'Dexter' Season Finale Recap: Did Dexter Get Away This Time?

Dexter Still - H 2012

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Dexter's seventh-season finale, titled "Surprise, Motherf---er."]

With the walls closing in on Dexter more than during any of the previous six seasons, Showtime's famed serial killer with a code entered unchartered territory during Sunday's seventh season finale.

The "Surprise, Motherf---er" episode, which takes its title from James Doakes' old catchphrase, was a heart-racing hour in which Dexter (Michael C. Hall) attempted to tie up several loose ends. Among them: Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski), who not only knows about Dexter's Dark Passenger but loves him because of it; Capt. Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Velez), who is convinced that Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher; and Hector Estrada, the last surviving man responsible for the murder of Dexter's biological mother.

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So how did the serial killer with a code fare? Turns out a lot better than his foster sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) did.

LaGuerta frames Dexter in an attempt to catch him killing Estrada. Dexter then returns the favor and frames Miami Metro's captain by planting her fingerprint on Estrada's ID after she arrests him for murder and suspicion of being the Bay Harbor Butcher.

With her career on the line for the "mistake," LaGuerta begins to clean house -- thinking that her days at the station are numbered -- and calls Deb in to go over newly returned evidence in Travis Marshall's (Colin Hanks) case from the church where Deb first witnessed Dexter's true nature. The security footage puts Deb at a gas station two blocks from the church just 22 minutes before it burned down, and LaGuerta begins to realize that Deb is covering for Dexter's role in the case that ended in fire.

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Shifting his sights to LaGuerta, Dexter discovers she has search warrants for the GPS calls from not only his but also Debra's cell phone on the night of the church fire, and the blood slide proves he has the same M.O. as the Bay Harbor Butcher.

It's at that moment that Dexter realizes that he has no other option but to kill LaGuerta so Deb doesn't lose everything.

Dexter ultimately catches Estrada (Nestor Serrano) before LaGuerta can and has him call LaGuerta and lure her down to the containers where Dexter's mother was murdered.

"I've never killed for normal reasons," Dexter tells Estrada before he kills him. "I used to think I was a special kind of killer, but tonight I'm not."

After he kills Estrada and LaGuerta arrives, Dexter injects her with half a dose of his typical tranquilizer (so it won't appear in her bloodstream) and just as he's about to set up the scene to reveal LaGuerta and Estrada shot and killed each other, Deb arrives and begs him not to kill LaGuerta, though she is unaware that LaGuerta had the smoking gun connecting them to the church murder and more.

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It's at that point when LaGuerta wakes up. "This is not who you are!" she tells Deb. "You're a cop, you're a good person, you're not like him! Put him down!"

And Deb does the unthinkable: she shoots and kills LaGuerta, thus making the ultimate sacrifice to protect Dexter and setting up a new set of questions ahead of the upcoming eighth season of the Showtime drama that viewers hear via Dexter's signature voice-over: Who is Deb now? Who is Dexter now? Is this a new beginning or the beginning of the end?

Not to be outdone, Hannah escapes from the hospital after having ingested something her old friend Arlene gave her and leaves a flower on Dexter's doorstep, setting up yet another slate of troubles for the Morgans: Will Hannah kill Deb in order to be with her true love, Dexter?

What did you think of Dexter's season-seven finale? Hit the comments with your thoughts and check back Monday morning to THR's The Live Feed for a postmortem with executive producer Scott Buck. In the meantime, check out the producer discussing the finale in a clip below.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit