It's funny how good shows can do the things you absolutely don't want them to do, yet have you love them for it. I wanted this final season of Dexter to be all about Dexter and Deb and their unbelievably dysfunctional relationship, and while the show is really always about that, the introduction of Charlotte Rampling's Dr. Vogel is a shot in the arm that I didn't even know Dexter needed. "Every Silver Lining," though a more typical episode of the series, played a little better than the season premiere—and Dr. Vogel had quite a bit to do with that.
Final seasons are so often about looking backward before taking those final few steps toward the end. Dr. Vogel's appearance and Dexter's desire to re-examine the Code and some of the big questions about the show's titular anti-hero (why? How?) comprise, on a basic level, a smart approach to a final run of stories. Still, I'm surprised at just how effective their scenes together have been in these first two episodes. Rampling is a wonderful performer and Michael C. Hall has great chemistry with just about everyone who comes on this show, but the maternal hold Vogel has on Dexter is something we simply haven't seen before. Watching them work together to solve a case was compelling, but watching her put her arms around him soothingly at the end of the hour was even more so, because it was that Dexter brand of affection that felt just weird enough.
There's some danger of running into ret-con territory as the writers start to fill in the backstory of how Vogel helped Harry develop the Code and keep Dexter from devolving into a complete sociopathic murder, but thus far, the story works because the show isn't screwing around with Dexter and Vogel's relationship. How many times have we the audience known something about a character or a plan, only to have to wait several episodes to see it materialize? The garbage with the villain in Season 6 is the most notable example, but there've been others. But we're only in Episode 2 so far and Dexter and Vogel have already traded a good amount of information. I'm sure Vogel is holding back some crucial point that will create tension later on, but she's already admitted what she knows about Dexter, and he's already sort of accepted that this is a woman who can help him. It doesn't hurt that he's desperate at the moment, but still.
However, one thing that does worry me about the development of Dexter and Vogel's relationship and the discussion of the Code is the role that Vogel is likely to play in some kind of final point about Dexter's killing. She's clearly supportive of alternative methods, and there were moments in this episode where she reaffirmed Dexter's lifestyle by noting his sense of justice, telling him that he's not like these really demented killers, and so on. And while that makes for fascinating television, I'm wondering how much the show, through Vogel, is going to find ways to keep apologizing for Dexter's behavior here in the final run. Dexter does have a sense of justice, and maybe he's not as screwed up as the people he takes out, but it's a little convenient for the series to bring in a character who can both make Dexter feel good about himself and wave away his activity as okay, or even necessary. He still needs to face some consequences.
Elsewhere, even though it took a bit of a backseat this week (as I expected after last week's episode), I felt as if the Deb and Dexter stuff was more locked-in than it was in the premiere. The show can't really keep the two of them apart, as much as it might want to or as much as it might make sense to do so. So the show has flipped around much of what we saw last year with Deb pestering Dexter about the truth and subsequently trying to cover up his (and eventually their) misdeeds. This week, Deb strayed even further by killing the hitman who was after the diamonds, even though it seemed like he didn't actually want to hurt her too much. Then, Dexter had to clean up Deb's mess and conceal evidence, resulting in one of their awesome now-patented Narrow Alleyway Conversations. Dexter hypocritically suggested that it's not easy to cover for Deb, only for her to reinforce that she's acting the way she's acting because of what he turned her into. The exchange felt a little repetitive, but it was played better by the actors and a tinge more effective because Dexter spent so much of "Every Silver Lining" feeling guilty for what he'd done to Deb.
The assertion that Dexter needs Deb just as much, if not more, than she needs him is a nice re-evaluation of their relationship, and it's putting Dexter in the kind of place where he can have this new thing with Vogel. Knowing this show, chances are that things will blow up in his face, but it's a really interesting relationship nonetheless. And hopefully, Deb just straight-up killing dudes doesn't become much of a trend—how horrible would it be if all of a sudden she was some kind of serial murderer? The character needs to fall quite far to have the kind of redemption she really deserves. There are elements of Deb's story that I don't care about, mostly notably her new job and the almost-guaranteed relationship she's going to have with her boss Elway, but I understand why the show is pushing her in the directions it's pushing her in, so I can be patient.
After the season premiere, I was a little wary of where Dexter's final season might be headed. Although there are still some things that I'm fearful of, "Every Silver Lining" did a better job of creating a road map for Dexter and Deb's stories in the next 10 episodes.
– I find it funny that Dexter sat there and watched old videos of Harry, then turned to talk to him. I was waiting for Harry to make some dumb comment about how young he looked, or at least for Dexter to be like, "Hey pop, maybe you should have told me about this broad?" This show will never run out of ways to keep James Remar around. He'll probably still be filming episodes even after it's gone.
– Young Dexter taking a bloody piece of broken glass from a crime scene, his first trophy, was a nice touch. That's like one of those final-season "answers" that you never actually cared to know.
– Over in the Quinn-Batista Family telenovela, Batista found out about Quinn and Jamie's relationship because he's "a good detective." That's probably the funniest thing I've ever heard on this show. It probably didn't hurt that Quinn and Jamie were as subtle as an A-bomb. The best part is that now that arc has suddenly been transformed into this weird thing about how Quinn sucks and never wants to do anything with his life. Well, duh, show. If we have to watch a bunch of scenes with Quinn "studying" for the Sergeant's exam, I take back every good thing I've ever said about this series.
– So, do we think that Vogel's got nefarious goals with Dexter? Some of you probably think she's actually the killer they're looking for, right?
AIRED ON 9/22/2013
Season 8 : Episode 12