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Dexter: “Do You See What I See?”

Illustration for article titled iDexter/i: “Do You See What I See?”
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Calibrating my expectations following last week’s episode was tricky. I’m still rooting for Dexter, somehow, so I wasn’t totally ready to hate the episode. But given how cold last week’s episode left me, I didn’t get my hopes up either. By the time “Do You See What I See?” was over, I felt about the same way as I did going into it. I certainly enjoyed watching it more than “The Dark…Whatever,” and a bit of it I quite liked. But I’m still not hopeful the season finale will be enough to change my impression of season seven as one that bolted out of the gate, but started to peter out by a little past the halfway point.

Even if season seven does go down as the only half-great season of late-era Dexter, that’s no small feat. The first batch of episodes were far more well-executed and challenging than anything I expected out of this show, and the Dexter team is to be congratulated for that. Still, it was hard to watch the promise of this season ultimately go unfulfilled, and as “Do You See What I See?” wound down, the narrower the chances of pivoting back toward greatness became.


I’m certainly curious about the finale though, because as “Do You See What I See?” dealt with the end of Dexter’s relationship with Hannah, both of Dexter’s playmates for the season are now in the rearview. Sure, LaGuerta is still trying to tie her noose around Dexter’s neck, but I can’t wait to see how the finale episode cues us up for the show’s last season. This episode certainly takes one possible outcome off the table though, and that is the Future Dexter who has managed to turn into a non-sadistic Arthur Mitchell, an honest-to-goodness murderer next door.

The fantasy sequence that opened the episode was pretty lovely in its way, and it did so much to acquit the Dexter and Hannah story, I almost wished it had come earlier in the season. It’s easy to imagine someone like Dexter having a very fuzzy idea of what his future would look like, given that his pastime always allows for the possibility of having everything and everyone around him destroyed. But with Hannah, he can conceive of a life he loves with a wife who understands him and a safe-and-sound, college-aged Harrison. But in order to fulfill his future, he first has to deal with his past, he says, and off Dexter goes on the prowl for the newly released Hector Estrada.


The Hector Estrada sting is what worked most about the episode. I probably should have known all along that Estrada’s release was a trap for Dexter, but I didn’t, and I smiled a little when Dexter realized what he had walked into. Much like the final scene of last season’s finale, I do like that the writers are veering closer to a scenario that might involve Dexter’s actual capture. This show is remarkable at figuring out how to contrive its way out of jams, but given how close LaGuerta came to catching Dexter, and how she was greeted by the humming chainsaw in an empty kill room, I can’t imagine how this doesn’t end with Dexter’s capture or LaGuerta’s murder.

This will probably be played to great dramatic effect in the finale, while Dexter decides whether or not to get rid of LaGuerta before she gets too close. The thing is, though, that’s not terribly suspenseful, insomuch as I’m not sure how much I care if LaGuerta dies, and because Dexter just kind of does whatever he wants at this point, so it wouldn’t represent any kind of transformation for the character. As we’ve found out over the course of the past couple of episodes, Dexter is allowed to kill whomever he wants to serve his purposes or just get his rocks off, but no one else can kill anyone without Dexter’s express approval.


And this is how we come to the end of Hannah and Dexter. By now, it should have been clear to Hannah that there is a chain of command. Dexter is the head honcho. He can kill your family members if they pose a threat, but that’s a one-way street. As much as I’ve hated watching Dexter lie for Hannah and rationalize her behavior all season long, I was slightly thrown off by the execution here. If the point is that Dexter’s love for Hannah keeps him from seeing what everyone else sees, he’s a little overeager to find out the truth about Deb’s accident. This is a situation where a little more ambiguity would have made things really interesting—what if he couldn’t prove Hannah’s involvement?—but ambiguity and nuance are not things this show does well. That said, her “You should have killed me” kiss-off was pretty epic.

As I look forward to the finale, I’m not as interested in specific plot points (though the episode title intrigues me, for obvious reasons) as much as I am by who Dexter is by the end of the season. I don’t mind the idea of Dexter pushing at the boundaries of Harry’s Code and the Dark Passenger, but those are such crucial concepts to our understanding of the character that to dispose of them this late in the game makes it hard to understand who Dexter is. Dexter Morgan is a character who is defined by his actions; our knowledge of what he does tells us who he is, rather than the other way around. Some kind of insane cliffhanger will probably pull me onboard for season eight, but what I’d love to see more than that is an understanding of where Dexter’s head is, as he finds himself without a code and without a muse.


Stray observations:

  • This was pretty funny.
  • Hannah is an incredibly versatile poisoner. I didn’t know you could poison with such surgical skill.
  • In past years, a Christmas episode would have had to include the killing of an evil mall Santa.
  • Matthews scored some solid blows on LaGuerta: “I’ve heard of fucking your brains out, Maria, but God almighty…”
  • No appearance from Transient Black Lady Detective this week.
  • This is, without a doubt, Dexter’s least lethal season, yes?
  • Nadia moved to Las Vegas, you guys. YOU GUYS.

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