Dexter: 8.11 - Monkey In A Box
This is the penultimate episode of Dexter ever, and I would like to be more excited about this after eight seasons of genuine investment in the show. I still retain some curiosity about what they'll do, a lingering care about the characters which at least allows me to appreciate the stabs at real closure they take here. But to be honest, at this stage, if this wasn't the final year of a show I've followed for a long time, I'd have stopped watching by now.
Yes, it's another humdrum review. Some spoilers follow for the exciting bits.
Previously, On Dexter...The main problem with Monkey In A Box is that it's bad in roughly the same way the last episode was bad, which doesn't lead to an exciting review experience for you or me. You could read the last article and get the gist. But nonetheless, I'll try to do this without repeating myself too much.
Broadly, it's not quite as dull as the mid-section episodes, because we can at least see the ending coming together and feel a sense of finality as Dex prepares to leave Miami forever. Villain Saxon is agreeably creepy, and Michael C. Hall has a particularly good week too. Unfortunately, the season eight plot itself remains sluggish and even when characters are running around doing things, never seems that exciting or important. This show used to be dark, creepy and witty, so it's bothersome how bland and emotionless it's become.
In terms of plot, we're definitely doing the structure where our anti-hero is trying to leave their life of crime, but gets pulled back in for one last disastrous job. It's very common in these tragic hero/villain stories, even the mighty Breaking Bad did a version around the halfway mark of season five, so there's nothing inherently bad about using it. However, this is not the most inspiring rendition, because it seems to have reared out of nowhere rather than being an inevitable outcome. They've made a stab at connecting it back to themes from the beginning, which does help, but still sticks out how they've only started mentioning those issues again in the last couple of weeks as they realised the end was coming.
Serial Killer RoleplayIt doesn't help that the Hannah/Dexter relationship, increasingly held up as the one shining thing that saves Dex from his inner demons, seems less convincing by the week. Remember when Hannah was an exciting, unpredictable agent in the show? I enjoyed her for that last year, but now she just cooks, shrieks and babysits. I don't know if I'm necessarily crying sexism, but they don't seem to have served that character well.
The Miami Metro cast get more meaty scenes than usual, as Dexter says goodbye. That bit worked better for me than I expected, due to some nice acting and the simple fact that I've "known" those characters for a long while, so feel a certain affection for them. Yes, even though they are terrible at their jobs.
Going into the final week, then, what do we expect from Dexter? I'm honestly not sure. I almost hope they throw in some lunatic final twist, as a last pleasant reminder that they used to be good at that sort of thing, and because surely they realise the serial killer can't totally get away with it? Or maybe Deb will survive her shooting, Saxon will die, he'll run off with Hannah and that'll be that.
Regardless, even if the last episode is unexpectedly amazing, I'm more or less happy to say that this last season of Dexter has not been a success. Not even comically bad or over the top, but simply boring - outright silly would have been better, I think. Nonetheless, I still hold out hope for a decent send-off. You've got to really, otherwise why carry on living at all?