Dexter kicks off its 8th and final season 6 months after last season’s shocking finale. Season 7 straightened the ship after it had veered off course since the series best highs of John Lithgow’s epic contribution.
The opening episode begins to deal with the fall out of Debs actions in the trailer and her murder of LaGuerta. Dexter is doing just dandy, he is coaching Harrison’s soccer team, has reformed the bowling team and is having one night stands with ample-chested young ladies. However, Deb is not doing so well! She has gone AWOL from her job and is now shacked up with coke dealer and jewellery thief Andrew Briggs (aka Billy Walsh from “Entourage,” presumably still stinging from the failure of Medellin). Batista, who has taken his former wife’s death so badly he has given up his dream of running the Miami branch of Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant and is now back with Miami Metro. Jamie, and the now worryingly thin looking Quinn, are together in relationship that seems to serve no other purpose than to deny Dexter a babysitter at crucial times. Quinn’s deterioration from slick detective, who let’s not forget actually figured out Dexter s murderous little secret, to a now almost bungling sleazebag has been one of the more grating problems of the most recent seasons.
During Dexter’s search for Deb, in which her bank password is brilliantly revealed to be “f—kingpassword,” he finds that she has been working as a glorified Bounty Hunter for a private security firm – sadly she is not teamed up with Dog. He confronts her in a convenience store in an attempt to get her to return home but is rebuffed in no uncertain terms when Deb tells him “you made me compromise everything about myself that I care about and I hate you for it. I shot the wrong person in that trailer.” This confrontation begins to bring Dexter’s anger and frustration, which had been simmering just under the surface, to full boiling point. This is particularly evident during one petulant show of aggression when another driver cuts off Dexter. Dexter’s now uncontrollable rage and random acts of immediate violence look like they are going to be responsible for shining the light on his actions brighter than ever. This is becoming apparent, as Dexter acts uncharacteristically sloppy, bringing Harrison with him to track down Deb. He then murders Briggs in cold blood while trying to remove Deb from the hotel. The conversation between Deb and Dexter immediately after this, when she reveals that she has willingly put herself on her own self destructive path as penance for her actions and tells Dexter that he is the one who is lost and needs her more than she ever needed him, was a nice twist. This was a killing that certainly did not fit “Harry’s Code” and shows that this season looks like it could lead down some very dark and surprising places. The show is always at its most exciting when it messes with the established structure and presents the aura of ‘anything could happen’.
The background element of this episode establishes what looks to be the crux of the season – a serial killer who is slicing open craniums and removing the part of the brain that controls empathy. This serves to introduce the character of Dr. Evelyn Vogel who immediately focuses in on Dexter with almost predatory instincts during a number of deliciously loaded conversations between the two, culminating in the final moments of the episode as she hands Dexter a number of particularly disturbing drawings he made as a child. When Dexter confronts her, she ends the episode with a glorious stinger “I don’t fit Harry’s code”.
Hopefully the unpredictability and twists of the opening episode is a sign of what is to come for the rest of the season. The episode certainly played to the shows strengths. Michael C. Hall is at his best when he is threading the line between keeping his facade and exploding into bouts of uncontrollable violence, as opposed to moments where he is attempting self-growth that has a tendency to come off as a whiny more murderous Dr Phil. Dr. Vogel’s knowledge of Dexter’s origin was interesting and perhaps hints that maybe Harry was not alone in his creation of the code and Dexter’s “neat little monster” could be forced to confront one of his Dr Frankenstein’s. Overall this was a nice opener to what has the potential to be a fantastic send off to one of the most watchable TV shows of the past decade.
Worth a donut: Masuka is back with his tactless one-liners. The last scene was a reminder of when Dexter was able to shock and delight in equal measure.
Strap it to the table: Quinn and Jamie’s scenes seem like a writer’s afterthought, hopefully one or both will be put out of my misery soon.
4 out of 5