Dexter Recap: Dr. Vogel Takes Over

Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime
Episode Title
What’s Eating Dexter Morgan?
Editor’s Rating

In what’s shaping up to be a fantastic end to the series, this is the best episode of the season so far. It has a little bit of everything — great acting, multiple “holy shit” moments, and the return of Dexter’s kill table. Is it sick that I’ve missed seeing a murderous sleaze-bag wrapped in plastic, moments from a violent death? Yes. But that’s always been part of the show’s success — the “so wrong it’s right” factor.

That note is struck in the opening scene, with a rather sick but clever fake-out involving Harrison and a box of Yum Yum Pops. That trail of red and his little feet on what looks like a bloody floor are well played. If only Dexter had some Pepto-Bismol of the soul that Deb could chug to feel better. He spends the rest of the episode looking for a way to save her, which is a tough task — especially considering he’s the one who sent her over the edge.

How far gone is Deb? We first find her passed out drunk in her car after crashing into a parking meter. She’s so hammered that she can’t even drop an F-bomb (“Mothershit”). If her drinking wasn’t enough cause for concern, Deb’s malfunctioning potty mouth should be. Enter Quinn, who slips out of bed with Jamie and comes to his ex’s rescue. There’s a great moment in the car when he confronts her about her boozing and explains the source of his own drinking problem: “You, dumbass. You turned down my proposal.”

Then there’s Dr. Vogel, who we could probably talk about for twice as long as this recap should run. First, let’s dispense with the notion that she’s the Brain Surgeon. Someone sent her a text that said “LOOK OUTSIDE,” where a pair of cute his-and-hers brain-gifts were waiting. Did she text that to herself? That would be a little nutso; we’ve already been down that road with the Doomsday Killer, and we don’t want to go back again. (She also doesn’t strike me as an all-caps kind of gal.)

One trend that continues is Dexter’s conversations with the two women in his life — the “let me help you/fuck off” exchanges with Deb, like the one he has at her office; and the chats with Vogel that always turn into psychoanalysis sessions (emphasis on the “psycho,” of course). Vogel reveals that while Harry was hung up on the “only kill bad people” part of the Code, she made “don’t get caught” rule No. 1; “a little wiggle room,” she says. So let’s review: Vogel used possibly illegal methods on her patients, views Dexter’s bloodlust as “perfect,” and isn’t opposed to some unjustified homicide. She also mentions she has a gun but hasn’t “used it in years.” What did she use it for the last time? Murder, perhaps?

Vogel then asks an excellent question: Why didn’t Dexter just kill Deb when she saw him execute Travis Marshall? In this scene, and again in the car en route to Miami Metro, Vogel breaks down Dexter’s concept of love — he doesn’t love Deb, he loves what she does for him. Through his sister, Dexter feels important, admired, special — all things that Vogel herself has been expressing to Dexter. The difference is that Vogel honors his true self, while Deb is repulsed and ruined by it. (Also, great line when Vogel asks about eliminating his sister: “Not that I’d advocate such a thing.” The sideways glance she gives him is classic Rampling. Let’s make that a thing.)

The episode builds to a climax with two most awkward dinners: Quinn dines alone at the Batistas after admitting he ditched Jamie to help Deb, and the Morgans break bread at an Italian “hellhole.” Somehow, Dexter tracked down one of the guys Deb saved in the restaurant shootout back in season six (odd that this guy still likes to dine out?). He’s there with his family; Dexter hopes it’s a reminder that Deb is a good person and that perhaps one horrible decision can’t define her. She eats and stays off the sauce for a night. It’s a small victory for Dexter, but one that doesn’t last long.

As it turns out, Deb’s job working for that Real Housewives of Miami castoff was designed to bring her to one conclusion — some people spend their lives in denial. (And speaking of her job, yes, those electrolyte shakes her boss keeps whipping up for her are weird. But so far, they’re harmless. Deb gets into trouble before she drinks them.) That leads to another bender (why does she keep boozing in her car?) and one of the night’s big shockers — “I want to confess. I killed LaGuerta.” Quinn says that’s impossible and lays out the evidence. (I’m not sure why they’re not troubled that a bullet fired in a shipping container wasn’t found, but okay.) Great sobbing confession from Deb, as J-Carp is crushing it once again this season (broken record alert: Emmy nom, please!).

The next jaw-dropper is Dexter’s swift use of his tranq needle to knock his sister out cold before she blows their cover. It prompts the best line of the night, hands down, as a stunned Vogel utters, “That was interesting.” (Again: classic Rampling! I’m going to keep pushing this. Second best line: “All this talk about helping Debra and loving her. It’s like you’re Michelangelo trying to play the banjo.”) Somehow, Dexter carries Deb’s limp body out of the police department unnoticed as Vogel throws a shifty look (those eyes!) and assures Quinn, “There may be some work to do. But I promise, Debra’s going to get through this.” One continuity oversight: In the car ride to Miami Metro, Vogel knows Deb killed LaGuerta. Dex probably briefed her quickly en route, but if so, that’s a rather significant moment we don’t see.

Like those little brain boxes on Vogel’s doorstep, the ending is packaged so neatly it’s practically tied with a bow. Vogel tells Dexter she can help his sister and dismisses him with a line that echoes his own: “Go now. Let me do what I do.” The question now is, what will Vogel do with Deb? Will she try to give Deb a code of her own? Or work to eliminate the one imperfection in Dexter’s life?

Then there’s Dexter’s new pal Galuzzo, the mall fitness guru who seemed too douchey to survive for long. In another surprise reveal, he turned out to be more Hannibal Lecter than Brain Surgeon, thanks to the finger stew and garlic brains Dexter found in his kitchen. Unfortunately for Galuzzo, Dexter has a lot of steam to blow off: “I am perfect. But only at one thing.” Before plunging the knife, Dexter realizes he and the cannibal have something in common — “I consume everyone I love.” Perfect.