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Review: Dexter - The Getaway (season finale)

by Danny Gallagher, posted Dec 14th 2009 4:37AM
Dexter: The Getaway
(S04E12) "How is it that I kill people and feel no regret, but disappointing Rita can make me feel like the scum of the Earth?" - Dexter Morgan

I don't care what the issue is, what topic I'm discussing, or what area of my life needs improvement. If Jennifer Carpenter, the actress who plays Debra Morgan on Dexter, has the answer for me, I'm going to follow it to a tee.

That's because she can correctly predict the emotional outcome of any situation, including the reaction I'd have to last night's Dexter finale. I should really have her sit in on my next IRS audit. Chances are if she can't help me cope with the soul crushing inevitability of my pending financial breakdown, she can curse out the auditor and leave him in a bigger sadness heap than I'll be in.

The whole episode took me through a range of gut-wrenching and tense emotions that my stomach didn't know it had until the very shocking ending left me empty and sad for our hero, even though he finally wiped that human stain of evil, Arthur Mitchell, off the face of the Earth. If you didn't watch last night's episode and hate it when mean, heartless bloggers like me spoil those endings for you, do not, I repeat, DO NOT READ ANYTHING BEYOND THIS POINT.

The episode picks up right where the last one left off as predicted and hoped. Arthur is staring Dexter down with that smug killer smile that lets him know he's always going to be one step ahead of him, even if Dexter knows he eventually isn't. The two exchange some unpleasant pleasantries, and the hunt is officially on. Dexter races down to his car, has the most physical scuffle with Quinn to date and chases the Trinity Killer's tail with the tenacity of a hungry lion that finally knows what his stomach is craving. Things get a little predictable here since Dexter always makes a mistake when he's rushed or trying to make up for a previous mistake. In this case, it's fleeing the scene of a minor accident he caused while talking to Rita on his cell and driving after Arthur. Too bad Harry didn't include "use a hands-free device" in his Code.

The interesting part is when Dexter leaves Arthur in the van while dealing with the police and the irate driver he hit. He gives him his usual dose of magic happy knock-out drugs and leaves him in Arthur's van but gets nicked by the fuzz for letting his anger get the best of him. Dear sweet Rita picks him up and Dexter starts to have a real human moment and realizes that unlike Arthur, Dexter's wife and kids are more than just a mask to him. Of course, his "Dark Passenger," played by the divine image of Dexter's father Harry, actually puts his family in the enemy column. Dexter's role as a father has made for a weird fit that has taken some getting used to, but this season he's learned how to embrace and connect with every member of his family up to Rita. That's why it hurts so much to watch her die.

The first 45 minutes leading up to the total shocker of an ending were also well paced and timed. It stretched things out without warping anything and even lost its sense of time since I felt this pain in my gut as Arthur drove out of town in a newly detailed '65 Mustang (is it wrong that I want that car even more after this episode?) with road tunes blaring on the stereo. It had me believing that Arthur would get away. I had to check my TiVo and remind myself I still had 20 minutes of the episode left to go.

Meanwhile, Debra picks up her CI cases after being ordered to recuperate and realizes the home of one of Harry's CI lovers was also the home where the Ice Truck Killer stashed her from the first season. She eventually puts two and two together and learns the Ice Truck Killer was Dexter's biological brother. It sets up an interesting storyline for season five that doesn't seem to have much traction now since she doesn't seem to know much beyond his biological relations, but every good story rolls along small before it snowballs into a full-blown boulder.

Then as Dexter returns home to head out on the honeymoon he and Rita never had, he comes to terms with his love and devotion to Rita and it's taken away from him just as fast as it came to him. He finds Rita dead in the bathtub filled with watery blood and his infant son Harrison sitting in a puddle of his mother's bloody mess teary and crying, the same way Harry found him all those years ago. It really hurt. I mean it physically hurt to watch Rita die in such a cruel and inhumane way. Her faults aside, she's been the sweetest and most likable character of this funky bunch and the least deserving of such a horrific end. The whole scene left me still in my wingback leather chair. I could hear my pulse in my head reminding me that I'm still alive. It made for great television.

First of all, it gave a great big swipe to all those naysayers who wished that Dexter would kill Rita to keep the marriage/family angle from taking over the show. Sure she may have been an obstacle from keeping Dexter from doing what he does best, but she also brought a great deal of heart and genuineness to such a dark show and helped Dexter realize, however indirectly, that even the darkest heart is capable of love. I hope Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker cried himself so hard that he became trapped under a mountain of used Kleenex and a team of excavators had to rescue him Baby Jessica style.

It also sets up an interesting plot line for the fifth season, or as Michael C. Hall put it in the show's post interview with John Lithgow, "a bold stroke for resetting the stage, whatever that may be."

