Season 8 begins six months after the death of Captain Maria LaGuerta, who Debra had shot to save Dexter, and herself, an act we were left with plenty of questions on how they would recover. “A Beautiful Day” shows us that Dexter has, in fact, moved past LaGuerta’s death as what was needed to solve all his problems. Little Harrison is now old enough to explore, play soccer, and speak to his father. Dexter’s only concern lies with Debra, who has been ignoring him for much of the last two months.
Much of this episode brings to light a theme of being lost, both centric around Dexter’s constant struggle of identity without Debra near, and Debra, who has used her current assignment as a means to escape both Dexter and the choice she made in saving him.
After Detective Sergeant Batista unveiled a parking bench in LaGuerta’s name, the Miami crew gather around and discussed issues with both the bench’s insufficient status and Debra’s recent impulsive behavior. It’s then we’re given light to her situation as she appears in a hotel, wild-eyed from snorting drugs and smitten with a man we’ll come to know as Andrew Briggs, a bail skipper and thief of expensive jewelry.
Dexter returns to Debra’s home and finds it empty while we have another internal reunion with James Remar who plays Dexter’s father, Harrison. Ever the guiding voice, Harrison proclaims her choice to be distant of him while Dexter finds a stack of pills littering a countertop. (Xanax, Paxil, Adderall, and another Xanax bottle, all from separate doctors)
This reconfirms Dexter’s need to locate her as he feels he’s the only one who can help her deal with the situaton.
(“It’s Deb, leave a message.” “The user’s mailbox is full.”)
We’re gonna hear that a few more times before this ep is done.
We come to find that Debra has left Miami Homicide to work for Elway Investigations where she’s free to choose her own cases, survey and apprehend fugitives, gaining a cut from those she brings in. Her new boss admits she hadn’t checked in a few weeks and Dexter is once again left with worry.
The ritual distraction of an untimely murder brings Dexter to a crime scene where the body in question was placed after having been shot and part of the skull removed from the back. The investigation gathers the attention of a Neuro-psychiatrist named Evelyn Vogel. Her interest in the case gives Dexter cause to wonder if her appearance has a deeper motive as she calls on Dexter more than once throughout the episode for chit-chat regarding serial killers, most notably, The Bay Harbor Butcher.
Proving his resourcefulness (fuckingpassword), Dexter establishes Debra’s whereabouts and confronts her in a liquor store where she reveals to him she’s been working on a case to recover the jewels Briggs stole. She also reveals that she shot the wrong person six months ago. This pushes Dexter further into an emotional flux as he assaults a driver for cutting him off on the road.
The second half of the episode picks up with Dexter finding out that Briggs’s jewlery buyer is a hitman who was hired to kill Briggs as the store he robbed was mafia-owned. Believing Debra to be in danger, Dexter sets out to find her before the meeting takes place.
It’s almost bittersweet knowing that in 11 more episodes, Dexter will either come out of this journey on top, or at the bottom of the Atlantic. What’s worse is the fate that binds him and his step-sister. Will she be a part of his final test in the series? Is there a struggle inside her yearning to be free from his code?
“A Beautiful Day” revels in the continued aftermath of LaGuerta’s absence. Batista is truly the most weighted-down as he comes to terms with separating from her material things (except the badge) and resumes his quest to catch bad guys. As the lives around Dexter evolve, there is a sense of stale storytelling that has yet to follow suit. Quinn’s new love interest will surely cause for expanded drinking sessions when the news falls through. Masuka’s delivery of awkward social dialogue even seems faded, I’m doubtful he’ll play much of a role moving forward.
The episode’s final scene provides excellent context into the next arc which will be running side by side with his emotional path with Deb. One would think if Vogel stuck around to see Dexter’s initial response, would she have played it off as cool and collected?
It also seemed important to invest into Dexter’s unstable emotional behavior, which proves to be an antonym against Vogel’s stance that serial killers have no empathy. Does Dexter honestly believe he is the man he started out to be seven years ago? Will this new arc span the rest of season 08? And where does Hannah fit into this final season? Will she be a saving throw for Dexter, or just another body to sink in the ocean? Stay tuned!
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