Now that the final season of Dexter is here, it’s time to count down the best episodes so far:
125 kills over seven seasons, and many more to come!
20. “Finding Freebo”
Episode: Season 3, Episode 2
What makes it killer: At this point in Season 3, we’re just starting to find out who Miguel Prado is, and what he’s capable of. The fact that he’s grateful to Dexter for killing Freebo, and knows Dexter is a murderer, suggests that bigger things are in store for Miguel.
Additionally, it’s the first time we see Dexter and Rita dealing with the revelation that she’s pregnant. Including both of them making a hilarious pros and cons list.
19. “Morning Comes”
Episode: Season 2, Episode 8
What makes it killer: Not only has Lundy figured out that the Bay Harbor Butcher works for the Miami Metro — that’s right, the killer is ONE OF US — but Dexter has realized that Lila is a psychopath. On top of that, Doakes finds Dexter’s blood slides, which tells him everything he needs to know about who Dexter really is. It’s an episode fraught with tension, and Dexter’s Dark Passenger is furious — in the best way possible.
18. “Swim Deep”
Episode: Season 7, Episode 5
What makes it killer: This is the first time we have firm evidence that Hannah isn’t the innocent victim she originally pretended to be. She had far more of an active role in Wayne Randall’s crimes, and that will end up being Dexter’s driving force the rest of the season.
17. “About Last Night”
Episode: Season 3, Episode 9
What makes it killer: Just when you think Dexter’s finally made a friend, a real person he can share his deep dark secrets with, it all goes to hell. That’s what we learned in this episode, as Miguel goes ROGUE serial killer, and Dexter has to teach him a lesson. This is the moment when the friendship scales fall from Dexter’s eyes, as he realizes that Miguel was merely using him for grander plans. The problem, and what creates the epic tension though, is that Miguel isn’t about to go down without a fight. He’s a worthy adversary to Dexter, and it’s chilling.
16. “Do You Take Dexter Morgan?”
Episode: Season 3, Episode 12
What makes it killer: A lot of Dexter’s life is based on a foundation of lies, but when it comes to Rita we get to see some unlikely emotions from him. Yes, he’s a serial killer, but he might actually love Rita, as much as a killer can. The episode is tense — as even though Miguel is out of the way, Dexter still needs to take out the Skinner. He does so, in typical Dexter fashion, and as a result just barely makes it to the wedding with an injured hand as he walks down the aisle. (Plus, who can forget the moment in the wedding when a drop of Dex’s blood drips onto Rita’s gown? Maybe a fairytale ending isn’t in the cards for these two…)
15. “Everything is Illumenated”
Episode: Season 5, Episode 6
What makes it killer: If you’re looking for a Dexter chase scene, then “Everything is Illumenated” has that covered. This is the episode where we see that Lumen isn’t a monster that can be controlled, and Dexter has to track down the men she’s trying to kill, while keeping a handle on his own kill. It doesn’t go so well, and Dexter ends up having to scramble to catch two killers at once, and make their deaths look like an accident. (Hint: Auto-erotic mummification is the answer.)
14. “The British Invasion”
Episode: Season 2, Episode 12
What makes it killer: At the end of Season 2, it’s clear that there’s no way Dexter can set Doakes free without being caught himself. But Doakes doesn’t come anywhere close to fitting his code. So, what to do? Lila swoops in, unbeknownst to Dexter, and does what she does best: set things on fire. Had the episode ended there, it may not have made the cut. (No pun intended.) But Dexter taking vengeance on Lila, and ending her run in Paris, made this a bloody satisfying season ending. (Pun intended.)
13. “Road Kill”
Episode: Season 4, Episode 8
What makes it killer: You’d think that Arthur Mitchell trying to kill himself would be a blessing. But, as the road trip to Tampa proves, Dexter isn’t quite ready to let go of the Trinity Killer. There’s still a lot he wants to learn from Arthur, and it’s an amazing glimpse into both Dexter’s desire to lead a normal life, and Arthur’s need to purge himself of the guilt he harbors.
12. “My Bad”
Episode: Season 5, Episode 1
What makes it killer: This episode picks up immediately where Dexter left off: holding Harrison, covered in Rita’s blood. We hear Dexter tell the police officers, “It was me,” when they ask him what happened. While he didn’t physically kill Rita, he means that had she never met him, she’d still be alive. And this episode deals with the emotional aftermath of losing his stabilizing force.
