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Dexter Recap: How I Executed Your Mother

James Remar as Harry Morgan and Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in Dexter (Season 8, episode 10).

Good thing Dexter didn’t book that flight. With nearly everyone else grappling with life-altering changes, Dexter spends much of his time paralyzed, as Harry observes. Torn between protecting Vogel and starting a new life with Hannah, Dexter isn’t there when either of them need him the most. The ripple effects of being torn between who he is and who he wants to become will shape the final two episodes of the series.

The first domino falls with Vogel’s death — an ending that caught me by surprise. (If only she was as good at making breakfast as she is with psychoanalysis, maybe her son would have kept her around.) Not long before that, Saxon took Vogel to see his kill room, which he painstakingly designed to look like the “treatment room” in the institution he tried to burn down. Vogel sat in the torture chair — the same one where Saxon gave Zack an amateur lobotomy — and listened as her son whined that she’d treated Dexter better than him. She apparently gave her other kid, Richard, more attention, and Saxon’s response was to murder him. “Don’t make the same mistake you made with Richard,” Saxon warns Vogel of her relationship with Dexter. “Choose right this time. Choose me.”

Saxon is clearly too far gone to adhere to the Code, yet against all logic, Vogel hopes to reform him. Suddenly she’s onboard with Dexter’s travel plans and gives Hannah her blessing, like any good surrogate mother would do as her serial-killer son prepares to leave the country with a hot blonde psychopath. But Dexter is still Dexter, and Saxon must die. Subtle he’s not — to convince Vogel she should help him kill her son, Dexter shows her the video of Zack’s lid reduction. His strategy works. But though Vogel agrees to set Saxon up for Dexter’s final kill, she calls an audible, inviting him over for a final goodbye. The things parents do for their kids, right? The tea party scene seemed to set up a hostage situation that would carry over to next week, or a brief showdown between Dexter and Saxon. Then, boom — with one swipe of a knife to the throat, Vogel is gone. No last words as she bleeds out in Dexter’s arms. Her swift end is agonizing for Dexter, as evidenced by the look on his face as he holds her. It’s a great moment — rage dissolving into anguish, an emotion Dexter isn’t very familiar with.

Had Dexter been just a few minutes earlier, perhaps he could have saved Vogel — a thought he’ll likely grapple with next week. Instead, he hesitated, wondering if Hannah needed him more. It’s a worthwhile thought, considering that U.S. Marshal is hot on her trail again. (And she’s also doing a spectacularly lousy job of hiding out. Even before she rushes Harrison to the hospital, Hannah lounges on Deb’s beachfront porch, day and night, in full view of the public. They also like to keep the sliding doors and curtains open. Worst safe house ever.) With visions of a storybook ending to his story, Dexter is still entertaining the notion that he can somehow skip off to a foreign country and leave his bloodlust behind.

It’s a naïve thought. Signs appear to be pointing Dexter in the other direction — not away from his true nature, but back into it. Most notably, his choice of a kill room for Saxon is the same place where he dispatched the murderous pedophile choir director in season one’s first episode. He’s also displaying photos of Saxon’s victims, just like the old days. Now that he’s sure to avenge Vogel’s death, he seems poised for the realization that he can’t run from who he really is. Good-bye, Argentina; hello, Dark Passenger.

Other thoughts from last night:

  • Quinn’s sensitive approach to dumping Jamie — while she’s cooking him dinner — leaves to his inevitable reunion with Deb. Maybe these two train wrecks deserve each other. That they’re both off the sauce is a good sign; that they’d work together again isn’t. This also leaves Jamie single and unattached. Maybe she’ll take the gig in Atlanta — or take care of Harrison.
  • Now that Masuka’s daughter is revealed as a stoner, will she come to work high and screw up a case? Will she catch on to Dexter somehow but not be taken seriously? Or is she just taking up space?
  • Jamie delivers a well-placed “go fuck yourself” as she passes Deb at Miami Metro.
  • Perhaps the most realistic story line is Elway getting fed up with Deb’s bullshit and unceremoniously dismissing her. As he reminds her, he’s keeping her case files, including Hannah’s. Between him and the Marshal, Hannah is screwed.
  • Hannah earned mom-points for rushing Harrison to the hospital at great personal risk. But why give the kid’s real name? And what kind of insurance does a murderer on the lam carry?
  • In a glimpse of what their new life would look like, Dexter and Hannah have an adorable chat with Harrison about his stitches — while Dexter’s wearing his kill shirt.
  • Harry has a line that rings false, as he tells a conflicted Dexter, “For the first time in your life, you think you’ve got something to lose.” Um, what about Rita, whose name Dexter evoked as the reason he needs to leave Miami Metro? Or Harrison? Or Deb?
  • Great awkward bro hug after Dexter gives Batista his notice. Lately there hasn’t been enough of those comically uncomfortable moments as Dexter tries to relate to other people.

Looking ahead, two lines stand out as possible clues to Dexter’s fate. Hannah asks Dexter why he’s still trying to kill Saxon, even though Vogel doesn’t want his help. “Because it’s what I do,” he says. “It’s who I am. It’s all I know.” Later, Deb says she doesn’t know what her life will look like without her brother in it. “Maybe,” Dexter says, “it will look better.” Even with the Argentina plan falling apart, it’s looking more like Dexter won’t be sticking around much longer.

Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime