Dexter Season 4 Finale: Were You Surprised?

I’ve just finished watching “The Getaway”, Dexter’s season 4 finale.  If you haven’t seen it yet, go no further.

Spoilers Below:

Alright, that being said, the hype for this episode was huge, and I don’t need to hear from the network about the drastic ratings increase leading up to this finale.  I can see just by the traffic on my blog for the past two weeks that fans were scrambling for any Dexter related details they could find.  Everybody had extremely high expectations for this episode.  We were told it “will blow the top off your head” by one of the executive producers in an hour long interview before the season finale.  Well, my head is still intact. What about you guys?

Ok, so it was definitely a series changing event, but was it a surprise?  For what it’s worth, the death of Rita was my first prediction for the end of the series, and also the first prediction of a friend of mine who avidly follows the show.  Was this unexpected?  Ironically, yes…  But only because it seemed too obvious…  Fans have been screaming for Rita’s blood every since the marriage, largely due to the writers casting her in a rather uncharitable light as a “nag” with a capital “N”.  Poor Dexter… The guy worked all day and killed people in his spare time, and Rita was still trying to make a housewife out of him. I can’t help but think the writers wanted us to want her dead, and we danced to their tune every time Dexter’s phone would ring and her irritating voice would start coming through to remind us how needy and lazy she had become. Maybe this was a way to soften the blow? If so, I think it worked.

Note: I’m not claiming to have made a solid prediction Rita would die. It was the first thing that popped into my head, when it came to speculation, but I did dismiss it quickly, for two reasons: Dexter going from “family man” to single father seemed like way more trouble than it would be worth, and all the talk that led up the finale giving the impression this would be the biggest surprise ever.  “Hello, Dexter Morgan” was a tough act to follow.  That episode did shock me.  I felt certain that the finale would have to top it, and Rita’s death just didn’t seem to fit the prescription, for what I expected would be a really shocking event.  I think that’s partially because so many people were posting about wanting her to be killed off, and she certainly seem to be the least likable character on the show (a spot now seemingly filled by Quinn).

Now, I didn’t really want see Rita die.  I wasn’t in love with her character, but I don’t think we were supposed to be.  Many male and female viewers alike, really didn’t seem to like Rita.  Was her death an example of the show giving fans what they seemed to want?  I think it was really more a case of the writers sealing her fate, in anticipation of the inevitable.  Despite talk of a “big surprise”, I strongly suspect this was in the works for some time, and largely a decided upon outcome as of season 3. We definitely know Rita’s fate was sealed as of season 4, due to actor John Lithgow being given a full rundown before accepting the role (although an interview released after the episode aired, does seem to imply it wasn’t decided upon fully until later in the season). And I’d be remiss to mention him without acknowledging his excellent performance as “Trinity”.  In fact, I was more moved by his death than I was by Rita’s.  Try not to read into that!

Honestly, I feel a bit let down…  I was thinking something bigger…  I don’t think many of us really expected Dexter to be saddled with 3 children to raise on his own.  Of course, that outcome is an assumption…  What will become of Astor and Cody?  I have some mixed feelings about the episode.  I love the series, and I really enjoyed this season. It seems almost wrong, but I have to admit that I enjoyed the preceding episode a lot more than the finale. Am I the only one?

What are your thoughts on the finale and it’s surprise ending, and where do you think the series will go from here? What about Rita’s death? Was this a vengeance killing from an otherwise methodical, fatalist killer? Are you convinced that Trinity did in fact kill Rita, or do you have another theory?

Reminder for Dexter fans: You can get all available seasons on DVD at for $56 right now, or individually for around $20 each!

If you didn’t catch that December 6th interview with Dexter executive producer, Clyde Phillips, and want to see his reaction to talk of Rita’s potential death at the finale, or to try and notice other hints he dropped, see: Clyde Phillips Video Chat. There’s some other little tidbits here that will interest hardcore Dexter fans, as well.

