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Dexter: The Eighth Season(TV) (2013)
Dexter returns, with the added burden of the innocent who knows his secret. Unsure of what to do or how to proceed, the Miami serial killer's number might just be up.
For more about Dexter: The Eighth Season and the Dexter: The Eighth Season Blu-ray release, see Dexter: The Eighth Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on November 2, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, Julie Benz, James Remar, Yvonne Strahovski
Directors: John Dahl, Steve Shill, Keith Gordon, Marcos Siega, Ernest R. Dickerson, Romeo Tirone
» See full cast & crew
Dexter: The Eighth Season Blu-ray Review
"What have I become, my sweetest friend?"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, November 2, 2013
If any final season needed to make an impact, it was Dexter's. Fans have been dying to know how the darkly dreaming Showtime hit would end from the moment its first episode aired. Would Michael C. Hall's code-bound serial killer be exposed? Or would he live to dismember another day? Would he bid audiences farewell in chains? A coffin? A hail of gunfire? On the table of another vigilante? Or could the showrunners have something more clever up their bloody sleeves? Just how far would Dexter Morgan descend before his fate was sealed? Who might he drag down with him? What would the final shot of the series entail? Tragedy? Blood? Death? And if so, whose? Most of all, after the final blade plunged and the final judgment was passed, would Dexter's finale live up to all that had come before it? Or, like so many series finales before it, would the last episode fail to satisfy?
Dexter's eighth and final season answers all these questions and then some, which is more than can be said of other fan-favorite series. There's hardly a loose end to be found when the last curtain falls, save one tantalizing thread strung in the last sixty seconds of the show. Unfortunately, the answers that come fail to justify all the hand-wringing entailed, the finale races to pull everything together to little avail, and the aforementioned final scene is an even more irritating ending than the gotcha denouement it follows. Of all the farewells I imagined, of all that fates I envisioned for dear Dexter, this one was more surprising than most. Not because it was so shocking. Not because it was daring, devious or demented. No, because it was so anticlimactic and unfulfilling. After eight increasingly dark, addicting seasons (hit or miss at they sometimes proved to be), Dexter slinks off the stage with a whimper rather than a snarl. Worse, the eleven episodes that precede the finale are stilted, uneven and almost haphazardly cobbled together, calling to mind the series' problematic sixth season rather than its finest hours. (Episodes 5-8 are quite good, but 1-4 and 9-12 render the season's solid second act moot.) Instead of a lean, sinewy twelve-episode arc, Dexter is marginalized, overly humanized and nearly neutered altogether, flying in the face of the amoral antihero saga viewers have embraced from the beginning.
Of course so much has been riding on the final season that I doubt any ending could have satisfied everyone. To the showrunners' credit, Dexter's finale has been mapped out from the get-go, at least insofar as the broad strokes are concerned. The difference here is that the finale isn't so much divisive as it is small. Insignificant. Contrived. Beneath the writers and at odds with what the award-winning actors have been working toward all these years. Hall's Dexter hems and haws all season, once again hoping beyond hope for a normal life with a wife and son; ground thoroughly excavated in the third and fourth seasons. Jennifer Carpenter's Deb goes off the rails only to hop right back on by mid-season, then continues bouncing from one extreme to the next; a poorly penned spiral downward that's frankly out of character, even given the traumatic events of Season Seven. The rest of the cast -- David Zayas' Angel and Desmond Harrington's Detective Quinn especially -- start and finish the final season in a holding pattern. Each one has very little to do and even less to contribute. (Here Masuka, have a shady daughter. Because... you know. Because.)
