniently finds a way into Dexter’s life, discovers the ‘dark passenger’ and then sets out to harm Dex through someone he cares about – which at this point in the series is either Deb or Harrison.

Travis was never really much of a physical threat to Dexter, which to a certain extent justifies the ‘80s action movie staple of the child/wife/family member being used as leverage against the hero. So it was inevitable that Harrison would eventually end up in Travis’ hands – at least until Dexter could find a way to get the would-be Doomsday Killer in shrink-wrap.

It all seemed eerily reminiscent of every season that had come before, until Deb walked in on Dexter plunging a knife into Travis’ chest.

Jennifer Carpenter David Zayas Billy Brown Dexter season 6 finale

And now the speculation on how Debra will handle the revelation - and, moreover, how it will affect her feelings for Dexter, can begin. Deb has already shown she’s willing to take a pass on the law, as she did with Deputy Chief Tom Matthews after learning of his involvement with a dead call girl- so, legally speaking, Dexter may not have much to worry about. However, Deb’s rocky personal life has been repeatedly shaken to its core, so that this shock may be too much for her embattled psyche to withstand.

Was the ending enough to save what has been a dismal season? The answer is unequivocally no. Season 6 has been rife with laughable moments, such as Travis saying things like “Hello, whore!” and the bizarrely bad painting depicting Dexter as the devil. More troublesome is the fact that, for a series which has largely been based on the intelligence of its main character, Dexter sure did some incomprehensible things this season. Besides not picking up on his sister’s emotions, Travis’ insanity or Louis the creepy intern’s obsession, Dexter managed to call in a potential terrorist threat on his own cell phone, forget Travis had his keys and wallet and show up to his kid’s play in his “kill” gear.

What the finale does do is give Dexter the fresh start that season 6 promised. There is a lot of story left to be told like the true nature of Louis (Josh Cooke), the purpose of Quinn’s existence and whether or not the term ‘dark passenger’ has any meaning any longer.

If season 7 is going to be dealing with the kind of issue most fans have been hoping for, then many creative aspects are going to have to improve dramatically, or the audience is going to be left remembering Dexter for all the unintentionally funny moments and sloppy storytelling that marred its final seasons.


Dexter will return for season 7 in the fall of 2012.

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