Reaction is flooding in about Sunday night's "Dexter" series finale, and it's not very positive. To be precise, it's being called "the lamest series finale since 'Seinfeld.'"
Fans of Showtime's serial killer thriller are scratching their heads about the show's final scene, which flashed-forward to show a bearded Dexter working as a lumberjack somewhere in the wilderness. That ending is being criticized as a "cop-out" that side-stepped the fundamental tension of the show: whether Dexter would ever be discovered as a serial killer and be held accountable for his body of work.
But the ending of "Dexter" didn't have to go this way. Clyde Phillips, who served as executive producer and showrunner of "Dexter" for its first four seasons, revealed the ending that he would have pitched for the series in an interview with E! Online, and it sounds infinitely better than what we ended up seeing.
"In the very last scene of the series, Dexter wakes up. And everybody is going to think, 'Oh, it was a dream.' And then the camera pulls back and back and back and then we realize, 'No, it's not a dream.' Dexter's opening his eyes and he's on the execution table at the Florida Penitentiary. They're just starting to administer the drugs and he looks out through the window to the observation gallery ... And in the gallery are all the people that Dexter killed—including the Trinity Killer and the Ice Truck Killer (his brother Rudy), LaGuerta who he was responsible [for] killing, Doakes who he's arguably responsible for, Rita, who he's arguably responsible for, Lila. All the big deaths, and also whoever the weekly episodic kills were. They are all there," Phillips said.
That would have been awesome, right? Well, unfortunately Phillips left "Dexter" after Season 4 to become the showrunner on "Nurse Jackie," and executive producers Scott Buck and Sara Colleton decided to take the ending in a very different direction.
Current showrunner Buck defended the ending in an interview with EW. "The only real variation was what he would be doing. I knew he would be in a self-imposed prison that would be as far from Miami as possible. We’d find him working in some solitary environment where even if other people were around he would make no contact and not talk to anyone. We would follow him home and he would have no human contact ... For us, that’s the tragedy," Buck said. "The one thing we felt Dexter wanted more than anything was human connections. Even in the first season we see him trying to get with Rudy. Now that he’s finally made that journey and he’s almost poised to have a real human life, he has to give all that up to save Harrison and Hannah."
Executive producer Sara Colleton addressed the decision to not have Dexter die in an interview with TV Line.
"[I]t’s not a fitting enough punishment for him. Going into exile away from everything that he knows and has become attached [to] in his whole infrastructure is a more fitting punishment for what his journey toward being a human being has cost everyone around him. If the central idea from the pilot on was: Here’s a guy who thinks of himself as a monster and yet yearns to be human… We’ve seen him on this journey -- he started off as faking it but then became real somewhere along the line -- and we’ve seen year-to-year what this journey has cost him. So, in the finale, the final price comes through … Deb, who was his touchstone and soulmate, died -- and this was the only fitting punishment. He banishes himself, if you will, into exile. When he looks into the camera in the end [of the finale], the rest is silence; there’s not even a voiceover there anymore. It’s just emptiness ... Committing suicide is too easy; that’s letting himself off the hook," she said.
Would Phillips' alternate "Dexter" ending have been more satisfying? Leave your thoughts in the comments.