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Dexter Season Finale Recap: Sliced of Life

As the Trinity plotline resolves itself in the season finale, Debra confronts Dexter with his past, and Dexter considers dumping his Dark Passenger by the side of the road. It’s a predictable, positive wrap-up — until a shocking ending changes everything and it becomes clear that Dexter probably isn’t enrolling himself in serial-killer rehab anytime soon.

At the beginning, though, Dexter is losing it. Flustered over Trinity, he decks Quinn. Which is great, but would surely result in more trouble than it’s worth. Then he embarks on one of the lamest car chases ever filmed, which definitely results in more trouble than it’s worth: Trinity escapes while Dexter’s (literal) run-in with a civilian and two sheriff’s deputies lands him in jail.

He realizes he doesn’t want this life anymore, just as Debra gets a glimpse of what Dexter’s life is. Thanks to a tip from Harry’s Post-Sexy Informant, Deb finally finds out that both Dexter and his brother the Ice Truck Killer fell out of a bloody shipping container and into her life. Dexter is simultaneously discomfited and relieved: Finally someone knows who he really is! Except, uh, yeah, Dexter, she doesn’t know you’re a serial killer.

And that’s not Debra’s only big piece of detective work this week. She helps that tough little kid Trinity kidnapped remember the logo he saw in his abductor’s van. That leads the cops to another body at a build site, and they storm Trinity’s house ... only to run into Dexter. Debra realizes there’s something wrong here — she notes that Dexter, like Reporter Girl the night of Lundy’s death, got to the crime scene far too quickly. She’s had enough revelations about Dexter for one season and isn’t going to think about this too hard just yet, but the tension in her voice when she warns Dexter to put on his flak jacket so everyone knows he’s one of them (and not one of them) is beautiful.

That’s all just background to why we’re really watching: the Dexter/Trinity showdown. And this conclusion could not have been better, not just because of the surprise ending, but because of how this unfolds. The show omits the scenes in which Dexter and Trinity put their endgames into play, and we just see the nasty results. Dexter looks at the auto-body receipt, his voiceover talks about Trinity’s vintage Mustang, Trinity picks up the car as his mechanic warns him it isn’t ready, Trinity stalls, and Dexter jumps out and enacts his usual murder shtick; we didn’t see Dexter arrive at the shop, remove the car’s oil cap, and hide in the trunk. Trinity looks up Dexter’s address on the Internet, arrives at his destination only to find that it’s now Debra’s apartment, and we don’t find out that he made it to Dexter’s house or what he did there until after his deathbed argument with Dexter about fate versus free will.

At least Trinity got to enjoy his train set and 45s one more time. And Dexter finally understands that he’s not like Trinity. He’s good for his family. He’s loved and he loves and he’s ready to live. Finally his boat’s name — Slice of Life — isn’t just a bloody pun.

Our reborn family man listens to Rita’s sweet voice-mail message when he gets home. Her breathy-little-girl, bad-imitation-of–Marilyn Monroe voice really grates on us, but, hey, as long as Dexter is happy. He tries to call his presumably vacationing bride back ... but her cell phone is ringing inside the house. And he can hear his baby crying. Dexter finds his son sitting in a puddle of blood, just like him in that shipping container. And his wife has bled to death in the bathtub.

Dexter’s voiceover concludes that Trinity was right about fate after all. We worry that all our hating killed Rita. And we can’t wait to see how Debra reacts and what else she figures out when she learns that Trinity killed Dexter’s wife.

More Recaps:
LaGuerta and Batista — and the show’s use of coincidence and convenience as plot engines — bore the A.V. Club.
The Mothchase moves into the New Testament — and LIKED last week’s identity bullshit.
Give Me My Remote also took a more charitable view of last week’s episode.

Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime