Dexter, S8 Ep06 – A Little Reflection

Dexter and Zach at a crime scene
Dexter and Harrison at the beach

I can’t wait til Career Day!

We’ve been getting a lot of scenes between Dexter and Harrison this season. At first I thought that maybe it was a sign of Dexter turning over a new leaf, or that the writers wanted to focus on family this season what with Dexter and Debra’s damaged relationship taking center stage and Vogel coming in as his spiritual mother. But after this episode I think the reason why we’ve seen more of a focus on Dexter and Harrison’s relationship is because Harrison is his only son (the writers seem to have forgotten about his step-children now that Rita’s gone, so I guess Dexter doesn’t count them anymore either) and Harrison is his legacy in a way. Or he’s the only legacy most people will be aware of. And yet, even though Dexter and Harrison have a close father-son bond, Harrison isn’t aware of Dexter’s secret life and hopefully never will be. Dexter is hiding a big part of himself from his son, just as he did for years with Deb. And that makes it so Harrison will never really know his father. And that’s depressing for both of them, because Harrison will always feel blocked off from his father (like how he knew that Dexter lied about the toy dog going missing) and Dexter will never be able to share his inner life with his son. In this episode, Dexter may have found a way to have a true father-son bond with someone who knows everything about him so that he won’t have to hide. Unfortunately, it’s not Harrison.

Zach Hamilton with camera

That boy ain’t right.

Zach Hamilton, the rich kid obsessed with blood and killing, has been taken under Dexter’s wing. Vogel planted the idea in Dexter’s head because Dex just wanted to kill the kid. He tried too, but after talking to Zach—Zach was on Dexter’s table, might I add—he had a change of heart and wanted to become Zach’s “spiritual father” just as Vogel had been a “mother” to him. Zach could be the son that Harrison never could, which sucks for Harrison. But what about Dexter? How is he going to help some unstable, murderous kid become like him? Harry and Vogel started pretty young on Dexter. To paraphrase Yodi, is Zach too old for the training?

Vogel is really pushing the idea of reforming serial killers into vigilantes, but what’s her motive? In this episode we learned that she had been married. It was something that Dexter and Debra discussed and it felt like someone had highlighted and underlined the dialogue with a note in the margin saying “Super important/ominous.” As Deb pointed out, we don’t know much about Vogel still. What’s she hiding? I don’t think she’s doing this to Dexter and Zach out of the kindness of her heart. Something’s going on there but it’s not clear just yet. The Brain Surgeon storyline was wrapped up too quickly for my taste and we never got answers to a lot of questions. Why did he decide to change pattern and taunt Vogel? Why did he force someone else to kill for him? Unless we get answers to that later in the season, I’m going to have to label that as shoddy writing.

The Brain Surgeon story felt like a shortened season in itself and now we’ve entered another one. This is the final season and I think they’re trying to do too much. I don’t know where they plan to go with this Zach-as-Dexter’s-spiritual-son plot line but I think they should have made that the focus from the start. Even if both Zach and the Brain Surgeon turn out to be plot devices to develop Vogel as the real villain, they’re going about it the wrong way. This season already feels uneven and we’re just halfway through. To top it all off, this episode ended with Hannah coming back. She made a great entrance in the last few seconds while Dexter and Debra succumbed to whatever poison she put in their drinks, but do we really have time for that with everything else going on? Her plot might get cut short without enough justice given to it, which would be a waste of potential. I was looking forward to her coming back, but now I’m wondering how she’ll fit in without complicating things too much.

Masuka in a loud shirt and talking to daughter

Hopefully the loudness of his shirt will induce temporary amnesia.

In other news, the subplots this season are not grabbing my attention at all. Maybe this is just a mid-season slump, but none of the side stories can hold a candle to the main one. Masuka screwed up with his daughter by admitting he looked into her background and she stormed off. But that entire story took maybe five minutes out of the episode and felt more like a distraction from everything else. The Great Sergeant Saga has hit a snag now that Miller has been promoted, so Quinn is trying to solve the Norma Rivera case by bringing in Zach. That’ll probably cause some problems for Dexter now that he’s decided not to kill Zach, but I’ve lost interest in the sergeant plot line because I honestly think that Miller is the better choice. I’m sorry, Quinn, you’re a great character, but you are a shady cop. As for Elway, he’s boring. I think he could be a great person for Deb but he does not make for interesting storytelling. And the thing with Cassie went nowhere because Dexter turned out to be too boring on a date. Good thing for Cassie, bad news for the story.

This is the middle of the season and it feels like the writers still don’t know what direction to go in. It’s still compelling, but it’s uneven and unpredictable in a negative way, as in you can’t predict what’s going to happen next because things are not being allowed enough development for us to get the hang of what way things are going to go. This is the last season, but it doesn’t feel like the writers got the memo.

Next week, Hannah is back and…married? Huh? And Zach has to learn the Code. Yeah, that’ll go over well, I’m sure…

Dexter and Zach