Don't get me wrong, Dexter, the award-winning Showtime TV series about a serial killer who kills other serial killers or just other people who "deserve" to die, was a great show... until it wasn't.
Let's take a step back though: The character, Dexter Morgan, originated in the Dexter series starting with the novel "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay. But don't read it. For the love of God, don't! This is one case where I can truly say that the on-screen version is leaps and bounds above the book (maybe I'll write a post comparing the two later).
Dex came from a shitty beginning, seeing his mom hacked to pieces in a shipping container and then spending a few days locked in there, sitting in a pool of her blood. Sounds more like fraternity hazing to me. Eventually homicide detective Harry Morgan found Dexter wallowing in a pile of his mother-cum-hamburger meat and adopted him as his own son.
Harry soon realized that, unlike most kids who pick up hobbies like model airplane building or catching bugs in the yard, Dexter was into tearing the limbs off of people. Not wanting Dexter to turn out like another Dahmer, Bundy, or Manson, Harry does whatever any reasonable parent would do and starts teaching his son all the tools to become a ruthless killer and how to get away with it. He invents "The Code" which Dexter must intensely follow:
House of Horror   "Code for Justified Murder"
- 1. Only kill the people you can prove deserve it
- 2. NEVER get caught
Jesus Christ. My parents passed down more rules on how to brush my teeth than Harry did to teach Dexter how to be an axe-wielding psychopath. But that's neither here nor there.
As an adult, Dexter works as a blood-splatter analyst for the Miami police department, because, you know, murder. He frequently exploits his relatively privileged position to gather as much information on his potential victims who have "slipped through the cracks" of the legal system, but later starts to go after murderers who haven't yet been tried in a court of law just for the hell of it.
What the Hell Went Wrong?
The plot is fairly plausible when you see the complete and utter incompetence of the police that allows Dexter the freedom to run around cutting up bad guys. Even though every damn episode is about Dexter almost getting caught, somehow his bubbling idiot of a lab partner Vince Masuka talks himself out of believing Dexter is the real killer.
So really, it wasn't the overall plot that was disappointing — the real crime was the series finale. After his sister Deborah died, Dexter dropped his plans to spend the rest of his life with his girlfriend Hannah (also a murderer) and his son Harrison (from a previous relationship) for the much more logical idea of driving his boat into the eye of a massive hurricane careening towards Miami.
Then the hurricane was over, leaving viewers to believe that Dexter's boat had capsized and he was swallowed up into the sea. The murders were over. Dexter had succumbed to his inevitable demise because he knew as long as he lived he could never stop killing. A collective sigh of relief was heard by all fans. Camera pans out to a lumber yard and THEN WE WERE FUCKING LEFT WITH THIS...
That's right. Dexter is alive, staring blankly at the camera like he just finished fucking his cousin. The series finale was universally considered to be the worst in TV history (and this came AFTER The Sopranos). In the end, it was Dexter who killed 2.8 million viewers' hopes and dreams of finally getting a resolution to the story after eight seasons — I guess we "deserved it." Right, Harry? Well played, writers. Well played.