The season finale of “Dexter,” “This is the Way the World Ends” aired last night. Let’s be honest: this has not been the show’s strongest season. Travis (Colin Hanks) simply was not a particularly scary or well-defined villain. Ninety nine percent of the finale was similarly underwhelming. But the final minute almost redeemed the entire season. Redeemed? Get it? Because this season is all about religious references so heavy handed that Lady Gaga and Madonna teamed up to say. “Really? That was a bit on the nose.”
The penultimate episode delivered one unintentionally hilarious howler: Travis’s painting of Dexter (Michael C. Hall) as the beast, which looks like it was stolen from a goth teenager’s old MySpace page. It also introduced a story element that nobody wanted to see: Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) is in love with Dexter. The only way the sudden introduction of an incestuous lust between a sister and her brother could be any creepier is if the characters were played by real life ex-spouses. Oh, wait. The fact that Dexter is Deb’s adopted sibling does not make it any less wrong. Then, to top off the excess, Travis threw Dexter in a literal lake of fire — well, technically it was the ocean. All of these are revisited in the finale.
It begins with Dexter floating in the now fire-free ocean. Fortunately, a boat named the Milagro (really?) filled with Cubans seeking refuge in the U.S. picks him up. After he kills the murderous captain, Dexter drives the boat safely to the shore. Welcome to America, Cubans. Enjoy our friendly serial killers.
Dexter goes home to Harrison, lying to everyone that he fell off his boat. Deb freaks out, and, while Dexter is shirtless, embraces him and says that she loves him. Deb needs to put down her copy of Flowers in the Attic, because she takes his response that he loves her, too, as a sign that she should clarify that she loves him in the wants to have sex with him sort of way.
Fortunately, the discovery of Travis’s latest crime scene interrupts her before she can do it. Dexter naturally manages to get rid of his face in the beast painting before anyone else can see it. Travis moves on to the lamest big bad plan ever: kill Harrison during the solar eclipse while standing on the roof of a solar powered sky scraper. Of course, Dexter manages to figure it out, rescue his son, and get an unconscious Travis into his car without the Miami police department figuring it out, even though Deb assigned a cop to the building.
Dexter, in a literal mood, takes Travis to the church that was a previous crime site, and straps him to his table. Much heavy handed dialogue about faith ensues, with Dexter telling Travis he is not a true Christian. Duh. Dexter does make a funny: I am a father, a son, a serial killer. Then, suddenly, it gets awesome. Deb arrives at the church, prepared to confess her ungodly love. For once. she does not interrupt him, get called away, or not see him thanks to some convenient plastic sheeting. She lurks in the shadows, and she sees Dexter kill Travis. Finally! The show’s biggest secret is revealed. This is the moment fans have been waiting for since season one. This is an amazing set up for next season. Dexter turns, sees her, and… utters a line that some will see as dark comedic brilliance and others will consider unbearably lame. Watch and decide for yourself.