By Damon Martin – Editor/Lead Writer
Follow on Twitter @DamonMartin
(As with all recaps be aware that spoilers are ahead!)
The end is near for Dexter Morgan.
That statement applies to both his fictional status and in realistic terms as the show kicked off it’s eighth and final season on Sunday.
Season 8 picks up six months after the death of Captain Maria LaGuerta, who died at the hands of Debra Morgan, after she discovered that her former boss found out Dexter was indeed a serial killer at large.
Since that time, Deb has left the Miami police department, and she’s now working as an independent private investigator for Elway Investigations (headed up by a great addition this season as Sean Patrick Flanery joins the cast as Elway). She’s living fast and hard these days chasing down bail jumpers and fugitives, while managing her emotional pain with a mix of prescription drugs, cocaine and alcohol.
She’s not having much to do with Dexter either because Deb believes she sacrificed everything she ever believed in to stand by her brother. The depth of this episode swirled around Deb’s downward spiral into drugs and depression after LaGuerta’s death, but it was actually a much different meaning once the full hour played out.
Back in Dexter’s world, on the surface things seem all right with the world. He’s coaching his son Harrison’s soccer team, he’s back on the police bowling squad, and his Dark Passenger is busy at work killing off the worst criminals Miami can offer.
Most of Dexter’s life he’s lived with two sides to his personality—the one that the world sees as a mild-mannered blood splatter analyst for the police, a lab geek if you will, and now a doting father to his five-year old son. The other side is the dark, sinister version that Dexter has tried his best to hide away, but there’s always been a duality to his killer persona and it’s showcased even more as this season begins.
Throughout the past seven seasons, Dexter has always had his father as a guiding force in his life, but in reality Harry Morgan is dead, and his visions are nothing more than an imaginary friend that keeps Dexter in check. In almost every part of this show, Dexter’s dark half is trying to reach out to find someone to share this side of himself with completely and honestly.
There was narcotics anonymous sponsor Lila in season 2, district attorney Miguel Prado in season 3, Lumen Pierce in season 5, and the list goes on and on. The one constant throughout, however, has been Dexter’s sister Deb.
In the early seasons, Dexter leaned on Deb for his human side. She was his attachment to the real world, away from his kill table. When his wife Rita was murdered, Deb became an even more important part of Dexter’s life. Then in season 7 when Deb was made fully aware of Dexter’s nightly bloodlust, she slipped into the role of his moral compass both in his human life and as a serial killer.
So what is made abundantly clear as the first episode of season 8 begins with Deb shutting Dexter out of her life—he needs her far more than he’s ever realized.
A New Doctor Arrives
The Miami police don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to finding and capturing serial killers so maybe that’s why they keep showing up more and more. The latest murder case to befall the homicide division is a man found dead with the back of his head cut open and a piece of his brain scooped away.
Before the investigation can even really get underway, Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling) arrives on the scene to offer her assistance. She’s known throughout the law enforcement world as “The Psychopath Whisperer” for her unbelievably accurate profiles of the most evil serial killers in the world. Vogel had worked with the Miami police years earlier, but just popped back up when this case became available and offered her expertise.
Immediately, Vogel summons Dexter to the lab where she’s investigating some brain matter. The two engage in a back and forth conversation where Vogel begins to explain the nature of a serial killer, while Dexter plays dumb to it all. She sees right through that mask, and then moves the subject to the Bay Harbor Butcher aka James Doakes.
Dr. Vogel is onto something because she knows Doakes doesn’t fit the profile of a serial killer. Her prying eyes are seeing deeper and deeper into Dexter’s currently frail psyche and this is not the time he needs a world renowned psychiatrist digging into his brain.
Dexter Slips and Deb Falls
Deb’s new life as a private investigator keeps her mostly in the trenches (by her choice as noted by her new boss), and she’s currently tracking down a bail jumper who stole half a million dollars in jewelry. Her goal is to wait until she recovers the jewels before turning him in because if she can give the goods back along with a captured fugitive she stands to make a nice financial windfall.
The only problem is Dexter is also on the case, worried about his sister’s life, when he discovers that her bail jumper stole from the wrong people. The jewels belong to a mob family, and they’ve sent a hitman to kill him and recover their property.
So with Harrison in tow (even babysitters need a night off!), Dexter goes on the chase to protect Deb from this dangerous situation. His unfortunate timing ends up with him fighting Deb’s perpetrator, before ultimately stabbing him in the gut with a knife while defending himself.
Deb tells Dexter to flee as she’s making the right call (sort of) this time and calling the police. He leaves quickly but notices that one of his car doors is open and Harrison is gone. In a panic, Dexter looks around and finally locates son—who left the car just trying to find his daddy. A wave of relief washes over him, but Dexter quickly realizes that things are not going well right now.
Promotions and Relationships Are Budding
A quick update on the rest of the players in Dexter…
Following the death of LaGuerta, Bautista has given up on retirement and returned to the force where he is now the new lieutenant since Deb also left the force. He’s back to being a dedicated officer, who is still struggling with the loss of his ex-wife.
He’s struggling so much that he can’t quite figure out what to do with the boxes of her possessions that are still sitting in his living room.
Meanwhile, Bautista’s sister Jamie is plenty busy acting as nanny to Harrison, but following her last relationship (remember the creepy Dexter stalker from last season?) she’s now moved onto her brother’s best friend. Yep, Quinn is back in the saddle and this time he’s got Bautista’s sister as a stable mate.
Quinn has run quite the gambit since he first appeared on this show, and Jamie Bautista is his latest conquest.
And not to worry, comedic relief is still being played by Dexter’s lab buddy Masuka, who always has a perverted line or two to interject at just the right (or maybe wrong) moment.
The End is Nigh
Beyond the fact that we know this is the final season, there is a real pattern to follow when it comes to Dexter and the real life capture or kills of America’s serial killers. The key throughout the ages is that a serial killer, no matter how careful, no matter how calculating, eventually makes a mistake and that leads to their discovery.
For the sake of TV, Dexter has gotten away much longer over the years, but it seems that time is quickly coming to an end as he is now taking his son on murder ride-alongs and no longer has his sister to keep him as close to sanity as possible.
With Dexter sitting on a bench (a memorial bench to Maria LaGuerta no less) he’s approached by the mysterious Dr. Vogel. She hands him an envelope, and when he opens it he discovers some children’s drawings with graphic images. Dead bodies and blood cover every page, but at the top of one he sees a shocking name—his own.
Dexter runs and grabs the doctor demanding answers. She has his childhood drawings and obviously knows more about him than she’s letting on. That’s when Dr. Vogel drops the bombshell on Dexter.
“You can’t kill me,” Dr. Vogel says staring right into Dexter’s eyes. “I don’t fit Harry’s code.”
Who is this Dr. Vogel? Was she the one that created Harry’s code so many years ago? Was she the one Harry consulted when he was trying to save his son?
Stay tuned for next Sunday’s episode as we look for more answers. Leave your comments below to give your thoughts on the first episode of Dexter season 8