While we’ve had five seasons that built up to a satisfying climax of murdering an end boss to satiate our dark passengers, the end of season six is a mercy killing. Coming off back-to-back absolute worst episodes of the series, we get a finale that felt much more like a recap show for an entire half-season of television we didn’t watch. It is out of a sense of responsibility and duty I bring you “This is the Way the World Ends.”
Tonight’s episode was written by longtime series writers Scott Buck (this season’s premiere) and Wendy West (by far the best writing talent on the show who did “Hungry Man” in season four and “Everything is Illuminated” last year which was the turning point at which season five stopped sucking) and directed by John Dahl (this season’s “Just Let Go” and “A Horse of a Different Color”). I’ve sang the praises of Wendy West before on this site and I’m sure the staff must know how important she is to the franchise. She’s brought in when the show’s been at its most convoluted worst and somehow made sense of it into entertainment. She had her work cut out for her tonight and the fact that we got a slightly below average episode is a testament to how screwed up this season got.
All-in-all, “This is the Way the World Ends” felt like an episode of Supermarket Sweep with plot points. For a show whose pacing has been mind-numbingly bad for the past four episodes, the unsatisfying rush with which everything fell together today was just awful. Sure, I can buy that Dex was rescued by a boat of illegal immigrants, but Travis stealing Harrison from a room full of people and then later being surprised Dex is alive is among the biggest reaches the show has ever made. Dexter is no longer where you have to momentarily suspend your disbelief, rather just accept convient idiocy and the promise of ever present deus-ex-machinas. Bless Wendy’s heart for trying, but I was so checked out of any interest in Travis by this point that even the threat of killing a toddler couldn’t drum up any tension.
Elsewhere we had Quinn “getting help” to get out of being transferred as possibly the laziest blowoff in a season of lazy blowoffs, no word on Matthews (which may indicate he’s gone for good), the hint that Masuka’s uninteresting assistant will be around for some of next season (in the show’s most uninteresting Masuka scene), and the single most non-sensical moment in the show’s entire season. On the roof we had LaGuerta, a character who we’ve spent six seasons as the embodiment of the bad at her job but ruthlessly politicking bureaucrat bitch, give a serious heart-to-heart with the one character who has actually developed this season, telling her she’s done a good job. Every word we’ve gotten from LaGuerta for the past six years has been an outright lie, so why should we trust her to validate that Deb is good at her job? I blame that one on Buck. I have no evidence that it was specifically him, but I just don’t feel like Wendy would do me like that. Oh, I’m sorry, was that last sentence completely sloppy and not with the tone of the rest of this post? GOOD! So is this show!
The big moment we have at the end is Deb walking in on her brother as he kills Travis. Of all the concluding kill scenes we’ve had on the show, this one has to be the worst. Instead of Dex’s final thoughts wrapping the season up in at least an adequate way, we got a religious discussion of the college freshmen stoner buddies caliber concluding with Deb catching Dex in the act, followed by an almost too glib “Oh God.” For all the flak the end of season five took with Deb finding the silhouettes of Dexter and Lumen, at least we had Steve Shill’s masterful directing giving us a certain open-ended suspense. Here, Dahl drew out all the wrong parts of the scene. All the focusing on Dexter’s “I knew real men of God talk” did was remind us how far this season had fallen in such a short time. Realistically speaking, we do have the show playing the “caught” card now (which they may have meant to play last season as the show was originally supposed to end with season six) as well as Deb proving she’s an apt-enough detective to catch her brother, but while I really didn’t mind the “incest” angle last week (it was the only thing different on a show obsessed with maintaining the status quo) this conclusion makes it feel like an unnecessary saddlebag to the scene. It’s Trinity’s estranged daughter levels of cheap. While tonight did fall far short of a satisfying ending, Dexter has never really had a strong season finale. The best thing I can say about “This is the Way the World Ends” is that it’s only the fourth or fifth worst thing we’ve see this season.
We give This is the Way the World Ends a Two Out of Five.
So until next time…let’s agree to agree!