Also see this post-finale Q&A with executive producer, Clyde Phillips.

Update: Clyde Phillips has confirmed Rita was killed by Trinity, and addressed “conspiracy theories”

42 thoughts on “Dexter Season 4 Finale: Were You Surprised?

  1. If someone needed to be killed off it should have been Rita. That woman bugs and is very lazy and one big pity party. It will be interesting to see how the writers get themselves out of the new mess they’ve put Dexter in with three kids, one a baby?

  2. Dude I donno how you came up with the predicition of ritas death….you must big into series like that cause i never saw that coming.

    thought it was an enormous suprise….actually feeling the death myself.

  3. I’m glad I didn’t see that comment by one of the producers–how dumb that was for him or her to say that?

    If it did read that, I’m sure I would have been expecting something like this or more but this caught me off guard.

    Just goes to show it’s better and more dramatic for the viewer to be less informed than more.

  4. I truly believe you are looking like you want to need more – you did NOT see Rita’s death coming…you are trying to appear intellectual. Rita was a NECESSARY character – what wife would be okay with a mysterious, excuse-riddled husband? We knew she was needy and that’s why Dexter married her – because she was broken and wouldn’t overly question who he was. Your line “I was looking for something more”?! Seriously, this was HUGE. Stop playing I saw it coming guy (I have a friend like you who ALWAYS sees it coming – oh yea – after it happens hahah)

  5. I am still reeling since seeing the finale. Rita may have been a nag but she taught Dexter like a parent and she loved him. I believe she accepted his dark passenger to the extent she gave him privacy and didn’t try to drag secrets out of him. Their partnership was growing. I am in absolute shock. I for one never saw it coming. Why Rita. I hope next season this turns out to be a nightmare or bad dream for Dexter. Now there is too much carnage for the faithful viewer to sort out. While Dexters needs are predictable, the loose ends are vast, single parent hood, Rita’s children now orphans, Deborah every ending search for truth, Quinns thievery (I for one won’t let that go) and Trinity’s frame up. Please let this be a dream.

  6. I don’t see how the show can go on. Picking up/dropping off Astor/Cody, taking care of a baby, working a job that requires such insane hours and having an obsession with killing people is too much too balance.

    Though it’s obviously a work of fiction, I definitely feel for Astor and Cody, they’ve already lost their biological father, now their mother, and there’s no way Dexter can be all they need.

    I’ve loved this series, but I would be fine with this being the end.

    I imagine with it’s popularity the show will go on though, and I predict Rita’s mother will come back to the show as a caretaker for the children. But seeing as how Dexter will (and should) blame himself (and his dark passenger) for Rita’s death, I don’t see how he can go back to killing people, and that’s what the show is about, a fully functional serial killer.

  7. 1. You moron “TRUEdexfan” if you would like I can send you bud and mine’s msn history were we discussed this weeks ago about rita getting the dagger.

    She’s a fucking naggy bitch who needed to go.

    I’m not convienced trinity did it…we’ll see next year. Good Episode but not a mind blower.

  8. Regarding Linda’s comment:

    I didn’t even think about the possibility of this being a dream or horrid fantasy. It would be EXTREMELY lame and the “whole season was a dream” thing has been done in the past by soap operas. BUT the door was opened for something to this tune because of Dexter’s car wreck at the beginning of the season. In his wreck he suffered a concussion and could have had some kind of break with reality, or have momentary lapses in cognition. Guess we’ll have to tune in next year.

  9. Honestly, I still was surprised, because I did expect something else. It was my first thought, but I had settled in more on a “Dexter gets exposed and Deb or Rita finds out his real secret” sort of idea.

  10. Regarding Court:

    If not trinity who does that leave? It’s true it doesn’t completely fit trinity’s history (since Rita was a mother of 3, not even a mother of 2, and trinity always had the mother of 2 jump off the building to her death, the bathtub death was reserved for a young woman) but I have a hard time believing they’d introduce a new serial killer in the last episode of the series and have him kill a main character in the fashion of a trinity killing. That seems weak.

