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 Amazon.com 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”