Dexter: 8.03 - What's Eating Dexter Morgan?

Dexter! Final year! Week three! After last week's quite good episode, we have a much better idea of where this last season - or at least, the opening chunk of it - will be going. Deb is breaking down, Dexter has met his symbolic mother - Evelyn Vogel, who helped Harry come up with The Code - and she is trying to help him deal with both his sister issues and her own stalking by the Brain Surgeon, a serial killer who does exactly what it says on his tin.

Wow, Dexter is close to being a full-on family drama! There's even an appearance by Dex's own son Harrison, although he's such a non-entity in the plot as a whole, I'm half-expected to find out he's a hallucination and the real Harrison died at the end of season 4 with Rita. But that hasn't happened yet, so let's be content with dealing with the plot as broadcast for now. Spoilers follow.


The Pseudo-Mother And The Cartoon Tramp

For people who enjoyed last week's episode, you'll love this one, as it's very much reinforcing the themes and storylines kicked off there. This risks getting repetitive, but the god news is that they might actually have a plan, and it's one which interests me. I'm enjoying Vogel's pseudo-maternal yet analytical relationship with Dexter, as she comforts him through difficult times, asks pertinent questions (Why didn't he kill Debra when she found out? What is love to him?) and, finally, embeds herself even deeper into his life by taking on Deb as a "client" too.

Speaking of whom, her descent continues apace. It remains compelling thanks to the committed acting of Jennifer Carpenter, I particularly enjoyed her dinner scene with Dex, but I'm also not entirely sorry that her brother and pseudo-mother-by-adoption have decided to intervene, because it was starting to get heavy-handed. I'm thinking particularly of the part where she sits in her car, drinking from a paper bag and moping over the glory days like a cartoon tramp. That portrayal of self-destruction is verging on EastEnders.

So it's good that we're seeing a big move in that storyline, and even better, might get some Debra/Vogel therapy scenes next week, which have the potential to be great. Or to descend into rambling psychobabble if written badly, but so far, this season has delivered when necessary. I'm interested.

Could The Brain Surgeon Make Miami Metro Competent?

The Brain Surgeon plot, admittedly, isn't advancing quite as smoothly as the above. (Although the scene where Vogel finds the new brain samples outside her house seems to rule out the possibility of her being the Brain Surgeon, which is kinda a relief, as that would be an obvious twist.) This week, Dexter checks a list of Vogel's ex-patients, finds a guy who isn't the serial killer he was looking for, but is a coincidental cannibal, so he gets tabled. It's pleasant to see Dexter back in his kill room, for the first time this season really, but the victim was a bit of a nobody, to be honest. It kinda worked this week, as clearly they wanted to largely shuffle the Brain Surgeon aside to focus on other plots, but I hope we move on from Dex simply checking off the list next week.

Meanwhile, in the criminally incompetent world of Miami Metro, Quinn is still dealing with the twin threats of Angry Girlfriend Batistia and Angry Boss Batista. Intersecting his storyline with Debra's does make him seem more relevant, and as I've spent years watching them, I'm even slightly interested in his career advancement. The final sequence, though, requires he demonstrate some of that selective amnesia and plank-of-wood idiocy that makes this the worst police department in the world, as he stands there staring while Dexter and his strange psychologist friend casually abduct Debra.

To be fair, it wasn't just him there: Deb's "confession", in which she carefully avoids saying anything about the fact she was holding the gun, never mind that Dexter was there, until she's give a pen and paper, is a little clunky. Still: around season five, it looked like the end-game of this show might be Quinn and Deb as a couple, awkwardly hunting down her brother. I wonder if we might still get there.

So, some ropey scenes, and some restating of last week, but overall still a strong Dexter. If they can last out the whole season at this level of quality, it'll be a good final year, but we'll see. Plenty of time to kill yet.

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