DEXTER: Surprise Motherfucker! Review (Mania.com)

By:Jarrett Kruse
Review Date: Monday, December 17, 2012
Source: MANIA.COM

*SPOILER ALERT*

I think that collectively the fan base of Dexter-ites had high hopes in Season 7. One of my main concerns was if that after six seasons that the cult hit could sustain another year or two and still be relevant. I enjoyed reading and absorbing every last one of you MANIAC’s comments this season and while I agree that there are some plot holes that you can sail the “Slice of Life” through, after such a long tenure of enjoying these characters I just brush it off this late in the game. After the last few weeks of buildup I settled in for a finale that would became one of my favorites of the year. Although it did not have that penultimate finale feel of urgency, it did that very tough job of leaving us wanting another season very soon. To me that is the sign of a great show with legs. The season finale played out in a terrific suspenseful manner that felt extraordinarily tense and differed from previous episodes in that it was interesting to see the procedural examination of not just the police work but Dexter’s other gig. The tension was so palpable in this finale and each scene was weighed down with an anchor of important information both new and old. The choice to enmesh scenes from the past when Sgt. Doakes was still alive and well was a master stroke and it truly made it feel like he never left. His presence despite being dormant for years is still as formidable and intimidating as ever. 

As we open the show a big question from last week is answered in Dexter’s jailhouse visit to Hannah. She fully admits that she spiked Deb’s water with an exorbitant amount of the anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam. With not much of a defense she says that having Deb out of the way was the only way that she and Dex can be together. You can see the scheming in Hannah’s eyes as she is figuring out a way to get out of this mess. Not only does she have the goods on Dexter but she also has Deb in her crosshairs. Seeing Dexter break down with emotion was a rare thing in the show’s tenure and his love for Hannah is truly pure if not misguided. He tells Hannah that his love for her is so strong because he does not have to hide anything about himself when he is with her. Hannah, grasping for freedom suggests that he lose the evidence against her and they pick up and head for Argentina. There is a moment that Dexter considers this possibility for their future.

In a desperate attempt to stay out of the big house, Hannah calls her teenage pal Arlene pleading for help to get her out of the clink. A master manipulator, Hannah jogs her old friend’s memory of how she helped her out when she offed the counselor that was abusing them all of those years ago. Back at Dexter’s place a knock at the door during playtime with Harrison has LaGuerta arrive with some uniforms to arrest him for the murder of Hector Estrada—the convict that she had sprung to try and trap Dexter in last week’s episode. For a minute I was thrown considering Estrada escaped Dexter’s clutches by diving into the ocean. But soon it became clear what LaGuerta’s endgame is; to charge Dexter with being the Bay Harbor Butcher and exonerate her lost love Sgt. James Doakes. While Angel, Masuka and Deb try and talk some sense into their captain, LaGuerta tries her tenacious best to exhume the truth from Dexter. Playing it as cool as always Dexter is prepared for this contingency. With some flimsy evidence and not nearly enough to hold him, Dexter walks but realizes that the ground is shrinking beneath him…and his kid sister.

I definitely do not want to ruin some of the highlights of the flashback scenes with Doakes or LaGuerta’s encounter with Dexter in the elevator. It is owed to the loyal fan that I not spoil what are some of the extras that lend to the backstory of Doakes. Angel as LaGuerta’s only friend left at Miami Metro encourages her to apologize to Dexter for all that she has set in motion. Letting Estrada out on parole, tailing Dexter, the whole clandestine crusade to smear his name and frame him has to be rectified. At Hannah’s arraignment something is up when she feigns sadness at the judge’s ruling and hugs Arlene who has come to lend “support” and slip her some type of a mickey too. On the way back to jail in the corrections transport Hannah goes into spasms and seizures sending her to the ER immediately. It is all obviously a set-up orchestrated by the very crafty poison princess. I do have to give Hannah’s character credit as being far more diabolical than I expected. Although they wrapped it up very quickly in the episode, I was convinced that she was not behind Deb’s poisoning. 

