Dexter Season-Premiere Recap: Lost and Losing It

Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime
Episode Title
A Beautiful Day
Editor’s Rating

This is how the end begins — a blood-red kite thrashing against an angry sky, set to the delicate strains of “What a Wonderful World.” Look closely and you’ll see a rainbow take shape as Dexter plays with his son. It’s a faint sign of hope. Looming larger is a stark white lighthouse, suggesting Dexter needs guidance through this storm.

It’s six months after his plan to execute LaGuerta and frame Hector Estrada for her murder was foiled in the worst possible way. As expected, no one — not even Dexter — is doing well. Sure, Dexter’s been busy bowling, getting laid, and most surprisingly, leading Harrison’s soccer team to a championship (other than Rutgers, who would give him a coaching gig?). But when he says “I’m a survivor,” it sounds mighty ominous. Let’s revisit that line in the final episode.

One pleasant surprise is some early levity at Maria LaGuerta’s service, where Quinn, Dexter, and Masuka fumble to put a positive spin on her memorial bench from Home Depot. (“Concrete,” Dexter says. “Very sturdy.”) Batista has returned to take Deb’s place and sounds really fired up to do some serious po-lice work. Quinn is having sex with Jamie, or at least trying to between run-ins with her boss and brother. As for Masuka, he’s still making Beavis and Butt-head jokes at briefings (“She said 'insert myself'”).

There’s a new Big Bad on the scene, as well — a nasty chap who removes the back of his victims' skulls and takes a scoop of brain as a trophy. But notice the preview scenes at the beginning of the episode, which set the tone for what’s important moving forward. Not a single mention of Isaak Sirko from last season. That’s a good sign, because the Big Bads, even the compelling ones like Sirko, haven’t been much more than window dressing since Trinity in season four. With so much left to resolve in just twelve episodes, the focus should be on the characters. No serial killer can steal Dexter’s thunder down the home stretch.

Or Debra’s, who’s again a force of nature in this episode. No surprise that she’s a mess, but doing lines with Billy Walsh from Entourage? Didn’t think she’d sink that low. Deb left the force to work for a slick-talking PI whose office looks like a set from Miami Vice and is losing herself in her work — and anything she can snort, smoke, or swig to take the pain away. Her confrontation with Dexter in the cereal aisle of the bodega is devastating.

Deb: You made me compromise everything about myself that I care about. And I hate you for it.
No, you don’t.
I shot the wrong person in that trailer.

Just brutal, as is the way she turns the word hate into a snarl. When Dexter traumatizes her all over again by killing Billy Walsh, Deb says she felt fine around that drugged-up jewel thief. The message is clear. She’ll never feel safe with her brother again.

At the Pink Motel, Deb has an epiphany — she’s always thought she needed Dexter, but really, it’s the other way around. The weight of that realization hits Dexter like a ball-peen to the temple. From what we see in this episode, she’s right. She’s spent the last six months trying to get away from her brother, while he’s been obsessed with “saving” her. Meanwhile, Dexter is losing control — road rage, snapping at Batista, and screaming at poor Harrison (though in fairness, the kid seems to grow in size, cuteness, and irritability in equal proportions; hands off the g-d centrifuge!).

That may be where Dr. Evelyn Vogel, the “Psychopath Whisperer,” comes in. She arrives at Metro to help with the Brain Surgeon killer, but clearly has her eye on Dexter from the start. When she hands him an envelope full of his disturbing childhood sketches, Dexter grabs her and prompts the big reveal — she knows about Harry’s Code. The question is, how much does she know about Dexter, and is she a friend who becomes a foil?

Without Deb as his rock, perhaps Vogel will help guide Dexter through this rough patch, at least for now. Dexter needs all the guidance he can find, as Deb makes clear: “I am not lost. I know exactly where I am. I am in some shitty fucking hell, which is exactly what I deserve. You! You are lost.” Whatever clarity Vogel may provide, it will be fleeting; there’s no lighthouse in Dexter’s future. As he stands in the motel parking lot, trying not to cover his son in the blood of the man he just murdered, Dexter knows Deb speaks the truth.