Dexter "This Little Piggy" Review: The Family That Slays Together... Stays Together?

By Cory Barker

Jul 29, 2013

Dexter S08E05: "This Little Piggy"

Cliffhangers are a drag. You think they're going to be exciting and lead to something that's even more exciting, but so often, shows immediately run away from what they built to at the end of the previous episode and then I find it more difficult to trust them going forward. Dexter isn't the worst offender of this brand of cliffhanger abuse, but the transition between the last few minutes of last week's episode and the events of "This Little Piggy" were kind of weird, to say the least. It was bad enough that the show punted a relatively cool cliffhanger last week by having Deb almost immediately save a drowning Dexter (sure, he was never going to die, but at least that would have been a compelling image to go out on); then, this episode zoomed through the aftermath of that big moment way too quickly, mostly to get back to procedural motions that I can't imagine literally anyone in the audience cares about. And yet, here I am again, thinking about how great Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C. Hall and Charlotte Rampling are, and shrugging off what are clearly big flaws, both in the episode and this final season.

But let's back up to the early moments of "This Little Piggy." Deb tried to kill Dexter, then decided not to because they have the most screwed-up relationship in human history. What did they do immediately afterward? They chatted things out with Vogel. And when Dexter got a little upset that, uh, HIS SISTER JUST TRIED TO MURDER HIM (remember, sociopaths can have feelings too), Deb was like, "Bro, 'sup? Why are you mad?" And then he mostly let the anger subside, Vogel was kidnapped, and by the end of the hour, it seemed like every single one of their problems—all of which were severely complex—were forgiven, if not forgotten. Maybe I'm missing something, but... what?

I guess there are two ways to look at this. On one hand, the fact that Dexter and Deb buried the hatchet so quickly, just a day or two after she tried to murder-death-kill him, and only a few more days after we saw her blowing coke and blowing guys away with handguns, is a testament to just how unbelievably creepy and co-dependent these siblings are. They literally just flushed so much water under a creeky old bridge, and it was windy as hell on that bridge. In the middle of this episode, Deb told Dexter that she saved him because she couldn't—and didn't want to—picture a world without him in it... which, obviously. If there's one thing that Dexter has taught us over eight years, it's that above all else, Dexter and Deb will always choose one another, no matter how stupid it might be to do so, or how terrible their lives might become as a result. Mix in some A-plus level Jedi manipulation from Vogel, who Deb is now treating like a mother figure in a way that we haven't seen even from Dexter (because Deb's even more desperate than him), and okay, sure, you could sell me on such an early reunion between the Morgans.

But on the other hand, I'll repeat what I said just a moment ago: What? Not only did this happen super quickly, but it also derailed what had become the show's greatest strength in the tension between Dexter and Deb. Yes, I know, it's still early in the season. I don't doubt that the two of them are going to have a spat or 49 before the whole series comes to a close. But I don't totally see the value in cutting this spat short when there was so much there to mine. The writers try to get away with a lot by exploiting Deb's erratic behavior and mood swings, and while Carpenter can make it work most of the time, just think about all the things we've seen Deb do just in five episodes (which had to take place over what, two weeks? Three, tops?). She's seemingly recovered from severe depression and multiple forms of substance abuse (must've been that swag electrolyte drink Elway made her chug!). She straight-up iced a dude in cold blood and shrugged it off. Then she tried to murder her brother, who, less than six or seven months ago, she pretty much wanted to sex up. Deb's no-doubt seen some stuff, and that maybe means that she's just going to dizzily bounce off of people this season, but her desire to reconcile with Dexter, to be the one calling him non-stop just like he was doing to her like three episodes ago, is just nuts.

Maybe that's the point. Maybe this is all leading to even more troubling times for Deb, where she regrets letting go of most of the stuff she kept inside for too long. Maybe she's put way too much trust in Vogel and that's going to come back to bite her. And maybe she'll finally see that it probably wasn't smart to do really any of the things she's done since she walked into the church and saw Dexter killing our boy Travis Marshall. If all that comes to pass, it'll be pretty powerful, but I won't be able to stop thinking about how dumb it made Deb look in the process.

Despite all this, the two sequences that bracketed this episode were pretty darn good. Vogel's manipulation of Dexter and Deb was in full-force during their post-attempted-murder therapy session, and Hall delivery of the lines about wanting to "be with family" while he dumped body parts and evidence was classically icky. The unevenness and the questionable decision-making with this story bothers me, but the three actors carrying it are doing great work to make it seem like the show's much more on-track than it actually is at the moment.

I'm theorizing and trying to parse all this out because I find it confusing, but also because a huge chunk of this episode was dedicated to middling Dexter stories that never ignite much interest in me. Deb and Dexter coming together to search for Vogel had its moments, but it was also mostly driven by concurrent shots of the two of them sitting in their cars listening to a torture on speakerphone. I don't know about you, but that's not riveting TV for me. The race for the new Sergeant between Quinn and Angie, a character the show hasn't tried to sketch out at all, is still as ineffectual as possible. It's not remotely bad, and Desmond Harrington's doing what he can, but seriously, who cares? The same could be said for C.S. Lee and the plot with Masuka's new daughter. It really feels like Dexter's writers are trying to give all the actors as much stuff to work with as possible in the final stretch of episodes, but it's difficult to invest in Masuka in the new way the show is asking us to.

