“Dexter” season 8 episode 1 premiere spoilers establish that Dexter and Debra are both starting to crack under the pressure of dealing with the fallout of Maria La Guerta’s death. To recap briefly, La Guerta had discovered that Dexter is a serial killer responsible for the death and framing of James Dokes.
She set out on a quest to expose him which ultimately culminated in Dexter concluding that he has to kill her. Debra inadvertently shoots her in a shipping container when she is forced to choose between La Guerta and Dexter.
(Major season 8, episode 1 “A Beautiful Mind” spoilers below)
Season 8, episode 1 of the premiere of “Dexter”, “A Beautiful Mind” debuted Sunday night. We started with a look at Dexter’s life. He claimed that the killing of Maria La Guerta had solved all his problems. He had been able to restart his bowling club and spend more time with Harrison, coaching the little league team to the championship.
We quickly realize that this is untrue, a façade which shows that Dexter is cracking under the pressure. We first realize something is amiss when, at La Guerta’s memorial, Dexter reveals he hasn’t heard from Debra in over two months. Debra has left the force and now works as a private detective with Batista back from retirement and running the department. Dexter is desperately worried about her, her voice mail box is full and he can’t get a hold of her. Dexter goes to her new boss and learns she hasn’t checked in for two weeks. He tracks her down to a motel she is staying at with a jewelry store robber.
In season 8 episode 1 of “Beautiful Mind” we find Debra engaged in the self-destructive behavior that has characterized her throughout the show. She is snorting coke and having sex with her target, clearly torn up over her role in La Guerta’s death. Dexter confronts her, to which Debra angrily responds that she shot the wrong person in that trailer, indicating that she should have shot Dexter instead.
Unable to take a hint, Dexter continues trying to save Deb from herself, particularly when he learns that one of the people sent to meet with her new jewelry store thief boyfriend is actually a hit man. He rushes to save Deb, taking Harrison along with him, and goes to the motel where Debra tells him openly that it is not her that needs him, but him that needs her. Dexter is involved in a violent confrontation with Debra’s boyfriend and stabs him in the stomach. When he returns to the car he is horrified to find Harrison missing. Fortunately, he has just wandered a short distance.
There are two things that stand out from that scene. The first is that Dexter, who has always prided himself of trying to be a good father to Harrison, unthinkingly puts him in a dangerous position by taking him to a seedy motel and leaving him alone, sleeping in the car. Another is the fact that Dexter may not be as much of a psychopath as he thinks he is. If a sociopath is characterized by their inability to feel empathy, compassion or love, then Dexter cannot be one because he clearly does have those feelings for Debra and Harrison and arguably also had them for Hannah, Rita and Lumen. Dexter does have emotion and he does get angry, as we have seen before.
In the meantime we are introduced to the serial killing villain of the season, the “Brain Surgeon”. He or she murders their victims, then saws into their skull and scoops out parts of their brain. The new season 8 character introduced in the trailer is Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Ramplin), a neuropsychiatric doctor and author of a number of books on emotional disorders. “They call her the psychopath whisperer,” Masuka helpfully informs Dexter.
Vogol knows a lot of Dexters, and Charlotte Ramplin plays the creepy, intelligent older woman very well. Even a single glance from her in the direction of Dexter speaks volumes. Dexter is clearly worried about her presence and fears that she has come to Miami Metro Homicide from England specifically to target him. His fears are seemingly confirmed when Dr. Vogol hands him a manila envelope filled with disturbing drawings from his childhood. He pushes her against the wall and she tells him coolly, “You can’t kill me Dexter.” He demands, “Why not?” She replies “Because it would break Harry’s code.”
With that single sentence we realize that Dr. Vogol is from Dexter’s past and knows a great deal about him. She clearly also knew his father and helped him develop the code. So now we can only speculate about her motivations of reappearing in his life now, particularly since she knows that he is a serial killer.
To recap from last season, strangely we haven’t seen Hannah McKay or heard mention of her since she went AWOL. We know that she has been cast as a character this season, so she has to be lurking around. Whatever destruction Dexter is headed to will involve her in some ways, and based on the previous season we know that she brings Dexter’s reckless and emotional side to the fore.
We previously speculated that Dexter would die in season 8 and we speculated about who would kill him:
“In terms of season 8 spoilers, we should also consider who will be the agent of Dexter's demise. While it could be his nemesis, the "Brain Surgeon" who cuts apart his victims skulls, that seems unlikely. Dexter has never really lost to any of his targets aside from Trinity, who managed to kill Rita. Fans would be unsatisfied with an ending that saw Dexter outwitted and outmaneuvered by a more able serial killer. The more likely outcome is that it will be Debra herself who will kill him. We see how conflicted she is in the trailers, she openly says that she shot the wrong person in the shipyard, implying that it should have been him, not LaGuerta.
[W]e think that season 8 will end with Dexter being killed by Debra, possibly with the help of Dr. Vogol, after Dexter kills the "Brain Surgeon." It is the only ending that would satisfy the complex feelings fans have about Dexter. Even though we root for him, he is still a bad guy and has killed some people who, while not innocent, did not necessarily deserve death. There has to be a comeuppance for that.”
We stand by our previous season 8 spoilers, though we now speculate that Hannah McKay will reappear and be involved in some way. Another tangent aside from the “Brain Surgeon” and Dr. Vogol is that the hit man sent by the gang has clearly seen Debra and Dexter, so he will be involved in the situation somehow.
What does surprise us is the extent to which Dexter’s mask is cracking. He loses his temper frequently, he has an episode of road rage and chokes someone who cuts him off in front of his young son sitting in the backseat. He screams angrily at Harrison when he accidentally smashes a vase. He feels bad about it immediately after, but we can see that Dexter is becoming sloppy and reckless this season. The cool, efficient Dexter of seasons pasts that would prepare careful kill rooms and tableaus has given ways to an angry and emotional character who stabs Deb’s boyfriend to death right in front of her.
The careful artificial life that Dexter has constructed for himself is breaking in season 8, that is inevitable. It’s just a question of how it will shatter.
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