Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #157: Dexter’s Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay

In order to allow myself the freedom to adequately express the purely vitriolic reaction I had to what I had thought – and hoped, as I worked my way through it – was, in actuality, Dexter’s final cut, I will not hesitate to throw spoilers around in this review. Those who didn’t soldier up to and through that final season of Dexter, so much like the Vietnam War in that there was no winning, only PTSD flashbacks, as well as those who have not yet read Dexter’s Final Cut, count your blessings (for they are many) and either choose the blue pill or continue reading if you need extra encouragement to willingly choose that blissful ignorance. Were this world fairer, Dexter would’ve concluded at the end of season four, it’s ending like Dream Theater’s Octavarium: this story ends where it began. Likewise, Jeff Lindsay’s book series, the inspiration for the show, would’ve called it quits… sometime before the release of Dexter’s Final Cut. Had this been the case, I wouldn’t have found it necessary to put off watching Breaking Bad until the following day, when I could watch it and Dexter back to back; Dexter first, obviously, then Breaking Bad. I like to think of it as Vince Gilligan taking up after Dexter, doing the show a solid by putting it out of its misery ala Camilla Figg. The Grand Canyon-sized gap between the two shows makes extra clear Dexters agonizingly slow death at the same time as it gives viewers a slice of devilishly good key lime pie to help ease the pain and make sure that those who are still watching (far too many, going off the viewing figures) aren’t left wanting for a final season done right.

Alas, the viewing public wasn’t so lucky, nor was the reading public. Each Monday, I had to order my viewing the same way I do what I eat at any given meal, based upon preference. In this case, Dexter was the corn on the cob (too much work and mess for too little a reward), while Breaking Bad was my mother’s meatloaf. It doesn’t make Dexter (or corn on the cob) any more bearable. What it does is wash the taste out of my mouth and make me forget, for a little while, the kernels still stuck between my teeth, ones I know no amount of flossing will get rid of. But Breaking Bad is over, leaving me with no chaser for the cocktail of spit, piss, and jizzum Lindsay spent a little over 300 pages dribbling down my throat. Though that may sound hyperbolic, reading Dexter’s Final Cut was approximately as pleasurable an experience as I imagine that must be, unless you’re into that sort of thing. Like a golden shower, there was nothing truly golden about it. I can’t even look back and say, “Well, hey, I was thirsty, and now I’m not, so I can’t complain,” because it was like drinking salt water in that it only left me thirstier still. There isn’t a single aspect, moment, anything I can point to as a glimmer of hope amid all the unsavoriness. It doesn’t even feel right to offer up “at least he didn’t run away and become a lumberjack like on the show,” since that’s way too hollow a victory. If Dexter‘s final moments don’t become synonymous with a shit conclusion as Fonzy jumping the shark did with a show going past the point of no return, then I just don’t get people. I know I’ll probably start humming Monty Python’s “Lumberjack Song” whenever I see another show go the way of Dexter.

Which is all to say, so what if, in his closing moments, Lindsay narrowly avoided stooping that low into the well of stupidity that Dexter‘s writers got drunk off of for the entire final four seasons? Does that make up for the rest of the book conforming to the same standards of quality as Dexter season eight? Not nearly. Just as the show got away from the Dexter we know, having him fall in ooey-gooey love with a wanted criminal too dimwitted to even half-ass a fake-nose-and-glasses disguise, so too did Lindsay, with the girl, in this case, a television starlet Dexter winds up guarding through a series of leaps in logic that would set new records if entered into a long jump competition. To kick things off, Mathews enlists Dexter and Deborah, his two best employees (not that that’s high praise in Dexter’s Miami Metro), to be followed around by two actors who’re filming a pilot he, and this is what passes for humor in the book, mistakingly refers to as a movie. Is it to shed the spotlight on Miami Metro? First of all, I’m not sure why he’d want to do that when his best employees are a serial killer who stops them from ever closing a case by killing their suspects, and that guy’s sister. Second of all, he never really gives a valid reason. Dexter and Deborah are going to be wasting time on the taxpayers’ dollar because, well, he said so.