And the season's guest stars and Big Bad(s)? There are so many jarring shifts and addendums that Season Eight could be hacked into four separate chunks, each of which could easily host a tasty twelve-episode season all its own. Charlotte Rampling plays a neuro-psychiatrist with crucial ties to James Remar's Harry and Dexter's past; ties that sadly become so convoluted and implausible that her presence becomes forced and her purpose compromised. Sam Underwood is a young, budding serial killer Dexter attempts to take under his wing; an intriguing development that's abruptly abandoned before it can live up to its promise. Yvonne Strahovski returns as Hannah McKay, suddenly a damaged victim looking to settle down with Dexter and Harrison. Sean Patrick Flanery is a P.I. whose sole role is to interfere with Dex and Deb's personal lives. And Darri Ingolfsson, like Underwood, is largely wasted; brought to the table too late, given too little edge, and floating in the center of far too many plot holes. (Why not turn Dexter in? Reveal the identity of the Bay Harbor Butcher to Miami Metro? Or the media? How hard could it be given all the man knows and when he knows it? Oh, that's right. Serial killers without codes enjoy indulging in complications that thwart their plans.)
Dexter has slipped from its place among the greats to become the sort of gimmick-driven premium cable TV it once subverted. And while such sweeping criticism may reek of the disgruntled ramblings of an estranged fan -- which wouldn't be too far from the truth seeing as I'm now both disgruntled and estranged -- there's plenty of eighth season evidence that points to the series' fall from grace. I'm sure some will warm to Dexter's endgame or feel some sense of elation during its closing minutes. I suspect most, though, will see the eighth season's twelve episodes as a breakdown of disheartening proportions, culminating in a finale that delivers one tough-to-stomach sucker punch after another.
Dexter: The Eighth Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dexter: The Final Season boasts a standout 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation that stands among the best the show has delivered on Blu-ray. Unlike The Seventh Season, which suffered from minor banding (among other arguably negligible issues), there isn't much to worry over here, so long as you're willing to overlook the noise and crush that is inherent to the series' photography and the showrunners' intentions. Color and clarity are excellent on the whole, hindered only by the usual variations in contrast that haunt every season. (Again, a product of the source, not the encode.) Black levels are deep and skintones are richly saturated, while edges remain crisp, textures are refined and closeups are revealing. Better still, ringing and other anomalies are kept to a minimum. Dexter has never been the prettiest show on television, but its faithful high definition presentation impresses nonetheless.
Dexter: The Eighth Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Dexter's latest Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track is as passive-aggressive as those that have accompanied previous season releases, but no one should be surprised, or disappointed for that matter. Dialogue is clean, clear and perfectly prioritized, be it Dexter's inner monologues, a hushed conversation between master and apprentice, or a heated argument between brother and sister. LFE output is decidedly decent, as is rear speaker activity, both making the most of the series' at-times limited but always atmospheric soundscape. Crowded Miami streets and hotspots are suitably busy (although directionality is a touch lacking) and quieter interiors are reasonably convincing (albeit a bit too dampened). Ultimately, though, this is the season's sonics at their purest and fans will come away pleased with the results.
Dexter: The Eighth Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Dexter: The Eighth Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I had mixed reactions to Dexter's eighth and final season, which wouldn't be so bad if those mixed reactions didn't come with each episode. It doesn't help that the finale is the most problematic of all, ending the series in what I'd call the most dissatisfying way possible. The writers may have plotted it out from the very beginning, but had I known where it would end, I'm not quite sure I would have stuck with dear Dexter Morgan for eight seasons. Paramount's Blu-ray release is better -- with an excellent video presentation and a solid Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track -- so long as you don't mind yet another disappointing supplemental package. (It offers more content than past season releases, but the brief featurettes included are still much too short and overly promotional.) All in all, fans will want to complete their collection, come hell or high water. I'm just not sure the ending justifies repurchasing the entire series via the new Complete Series Collection, exclusive behind-the-scenes documentaries or no.
Dexter: Other Seasons
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Dexter: The Eighth Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway - Dexter: The Final Season - November 11, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three members the opportunity to win a copy of Dexter: The Final Season, starring Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter and James Remar. The eighth and final season of the hit Showtime series arrives on Blu-ray ...
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