  11. Regarding Bud:

    I totally thought the game changer was going to be Deb walking in on Dexter killing or knocking out Trinity.

  12. Really good points all around.
    I also was hoping that the events of the first episode (regarding the missing body) would come back. I’m thinking now that chapter must be closed, though… and I suspect after an ending like this, season 5 is looking quite a bit darker. I’m not sure how they’ll keep the humor aspect going to balance out the seriousness of what Dexter does, given such a tragic event. I’m almost wondering if the series will end up being “too dark” in season 5.

  13. Emptyspacez,
    I think I would have preferred that. I do think Deb is going to find out.. I was hoping it would happen in the finale. That would definitely change their dynamic. Maybe it’ll come about some other way in the next season. There’s always the potential for Brian Moser flashbacks that reveal some of the dialogue between Dexter and the Ice Truck Killer.

  14. Yeah, I would’ve preferred that as well. That’s what I thought of when I read the finale was supposed to have a “game changer”. Killing Rita seems like a “game ender” to me. Seriously, how the hell is he supposed to balance this many responsibilities?

  15. A lot of people all over the net guessed Rita would get killed off, I was tired of the nagging phone calls so glad it happend, but it didn’t come close to blowing my head off. I was wanting Debra to find out the truth, but I guess they’re saving that for next season.

  16. i actually agree cept i really enjoyed the episode, and the problem wasnt the story it was showtime hyping it, it totally gave it away.. i was actually worried they wouldnt kill rita because everyone had guessed it.. and instead do something else that wouldnt have been as good. im pleased the writers didnt compromised thier story, that happens all the time in other shows. but man i dont see how anyone could be dissappointed.. deb finding out about dex’s mom, Arthurs final moments, and ritas death all instant classic moments. not to mention the semi cliffhanger of how dex is goin to handle her death.. whats killing me is the way she dies ties him to trinity..does he try to cover up her death?

  17. Holy crap, I didnt see this coming at all. and for you shmucks that think rita diserved it you’re wrong. If anyone was bringing balance to dexters feelings and would show dexters human side it was rita. The entire series I was waiting for the day he tells rita that he was a serial killer because if anyone would stand by him, it would be her. Anyway, I’m still feeling that ending, it was totally unexpected ” holy fuck she was killed”

  18. -Debra will take Harrison in. The other two kids will go live Rita’s parents. Deb & Dex will trade living quarters & Dex will be back in his comfort zone in the apartment. Deb will finally get someone to love, that’s not a killer, and Dex will still be closely involved.

    -Deb, will make the connection between Dexter & the Ice Truck Killer, as brothers, will look into it, but eventually drop it because they were both adopted out to different families, at least for now.

    -Quinn will start to dig into Dexter’s past & present, and will be dispatched by Dex around mid-season, like Doakes.

    -Battista & LaGuerta, not sure but something will happen to one of them, probably from the next chief villain.

    -Matsuka, is going to take a bigger role. Could he also be a serial killer?

    -New characters & new chief villain will be added.

    -Dex will lick his wounds, and be consoled by ghost Harry & perhaps ghost Rita. And then get back to what Dexter does best, without any disruptions from Rita & the kids.

  19. I for one think Rita’s death was a dream sequence, but not the entire season as someone suggested


    Deb has already pieced it together that Brian and Dexter were brothers, were you not watching??

  20. I originally anticipated her death, but felt the show had closed that possibility.
    I did not anticipate the death they gave her

    and does no one see this? CODY AND ESTHER AREN”T GOING TO COME BACK. They will end up with the grandparents, why else would they magically appear into the show? dexters kid is HIS they are not. Dexter will be a single dad, but with only his child. Deb might move in to help as well.

