The brilliance of
Dexter's fifth-season finale emerged in the raw and heartbreaking
conclusion to this mismatched romance. Dexter again loses a loved one
in this season's finale, but for a different reason than last year's.
He cheerily approaches Lumen the morning after they kill her last
abuser, Jordan Chase.
Her tears interrupt his quips about breakfast foods. Her dark
passenger, Dexter realizes, it's gone. She explains she needs to leave
"I can't do it any more," Lumen tells
him, referring to the murder and double life that Dexter embodies.
"What we've been doing."
"You don't have to." He begins to look visibly broken, his emotions not remotely an act.
"But you do. We both know that."
throws the plate he holds, shatters it, and the two devastated
characters crouch on the floor. It's a moment of crushing, painful
honesty reminiscent of the worst break-ups. Michael C. Hall and Julia
Stiles deliver the scene completely and convincingly. Later, in the
episode's final moments, Dexter's quiet acceptance of his own isolation
(surrounded, it must be pointed out, by family and coworkers at his
son's birthday party) is a damning reminder that he, on an internal
level, still feels cut off from the world. Like a grotesque Pinocchio
story, where wooden Pinocchio ached to be a real boy, the
psychologically shut-off Dexter had experienced "the briefest chance to
be human" with Lumen.
Those poignant scenes provide
an anchor for the broad, big-picture themes of Dexter. They justify why
fans love the show and understandably so. The underlying trauma is
larger than life, with epic capacity as metaphor.
tends to botch the small details. A prime example is the lazy
denouement of Quinn's Dexter-stalking and the murder of Liddy. So many
elements pointed to trouble with this plotline all season: prim,
obnoxious Quinn grows paranoid about Dexter, stalks him, hires another
cop named Stan Liddy to investigate, and then, when Quinn falls in love
with Dexter's sister, tries to call off the investigation to no avail.
But Dexter killed Liddy in a moment of passion,
and signs pointed to Quinn. There was blood on Quinn's shoe, his name
on surveillance registry, the record of calls between him and Liddy. In
the finale, Quinn is dramatically called out and briefly put behind
bars—a genuine and thrilling leap in the plot, it seemed. Because would
he have to go public with the Dexter investigation? With the suspicion
that Dexter may have killed Liddy? Yet he's loose by end of the
episode, thanks to ... Dexter's blood work? Uh, wait. What? Yes, the drop
of blood was suspicious but hardly the cops' only black mark against
Quinn and likely not the last lead in Liddy's murder. If Quinn were
truly investigated, the police would have found Liddy's photos of
Dexter and Lumen in Quinn's apartment. They likely would have also
found additional surveillance records in Liddy's place. Clearing Quinn
on account of that one blood drop was a pat fix, a flirtation with
consequence but too bashful to explore real trouble.