This is the way the season ends: not with a bang, but a wedding.
Given that the climax of the season — the resolution of the Miguel Prada story line — happened last week, there’s kind of a nice, easy, no-pressure rhythm to this season finale. No houses on fire, no psycho co-dependent enablers to deal with, no serial-killer brothers to dispatch. Instead, this episode is an exercise in the tying up of loose ends. Deb gets her shield and decides to make a go of it with Anton. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Angel confesses to LaGuerta that he met Gianni while soliciting prostitutes. Dexter is plagued by Ramon Prado but then talks Ramon out of bothering him. And Dexter finally gets his big showdown with the Skinner, who doesn’t end up putting up much of a fight. And, of course, there’s that much-discussed wedding, which goes off without a hitch.
A teaser at the end of the episode sets us up for season four in 2009. Yes, it’s going to be all about Dexter’s new life as a domesticated dad. What will be interesting in the next season will be to see, now that Dexter is apparently developing human emotions — for his sister, his new wife, his unborn son — whether this affects his ability to kill at will.
We have some faith that the show can pull off this new scenario, but after this season, we’re a bit wary of the show turning into Dexter Knows Best. There are even a few moments in this finale that veer perilously close to self-parody. For example, Dexter discovers Rita has a secret of her own: She was married briefly when she was 16. He decides that, well, we all have our secrets, right? But is the show really suggesting an equivalency between a regretted starter marriage and a propensity for chopping people up and disposing of them in garbage bags?
From the beginning, this show has been premised on the idea that Dexter is a monster who channels his darkness toward achieving justice. This year, though, he seemed less like a monster than ever, not always to the show’s benefit. After all, what happens if the show stops thinking of him as a monster? What happens if we do?