Dexter S8 Ep03 – What’s Eating Dexter Morgan?

Deb and Elway scouting out in car

This week, it’s Dexter meets Hannibal! Okay, not really, but just imagine that crossover for a second. Yeah, exactly. But anyway, Dexter got to deal with a cannibal in this episode, which I think is a guilty—or not-so-guilty—pleasure for all crime shows. But oddly the cannibal was not the main focus of the episode. This week’s story continued the epic drama of Dexter and Debra’s destroyed relationship, featuring Self-Destructive Deb further along her downward spiral. The murder mystery of the season is still taking a backseat to the family drama, with Dexter checking off the cannibal from the list of potential suspects (the dude eats brains instead of leaving them in fancy His and Hers gift boxes for Vogel and Dexter to enjoy, so he’s clearly not their guy) as he tries to help Deb regain control.

Dexter holding a brain in garlic sauce

Tasty.

Though Dexter and Deb’s relationship makes for a juicy bit of television to chew on—much like a delicious slice of garlic-marinated brain—in this episode it started to grate. Deb has hit rock bottom and is seeking out some dynamite to blast down even further. She has gone off the rails, we get it. In this episode she tried to confess to LaGuerta’s murder, but was too drunk for Quinn to take her seriously. Do we really need this much time dedicated to showing just how bad off she is? Things keep getting worse for her, but it doesn’t feel like it’s really bringing us any closer to a revelation or some new development.

Dexter holding Debra with Quinn at the door

See, Dexter’s a great brother! Who else would inject their sister with drugs to knock her unconscious?

In the end of this episode Dexter agreed to let Vogel help Deb. Meanwhile Vogel questioned Dexter’s love for Deb from a psychopath’s point of view. It’s odd that he should love or care about anyone, so Vogel has put forth the idea that Dexter’s love for Deb isn’t the same selfless love that Deb has for him. Deb killed LaGuerta, betraying her own values, because she couldn’t bear the thought of LaGuerta bringing Dexter down. Would Dexter do the same? Vogel was trying to make it sound like Dexter’s love is self-centered, that he only cares for what Deb can do for him. While that does sound a bit familiar, it doesn’t account for everything. If Dexter didn’t really love Deb, then why didn’t he kill her when she discovered what he was? Or how about now that she is descending into self-destructing madness, and has become an unstable person who witnessed his crimes and threatened to confess what really happened to LaGuerta – why hasn’t he done something selfish to keep her quiet?

It’s hard to say if Dexter is any more than just an empathy-lacking psychopath, but watching the first scene of the episode between him and Harrison, you can’t help but think he’s not as heartless as Vogel claims. Not to mention how he tried to get Deb to remember how she used to help people, how many lives she once saved. This season, more than any other, feels like it’s seeking to uncover his humanity. Deb is one of the only people that he truly seems to love, if you can say that he loves anyone, so it is understandable why the focus is so strongly centered on her and her relationship with him, but that focus is getting overdone.

But interesting to note is that all the major drama (outside of the murder mystery/Brain Surgeon story) is connected to Deb. Deb is sort of turning out to be the center of the whole season so far (only three episodes in doesn’t really say much, but it looks like this trend might continue). That says a lot about where the season might go, and particularly how it might end up. Will Debra decide Dexter’s final fate? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Quinn talking to Dexter

Would a Mighty Quinn joke be inappropriate here?

But that extra bit of Deb drama may get more complicated. What I’m talking about is Quinn. Quinn, her ex-boyfriend who she dumped because he proposed and she wasn’t ready for it. He’s now in a relationship with Jamie, but Jamie is jealous of Deb because everything in Quinn’s life seems to come back to her. Understandable, especially since Quinn really does seem pretty wrapped up with Deb still. I doubt that he ever fully got over her, and he can’t stand to watch her fall apart like this. Is this hinting at a possible rekindling of their relationship? Things have been rather Quinn-heavy in these past three episodes, with most of the non-Dexter-related plot revolving around him. Batista’s storyline exists mostly in relation to Quinn and trying to get him to take the sergeant’s exam. Jamie exists as his girlfriend with little else to do (seeing as she used to exist just as Dexter’s babysitter, it’s not exactly a step down, but not a step up either). We’ve barely seen anything else happen at Miami Metro—Masuka pops in now and then for some comic relief, we occasionally are reminded that Detective Miller exists, but that’s about it. Now that Deb is gone, other than Dexter our biggest point-of-view character there is Quinn, with everyone else being shunted to the side.

It didn’t feel like we got much out of this episode that we didn’t already know. Deb’s confession fizzled into nothing more than another way to show she has changed, but we’ve already seen that. Watching this episode I enjoyed it, but afterward I thought about what I got out of it. My answer: not much we haven’t seen already. I’m hoping that this episode has something big in it that I just didn’t notice, or that will come into play later, because with this being the last season, which we are now a fourth of the way through, I was hoping for something bigger. But maybe that will come later, and things have to start off small at first. Maybe they have to go back to the basics—Dexter’s past, his family, and relationships—before they move on to something more complex, because clearly those basics are going to steer Dexter to his final fate, whatever it might be.

Next week, Deb asks a thorny question about her father’s death and its relationship to Dexter, while Dexter discovers something about Vogel that has him questioning her motives.

Vogel and Debra