  21. It was all a dream! Rita’s death that is. Too many things, such as times frames, don’t add up!

  22. regarding Bigragu

    You forget that Deb works the same job with the same hours as Dexter. Even With Cody and Astor with the grandparents,raising a child in its infancy is pretty much a full time job by itself.
    I truly never saw Rita’s death coming and i have seen every episode of the series more times than i care to admit. With her gone, being the “scaffolding” that holds Dexter’s life together, anything could happen in season 5. I believe that it definitely was the Trinity killer that killed Rita. Even though Dexter was more skilled and killed Arthur Mitchel, it just shows how ruthless the Trinity Killer really was. Without even really knowing who Dexter was yet, he killed his wife and left his son in her blood. That being said, it is difficult to tell who won the season long struggle between the two characters without really knowing what is more important to Dexter.

  23. I don’t think you saw it coming, and don’t think the writers intended for Rita to become a nag for the audience to despise. I think you are merely attempting to come across as some kind of super cool intellectual who can pick up on the most subtle hints (more like non-existent).
    1) You state your prediction after the fact, kind of like those psychics who foresaw the 9/11 attack.
    2) Rita been a rather consistent character in her behaviour, one that I find most convincing considering her history and circumstances. How the fuck did her recent behaviour indicate her impending death?
    3) If I recall correctly, the writers had remarked that Rita’s death hadn’t even been scripted till very late in the season.

  24. I didn’t even know there was so much hype for this episode, I just figured as usual, there woulds be trouble for Dexter but then he would end up getting his kill. Needless to say, I was shocked, shocked! I kept thinking, this is a dream, right? A dream. Now I would rather it wasn’t though, since I’m always disappointed when they do that on other shows.

    It would be great if they could find another (non-lame)way for Rita not really being dead, but if she is, I agree the kids are probably going to stay with their grandmother. I’m glad Arthur died, but if he really did kill Rita, then he’s won this round (he wanted to die too, in the first place). I can’t wait for next season.

  25. If you look at the time frames and clues, (Trinity going to the Deb’s address and not Dexter’s which would indicate he didn’t have Dexter’s address, etc.), it really makes sense that Rita’s “death” could very well be a dream.

  26. I don’t know what to think it was a great episode till he got home at the end! Him looking at the beautiful moon that should of been the end!

  27. Bob. I reread the article, and I can actually understand what you’re saying there, so I did some edits for clarity. Thanks for pointing that out. I wasn’t trying to come across as though I knew what was going to happen. I updated the article, and here’s some points for further clarity:

    1. I said Rita’s death was my first prediction immediately upon hearing of a series changing event in the finale (possibly including a character’s death). This is true. Is it really such a stretch? I also said that I was still surprised, and had revised my opinion afterward. And, yes, I was surprised because it seemed too obvious to be as mind-blowing as we were led to believe the finale would be. If there was any character who I would have expected could die, it would be the one fans kept asking to be killed. I just didn’t expect they’d describe that with such terminology, so I was thinking something bigger would occur.

    2. I predicted Rita’s death based on the fact she was clearly an unlikeable character, and as fans increasingly posted on blogs and forums about how they despised her, the writers continued to cast her in a similar light, leading up to the kiss with the neighbor. There is only one logical reason that they would see such contempt for one of the main character’s developing, and not attempt to address it, and that would be if they planned for that character to exit the series. That was my rationale. I ended up speculating to the degree where I had 3 or 4 predictions, though, and although Rita being killed was the first, it wasn’t my final choice in the end.

    3. You’re absolutely right about them seeming to claim in an interview released after I wrote this post that Rita’s death was not decided upon until later in the 4th season. I simply do not believe that’s actually the case. We always heard that John Lithgow was the only one on cast who knew everything that happened, so he’d be the only person who could really confirm that claim. For it to be true, Rita would have had to have been accidentally annoying fans to the degree that calls for her death were common place up until it actually occurred. I think the writers are more causative than they are letting on, but I suppose it’s possibly they just decided last minute to throw her death in there to make some people happy and then come up with a reason for it to make sense later.

