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Farewell

My husband bought me a pin that says “I get too attached to fictional characters” and it couldn’t be more perfect for someone like me.  Too often, I get immersed in a television series and develop almost a bond with characters that touch my heart, engage my mind, or who are so easy to relate to that I wish they were my friends in the real world.  I cried when 24 ended and Jack Bauer vanished for what seemed to be forever (lucky for me, he and the series will be back for a 12 episode run).  I even got a tattoo on my arm to pay homage to the series and to Kiefer Sutherland.  Prison Break was another hard one for me to say farewell too, and that one was also honored with ink on my skin.  I bawled when House reached the end, but that is understandable considering how emotional the final episode was.  I love a great series finale.

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Right now, two big shows for me are quickly coming to a close; Dexter and Breaking Bad.  I had a late start on both, catching up via Netflix and DVD to get to the point where my husband and I are watching the episodes the minute they air.  [SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THESE SHOWS AND OTHERS PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED]  I’m hopeful that both of these series can wrap up in such a way that honors the characters but also appeases the audience.  Right now, Dexter has one episode left and we’ve already seen his character falter.  Rather than have Dexter (Michael C. Hall) murder his current adversary, he left Oliver Saxon/Daniel Vogel (Darri Ingolfsson) in the hands of his sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), so she could arrest him and he could have a fair trial.  This goes against everything we know about Dexter; he has lost his need to kill and he has become irresponsible; his decision resulted in Saxon/Vogel escaping and his sister getting shot.  Dexter’s dark passenger seems to be gone, but unfortunately that isn’t a good thing for the few people in his life that he truly cares for.

My big worry with Dexter is that the series finale will have him abandon a huge part of himself in order to be with the woman he loves, Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski).  Yes, having a sweet and romantic ending is always nice, but that isn’t Dexter.  With Hannah, Dexter does not have to hide who he is, as Hannah has done her fair share of killing herself and accepts Dexter for everything he has to offer.  With his late wife Rita (Julie Benz), Dexter had to keep his dark passenger a secret to protect her.  This is unnecessary with Hannah so it doesn’t make sense to me for Dexter to abandon his code and suddenly decide that what he does is no longer important.  Not to advocate murder, but Dexter has done a great service to many people by ridding the world of serial killers who have evaded the law.  Saxon/Vogel has shown that he is a master at evasion, yet Dexter let him go in a totally irresponsible way because he didn’t need to kill him.  He’s losing what makes him Dexter.

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The whole fleeing to Argentina plan to start anew with Hannah and his son, Harrison, seems so ridiculous.  I was genuinely surprised when this plan came to light and even moreso when Dexter put in his notice at work, emptied out his apartment, and agreed to have the flights booked.  For such a logical person to jump on this plan felt unrealistic and silly.  Dexter always has a solid plan and always protects his family.  This plan doesn’t fit.  With one episode left, Dexter has a big choice to make.  He can stay in Miami and take care of Saxon/Vogel, but possibly sacrifice his relationship with Hannah in the process, as she is inches away from capture.  Or he can flee to Argentina with his love and son, but leave his sister and friends vulnerable to attack by Saxon/Vogel who surely now will not stop until everyone Dexter loves is dead.  I hope we see an ending we deserve, but I’m very worried that we won’t be given a proper ending to this epic story.

Moving on to Breaking Bad.  I was initially not excited about watching this show because it was hard for me to picture the dad from Malcolm in the Middle being anything but silly.  I have to say, I was so glad to be wrong.  Bryan Cranston is brilliant as Walter White and brings so much to this complex character.  With two episodes remaining, the audience is definitely on the edge of their seats and totally clueless as to what will happen next.  Last Sunday’s episode, Oxymandias, was one of the greatest hours of television that I have ever watched.  Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), Walter’s brother-in-law is dead.  Most of Walt’s drug fortune has been taken from him.  Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Junior (RJ Mitte) know the full truth about Walt.  The police know that Walt is a criminal. Walt kidnaps his infant daughter briefly, breaking the hearts of his family even more.  Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) has been beaten, broken, and is now a slave to the new meth empire.  And we are left with Walt using one of his lawyer’s contacts to gain a new identity and leave his family behind.

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I am stunned.  Even knowing that Hank was going to die (thanks, Twitter spoilers), I was enthralled by this last episode and shocked with every passing minute and new development.  This series has done wonders with its characters and plot lines and created something that is close to perfect.  Walt’s transformation from a timid teacher into the feared and respected Heisenberg has been fascinating to watch.  Jesse’s descent from a common druggie into the broken shell of a man he currently is has been nothing short of heartbreaking.  Skyler is the woman we love to hate, but now it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her and hard not to recognize what a strong woman she truly is (although I still can’t stand her).  Hank went from being sort of a comic relief to being one of the strongest people on the show and a worthy adversary to Walt.  Characters like Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), and even small roles like Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) are so perfectly cast and written that you almost forget you are watching a work of fiction.

The death of Gus is by far my favorite.  His relationship with Walt was complicated and consisted of many layers.  Honestly, Walt had it made in Gus’s lab; it was perfectly hidden and completely state of the art.  The money was fantastic and most of the risk was out of Walt’s hands.  Gus was powerful, calm, rational, and very business minded.  Using his restaurants, Los Pollos Hermanos, as a cover to transport the drugs was brilliant.  But Walt’s life is far from easy and when fearing for the safety of his family due to his tumultuous relationship with Gus, he had to become (in his words) “the one who knocks.”  Ridding himself of Gus was the only way to guarantee his safety and he did so via a bomb strapped to Hector’s wheelchair.  Seeing the bomb go off and then watching Gus leave Hector’s room, straighten his tie, and then turn to reveal half a blown off face was such an outstanding way for the man to go.  It honored the character while also showing Walt’s ruthlessness and power.

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With Breaking Bad, I have no doubt that all the characters will be honored in the series finale due to the way they have treated their characters thus far.  Gus received an honorable discharge, Oxymandias allowed Hank and his partner to die in the line of fire and with their heads held high while Jesse’s beating was mercifully kept off camera.  Hank’s wife Marie has grown as a person and become much more than a supporting character.  Mike’s death was untimely but his character was such a strong loyal person and great family man, so his request to die in peace came off as one of strength and not as him giving up.  Skyler, as I said, has become more than just a person we love to hate.  And Walt has evolved so much and come so far that it’s ridiculous to think that anything could happen that would shake him or not do honor to the person he is when we say goodbye.

Writing the finale to a series has got to be incredibly challenging.  How to decide where to go and still hold true to the characters without ticking off your viewers is a task I would not want to take on.  It doesn’t always go well, like when Prison Break decided to kill off Michael Scofield rather than give him the ending he deserved with Sarah and their child.  But too often, we see various TV series end without any resolution at all due to cancellations.  I’ll never really know where the Breakout Kings have gone, what happens to The Borgias, what the next step for No Ordinary Family would have been, or where the team from Chase is now.  These days, being able to pen a series finale is a huge deal.  I hope my favorites can do it right.  I’ll be finding out soon enough.

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Surprise!

This season of Dexter started off with a bang.  [SPOILERS]  Picking up right where season 6 left off, Dexter must finally reveal exactly who and what he is to his sister, Debra.  This season dealt in part with the struggle Debra goes through with both her romantic feelings for Dexter and the realization that her brother is the Bay Harbor Butcher.  The structure of this season was also different in that there were two “big bads” with very different and separate stories.  First we have Issak Sirko, a mob boss and ruthless killer who has targeted Dexter for killing his lover after his lover killed a cop.  Second, we have Hannah McKay, who seemed at first to be a victim but soon proved to be a killer who looked out for herself above all others.  In typical Dexter fashion, both killers are targeted and set to receive a spot on his table, but neither are dispatched in a way we are used to.

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This new structure, combined with Captain Maria LaGuerta’s suspicions of Dexter, has successfully broken the image of Dex as an untouchable being and has made him incredibly vulnerable.  His vulnerability is even more apparent when he has Hannah on his table, preparing to end her life as punishment for the lives she has taken.  Before he can remove her from this world, Dexter is overcome with emotion and ends up sparing her and eventually falling in love with her.  It is similar to what he went through with Lila in season two, but different in that Hannah isn’t unstable as Lila was, and is much more similar to Dexter in her thought processes and in the way she projects her image to the rest of the world.  While Dexter lets his guard down with Hannah, opening himself to love and to the future, LaGuerta continues to gather evidence that points away from the late James Doakes as the Bay Harbor Butcher.

