Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
In my last review I explained how the “Anything can happen” evaluation of Dexter‘s final season is not the praise typically seen among cheap endorsements of common thrillers, but rather about as scathing a condemnation as a supposedly suspenseful show can earn. “Goodbye, Miami” suffers from the same lack of momentum as “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” but feels even more offensive as this time the definition surrounding the plot and the motivation of the characters aren’t so much fuzzy as just plain incongruent. How did Oliver/Daniel go from leaving his mother segments of people’s brains to stopping by for meals? When exactly did Deb stop being in love with Dexter and realize she still has feelings for Quinn? Why does Dexter want to save a woman he was ready to write off so recently? This last question is actually explicitly discussed throughout the episode, but its answer is so phoned in it becomes apparent just how little the writers care anymore.
Dexter claims he “feels” like he needs to protect Vogel from her son. When Hannah questions this claim citing that feelings were never really part of his kills it’s meant to be a big moment. It’s meant to illustrate that Dexter realizes he’s a real boy. The thing is, that’s exactly the opposite of what Vogel believes, which is part of why Dex was ready to walk away from this woman mid-season.
Also, shut up, Hannah. We’ve known Dexter longer than you have and Dexter’s emotions – no matter how much he denied their existence – were evident from the very first kill he ever committed on the show, a scene which was referenced as Dexter set up his kill room for Oliver (plus, I’m petty sure his feelings got in the way when he didn’t kill you and later decided to take out your dad, among many other instances). Unfortunately, Dexter’s arc since that fantastically dark and exciting first scene has been a bit of a farce.
Every season Dexter struggles with his feelings and his need to kill until he doesn’t. This series more than any other has made it abundantly clear that its protagonist is a good guy, a hero, and that his homicidal habit may briefly appear to take a heavy emotional toll, but ultimately it’s always necessary for the greater good and the good of Dexter himself. And that’s the issue that’s become so apparent in “Goodbye, Miami” – the writers have never been able to decide whether Dexter is a bright, shiny vigilante hero or a pained protagonist plagued by his own demons. They’ve always tried to have their cake and eat it too, and playing this circular game has grown tiresome. Is Dexter going after Oliver to protect Vogel? Other innocents? Himself and his family? To satiate his own sense of morality? Or simply because Ghost Harry told him to (and is no longer the counterbalance to the Dark Passenger, just its replacement)? The answer according to “Goodbye, Miami” is apparently “All of the above,” and it’s just too much, too safe, too empty, too little, too late.
As much as Dexter’s plethora of weak motivations bothers me, Vogel’s been a terrible disappointment as well. Much like the dreaded sixth season, Vogel kicked things off with plenty of promise for an exploration of what makes Dexter who he is, but any such promise turned out to have died early on so Dex could chase a bunch of red herrings until these last few episodes of plot, plot, plot (or more accurately, doing nothing while feigning action), until, “Oh, it’s the finale? Where does the time go?” Specifically, in “Goodbye, Miami” Vogel first begs Dex not to kill her son because he, while angry, clearly isn’t actually trying to kill her so much as seek her rehabilitation and attention and care, things which she is willing to provide (crazy as it is). But then, because Dex shows Vogel a video of something she already knew, Vogel isn’t so willing and asks that Dexter just kill her son without making him suffer. Which is it? I guess audio/visual presentations do go a long way. And does it bother anyone else that if Dex just hopped on a plane then Oliver never would have slit his mother’s throat?
The sloppiness isn’t confined to Dexter and Vogel. Deb has essentially been trudging in circles since her apparent epiphany after failing to kill herself and Dexter over four episodes ago. Gone is her potential romance with Elway, or the fact that she killed a man for frightening her, or that Dex killed her mark/boyfriend, or that she killed LaGuerta, or that Hannah tried to kill her, or her confused romantic feelings for Dexter, or pretty much any of the arcs the writers have at one point started to send Deb on but eventually forgot about. None of these have had any actual resolution (except for the borderline misogynistic notion the writers haven’t abandoned that Deb needs a man). Despite what she tells Deputy Marshal Clayton, Deb is nothing more than her brother’s reluctant keeper.
Speaking of Clayton, why is he around? Is it his pursuit of Hannah which is going to keep Dexter from getting away? If so it’s going to be a crowded party as Elway is also still looking to take down Hannah, which confuses me as both these characters have only been around for a blink of an eye compared to Quinn whose function I had hoped would have been to accidentally expose Dexter (since Doakes and LaGuerta are dead and Angel is, well, Angel), especially since Quinn was all about catching Zach Hamilton, but it looks like Quinn’s only function is to essentially look at the camera while shrugging and saying, “Chicks, amiright, brah?” Regardless, this is another one of those examples of “Anything can happen,” not because this show is so deft at navigating through its well established world to surprise its audience, but because the writers pretty much just throw everything at the wall and even they don’t seem to know what’s going to stick.
Obviously Dexter’s never going to make it to Argentina, but the real question is whether Masuka’s adult daughter whom he did not raise and just met, like, a week ago will stop smoking pot on Saturdays. Wait…
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