The second episode of Dexter’s final season feels like an immediate extension of the first: bodies are piling up and Deborah’s (Jennifer Carpenter) dark spiral continues.
Let’s bitch it out…Thus far S8 is shaping up very similarly to last season in that headliners Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter continue to deliver outstanding work. Thankfully the show seems to realize that focusing on the secondary characters is a thankless task. As a result ‘Every Silver Lining’ spends very little time on the other officers at Miami Metro. The person who gets the most attention tonight is Quinn (Desmond Harrington), who gets a few minutes in the spotlight to showcase just how much “losing” Deb has affected him. He’s afraid to move forward with his life – both romantically with Jaime (Aimee Garcia) and with his professional career. It’s serviceable, though hardly groundbreaking, stuff – more tolerable than the crap with his stripper girlfriend last year in that it at least feels tied into the larger plot of the show.
Thematically this idea of stasis – or being locked into place – is very on point. If these last few seasons (maybe even the entire series) have been about anything, it’s the darkness that Dexter (Hall) has seemingly infected his colleagues with. Although Dr. Vogel (Charlotte Rampling) tries to reassure him that he’s a gift and he’s exactly what he “needs to be”, the show suggests otherwise. It’s much easier to see Dex as a conflicted protagonist who unwittingly destroys the lives of those he loves the most. It’s not just Deborah who’s damaged goods thanks to Dexter – the trail of bodies he’s left over eight seasons runs all the way back to Doakes to Rita to LaGuerta and all of the other innocents who have fallen victim in his wake.
I’d argue that this is one of the main reasons that we – the viewing audience – appreciate the show. Unlike other flawed antiheroes, Dexter Morgan embodies a sense of destiny that Vic Mackey and Tony Soprano never possessed: he’s driven by uncontrollable forces. In fact it may be easier to consider his Dark Passenger more of a Dark Driver (consider the time last season that Deb tried to get him to stop killing as though it was an addiction that he could go cold turkey on). Unlike the other antihero protagonists Dexter has never been able to control his impulses because he’s driven by a deficiency. And while some of this was softened in recent seasons as the stakes were reduced further and further (or plotted more poorly depending on your perception), the end game has brought about the sense of dread for all of these characters as the clock winds down.
At this point the question that we need to start asking ourselves is not what will happen to Dexter when this final season runs out, but rather what will become of everyone else who has lived in his shadow all of these years?
‘Every Silver Lining’ is important because it sets up Dexter’s two remaining significant relationships. On one hand is Deborah, the sister he feels responsible for “breaking” and now seeks to protect from herself. There’s less self-pity from Deb this week – she’s slowly moving back towards her bruised/gruff self, even if at this point it’s more of a projection than a real personality. The fact that she asks Dex to cover for her after murdering El Sapo, even if it is in a backhanded blackmail capacity, suggests that they’re already moving back into each other’s circuit. Deb’s not ready to forgive Dexter, but she can’t extract herself from his pull, either.
On the other hand there’s Dr. Vogel, who almost immediately ingratiates herself into Dexter’s life like some kind of surrogate mother. Rampling continues to delicately balance her performance: she’s both master manipulator, blackmailing Dexter with her request for help catching the Brain Surgeon killer, but she’s also the doting mother, trying to puff up Dexter’s feelings of inadequacy and reassure him that she’s on his side. I can’t shake the creepy malice vibe I get from her, though and part of me thinks that Vogel may actually be a psychopath herself (she may even be the killer). Now that we know that this new serial killer is using proxies to do their dirty work there’s no reason that the person in question can’t be a female.
Only time will tell…
Your turn: do you “trust” Vogel? Do you think Deborah is coming back around to Dex? What’s happened to the fenced jewelry that El Sapo had in his car? And who is the new serial killer leaving brains in jars? Contribute your thoughts below
Dexter airs Sunday nights at 9pm EST on Showtime