  28. Well Chaps,

    I do not know what to say….i have just watched the last episode and I am devastated as to how it has come to an end.

    About Dexter:

    With all the honesty, I would have never predicted Rita’s death…it’s just shocking leaving me with questions but mainly one: Where the fuck have you been Dexter?You have been talking so much about protecting Rita and your kids about taking every possible risk to save them from harm claiming that you really LOVE them and what the fuck happened? My initial reflection was pitty Dexter but after few minutes when the last chapter closed I was and I am still angry, frustrated, mad at Dexter who as a husband completely failed. You are broken Dexter and what’s worse now you have no place to go and pretend anymore.

    About the season:

    I have watched all the seasons now and can tell that the 4th one was least interesting. However, it played a significant role in giving away a few tips about Dexter’s thinking. Thanks to 12 episode formula we are sufficiently informed about his current state of mind and what’s been happening in his head since his wedding but most importantly we see how much he wants to learn to be a good father and a darling husband.
    Unfortunately, none of this really works for Dexter.

    The last episode starts off very badly for Dexter and inevitably ends up tragically for him as well. The Gateway episode is mostly about Dexter’s mistakes and how they imply the final scene. As for me, Dexter spent to much time messing around rather than being focused and present as we used to know him. He did not follow the code hence there had to be a price to pay and we needed to wait 50 odd minutes to find out.


    All in all, Dexter is my first American series that I decided to go for and looks like it will stay this way for a very long time. It has an amazing cast, great shooting and outstanding writers whose work dictate great acting. The writers’ sense of timing is marvellous. Lets hope that they left some pieces of the puzzle for us to unravel.

    I would like to thank eztv for his amazing work as well as the remaining ones who have done the same for us. They all know what I am talking about. Cheers!

    See you next year in September!

  29. Go to the official websites and read the press releases; the final scene is not a dream sequence and Dexter will not awake from it next season.

    How does anyone figure Rita was a nag? She was a patient, understanding, loving woman. You men who think a woman calling her husband for any reason is a nag are out to lunch. Good luck finding an attractive, sweet woman who puts up with what she puts up with. The guy was hardly ever home, he was constantly a no-show for planned events, he ran out on dinners and family time, etc., and SHE’S A NAG?

  30. Wouldn’t there have been phone records between Dexter and Trinity? Does anyone else think he got off too easily after showing-up at Trinity’s house?

    I liked the ending. I think the easiest thing for Dex to do would be to take his kids for a boat ride in “Slice of Heaven” and let them have a late night swim…

  31. The finale was definitely strong and shocking. If to some it wasn’t on a storyline event level, then definitely on an emotional level – especially on poor ‘ol Dex and the kids. It does set the bar high for the coming season.

    Here is my take on what’s up for season 5:

    1. Dexter is going to be the main suspect on Rita’s murder. In cases involving premeditated murder, cops automatically put the spouse of the victim on the list of suspects as SOP. And they would have a strong case too. Dexter has no alibi for where he was during the time of Rita’s murder since he was busy killing trinity at that time. He and Rita were having problems and even went to a therapist where they even divulged Dexter’s memory of having his mom getting killed in front of him as a kid (which would instantly ring warning bells with regards to his mental state). A few days before, he confronted and attacked his neighbor who made advances on his wife thus establishing a motive. Masuka would also play as a witness to the truth that Rita was indeed “cheating” on Dex. As for the manner in which Rita was murdered, Dexter was part of the team that hunted down trinity so they could say that he tried to cover his tracks by trying to copy the trinity’s MO.

    A friend pitched the idea too that if that does happen, maybe they could establish that trinity targeted Rita since he wanted some form of revenge against people trying to catch him(like what happened to lundy and deb). That reasoning though would only fly to the general public, and not necessarily to his peers in the miami pd. It just raises too many questions. Like why Rita? She didn’t even fit the trinity’s criteria of victims. People are gonna look deeper, and my bet is that Quinn is gonna be one of those people.