With LaGuerta looming, Dexter knows that he must locate the now missing Estrada and finish what he started. He makes a brief visit to Hector’s estranged wife posing as his PO and although the encounter bears no fruit, Dexter knows better and tails the old maid that sure enough leads him to the kill that got away. Soon after Dex lures Estrada to his SUV injecting him with his usual pre-kill cocktail and his ritual to off the man that took his mother’s life is back in motion. Back at the station Angel, ever the diplomat relays to LaGuerta how important it is that she attend his New Year’s Eve slash retirement party and publicly apologize to Dexter. While accepting the invite and knowing LaGuerta the way we do it was certain that her next move of calling Deb into her office was her last power play. At first she is playing coy and admitting her negligence to Deb and how her feelings for Doakes blinded her in the BHB case eventually pointing the finger at Dexter. But her cop first instincts kick in and suddenly she reveals to Deb that the late Sgt. Anderson’s wife had returned some surveillance video of local gas stations that Mike had ordered in catching Season 6’s baddie Travis Marshall. After Deb admits to not being anywhere near the church where Marshall died, LaGuerta cues up the video of Deb filling up a gas container at a local fill up. It then occurred to me that LaGuerta will play the game until there are no pieces but her left on the board. She will do anything to follow her gut and unfortunately for the Morgan’s, her gut is dead on.

At the hospital Hannah is showing signs of life but after a severe case comes in and the hospital staff’s attention is distracted, the seasoned con has taken off like an apparition. But where will she go? Deb meets up with Dexter (with Estrada in tow in the back of his SUV!) to let him know that LaGuerta is onto her AND him. Soon after Dexter enters LaGuerta’s residence and finds that the captain had a judge sign off on warrants to track the GPS on both his and Deb’s cell phones the same night of Travis Marshall’s murder. Along with the gas station video, this would be the death knell for Dexter and Deb. In a “meeting” with Harry, Dexter considers getting rid of LaGuerta despite her not meeting the code. Still, it is either that or a life on the lam with Deb and Harrison. While Dexter mulls it over and a final season looming, we know that Dexter is going to choose self-preservation for himself and his sister. Family above all else comes first in the Morgan clan.

Setting up a similar tableau to the first time he had Estrada on his table, Dexter orders the con to call LaGuerta pleading for help. After all she was the one that got him into this mess and she makes a beeline for the shipyards. Despite promising Estrada his freedom Dexter takes care of him in his usual manner but in a much less ritualized fashion than usual. It is obvious that Dex is rattled and making such an important kill without his usual theatrics is upsetting considering the importance of the victim and the effect he had on his life. At Angel’s party Deb is asking around to see if Dexter or LaGuerta have shown up yet but neither has arrived. Remember this was supposed to be where the big public apology took place. Concerned, Deb calls the station to get a location on LaGuerta and when she hears where her car is and that she has not heard from Dexter she realizes what is going to happen. 

LaGuerta approaches the ship containers with extreme caution, gun drawn and ready to face an unknown enemy. She sees Hector dead on the slab but before she can react she is put out by a specialized cocktail from Dexter’s needle. As he is positioning her to make it look like a setup/struggle between herself and Estrada, Deb shows up. Dexter’s plan to use LaGuerta’s gun to shoot Estrada to cover up the stab wound and then return fire from her gun seemed like a far from perfect but doable plan. When Deb walks in to the scene, LaGuerta has just awoken dazed and Dexter is preparing to set his plan in motion. In one of the tensest moments in DEXTER history, Deb is forced to make a decision. Her gun drawn, Deb has to either shoot the woman that can take both her and Dexter down or finally take her own brother out ending the cycle that has gone on for too long. The moment she was mentally choosing felt like an hour as I truly did not know what was going to happen. And just like that it was over. LaGuerta is dead. Overwrought with guilt Deb rushes to her body hysterical. Dexter is once again dealt a winning hand. In the end though everyone’s life he touches ends in death. The brother and sister then go to Angel’s party, Dexter still in his “kill tee” as if he is symbolically outing himself showing the world the monster he really is. How the mess with LaGuerta is going to play out we will have to wait until Season 8 but still what a finale.

It was such a wonderfully suspenseful episode and I did not think that LaGuerta would buy it in the end. I also do not know what Hannah was doing by leaving a plant at Dexter’s door after she sprung herself from the hospital. Maybe it will be explained down the line. Maybe it never will. Deb is definitely deeply damaged after this season and after almost seven years her Teflon coating is starting to chip. As for Dexter he keeps on keeping on. You have to wonder who will be left this time next year. Like Hannah, Dexter is poison to those he loves. I honestly do not think that I could have handled a thirteenth episode. Season 7 was so full and rewarding that it cemented DEXTER again as appointment TV. It showed that even great shows have some slip ups and even bad seasons but that they can come back with a roar.



Mania Grade: A
Episode: Surprise Motherfucker! (Season 7, Episode 12)
Cast: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Desmond Harrington, C.S. Lee, Lauren VĂ©lez, David Zayas, James Remar
Written By: Scott Buck and Tim Schlattmann
Directed By: Steve Shill
Network: Showtime
Series: