The second episode of the series sees Michael C. Hall make his directorial debut. We kick off with Dexter being shown tapes of Dr Vogel’s sessions with Harry, discussing what measures he can take with his adopted sons increasingly disturbing fascination with murder. The scene, coupled with Dexter’s voice over, reveals that Dexter believes himself to be an artist as opposed to a killer and also cleverly uncovers the origin of his blood slide collection. Dr Vogel tells Dexter that she, along with Harry, created his “code” to focus his urges to hunt “different kinds of animals”. She then rather creepily refers to herself as his spiritual mother and seems to glow with maternal pride when discussing his horrific acts. However, like any family member who contacts you after a long period…she needs a favor. The favor she has in mind is to murder a former patient of hers who she believes is the “The Brain Surgeon”. Dexter’s initial reluctance to help is tempered by Vogel giving him more DVDs of Harry’s sessions, which Dexter believes can help him better understand how he came to be.
Meanwhile, Deb visits with her boss Elaway to discuss why her last assignment ended in her sleeping with the target, resulting in his murder and Deb no closer to the jewellery she was sent to recover. Elaway decides all this was down to dehydration and a quick swig of electrolyte’s later, they are off to visit the slain Briggs’s home. Having found a clue that leads them to a storage locker, where the jewellery is being kept, Elaway then has his Scooby Doo moment and decides he has to go elsewhere – I’m sure this will in no way come back later. Therefore, Deb has to go alone to the storage unit. Although Deb locates the stolen jewellery, the victory is short lived, as she is pummelled by a hit man by the name of El Sapo. Like all hit men he has a goatee, ponytail, sharp suits and a strong moral code – sparing Deb with the line ““You’re lucky I don’t kill people unless I’m paid to”.
In the subplot, that nobody cares about, Angel lets Quinn know that he is well aware that his sister Jamie is being given the business. He warns Quinn that if he wants to keep it up (the relationship, you filthy minded people) he will need to get himself together and take the Sergeant’s exam. Jamie also starts to dole out some life lessons to Quinn by letting him know he needs to stop bringing up his previous fiancé’s name every 5 minutes! Quinn then does his best Amanda Bynes impression and runs into the night screaming “I don’t wanna”.
As Dexter and Vogel try to find which of her patients is behind “The Brain Surgeon” killings, he gets a call that “El Sapo” has been found murdered. Dexter finds blood at the scene and rushes to check on Deb, who he finds passed out in a drunken pill induced haze. During their discussion Deb lets Dexter know that she doesn’t want to hate him, despite what he has done, and in fact she can’t shake her feelings for him. This scene played out beautiful and was given additional weight when you consider the couple’s real life relationship woes.
Dexter then finds his initial suspect for the killings hanging from the rafters of his hunting cabin. He shares his frustration at being wrong with Vogel, who reassures him that this is part of being an Alpha. She maintains that his “gift” will help him to uncover who is really behind the killings. She expresses her concern at the effect Debs troubles are having on him but Dexter quickly shoots down that line of questioning. During this scene you could almost see the strings Vogel is using to pull Dexter’s mind in several different directions but was handled with a subtlety and intelligence missing from most other shows.
Back in Dexter’s Laboratory, he runs the blood he found at the El Sapo crime scene and to his surprise finds out its Debs who then, in her attempt at gold in the perfect timing Olympics, walks right into Miami Metro. Deb has a sit down with Quinn to explain what happened in the hotel with Briggs, however, when Quinn shows her the crime scene photos of a low budget Antonio Banderas’ bullet riddled body, she freaks out and is pulled out of the conversation by Dexter. The two then have a tense confrontation, brilliantly shot in a narrow alley, which seems to close in as the tension of the scene escalates. Deb asks Dexter to hide evidence linking her to the shooting; his initial reluctance is instantly lifted when Deb shoots back with “do you really want to play the what if game” and then levels a thinly veiled threat at Dexter as she leaves. Jennifer Carpenter plays this scene wonderfully. Her free falling descent into her own personal hell has really showcased her talents which, too often had been hidden behind her foul mouthed “one of the boys” act.
The episode ends with the reveal that Dexter’s initial suspect had been coerced into murdering his victim and that the real brains (sorry) behind the murders are still at large. The final shot of Vogel taking Dexter in a motherly embrace was as creepy as anything the show has thrown up so far.
This episode builds nicely upon the series opener, neatly adding more layers to Dexter’s backstory, while also advancing the main plot of the series. There are a lot of potential twists and turns that have yet to be played out but it has been a strong opening thus far. Vogel’s reaction when Dexter confessed his worries about Deb seemed to suggest that was not the answer she would have expected from a psychopath. Perhaps Dexter’s path was one he was forced down as opposed to his unavoidable destiny. Vogel, having more than one name on her list of potential suspects, hints that maybe Dexter isn’t the only killer she created and she has her own murderous “Justice League” out there who are slowly unraveling. And let’s not forget that Hannah McKay is still out there waiting to make poor Dexter’s life even more complicated. For the first time in a long time Dexter is something I am excited to watch as opposed to something I felt obligated to watch, long may it continue.
Worth a Donut: Masuka’s line about sexual harassment to Deb was another of his bad taste gems. The alleyway scene with Dexter and Deb was a nail biting delight. Charlotte Rampling’s creepy turn as Vogel has been a wonderful addition.
Strap it to the table: Quinn and Angel being given little to do, when paired up the two have great chemistry. The scene with them both smoking weed in Angels mid-life crisis mobile was a series highpoint for both.
4 out of 5