    I really expect some amount of court-room drama in the first half of Dexter season 5 at least. I would really find it weird if Dexter just coasts off and no one points a finger. He was too sloppy this season and he paid for it -and will continue to pay for it.

    Not that i think it would happen, but what if Dexter does go to prison for Rita’s murder? Dexter in prison is like having a kid in let loose in a candy store. But that idea would be absurd…i just wanted to think it, haha

  32. continuation from my lengthy entry on top, hehe.

    2. Dexter would either be psychologically crushed or pushed further into a darker place. I’m betting more of the former. True, he will suffer greatly with his failure to protect Rita and the kids and how he destroys the lives of people he is close to, but I don’t think it will incapacitate his dark passenger. He might grow vengeful and brutal in his methods, afterall, serial killers do have strong egos.

    3. The kids might move with grandparents, or with Rita’s mother(who might also suspect dexter may have something to do with her death)

    4. Will Dexter train his toddler the “code”? I HOPE NOT!

  33. 5. Deb would defend Dexter to the death. He’s the only family she’s got. I’ve long suspected though that if someone were to find out or was in a position to find out, it would be Deb. I only dismiss it because considering all the trauma of past experiences in her life, her mind might not be able to handle that her brother is a serial killer.

    But…Harry trained Dex, and that might be the card that helps Deb accept Dexter if she find out (and she does love him like blood). Besides, he kills bad guys…not really that bad. It’s not like he targeted the same victims the ice truck killer and trinity did. If there was a time that Dexter needed someone to know his secret, this season would be it…more than anything.

  34. 6. Among several loose ends of season 4, the strongest one for me was Dexter’s involvement with Trinity’s family under the guise of kyle buttler. When news of Rita’s murder leaks out, Dexter’s face will be all over the news as well, and Arthur’s family will see. Dexter has to somehow come up with an excuse to his peers why he pretended to be a kyle buttler. If all goes well, the family might help establish an angle that arthur did kill Rita as a result of dexter’s meddling into his personal affairs (and extra curricular activities).

    Thinking about it now, Dexter is in so deep a hole he really needs someone to cover for him. Maybe he really needs to tell Deb…or the next new character they introduce who is sympathetic to Dexter.

  35. sorry if i posted too much stuff. Not too many people from where i am watch the series so I don’t get to talk about it much. And that’s so difficult coz I’m such a big fan of Dexter! 🙂

  36. Excellent predictions. I think you’ve made a compelling argument. I’d love to see Dexter in prison, at least temporarily before somehow getting off the hook.

  37. Your predictions and suggestions are really great…
    However my opinion of the whole season is somehow diferent than the majority…:S
    I think that up to the middle of it, all we watched was dexter’s boring and tiresome routine…and yes, i can agree that rita was the “annoying” character – i even was fan of the idea of dexter killing her…
    But then everything changed – it all became intense. It was absolutely enjoyable and agonizing the whole trinity hunting…and lundy’s story was a plus there..
    But i do really feel that the ending was a total dissappointment. I mean it twisted my idea of the show – from an intense yet enjoyable black comedy (as far as i can call it one) to a dark thriller where everyone can die – even the indifferent ones. And that made the show non-enjoyable to me. It wasn’t that Rita died, it was that she was killed by the most lunatic killer and in an waful way – and she definitely didn’t worth such a sudden death.
    But what I can’t understand is why for five or more episodes nothing seems to happen, and then suddenly in four episodes four characters die including one of the “innocents” – the finale should have been the “Hello Dexter Morgan” episode…:(

  38. What a relief to be rid of whiny, boring Rita! I hated her! (The fact that she was a dead ringer for my whiny ex-sister-in-law didn’t help either.) As for Season 5, I think it’s going to be just Dex and Harry from now on … The last time we see Cody and Astor, they are happy as clams, with their two loving grandparents taking them to Disney. This shows us that they are going to be fine.

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