Stay tuned. I sure as hell will.

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Bad ending. Seems like a twist for the sake of a twist, assuming Arthur Mitchell killed Rita. He killed in some weird ritualistic manner, starting with kidnapping and burying a boy. We saw his killing involved a degree of preparation, stalking out his victim. This time there was no cycle, no dead boy, no preparation - just killing Rita in what must have been about a five-minute time window, assuming she just came back home for the tickets she'd forgotten.

Wow, what a coincidence, Trinity somehow found out where Dexter lives, and happened to be at his house in the five minutes Rita came home. And someone already mentioned the taxi that must have been waiting there.

And why would he kill Rita? His ritual? It hasn't followed his typical pattern - so it doesn't seem to be that - but then why is she killed in the bathtub? Is it revenge? Trinity seemed most annoyed about the missing money when he came to his house to get jewellry, it seemed his money was his priority, not revenge.

So many questions - POSSIBLY answerable - but good writing doesn't create such an implausible scenario simply in order to shock the viewer. Speaking of good writing, good writing doesn't create a scene in which a hunted serial killer, having found out that the one man that knows everything about him happens to work for the police, walks into that same police station. For all Trinity knew, Dexter had been working undercover the whole time. What other explanation could there be? Why, then, would Trinity walk into the station? Simply to create that dramatic moment. When Dexter first started, the plot was tight, and things made sense. It seems that the writers have literally lost the plot.

January 16 2010 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bruce, I think the only way we're all going be able to live with the fact that Rita was murdered, is to believe that Season 5 will start off something like this:

Dexter, totally exhausted, sitting on the sofa sleeping with his head thrown back The phone he keeps hearing ring is his own! Dream on baby, dream on...............Dexter wakes up, answers the phone and it's Rita, happy, alive and calling from the "Honeymoon Suite" .

Okay our minds are at ease about Rita, but exactly when did
Dexter's dream start ??

Did Arthur really make it out of town?

With our "hero" image of Harry fading, we still feel like we need Rita to keep Dexter grounded. Think about it, how could a crazed serial killer be able to continue holding down a stable job and keep up his "normal" image, without some type of strong emotional support, hence "Rita".

With that said, we still need to know how Harry's girlfriends
knew so much about each other. Did they all work on the police force together? What happened to all the jealousy and hate that usually goes along with finding out about the other woman? What about departmental relationship policies? Oh I know, I've got it. All of Harry's women just happened to go grocery shopping at exactly the same time each week. Yeah right! This was a bad move on the writer's part.

Again I ask, Did Arthur "really" make it out of town??

January 04 2010 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I haven't seen where anyone has mentioned/remembered this...
Why has nothing been said about Rita's 1st husband ? Remember Dexter was her 3rd marriage and she lied to him about only having been married once before. Rita's mother said "maybe the 3rd time will be the charm".
This is our missing killer......

December 26 2009 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kevin, Astor and Cody went to FL w/ the grandparents.

December 21 2009 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just uncovered a delightful inside joke on Dexter.

Geoff Pierson has a recurring role as Captain Matthews. I remembered him as one of the Frank Ryan's on Ryan's Hope during the 80's. However, I was unaware he had married fellow Ryan's Hope actress Cali Timmins. Three of Cali Timmins' siblings are the lead members of the Canadian alternative-rock band Cowboy Junkies. And the Cowboy Junkies' signature album just happens to be....

The Trinity Sesson.

December 19 2009 at 5:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Absolutely, positively, the BEST show on TV!!!! I can't wait for each and every episode!!!

December 19 2009 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

OK, then maybe Harrison was sleeping or at least not crying when Dexter came in, and only started to cry when he heard his mom's voice from the answering machine. What I'd really like to know is, are Cody and Astor even alive? They came back with Rita (didn't they?) for just a minute or two for her to pick up some overlooked travel papers, so they probably wouldn't have fallen asleep before Arthur found Rita. Where could they possibly have been so long, without noticing their mom wasn't taking them back to the airport, without calling 911?
Yes, September 2010 is a long long way away...

December 18 2009 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The interviews with lithgow are great. They tell the story. The writers on this series are brilliant. Next season will be great. Can't wait to see how it unfolds. Rita was in the way killing her was genius. It wipes the slate and allows the writers to reset the whole story. There are many different roads they can take it now that Dexter has less constraints. Also let's remember. Dexter at his base is a serial killing monster. No matter how we have become emotionally inteined with him. His life is a living he'll and he cAn never become a normal human. He is Ted bundy with a badge.

December 16 2009 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

does anyone remember rita's wedding dess?

December 16 2009 at 6:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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