Forget that this means Anderson, who everyone knows is an “odious dumbfuck” (to use Jackie Forrest’s own words), even those who’ve barely met him, will be running lead on a high-profile case, involving another in a long line of Miami-based serial killers, that could hurt your department’s reputation if it happens to get mishandled, which it surely will. We’re talking about a guy who, in front of the entire department, ignores Deborah when she hands him a lead on said case, then tosses it in his drawer and goes about his work, or whatever dumbfuckery he calls “work.” No, it’s more important that Deborah be there to teach Jackie Forrest how to be her. Even when Jackie’s life is put at risk, as it’s her the killer is after, and the only ones making any progress on the case are Deborah and Dexter, despite neither officially being on the case, you punish them, and let Anderson continue bullshitting around. But at least you told the people behind the show Jackie’s filming that she’s not what you’d call safe; except, because this is… wherever they film the dozens of procedurals that all look and talk the same, they’re going to make sure she remains in danger, and put everyone else at risk in the process, by continuing to film without recasting her part, as they normally would in these circumstances. They want to use her to drum up publicity for the show; I get these sorts of things do happen, though never quite on this scale, and that it’s satire, but by this point I had no patience for Lindsay’s form of “satire.”

Maybe because I was too busy being revulsed by the way Dexter acted around Jackie. At some point in the writing of this, Lindsay must’ve switched bodies with Stephanie Meyer, seeing as this is someTwilight-level shit we’re talking about, except I’m not sure which one of them would be Edward and which one would be Bella.

… she looked down at her knees. They were very nice knees, but I could see no overwhelming reason for her to look at them.

 

‘Again … ?’ she said in a husky half whisper. She reached a hand up and pulled my face down onto hers, and we again’d.

I found that second one so offensive that I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to look at the word “again” the same way… again. He’s sullied it by changing into a verb to describe Dexter doing unspeakable things to Jackie that he, thankfully, doesn’t speak about. Had he forced us to sit and squirm through a sex-scene, I probably would’ve rage-quit right there. That’s another unbelievably inconsequential thing Dexter’s Final Cut has on the final season of Dexter: with Dexter, we were treated (translation: subjected) to a graphic sex scene, where the only graphic parts we see, unfortunately, belonged to Michael C. Hall and not Yvonne Strahovski. And if Dexter’s Final Cut is Twilight-level bad in how Lindsay writes their “coupling,” Dexter was The Room-level bad in the way it filmed that sex scene. However, Dexter wanting to leave Rita and his kids to run away with Jackie was equally as bad as him wanting to pack up and go with Hannah and Harrison to Argentina, a magical, far away place where the sun is always shining and the air smells like warm root beer and the towels are all so fluffy… no, wait, that’s Albuquerque, my mistake. What do I win, then, if I correctly guess the number of molecules on Michael C. Hall’s butt? A first class, one way ticket to… disappointment. Not with his ass, mind you, since even I, as a straight man, have to admit his is perfectly fine. On second thought, despite the fact that I’m not the least bit bi-curious, a little Michael C. Hall ass beats Dexter fawning over a cookie-cutter blonde actress who’s career is on its way down (and out).

Hannah, as much as I loathed her, was, at the very least, a kindred spirit for Dexter, someone who understood him. Nothing worth moving to Argentina with, especially when she’s a known fugitive, one who makes no effort to hide (except in extremely plain sight), and you’re bringing your young child along with you, and not even sending your other kids, Astor and Cody, a change of fucking address… but I can sort of get that compulsion. Going as weak-kneed over a low-rate actress as everyone else, minus the “oh god, oh god, oh god” style remarks (Masuoka’s reaction caused me to lose more respect for him than I did for Dexter, in fact), and growing so obsessed with her and the rich life that you’re willing to pick up camp and leave your wife and kids behind to brave nature by themselves. That, on the other hand, is beyond my understanding. As is being so averse to talking to Rita, following you and Jackie doing the dirty, that you wait until she’s left 19 messages before you realize, “Oh, something must be the matter; maybe I should call her back.” Then, after that, you learn you were so blinded by your “love” for Jackie that you couldn’t pick out the glaringly obvious pedo vibes Robert was sending when he met your daughter. Let my daughter go with Robert, alone, to his dressing room? Sure, have a ball, but please not Robert’s. Unless, that is, you’re tearing them off… which, in that case, have two. Oh, and I should mention that the director knew he was a pedophile and hired him anyway, because audiences loved him so much they just had to. And, knowing this, no one made any effort to stop him from kidnapping Astor right on set when she came to see him, thinking he could make her famous.