This season is becoming quite the challenge, both to watch and to review. I'm surprised that this is where Dexter is five episodes into its final season, and there's definitely some value in being surprising eight years in. And again, it's quite likely that weird stuff is happening almost entirely because Vogel is really, really good at her job. But the show might need to level out for an episode or two before I'm totally sold on where this is all headed.


– Jamie was so mad about Dexter ruining that double date and zzzzzz. Bethany Jo Lenz is pretty.

– I'm still waiting for Elway to be revealed as a creep, a killer, or a creepy killer. That's how this works, don't let me down show.

– Oh, Quinn, always wanting to beat confessions out of probably guilty rich kids. Seriously, that's what we're wasting time on in a final season.

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  • alvixx Aug 05, 2013

    Am I really the only one who noticed the "You're a saint" reference to Sean Patrick Flanerys character, who happens to be a fan favorite from his roles in the Boondock Saints movies and cartoons?

  • LikeMeLoveMeE Sep 07, 2013

    I noticed that too! I thought it was clever

  • BrianGray4 Jul 31, 2013

    This show had been horrible since day 1, I don't know why I continue watching!

  • doctorwho747 Jul 31, 2013

    I already wrote this below, but i decided to repost it well, cuz i wanted it to be at the top of the comment at least for a little while. lol
    Ok here,s my theory of how the season will end up going, next episode Vogel wants Dexter and her to teach that kid the code. I thought well we have seen that Vogel is more than capable to teach somebody the code herself, so at first it will seem like this kid is the first since Dexter to learn it, and I think that the "lessons" with Dex and Vogel will go one way, and Vogel on her own will manipulate the kid into some loyalty to her. Than when ultimately Dexter uncovers just how twisted she really is to the point of having to kill her, she will make the ki d think that Dexter is evil and send him after Dexter. Also she will call in a few others that she taught the code to to be her own serial killer army to send after Dexter as well as Deb and probably everyone else, nobody will be safe, maybe they will kill of a character or two. its the final season and they know they aren't coming back, in many tv series I have seen that is when characters start biting the dust

  • ehfaz619 Jul 31, 2013

    ... and u think the episode was a drag - the reviw just went on and on and on. Heck, its even longer than the episodes, what gives?

  • LordForceOne Jul 31, 2013

    Remember season 4? How did this show go from that to this? God. Awful. Worst. Show. Ever.

  • lumo Jul 30, 2013

    So um this is the final season right? Yawn. Season 1 was more intense and well written, serial killers battling it out through wit etc while balancing not being caught. This feels more like "As sand falls through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives"

  • wudntulik2know Jul 30, 2013

    Hah, good one lumo. Doesn't it though?

    Yes, thankfully, this is it, and we who have stayed with the show through excellent and stinko have 7 (SEVEN!) more episodes to suffer through, and then it will all be over.

  • lumo Jul 30, 2013

    These best part in this episode was seeing dexter truly ANGRY like hulk. (I mean "hurt" according to Vogel). Would be nice to see more of the beast and less of the "adjusting to real life is hard" Dexter.

  • sheikyerbouti1 Jul 30, 2013

    Have to say enjoyed watching Quinn trying to be a grown up. love Masuka hate his storyline, he deserves to be in the thick of the action, i do like how Dex was surprised when he was actually good at his job! . Didnt really see all was well with Deb and Dex more of a workable impasse. the kill was pretty cool i guess, as we`re allowed to say that amongst friends :p ps Deb Dex Vogel scene excellent work! very very good. Happy with this episode

  • CharmedOneP391 Jul 30, 2013

    ......Where is Hannah???? Do you think maybe she's the brain surgeon killer? Or whoever is is probably working for her to fish out Dexter and Deb.

  • wudntulik2know Jul 30, 2013

    Not that the writers care about facts, but how easy IS it to cut off a piece of the skull? Back in the day when writers were writers, there was talk of Jack the Ripper being a surgeon because the prostitutes were carved up with such exacting skill.

    But Hannah or Deb or the guy on the enchilada truck could be TBS? Huh? So any Tom, Dick, or Deb can be TBS?

    How so?

    Writers on the show need not answer, since you couldn't even remember as far back as the last episode to explain what happened to the guy who saved Deb. It took a poster on another site to explain that Dex probably killed him and of COURSE we the stupid audience were never treated to the continuity of it all.

  • CharmedOneP391 Jul 31, 2013

    you couldn't be more right about the brain surgeon. My basic point was where is Hannah? and I'm wondering if she's going to have some sort of connection to the final season's killer or if she'll play a role separate just for her or what

  • doctorwho747 Jul 31, 2013

    She comes back starting next episode, so far I can only get info that she will also be in episode 7. So I know she will be in at least two eps, but I don't know if she will be in the rest of the season

  • dh4645 Jul 30, 2013

    i agree about Quinn & Masuka what is the point? at least Masuka's daughter is a hotty, so i wouldnt mind seeing more of her.

  • dh4645 Jul 30, 2013

    also, the new neighbor is hot, but what is the point of that storyline either?

  • Dexterrrr Jul 30, 2013

    Masuka's daughter? why now and why the unshaven armpits?

  • dh4645 Jul 30, 2013

    unshaven? what?

  • Dexterrrr Jul 30, 2013

    in the scene in front of the coffee truck with masuka. such a turn off.

  • dh4645 Aug 01, 2013

    just watched that scene again. it's just shadow...i didnt see any hair

  • dh4645 Jul 30, 2013

    oh, i didnt notice.

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