Six months have passed since the death of Captain Maria LaGuerta. Dexter seems to have gotten his own life together, caring for Harrison and still killing people While Dexter is unfazed by the events surrounding her death, the landscape of Miami Metro Homicide has changed. After the loss of his ex-wife, Angel Batista has returned to the force to replace Debra as the homicide lieutenant. Tom Matthews appears to have been reinstated as Deputy Chief. Unable to cope with the fact she killed LaGuerta to cover for Dexter, Debra quit the police force months ago. She instead took a new job at Elway Investigations, as an investigator.
Dexter becomes concerned that he hasn’t seen or heard from Debra in months, and he decides to visit her house. After discovering days worth of mail on her doorstep, marijuana joints, and vials of prescription medication, Dexter becomes determined to track her down. After speaking with Debra’s new boss, Jacob Elway, he discovers that she’s hunting a jewel thief who skipped out on his bail. The thief, named Andrew Briggs, stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and is looking for a fence to sell it to. Debra has started seeing him romantically, though she is still wanting to catch him in the act, since she’ll get a cut of the reward money and the value of the stolen property.
Dexter tracks Briggs to Fort Lauderdale and finds out about Deb’s relationship with him. He confronts her on her erratic behavior, but she wants nothing to do with Dexter, because he forced her to compromise everything that she believed in when she killed LaGuerta. She goes so far as to tell him, “I shot the wrong person in that trailer.” Briggs then walks up, wondering if Deb’s being bothered by this stranger. Speechless at Deb’s harsh words towards him, Dexter allows them to leave. On the drive back home, Dexter is seething from Deb’s remarks. His anger grows when a driver cuts him off on the highway. This incident makes Dexter lose control and he physically confronts the driver. He only stops himself from causing serious harm when he sees the man’s son sitting in the front seat watching him.
MMH (Miami Metro Homicide) get a call about a dead body that has been dumped in a public area. The victim was killed by a single gunshot wound, but the interesting part is that his head was cut open, and a small part of the brain has been removed. Not long after they begin their investigation, they are visited by world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Evelyn Vogel.
As luck would have it, Vogel has dropped in on her old friend Chief Matthews and has decided to help them with the case, pro-bono. Vogel immediately shows that she knows her stuff, by pointing out that the excavated portion of the victim’s brain is the part that processes emotions like empathy. She points out that they probably have a serial killer on their hands, and she expects that he will kill again. Throughout her introductory lecture, her unsettling gaze is focused on Dexter.
Angel offers Dexter a vase that belonged to Maria. He knows that Dexter is still angry that Maria accused him of being the Bay Harbor Butcher and killing Rita, and he wants to give it to Dexter as a peace offering. Dexter politely declines at first, but Angel is insistent. Dexter then snaps that Maria was killed because she couldn’t just leave things alone. Dexter quickly apologizes, but Angel is still unnerved that his best friend said something so drastic. He leaves the vase in Dexter’s office.
Immediately after Angel leaves, Masuka informs Dexter that Dr. Vogel wants to speak with him. In the morgue, Dexter and Vogel discuss psychopaths and the Bay Harbor Butcher specifically. Vogel asks about the late James Doakes’ temperament, and she doubts that he was actually a psychopath. It becomes clear that she knows more than she’s telling, and her gaze is always on Dexter.
Briggs finds a fence named El Sapo, who will probably make him very rich once the deal goes down. While Briggs is meeting with El Sapo, Deb reaches out to Quinn to find out more about him. Unfortunately, Quinn’s contacts have never heard of a fence named El Sapo. Since Quinn can’t get hold of Deb himself, he passes the information along to Dexter.
After a quick internet search, Dexter discovers that El Sapo is actually a hitman, not a fence. He who works for the man who owned the jewelry store Briggs robbed. When Briggs shows him the location of the goods, El Sapo will probably kill him and anyone who is with him. Dexter fears for Deb’s life, but he is abruptly saddled with the Harrison when Jaime drops him off at the station, since it’s her night off. Harrison later accidentally breaks the vase, and Dexter yells at him for not being careful. Dexter quickly apologizes again, but he’s still preoccupied with Deb. He tries to call her one last time, and then takes Harrison with him to try and find her before it’s too late.
