Dexter – Did Breaking Bad’s final season ruin Dexter’s?


With both ‘Dexter’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ ending their series only a week apart, I wonder if we’d all be less hard on ‘Dexter’ if ‘Breaking Bad’ wasn’t so damn good.


It seems any of those drawn to watch Dexter have also been watching AMC’s Breaking Bad. What’s interesting about it is that we’ve got two villain-heroes at work here: one is a serial killer who’s “doing good” by only (usually) offing guilty murders; the other is a once-chemistry-teacher/now-meth-dealer “doing good” by providing for his family. Both are (or, at least, have been) brilliantly written, quality shows, though one wonders why the draw of the villain-heroes is so compelling.

By drawing in viewers with similar tastes, each show was — perhaps unknowingly — drawing comparisons to the other, especially during its final season. This has not worked out in Dexter‘s favor in the least.

By drawing in viewers with similar tastes, each show was — perhaps unknowingly — drawing comparisons to the other, especially during its final season. This has not worked out in Dexter‘s favor in the least.

Before this last season of Dexter, I thought the show had gone downhill since season five or six. I had grown invested in the show and still wanted to be sure to watch every week, but the excitement of it being Sunday night had waned. The show took a serious downhill turn at least partway through season seven, only to continue to tumble through its final, eighth season. The writers didn’t seem to know what direction they were going to go (Deb’s love for Dexter? What the …), and they all but gave up in the show’s final moments. Perhaps the writers moved on to the rumored Dexter spin-off? Did they give up, too, when they had to drastically switch gears from that really, really odd Deb-loves-Dexter story?

See that image of Dexter, above? That’s pretty much how I’ve felt about this entire season, and I cannot be alone. Here are just a few odd-ball things that’ve gone on this season that made no freakin’ sense:

  • Introducing Vince Masuka’s daughter, Niki Walters. It seems this was merely put in place because, well, the writers had no other ideas for Masuka this season. There’s no other purpose for her being on the show, unless … (see later).
  • Det. Angie Miller, the woman who Angel advanced to Sergeant in place of Quinn. Was that really the only purpose for her existence? OK, fine … then why even bother going with that plot point at all? Was it to further press Quinn into what he eventually turned to in the series finale? Is it to again set up … (again, see later below).
  • LaGuerta was a clearly beloved character on the show and was a member of the family since day one. Characters on the show bemoaned Doakes more than LaGuerta, and he was the suspected Bay Harbor Butcher!
  • Angel Batista’s sister, Jamie, was an even worse waste of a character. She did nothing to move stories along, only serving as a convenient reason why we didn’t need to see Harrison all the time and how Dexter could go out all night and continue to feed his Dark Passenger. Only very few times did Jamie even question Dexter’s late-night jaunts, when she clearly could get answers from Dexter’s boss — her own brother — as to whether he really did have a boatload of work to do … at night …. alone.
  • Batista, Quinn and Matthews really had no idea about Dexter all this time? Death followed him everywhere, and then they witnessed him making a kill just about in front of their eyes.
  • Why the hell was it fitting to give Deb the same burial he gave many of his kills? What was the point of taking her body away from the hospital?
  • That final shot of Dexter. Er … what?
Those aren’t the only head-scratchers from this season.

Those aren’t the only head-scratchers from this season. The sloppy re-introduction of Hannah to the story, for one. The actions of Vogel’s son, framing Zach and then immediately un-framing him. It was as if one writer would run with a storyline, and then another would decide to take it away. It was a rotten mess.

As for what I would get to later, it’s this: they’re gearing up for that reported Dexter spin-off. Since they may not have a clear path to follow, they’ve introduced several new characters to the show such that they might be re-used in a new series with expanded roles. Quinn’s already got a relationship with two out of the three of those newer women, so if they decided to continue the story with him (please … don’t), there’s that.

In contrast, we have Breaking Bad‘s final season; I don’t think anyone can fault it at all. I’ve been a huge fan of both shows, and this final season of Breaking Bad has been near flawless. But this isn’t really about Breaking Bad. My question was whether one show’s clear success in execution causes the other to pale even more. It’s possible, though I’d say it’s unlikely had much effect. As a fan of both — and them both airing on the same night — not comparing the two is nearly impossible. If these weren’t the final seasons of each show, I’d maybe be less judgmental. Breaking Bad, though, shows how you end a series on a high note: with few punches pulled and with every second counting. Like Breaking Bad, Dexter‘s final season was a planned one, though it failed to capitalize on those final, precious hours of a show we’ve followed for eight seasons.

Like Breaking BadDexter‘s final season was a planned one, though it failed to capitalize on those final, precious hours of a show we’ve followed for eight seasons.

Let’s forget about how the final episode “should have” ended and whether Dexter should have been caught or had gotten away — that’s beside the point. I’m not sure who should be to blame for this crappy season of Dexter, though it’s likely whomever was wrangling the writers’ room. We shouldn’t have felt like that image above — this season should have kept Dexter in the record books as one of the all-time greatest shows of cable television. Instead this season did the show a great disservice, causing it to be unmemorable (at least in a good way). Sadly, when someone asks me of past shows to watch on DVD or on-demand, I’d have a hard time recommending Dexter anymore, because I couldn’t put someone through these last few seasons. I’m not even sure ending the way I suggested would have helped.