Yeah, she was so won over by that lovable old Pedo Bear to figure out that he was lying to get in her good graces and would probably just as soon eviscerate her, like a bear, or at least trade her for his own freedom, if it came to it. He’s killed two people, you say? But, Dex, dad, he did it for me, so that makes it alright. He’s going to make me a star, despite the fact that the only show he’s going to be starring in from now on is called Don’t Drop the Soap. The theme song could go like this (sung to the tune of “Rock the Boat”): “Drop the soap. Don’t drop the soap, baby! Drop the soap. Don’t bend yourself over! Drop the soap, baby.” Luckily, however, she finally sees him for what he really is after he tells Dexter he’ll just pawn her away so they’ll let him go, and kills him just as Dexter was about to get killed by him. All is well now, right? Wrong. Rita, the only one who could confirm Dexter’s story about her and Astor being taken captive by Robert, is dead, and everything points to Dexter as the culprit. Why? Because of the mounting weight of all the cliches, that’s why. The boyfriend is always the first suspect when a woman is murdered, so he’s on the hook for Jackie’s death. The stepfather is always thought to be a molester, so Astor being all dressed for sex (or whatever else Robert was planning on doing with her) will get them to paint him as a child predator, as well as a killer. And Robert is dead, by what I believe was his own blade, so add another charge to that ever-growing list. Plus, Debra’s no longer in his good graces because he cheated on Rita with Debra, which she somehow deduced based upon… I don’t know what exactly (apparently, her and John Blake can both read people’s eyes like we can read a book), and went so far as to accuse Dexter of killing Jackie, and ask why he doesn’t just kill Rita as well, so she’s going to be no help to him, and would actually probably do him more harm than good, whether intentionally or not. So that leaves him as the probable guilty party in three murders, as well as a possible child rapist. Dexter’s fucked, right? Not in the bed, though, because his nag of a wife (don’t look at me, he’s the one who talks about her like that), Rita, and mistress, Jackie, are both now dead, and this isn’t the television series where his sister also wants to jump his bones. Figuratively, though, he is most certainly fucked, and probably in line to be fucked himself in a far more literal way in prison.

Yet, rather than try and find a way out of this, or pick up and run, he decides to just call the cops. And that… that is how the book ends. After all that, it seems there’s another book on its way to wrap up that godawful cliffhanger. No differently than with the show, this is going to be dragged out as long as possible. Lindsay’s sold over 1.7 million copies of his books so far, and he has nothing else on his resume, so I’m sure he’ll milk it until he comes up dry. And he’ll continue utilizing his ties to the even more successful show while he’s at it. “An all new Dexter case you won’t see on TV!” says the cover. “The newest original novel in the series that inspired the Showtime hit.” It used to be that Lindsay’s books were an improvement over the show, that I could read them and remind myself what Dexter done right sounds like. No longer, since they’ve now jumped the shark. Or should I say, done the Dexter? Become the lumberjack? I think even Lindsay realizes the series’ best days are behind it, which is why he’s listed as “author of Darkly Dreaming Dexter,” the first book in the series, as opposed to any of the sequels. Although, I might be glorifying a series that was never that great to begin with, much like I fear I’m doing with the television show. But, just like I’m sure many who’ve followed the books or the show have chosen to give up and just stay ignorant of the mess they both became, I’m going to choose to remain ignorant of whether or not I’m looking on seasons 1-4 of Dexter and books 1-6 with rose-colored glasses. Instead, I’ll just look for better books to distract me, much like I used Breaking Bad to keep my mind off Dexter‘s failings. Hopefully it works just as well this time too.

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2 thoughts on “Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #157: Dexter’s Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay

    • Egads, no! To manage THAT, I’d have to read and review 20+ books the next couple months. I’m currently on pace for about 190, a good 18 books short of the 208 needed for the Quadruple Cannonball. But I’m not going crazy trying to read as many books as I can. At this point, I’ve reached (and surpassed) the Triple Cannonball, and can safely say no one’s probably going to end up out-reading me, so I have nothing left to work feverishly toward. For the rest of the year, I’m going to keep reading and reviewing, but I’ll be slowing down the pace a little. So, again, no Quadruple Cannonballs in my future. Especially not if I let my reviews get as lengthy and out of hand as this one. Heh. It’s by far my longest (2000+ words), and probably also my harshest.

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