Dexter

Series finales tend to be controversial even under the best of circumstances, but the reaction to Dexter‘s “Remember the Monsters?” hasn’t been polarized so much as overwhelmingly negative. While a handful of critics had nice things to say, most fans howled at its many ludicrous twists and lack of closure, and basically wondered why the hell they’d spent eight seasons waiting for this.

Even so, not surprisingly, showrunner Scott Buck stands by his decisions. “This is absolutely the ending I wanted,” he said in a post-finale interview. Meanwhile, one of Buck’s predecessors, Clyde Phillips, has some ideas of his own about where the show should’ve gone. Here’s a hint: It doesn’t involve lumberjacking. Hit the jump to read what they said. (Spoilers follow.)

Buck broke down the episode for THR, starting with the look on Dexter’s face at the end of the episode.

We wanted to leave it all in the viewers’ head. I don’t know what he’s thinking in that moment; I know he’s in this self-imposed prison and the reason he locked eyes is essentially so we can feel as uncomfortable as he does in his world. He’s someone who was just moments from taking that final step toward humanity who then has to face himself as the monster he believes he is and decide his own fate. He gives himself what he deserves. I don’t think in that moment he’s fighting the urge to kill; he’s dealing with the reality of the misery of his life in that moment.

The reactions to Season 8 as a whole have ranged from ambivalent to deeply negative, and Buck acknowledges that he’s heard the criticism but defends his creative decisions.

I’ve also heard that some viewers are not happy with this season, and they all have different reason for it. So much of the stuff you read is that people want the show to be like it was the first few years where Dexter would go out and kill people. If we had continued to follow that line, the show would have gotten old very fast. This is a show that’s run for eight years, and in order to sustain interest you have to continue to grow and evolve. So yes, I am happy with where we ended the show. This is absolutely the ending I wanted.

Less enamored of the show’s recent turns is Phillips, who served as showrunner for the first four seasons. “They broke the code with the audience,” he said when asked by a Reddit user (via Uproxx) why Season 8 was “crap.” “It’s so important to keep the rules in place when doing a show like that.”

That said, he told E! that he thinks “they did a good job with the final episode.” But that’s not stopping him from revealing how he would’ve closed the show, had he stayed on.

In the very last scene of the series, Dexter wakes up. And everybody is going to think, ‘Oh, it was a dream.’ And then the camera pulls back and back and back and then we realize, ‘No, it’s not a dream.’ Dexter’s opening his eyes and he’s on the execution table at the Florida Penitentiary. They’re just starting to administer the drugs and he looks out through the window to the observation gallery.

And in the gallery are all the people that Dexter killed—including the Trinity Killer and the Ice Truck Killer (his brother Rudy), LaGuerta who he was responsible killing, Doakes who he’s arguably responsible for, Rita, who he’s arguably responsible for, Lila. All the big deaths, and also whoever the weekly episodic kills were. They are all there.

That’s what I envisioned for the ending of Dexter. That everything we’ve seen over the past eight seasons has happened in the several seconds from the time they start Dexter’s execution to the time they finish the execution and he dies. Literally, his life flashed before his eyes as he was about to die. I think it would have been a great, epic, very satisfying conclusion.

It’s a very different conclusion than the one Buck gave us, and sounds like it might have been more satisfying in the long run. For one thing, it actually brings the story to an close, rather than leaving Dexter’s fate ambiguous the way “Remember the Monsters?” did. On the other hand, we don’t know what else Buck would’ve done differently on the way to that ending.

But maybe that proposed spinoff will get right what the original show didn’t. Though Buck wouldn’t reveal any specific details, he agreed at various points that Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Quinn (Desmond Harrington) could make for good spinoff fodder.

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