When I moved hundreds of miles from my hometown a few years ago, I spent the first several months feeling pretty lonely. Two things kept me from feeling overwhelmingly alone all the time: my fiance, AJ, and AJ’s TV recommendations, which included “Lost” and “Dexter.” Lost had already ended at that point, but I’ve followed Dexter ever since, right up until the series finale last night.
(At this point, I should probably write major spoiler alerts ahead for those of you who haven’t seen the finale.)
I really didn’t trust that the writers would or could get the last episode of Dexter right…mainly because i didn’t know what getting it right would be, but they totally did-in my opinion, anyway. For years, Dexter has done things that have led to dire consequences for those around him. Some, like his biological brother or the many killers on his table, arguably deserved their bleak endings. There have been many others, however, who have suffered major consequences for Dexter’s actions without ever having deserved them (I’m looking at you Rita, Astor, Cody, Deb, Doakes, LaGuerta…).
In the final episode of Dexter, the person he (again, arguably) loves most in the world–his sister, Deb–died as a result of Dexter’s actions–his need to control things, take matters into his own hands, and, oh yeah, kill people. In trying to make a lot of his wrongs right, his actions indirectly killed his sister. Though this isn’t the first time that’s happened, Dexter seemed to really get that his actions have had horrible consequences for innocent people, including the people he cares about most. For that reason, Dexter gave up his son and the woman he loved forever by faking his death and banishing himself to live the rest of his life entirely alone.
I’m pretty sure most of my readers aren’t serial killers, but how many of us have “Dark Passengers”–Achilles’ heels in our personalities that sometimes lead us to hurt ourselves or the people we love? Obviously, everyone’s dark side isn’t as pronounced as Dex’s, but we all have those parts of ourselves that cause pain for us and others. For some, it’s a need to always be right, leading others to feel inferior or stupid. For others, it’s a tendency to act recklessly, without thinking of how those in the moment decisions are going to affect everyone around you.
I think that one of the worst things about the consequences of our actions is how long they can take to fix. An eighteen year old who is desperate to impress his friends steals from a store and has a record that follows him for the rest of his life. A twenty five year old is angrily texting her boyfriend and runs down a child riding his bike across the street. And then some of us are more like Dexter–finally seeing the err of our ways, working to fix a mistake from the past and finding the we can’t undo the damage we’ve done.
Dexter finally got what he’s always wanted–real human connections–only to realize he must give them up.