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Dexter Review: "A Beautiful Day" (Episode 8.01)

July 1, 2013  |  11:39am
<i>Dexter</i> Review: "A Beautiful Day" (Episode 8.01)

Back so soon, Dexter fans. The finish line is just ahead, right? It’s been reported that Season 8 will be the last season—there was even discussion of calling this season “Deb.” I’m lukewarm on that idea, to be honest. But one decision that is concrete is that the newest installment of the show was taken from its original fall slot and pushed into an early summer session. So, here we are a few months early. Hope you feel spoiled.

Season 8 picks up six months later: Deb quit her job as Lieutenant and has become a P.I. for a private firm; Batista has claimed the position as the new Lieutenant; Matthews has taken the vacant Captain position with LaGuerta deceased, and Joey Quinn is still lacking personality…or brains! But before we get into how brains hook into the storyline this season, let’s take a look at how the Morgan family has been doing.

Overall, it has been a string of “beautiful days” for Dexter Morgan. With LaGuerta gone, balance has been restored. A few flashbacks show us what Dex has been up to: coaching his son’s soccer team to a championship, rejoining the bowling league and making new friends who remove their clothes. The camera then slowly pans over to the plant Hannah McKay gave Dex as a gift last season. The last flower falls off the plant and drifts calmly to the ground, representing the love between Dex and Hannah that has slowly wilted away and died. But the damaged relationship that takes the focus this episode is the one with Debra. Everyone around Dex asks the same question: “How is Deb?” Well, Dex, how is she?

Debra is busy doing lines of coke in a crummy hotel and forgetting to brush her hair. I guess that’s what happens when you can’t stand the guilt of killing an innocent. She is undercover and numbing her way through the days with a buffet of prescription and street drugs. She’s living in a motel with a wanted man, Andrew Briggs, who stole a half million dollars’ worth of jewels from a mob figure. Briggs was caught and imprisoned then later skipped out on bail. Debra’s task as an undercover investigator was to bring Briggs in, but she’s holding out in hope that he will eventually lead her to the jewelry, of which she would get a cut—or maybe she’s just enjoying the time spent undercover in a camouflaged existence. She is coming undone. Briggs is on the run and looking for a buyer of the stolen goods, who he seems to have found in a ponytailed fellow named El Sapo.

After a little digging on this El Sapo character, Dexter finds out that El Sapo’s real name is Javier Guzman, and he’s a hit man. Dexter manages to track Deb down, but she wants nothing to do with him. Once Dex finds where Deb is staying, he knocks on the motel door. After a brief conversation (argument!) between siblings, Dexter and Briggs get into a shoving match, which ends with a knife plunged into Briggs’ chest. Well, that isn’t going to strengthen the brother-sister relationship, hmm? Try again later, Dex.

Back at Miami Metro, a new murder investigation is under way. Time to introduce a new serial killer! As part of the killing ritual, the serial killer removes a piece of the victim’s brain that is known to be responsible for empathy. Serial killers lack empathy, so the murderer is sending a clear message. The weird part is that killer takes the brain piece out with a melon scoop. I could have done without that visual. But what makes this case so interesting is that we are introduced to a new character, Dr. Evelyn Vogel, who is a neuropsychiatrist and an expert on psychopaths, and she is eyeing up Dexter like a fetching case study.

By the end of the episode, Dr. Vogel approaches Dexter with a file stuffed full of violent drawings from a child. They are Dexter’s. Vogel knows about Dexter and The Code. From this ending scene, it seems as though Dr. Vogel could have played an intricate part in Dexter’s upbringing as a killer with a conscience. After all, Dr. Evelyn is an expert on psychopaths.

Not the strongest opening episode of Dexter, but insight into his past would be a nice place to explore while the Morgan family sort out their new roles.

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