Jaime is actually at Quinn’s apartment. Over the past six months, they’ve formed a romantic relationship, but they’re hiding it from both of their bosses. Dexter knocks on the door to find out where Deb has been staying, and leaves with Harrison once Quinn tells him. Both Quinn and Jaime are surprised that Dexter came by, but they have some other, more naughty things on their mind to give it too much thought.
Dexter arrives at the motel where Briggs and Deb have been staying at, and tries to inform Deb that she could be killed by El Sapo. She angrily replies that she doesn’t care if she dies at all because she hates what her life has become. Briggs then comes back out, and becomes angry when Dexter tries to take Deb with him. They fight, and their brawl brings them back into their hotel room, and before anyone knows what’s happened, Dexter kills Briggs with a switchblade knife.
Deb is saddened that Briggs is dead because she liked him, and she insists that Dexter leave alone from now on. She knows now that it’s Dexter who needs her to keep everything under control and not the other way around. Dexter leaves as she calls the crime into the police.
When he returns to his car, Dexter sees that Harrison has left the car looking for him. Harrison says that he was looking for his Dad, and couldn’t find him once he woke up. Dexter reassures his son, but when Harrison asks where they are, Dexter replies that they are lost. As Deb leaves the hotel after talking with the police, she is followed by El Sapo.
The next morning, Dexter visits the memorial bench that was commemorated to Captain LaGuerta in the beginning of the episode. Doctor Vogel visits him and gives him some of his own childhood drawings which show Dexter fantasizing about killing people at an early age. Dexter immediately realizes that she knows the truth and confronts her, but his threats do little to intimidate her. She already knows that Dexter won’t kill her, because she doesn’t meet Harry’s Code.
Dexter has always had a history of strong premiere episodes, and this episode continues that tradition. With all honesty, I would consider this as one of the best premiere episodes the show has had, after the pilot and the fifth season premiere. The episode does every single thing that it should do, and then some.
We can already see that we are nearing the end of Dexter’s journey. His actions in this episode show him lacking control over his own actions. Not even his own imaginary conversations with Harry can calm him down after Deb’s poisonous words get into his psyche. We’ve never seen him lose control this quickly, or this often in one episode. Certainly we’ve seen him get extremely agitated, but it’s more akin to seeing a volcano erupt after pressure has built up to a breaking point. This Dexter is more on-edge, and is easily provoked. The stress of worrying about Deb and Dr. Vogel makes him far more reactive than he usually is. He also does come to
In fact, we’ve never seen Debra this hostile to Dexter over the course of the show, not even when she first learned that he was a serial killer last season. Her hatred of Dexter now reaches right to the core, and she’s now displaying her own control over him by antagonizing him when he confronts her. It also seems very natural that she wouldn’t be able to remain at the police department after killing LaGuerta. Being the moral person that she is, she can’t justify remaining the lieutenant after committing such a brutal crime. Her new hedonistic lifestyle and more self-serving job suit her replacement code. She’s still hunting the bad guys, but she’s doing it on her terms and for what looks like better money. She also consumes these painkillers and other drugs to try and drown the guilt she feels over LaGuerta’s death. It is a completely natural character direction for her.
It seems that we’ll be seeing more of El Sapo, since he was clearly visible at the episode’s close. I only hope that it’s not dragged out too long. Last season already explored the idea of Deb having to lay low to avoid reprisal from the mob, and I’m not interested in seeing that particular situation for that much more.
Charlotte Rampling is an excellent casting as Dr. Vogel. She seems very much like an experienced academic who knows exactly what she is talking about, and they quickly established her as a threat to Dexter. I’m very interested to see where exactly her story goes. It’s very likely that she has some kind of connection to the killer who
The last second shock ending didn’t exactly have quite as much punch as it could have, since it was very obvious she knew something was wrong about Dexter. On the other hand, I did like the way they confirmed our suspicions. We’ve seen Dexter’s secret discovered before, but not in such a smooth way. Unlike Miguel, Lumen, and the various killers that have learned who and what Dexter is, Vogel knew Dexter was a monster before she even clapped eyes on him. We don’t know how long she’s had those drawings in her possession, but if she knows about Harry’s Code, she knows far more than anyone else ever has.
There were very few flaws in this particular episode, and I’m very pleased with how the final season has begun. I hope that it continues its momentum towards a satisfying finale.