11. “In the Beginning”
Episode: Season 5, Episode 10
What makes it killer: This episode works really well, because it’s filled with lots of people knowing important secrets. (i.e. Liddy is on to the fact that Dexter and Lumen are up to something murderous, Jordan knows that Lumen spoke with Emily, and Dexter knows he needs to get DVD #13 to save Lumen’s life.) But aside from that, Lumen completes her first kill, which brings her enough peace that she and Dexter are able to finally sleep together. It’s also the first time we see Dex moving on from Rita, and with someone he can actually share his deep, dark secret with.
Episode: Season 1, Episode 1
What makes it killer: The pilot episode is where we first get introduced to Dexter, and his complicated life. He’s a forensics expert, brother, boyfriend, and serial killer. It’s the first glimpse into his childhood homicidal tendencies, the creepy voiceover, and the Ice Truck Killer. Yet, in spite of the fact that Dexter kills people, the pilot manages to make him a likable and redeeming character.
9. “Take It!”
Episode: Season 5, Episode 8
What makes it killer: You know the episode’s going to be good when you have multiple serial killers staying in the same hotel for a life coach seminar. There’s a sequence where Jordan’s bodyguard, Cole, spots Lumen and attempts to chase her through the hotel. It will actually make your heart stop with anxiety.
8. “Dex Takes a Holiday”
Episode: Season 4, Episode 4
What makes it killer: Throughout Season 4, we watch Dexter question whether or not a serial killer can survive with a family — something he’s trying to do with Rita. It’s in this episode that he meets Zoe, a cop who killed her whole family to get a fresh start. Not only is Dex killing Zoe significant to the idea that he’s going to fight to have a family, but it shows that he’s fighting against his own dark urges every day and winning. (So far.)
It’s also an important and emotionally packed episode for Deb, as she and Lundy are both shot; which sends Deb on a downward spiral to find Lundy’s killer.
7. “This is the Way the World Ends”
Episode: Season 6, Episode 12
What makes it killer: Deb watches Dexter kill Travis. For the first time, she knows he’s murdered someone, and there’s nothing he can do to erase that… Need I say more?
6. “Born Free”
Episode: Season 1, Episode 12
What makes it killer: This episode is what ultimately proves Dexter is more human than he thinks. He’s faced with the choice of whether to kill his adopted sister, Deb, or his blood brother, Brian. Ultimately, he chooses to save Deb — and watching him make that choice is heartbreaking and powerful.
5. “Lost Boys”
Episode: Season 4, Episode 10
What makes it killer: By saving Trinity’s life, Dexter now has to deal with the consequences. In that Arthur has started up his kill cycle again, Quinn’s girlfriend, Christine, is beginning to unravel, and Dexter has to find Arthur before he kills his next victim. We begin to see that even though Dexter is usually able to control the chaos, he’s reached a breaking point and there’s no turning back.
4. “Are You…?”
Episode: Season 7, Episode 1
What makes it killer: Now that the knife is out of the bag, Dexter has to deal with the very real fact that his sister, Deb, knows that he’s killed someone. What she doesn’t realize, but later comes to know in the episode, is that this isn’t his first time. In fact, he’s a serial killer, which makes her a lieutenant with a very dark secret.
3. “Seeing Red”
Episode: Season 1, Episode 10
What makes it killer: Dexter’s brother, Brian, has set up an elaborate crime scene in order to trigger Dexter’s memories from childhood. The visual of all that blood is so traumatizing, that Dexter actually passes out in the room. It’s the moment when Dex remembers what happened to his mother, and how exactly he wound up as Harry’s foster son.
2. “Surprise, Motherfucker!”
Episode: Season 7, Episode 12
What makes it killer: It’s the end of the line for LaGuerta — who’s absolutely right about who she thinks Dexter is, but has backed herself into a hole so deep there’s no way out of it. Even though she’s successfully tracked Dex down, it means her own undoing. The episode is so tense, particularly the scene in the crate, that you aren’t sure what Deb’s move will be until the very end.
1. “The Getaway”
Episode: Season 4, Episode 12
What makes it killer: This is arguably one of the most emotional episodes in the Dexter series. That’s because by sparing Trinity’s life, Dexter made his own family vulnerable. And in the Season 4 finale, we see all of the consequences of that decision come to a head: Rita is murdered, and Harrison is left to sit in her blood, much like Dexter’s own beginnings.
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