Tuesday, September 24, 2013


WARNING: if you haven't seen the last episode, stop reading now. The discussion includes spoilers about the last episode.

I know quite a few of you (like us) watched Dexter for years. It wasn't science fiction, but the central question of the show was the theme of all great science fiction: what does it mean to be human?

The show's quality certainly suffered in the last two seasons, once Deb discovered the truth about Dexter. The last few episodes this season, though, were very strong and some of my favorites.

We watched the final episode Sunday night, and Gloria really hated it. There was nothing about the episode that she liked, really, and she had very reasonable objections.

I loved it, though.

To me, Dexter is a modern day retelling of Frankenstein (and I'm going to refer to the monster from here forward as "Frankenstein", whether that's technically correct or not). While the show's writers may not have intended it that way, there are associations throughout the series that became even stronger in the last season.

For one, Dexter was created by Vogel, primarily. She was Dr. Frankenstein. Dexter always saw himself as something other than human, as incapable of feeling real emotion (although he does seem to transform during the last half of the last season).

Dexter's relationship with Vogel is conflicted, but when he she dies, he mourns over her body, just as Frankenstein does when he discovers Victor's body in the ship's cabin.

Most importantly, like Dexter, Frankenstein is incredibly self-aware, fully aware that he is living a cursed existence, and one that he cannot escape. There is no hope of redemption.

I know that the writers probably didn't intend to make this connection, because there are plenty of pieces that don't fit, but the archetype does fit. That's how I've always seen Dexter's character, so I never expected him to die in the last episode. Frankenstein didn't die--he exiled himself to the Arctic. And while Frankenstein says he's going to kill himself (by fire), it's hard to think that he's going to be successful. He seems to be destined to roam the Arctic forever, not alive and yet not dead.

Dexter exiling himself to an area that seems almost as remote (symbolically) makes sense. The order is reversed--Dexter tries to kill himself, seemingly, but somehow fails--but his eternal misery is very familiar.

I like ambition in final episodes more than closure. And while you can argue that this episode wasn't entirely successful, it was certainly hugely ambitious.

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