So, goodbye, Dexter. Maybe we wouldn’t have been so hard on you if Breaking Bad was so good, but that doesn’t mean your last season didn’t stink. Look on the bright side: at least people won’t compare your final episode with Breaking Bad, since they’ve still got another week to go.

Photo Credit: Showtime

4 Comments on “Dexter – Did Breaking Bad’s final season ruin Dexter’s?

  1. I don’t watch Breaking Bad and I still think Dexter’s season sucked! haha


    The end… mixed feelings about it. It gave the kind of powerful scenes we’ve been wanting the whole season (Deb and Dex) while still forcing the whole Hannah Argentina crap down our throats.
    As for Deb, it was like, they just decided to redo the whole Trinity killing angle.
    -Deb gets gunned down on her side by T’s daughter (who also kills Lundy).
    -Deb gets gunned down on her side by V’s son (he even killed the other male law enforced next to Deb too!).

    -Dex blames himself for the death of Rita because he had the opportunity to let T die and he stopped it.
    -Dex blames himself for the harm/dearh of Deb because he had the opportunity to kill … wait, where have i seen this before!

    We’ve explored those guilt feelings before, cmon writers, you can do better than that!
    It was powerful that Dex was the one to let Deb go, but I really feel like Deb deserved a much more heroic death than what she got. I mean, for god’s sake, Saxon seemed to feel absolutely no pain in his arm, guy was driving, shooting, cutting tongues like usual!

    As for the loose ends. Like… where to start… Masuka’s daughter; the bloody stuffed animals they kept showing to us just to disappear; Hannah leaving Dex in the middle of nowhere for no reason whatsoever other than to show she has enough upper body strength to carry his unconscious body to the car; Deb and the jewels guy and whatever happened to that investigation; Quinn and Deb are suddenly still in love with each other (wait.. what… how… when…? ); and so on.

    It honestly feels like the writers were going in one direction then due to producers/focus groups/whatever they decided to change the script half way and thus all the plot lines introduced in the first half of the season were dropped out cold and they had to rush with all the new stuff.

    Also, most of the final episode centering on Hannah and the airport, really? The woman can’t even buy brown dye and sunglasses, give me a break!

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Breaking Bad and Dexter are two shows I’ve watched from the beginning and it’s been really hard not to compare their final seasons as the weeks have gone by. BB’s final season has been nothing short of amazing. I still can’t believe they started part 2 of the season with the Walt-Hank confrontation…I thought for sure that would drag out for a few episodes (Dexter certainly would have). But they knew they had a limited amount of time and didn’t want to waste any of it on filler. Compare that to Dexter. The whole initial Brain Surgeon Killer storyline where they thought they caught him, but oh no, he was just dating Cassie for a bit. The Zach storyline (darn, he’s dead…are we supposed to care?). Dexter’s instant love for Dr Vogel and his need to protect her. Deb hating Dexter, trying to kill them both, then loving Dexter. Masuka’s daughter!!! Maybe that’s for a spin off, but honestly I think it was an excuse to show breasts for a few seconds, cause that’s why people watch Dexter…nudity.

    There was no clear storyline this season. It jumped around all over. Dexter needs to win Deb back, now he needs to save Vogel, now he needs to help Hannah, now he loves Hannah. Pick a lane and develop it…this is the end! And how about some consequences? BB is thinning the herd this season, but there was only one major death in Dexter from the original players. And how could Dexter not kill Saxon when Saxon knows everything about Dexter? That’s the first rule of the code. Don’t get caught! There was no clear motivation for any character. That’s why BB seems so far ahead of Dexter. Their characters make choices that you understand…they may not be the right choice to make (run, Jesse, run), but you know why they made them.

    I’m going to miss Dexter…but i’m going to miss the John Lithgow season…not the last 3. Oh, and Maria’s right! Why didn’t Hannah change anything about her appearance??? Walter White at least let his hair grow back in.

  3. So I can say I didn’t start watching Dexter until season 6 and I’ve never seen Breaking Bad. That having been said, I thought this season was terrible. There were a couple of standout episodes, but between characters introduced for no reason, and a couple of episodes that really didn’t accomplish anything (thinking of episode 10), and I felt like the finale did Deb wrong and gave Dexter a non-conclusion. I think I understand Dexter’s motivations that led to those outcomes, but still, it felt *almost* as bad as a “everything was just a dream” ending, like the writers want to remind everyone not to miss the show, since they don’t want to write it anymore.
    I had always meant to watch the show, as it was on my Netflix queue, but my interest was piqued after listening to Fresh Air’s interview with Michael C. Hall prior to season 6. Terry Gross asked Hall if they had an ending planned to the show, and he explained he felt like they would only be able to carry the concept a couple more seasons, and had a pretty good idea of how they wanted the show to end. Pressed a little more, he admitted that he thought it would be boring to see Dexter on trial, so we knew that option was already out. This left death or getting away with it.

  4. I just finished watching the Dexter finale. I thought that twelve monkeys could have written a more coherent finale. The season held out some hope but the more they introduced these characters that had did not enhance the storyline the more more I had the sinking feeling that my years of watching were for nothing. The numerous holes in this season have been clearly outlined in the comments I have read. But the most insulting thing the writers did was set this finale as a sequel. Rather than be true to the characters and create a decent and fulfilling story they opted to leave the door open for a sequel. I’ll never watch a sequel after this massive cheat.

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