LaGuerta’s determination to expose Dexter for the killer he is turns Debra into a silent rival.  Deb “assists” her with the reexamination of the Butcher case, but only to pull her way from Dexter and to plant seeds of doubt in her mind.  Debra and Hannah are also clear rivals, as Deb is unable to allow Hannah to walk free for the murders she committed when younger (that she cannot be charged for) and for the murders she suspects her of committing in the present day.  This adds another element to Deb’s struggle in accepting Dexter’s darker side; how can she allow one to walk free but need to punish the other?  The separation and tension between the two most important people in Dexter’s life is as stressful as it sounds, forcing him to choose between the two women.  Dex does finally make a choice, but only after Hannah makes it clear that Debra is not safe with her walking the streets a free woman.

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When Dexter finally says goodbye to Sirko mid-season, respectfully allowing his lifeless body to drift to the bottom of the sea in the same spot Dex disposed of his lover, his full attention turns to the various women in his life.  Season 7’s finale episode kicks off with Captain LaGuerta arresting Dexter for the suspected murder of Hector Estrada, one of the men responsible for killing his mother as a child.  Dexter has thankfully anticipated this and plants evidence that makes it seem as though LaGuerta was attempting to frame him by planting evidence of her own.  With Hannah in jail and LaGuerta shamed, it seems as though Dexter is in the clear.  Nothing is that simple and easy though; Hannah escapes from custody and LaGuerta comes into evidence implicating both Dexter and Debra.  The other way out, in Dexter’s mind, is to kill LaGuerta.

As Dexter begins to realize what must be done in order to save himself, his sister, and his son, he thinks back to the first time he allowed his mask to slip and for his true self to shine through.  James Doakes, the man he set up as the Bay Harbor Butcher, was the first person to see past Dexter’s phony smile and fake personality.  Doakes had Dexter figured out before anyone else and we were finally able to see the little things he picked up on with these flashbacks in the finale.  As a huge fan of the series, I was thrilled that the writers decided to bring Doakes back and allow him to once again share the screen with Dexter.

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Killing LaGuerta seems to go against the code that was taught to Dexter by his father years before, but not if you take into consideration that part of the code is self-preservation.  Don’t get caught.  LaGuerta is within arms reach of evidence that will damn himself and his sister, leaving his child to an unknown fate.  Even if Dexter takes all of the blame, his son will still be harshly affected.  Dexter’s plan, to kill Estrada and LaGuerta in one swoop and stage the murder to make it seem as though they killed each other, seems fool-proof.  But keeping with Dex’s string of bad luck, Debra shows up at the scene just as Dexter is preparing to shoot LaGuerta.  As LaGuerta pleads with Deb to shoot her brother, Dexter takes a line out of Hannah’s book and tells his sister “Do what you gotta do.”  Sobbing, Debra murders LaGuerta, immediately falling into hysterics and clutching the lifeless body, shocked by what she has just done.

I was baffled by where the season would go after season 6 ended with Debra discovering Dexter’s secret.  With this finale and Debra’s slow descent, I can’t wrap my mind around the possibilities that are in the future for these siblings.  There is only one more season planned for this series; 12 more episodes to complete the story and resolve what can be resolved.  I have to believe that the investigation into LaGuerta’s murder will not be simple and quick.  The scene will no doubt tell the story Dex wants it to tell, especially with him writing the blood report, but what about evidence left behind from Debra’s hysterics in clutching the dead body?  What about the inconsistencies in the blood patterns from Dexter moving Estrada’s body?  What if the ballistics don’t match?  What if someone takes notice that Debra left the New Year’s party for a while after calling the station to get a location on LaGuerta’s car?  What if LaGuerta confided in someone about her suspicions that we’re not aware of?

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This was the most complex season they have had in their seven-year run, and it has also been my favorite thus far.  I have been one of many fans that was on the “Kill LaGuerta” bandwagon, but to actually see it happen was a major and incredible shock.  I never expected Deb to be the one to pull the trigger either, although I also couldn’t imagine her simply walking away from the scene.  The genius that was put into this season definitely makes me sad that we only have one more year before Dexter is gone for good.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the dynamic between Dexter and Debra has shifted, whether or not Hannah will return, if Angel Batista will reconsider retirement now that LaGuerta is gone, and much more.  My hat is off to everyone who had a hand in making this series, and especially this season, a work of art.

Dark Passenger Revealed

After what seemed like an endless wait, Dexter made its triumphant return to our television screens last night.  [SPOILERS]  After toying with the idea of Debra Morgan discovering Dexter Morgan’s secret season after season, last year wrapped with Deb entering the church just as Dexter plunged his knife into Travis Marshall, season 6’s Big Bad.  I’m not ashamed to say that I stood up and yelled at my TV in excitement.  Season 5 brought us close to Deb discovering the truth, putting the two of them in the same room with their final kill.  Deb decided to give Dex and Lumen a running start from the police because she understood and sympathized with Lumen, an abused woman seeking retribution and revenge.  After that close call, I was certain the writers would never allow Deb to see under Dexter’s mask.  Damn, was I glad to be proven wrong.

Season 7 picks up right where 6 left off; Deb was shocked to see Dexter standing over Travis Marshall’s body, wrapped in plastic on the altar of the church.  Dexter begins to pretend to be panicked, claiming Travis attacked him and he didn’t know what to do.  After an internal struggle, Deb agrees to assist Dexter in setting fire to the church to cover his tracks and wait to be called back to the scene to investigate, playing ignorant to what she had just witnessed.  In their hurried state, Dexter’s blood slide falls from his pocket and into an air vent on the church floor.

During the investigation of Travis Marshall’s “suicide,” an officer is gunned down in the street, opening an important investigation for Miami Metro and a distraction for the Marshall case.  Dexter easily embraces his dark passenger and takes matters into his own hands.  His sudden departure from the department, usually overlooked, is noticed by Deb, who then questions Jamie Batista, little Harrison’s nanny, and learns that Dexter takes many late nights “working” at the office.  While Dexter is removing the cop killer from this world and delivering him to the ocean floor, Deb goes to Dexter’s apartment where she finds Dexter’s tools and blood slides.  As Dexter enters the apartment to find it in shambles, Deb sitting in front of the blood slide box, he is asked if he is a serial killer and if he killed all these people.  Having no out, he says yes.

Debra spends the episode putting piece after piece together in discovering who Dexter truly is.  She recalls Dexter’s brother, Brian Moser, the Ice Truck Killer, and the way Brian had Deb on a table wrapped in plastic.  The set up was identical to the way Dexter wrapped Travis and Deb does not see this as a coincidence.  She recalls how Dexter was wearing an apron with plastic sleeves when he killed Travis, dressed in clothes she’s never seen before, which leads her to believe he planned this killing.  She begins to have flashbacks of the night Brian nearly killed her and begins to see that while Dexter did save her, perhaps it wasn’t in his nature to do so.  With the discovery of the blood slides, there is no more denying what she knows and what Dexter has done.

Dexter doesn’t only have Deb to deal with this season in protecting his identity and livelihood.  Louis, a tech at the office and Jamie’s boyfriend, has gone through Dexter’s computer, stolen a blood slide, and mailed Dexter the prosthetic hand from the Ice Truck Killer case.  There is no doubt he knows who Dexter is and it remains to be seen what he will do with this knowledge.  He thinks Dexter is a jerk and it wouldn’t be surprising if he tries to reveal his secret.  The other problem is Captain Maria LaGuerta.  In season 2, when James Doakes was believed to be the Bay Harbor Butcher after Dexter planted the blood slides and set him up before his fiery death, LaGuerta fought the idea to the bitter end, believing there was no way that Doakes could do such horrible things.  After she found the blood slide at the scene of Travis Marshall’s “suicide” and confirmed that no other cases other than the Bay Harbor Butcher case involved blood slides, she is confident that Doakes was not the culprit and seems to be ready to go ahead in finding the real killer.  Doakes always suspected there was something wrong with Dexter and it’s quite possible she could follow his lead and begin to look more closely at him as well.  Jonah Mitchell, the son of the Trinity Killer, has knowledge of Dexter’s true colors, as does Detective Quinn.  Add all of the elements together and Dexter could easily be outed.

I have high hopes for this season and I’m looking forward to seeing what Dexter does to deal with Debra learning about his dark passenger and how she comes to terms with the fact that her brother has an uncontrollable urge to kill.  Will Dexter tell her that their father, Harry, gave him the code to be used to kill only those who have killed others?  Will she understand that he has to kill or will she try to curb his urges to do so?  What will Dexter be forced to do in order to silence LaGuerta and to get Louis off his back and out of his business?  With one more season after this one, there are countless things that could happen and endless possibilities.  Whatever course this takes, I’m definitely rooting for the serial killer to come out on top.

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