Season Premier: Dexter 8.01 "A Beautiful Day" ReviewA tv review article by: Jamil Scalese
8.01 "A Beautiful Day"
Reload and fire, friends, because Dexter is ready for his final round of killings before sailing away, or sinking down, into TV nirvana.
In past years, Dexter has aired in September or around there, but for Season 8 Showtime pulled the trigger early and is giving the world's favorite serial killer a summer of fun. The launch date change might be because the show wants to end the story of its anti-hero before a certain drug chef has his go around, or it could be that this season, increasingly more than any other, has massive, bulging plot threads dangling from the tail end of last year. Some of that stuff gets handled in the premiere, and luckily I am here to break it down for you.
If you're one of those people that skips to the end then here's what you need to know -- Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) has killed a lot of people. Although the majority of those people were terrible, harmful sociopaths the law doesn't care about the reason for murder and eventually our hero's actions put him squarely in the aim of colleague and gadfly Captain Maria LaGeurta. Somewhere along the twisted path of this show, Dexer's sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) fell in love with her adopted brother and in a rash decision, kills LaGeurta in order to spare her brother from his earned fate.
The ultimate season moves forward six months and plants us at a memorial dedication for LaGeurta attended by her friends and former colleagues. The scene catches us up on what's been going on -- Dexter's kid Harrison is quite a bit bigger, Deb no longer works for Miami PD, Angel Batista (David Zayas), after a super brief retirement, now does again, etc.
The likeable serial killer spends much of the first episode tracking down his sister, now a private investigator who is the midst of trailing a suspect, Briggs, a man wanted on bail for smashing someone's head in during a robbery. For fans of the show, it should come as no surprise that Debra is sleeping with Briggs (which, coincidentally, is the same surname of another former beau from Season 3). She loves her inappropriate relationships as much as she loves saying "fuck."
As the show has funneled to a close over the last 2+ seasons, the Dexter/Deb relationship has become the centerpiece. Complicated, or Deb would say, "fucked up", it's fitting it takes first priority in the opening episode. Dexter eventually find his his sister, twice, and the result is a conversation that bookends the death of Briggs (at the hands of Dex, naturally). The general sway of that conversation: Deb is emotionally shattered from the events of last season, wants nothing to do with her brother and lets him in on a truth she recently discovered: Dexter desperately needs her as a support figure, and for the first time ever she refuses to give it.
The show will continue to unpack that volatile mess of a sibling relationship over the course of the year and of course it wouldn't be Dexter's life without a an entire series of concurrent complications.
After the appearance of a body with strange injuries, including the fact that part of its brain was removed with a melon baller, Miami Metro Homicide welcomes the addition of renowned psychosis expert Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling), a woman who once worked in Miami and requested a return to her former place of employment. Immediately, she takes an interest in Dexter and slyly undresses him as she details her opinion of the Bay Harbor Butcher, the name given to Dexter by the press when his corpse stash was found way back in Season 2.
Dr. Vogel presses Dexter again at the conclusion of the episode, handing him a stack of disturbing drawings from his childhood. He chases her down and discovers she knows his deepest secret -- not that he kills, but that he kills with a firm set of rules in place instilled to him by his policeman father.
Soooo... Vogel once worked in Miami, and Harry Morgan (James Remar), dead for the entirety of the show but still going hard as a side character, was a longtime cop in Miami...maybe the two knew each other?
In her initial appearances Rampling is quite brilliant. Even before the big reveal at the end she comes off as mad scientist, dangerously knowledgeable and softly coercive. She immediately reveals she knows more about the main character, who has traveled parsecs in all these years, than he knows about himself. The dynamic between the two has yet to be established but already it's material for a sweet final season. Evelyn Vogel, be it friend or foe, represents a totally new figure in Dexter's struggle.
Dexter does not fare well with subplots, and the side characters rarely do much but serve the narrative. Thusly, I will include relevant info in bullet form, along with some thoughts scattered in.
Batista's little sister (Aimee Garcia) bangs Quinn (Desmond Harrington). I literally have nothing to say about that.
It's really hard to ignore that Dexter still works in forensics after LarGeurta openly accused him of a murder. The whole "Oh, there goes Maria" attitude should hold no merit in a law enforcement office.
Batista is still reeling from Maria's death as he deals with her belongings. Makes sense. I hope they give this guy a good ending.
Dexter snaps at a misbehaving Harrison (Jadon Wells). Scary. Between this and Deb's tearfully furious message to Dex, I'd say that some of the cast and crew are working toward award show invites.
Masuka (C.S. Lee)... Still useless as ever. I hope he's the first to find out about the real Dex. That'd be a neat moment.
El Sapo, a hitman aiming for Briggs, now stalks Deb.
I wonder how that will turn out? Dex or Deb will rescue the other one somehow, I'm sure This will be their story as it all finishes it up. I'm just hoping that the final act isn't dragged out ad nauseum. Lower the buffer rate please!
Although mostly truant, I covered all of the previous season and look to ride this one out too. I've really liked this show through the years; it was, at one point, extremely bold in premise and character, and then the rest of TV caught up very quickly. I'd love to see this show gain the public's attention one final time, especially now that there's a higher ceiling for expectation created by other shows that it, in part, inspired.
Come on, Dexter, ready yourself for that final slice and please don't fuck it up.
Jamil Scalese is just like you -- an avid comics reader and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, devotee of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation. Check out his original, ongoing webcomic And Then There Were Zombies and follow his subpar tweeting at@jamilscalese.