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Dexter Recap: It’s Like You’re My Mirror

So you know how last week’s episode felt a little slow, like a bit of a detour from this otherwise fast-paced and intense season? Problem solved. This one had a bit of everything — Dexter being funny, Dexter being awkward, Dexter wrapping someone in plastic, quality time with Deb and Vogel, a twist at the end, and the much-anticipated return of Hotstuff McPoisonyoass.

In what we probably should have seen coming, Vogel admits to Dexter that Zack Hamilton — the son of the guy who was cheating with the maid who’s dead — is one of her patients. Vogel’s talk of her newfound ethics is clearly bogus; she looks delighted by the idea that Dexter planned to kill Zack. As Dexter is an expert in bullshit detection, it seems the only reason he hasn’t sniffed out Vogel yet is because he sees her as family now, a mother figure who helped him save his relationship with Deb.

The parallels between Zack and Dexter are so obvious, I almost expected to hear Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” in the background — both are fascinated by blood and death, sent by their fathers to Dr. V for some help. (Dexter, however, has a good reason for his faulty moral wiring; as a kid, he watched his mother die. What’s Zack’s excuse?) But while Vogel wants to see if Zack can learn The Code, Dexter wants to see how Zack will look in a plastic-wrap suit. “It would seem that we have a conflict of interest.” As the master manipulator she appears to be, I suspect Vogel got exactly what she wanted in the end.

Maybe it’s a little too early to judge, but Zack as a character is falling a bit flat. When he shows up at the crime scene like a kid touring Disney World, Dexter sees a bit of himself: “I remember that feeling. Awe. Wonder. It only fed the urge.” We haven’t seen enough evidence of that urge in Zack yet. He seems like an Abercrombie model who listens to screamo and stopped taking his meds, not a psycho killer. (He also wasn’t stalking his dad’s new mistress with the intent of killing her. So why all the creepy shots of her in yoga pants?) Granted, it’s tough to act opposite Michael C. Hall while playing a Mini Me version of the character he’s defined so exquisitely for so long. The next few episodes should give Zack plenty of room to grow and let fly his bloody freak flag.

Before we zoom in on those last minutes and where the show’s headed from here, some other choice moments:

  • Dexter’s date with Cassie was classic. Last week at Jamie’s dinner party, he flashed some of the learned charm that Harry drilled into him. That was his survival mode — Vogel was in danger and needed his help. When it comes to women in a social setting, though, it’s amazing he gets laid at all. A sample exchange as they get to know each other:

Cassie: What are you passionate about?
Dexter:
I like to bowl.

Sure, his uneasiness could be interpreted as cute and he is a good-looking dude. But judging by the poor man’s Ryan Gosling that Cassie brings to Jamie’s birthday party, Dexter may have blown it. Loved their small talk:

Cassie: Nice party, huh?
Dex:
Yeah. The beach.

Felt like I was back at my eighth-grade dinner-dance.

  • Poor Masuka. First he finds out Nikki has a lousy credit score and a ton of debt, then he casually mentions he did a little digging into her background. She seemed a little too sensitive about that — wouldn’t anyone, especially a cop, do some investigation into a woman who shows up out of the blue claiming to be your daughter and hitting you up for free grub?
  • Can’t believe I’m saying this, but poor Quinn, too. Batista really hosed him on the promotion. Of course Miller is the better choice. But after Batista pressured the guy, put a strain on his relationship with Jamie, and then Quinn miraculously passed the exam, the man deserves the sergeant’s badge. The result is that Quinn is even more determined than ever to close the Case of the Dead Maid Who Was Banging the Father of Dexter’s Protégé, thus putting Zack (and by association, Dexter) at risk. Quinn is also still thinking about Deb’s confession. Wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up playing a key role in Dexter’s fate.
  • Deb looks phenomenal in this episode. Too good, I’d say, considering how far down she’d sunk just a few days earlier in real Dexter time. Still think she’s rebounded way too well, but seeing her back to her old sassy self is a welcome improvement over the strung-out miserystick she’d become. Elway agrees, as hints of his Deb crush blossom into full-blown like-like as he goes Tyson on the creep she was surveilling. Defend a woman’s honor, appreciated; spill a drink on her dress in the process, get the stink eye. Could a Deb-Elway romance, coupled with the failed promotion, send Quinn into a new spiral?
  • Great scene as Dexter and Deb try to make like old times with dinner and beers at his place. Again, Deb is clearly feeling more like herself these days:

Dexter: Should I be worried Harrison’s lying?
Deb:
He’s four, doofus. This steak tastes like asshole.

More important than the return of Deb’s wit is her revelation that she knows almost nothing about Vogel, the woman she’s trusting with her potentially life-threatening secrets: “Like where’d she get that accent? And who the fuck is Rich?” Good questions. Dexter can only answer the latter — Rich was her husband. How he achieved past-tense status will surely be a story to watch for later.

As the episode winds down, we see what I’m guessing was Vogel’s plan all along — Dexter, with his unique capacity for emotion, can’t bring himself to kill Zack. The kid, he realizes, never had a Harry to guide him. “Am I ready for this?” Dexter asks as Zack lays on his table. “To be a spiritual father?” It’s another reference to family in a season that’s full of them, though one this homicidally dysfunctional is not meant to last. I wonder if Vogel sees Zack as Dexter 2.0 — an only child with no pesky sister or emotions to get in the way of becoming the ultimate killing machine?

Back at Deb’s place, the Morgans swap stories. Deb’s boss is into her. Cassie isn’t feeling him, but still, Dexter sounds optimistic: “I’m even thinking about taking on a kind of … intern.” Moments later, they’re both passing out as a blonde figure appears in soft focus. Well, hello there, Hannah. Can’t wait to introduce you to Dr. Vogel.

Photo: Showtime