Dexter, S8 Ep08 – Are We There Yet?

Halle-f***ing-lujah! After starting off strong, this season of Dexter lost its footing when they killed off Yates, the supposed Brain Surgeon, less than halfway through. I’ve been watching the past few episodes trying to figure out where the hell the plot went but now it’s back on track!

Surprise! The Brain Surgeon isn’t dead! Which makes sense because Yates was killed too easily and Dexter didn’t really have definitive proof that it was Yates. Sure, he had some suspicious jars and tools and diagrams…okay, so it did look like he might have been the guy, but yeah, apparently he was framed. Just like Zach was framed for the murder of Cassie. Coincidence? Yeah, right. But more on that later.

Hannah and Dexter staring at each other

True love apparently involves a lot of staring contests.

This episode introduced the start of some big changes this season. With Hannah back in town, Dexter is distracted, thinking of her instead of things that he should be focusing on, like training Zach or, you know, crime scenes. Dexter’s ghost/memory father even said that maybe Dexter has found a new desire, stronger than the desire to kill. Hannah could be his way to a normal life, settling down, maybe giving up on the recreational murder thing. Dexter is getting older and his life more complicated. Maybe it’s time for retirement. Is Hannah triggering the need to settle down within him? Will she actually help him escape from his Dark Passenger? I hate when stories use the old trope of a woman being able to heal all wounds and fix a guy’s life just by the power of her womanliness because it reduces the character to nothing more than a tool for the male character’s development, but for Dexter, having someone else to care for, someone to share every aspect of his life with, it might be just what he needs. His true identity has destroyed Deb—she might be getting back on her feet but she’ll never be the same—and his most important romantic  relationship to date, his marriage to Rita, suffered from, and was ultimately ended with Rita’s murder due to, him having to constantly hide his secret life. Dexter has been looking for acceptance, a place to fit in, a family, for a long time. With Hannah, maybe he could actually have a normal life, a happy ending. Is that why Hannah’s back? Does she represent his potential salvation? Or is she just a distraction that is going to cost him something big in the end?

So far the writers have set up this relationship as a renewal of the intense love that they shared last season, but it could be that’s all a ruse. We haven’t seen a hint of Hannah playing Dexter, but there’s got to be something that will come up to try to tear these two apart. It could just be Elway, who has decided to continue pursuing Hannah after Deb gave up, which would finally give him something interesting to do. He’s been there this whole time, innocuous and too nice and bland for this show. Is he now going to be the downfall of Dexter’s happy serial killer family? If not, then it’s going to be a disappointing waste of Sean Patrick Flanery.

Dexter and Zach at dinner

This is the kind of family dinner where you hope everyone washed their hands first. And wiped down the kill-table.

Speaking of the happy serial killer family, the theme of family continued to be underlined in this episode, culminating in an awkward dinner between Dexter, Vogel, Hannah, and Zach. It felt briefly like everyone was actually part of a family that just maybe could have had a happy ending. So naturally this was followed not long afterward with the threat of Hannah being discovered and with the murder of Zach by the Brain Surgeon. Zach’s death didn’t exactly make me cry. He was kind of annoying, and though it was fun seeing Dexter critiquing the kid’s murder-work, I never cared about him. The only shocking thing about his death was that it wasn’t Dexter who did it.

Dexter and Debra at crime scene

Debra at a crime scene just feels right. Uh, investigating a crime scene, I should say…

Before I get into the whole Brain Surgeon thing, I want to mention one more big change. Debra has been crawling her way back from rock bottom and in this episode it looked like her doubts about her new career were going to finally make her go back to what she does best: being a cop. Deb has had a long, difficult journey this season, and with Hannah back in the picture she isn’t too happy right now, but her passion in life has always been helping people by taking out bad guys. That has been missing this season because she couldn’t take staying in her old job with the guilt of LaGuerta’s death hanging over her. But now it looks like she’s ready to suit up once again. And I’m looking forward to it. It’s where she belongs, it’s what she’s meant to do.

Some other things happened in this episode apparently. Masuka’s daughter, Nikki, became a lab assistant and we discovered that she’s one of those crazy people who burn sage to purify the energies in a place. Since my mom is one of those people, I tend to be both offended and sympathetic to the portrayal of this type of person. But seriously, sage really smells terrible. This is clearly just the light-hearted comic relief plot line to alleviate all the death and drama. It’s not their best, but it’ll do because we get to see a new side of Masuka we never thought we’d ever see. In other news, Quinn and Jamie argued over Deb again (*sigh*). The framing of Zach as Cassie’s murderer almost made me question how far Quinn might go to get his way, but then something big happened…

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