A Sashurai’s Review: Dexter – Season 8×08 (The Brain Surgeon really likes that Lost soundtrack…really)

Rubber bands have a funny way of snapping at you when you’re not careful. And thus, Dexter’s 8th episode reminds us that just because the first arc had run its course, there’s still a little bit of brain power left to weave in this mystery killer…or not so mysterious if you play the cards closer to home. What in the gravy of weirdness do all my puns mean?

This review will contain full spoilers from start to finish and a bit of theory-hashing as there didn’t feel to be a grand amount of substance in this episode, but rather another lead into the season’s first concept revolving with a new serial killer and a “mother” who’s changed her interests as many times as Quinn’s changed girlfriends. Let’s dive in.

(BEGIN SPOILERS…ALL OF THEM)

In “Are We There Yet?” Dexter is viewing Cassie’s body and, after noticing different blood under her fingernail, determines it belongs to Zach. He swaps it and will check on its origin at the lab. Deb shows up and briefly asks Dex about Hannah but is distracted by Angel and Quinn. She then leaves with intent to finish asking Dex about her.

Dex meets Hannah at the marina as they converse about Dexter missing some of (Casner, Kasner, Kassner??) blood, but Hannah says she cleaned it. Back at Miamo Metro, Dex checks the blood and confirms it belongs to Zach. Misuka introduces Nikki to the lab and that she’ll be their new assistant. Dex tells Misuka the blood is Cassie’s and hands his report to Nikki. Nikki wants the freshen up the lab a bit. Meanwhile, Dex tries to steer Quinn away from Zach even though Quinn found Zach’s previous murder and Cassie’s very similar.

At the marina, Dex discusses Zach’s failing with Vogel who thought Zach had potential. She wonders about Dexter’s upbringing without help. At Dexter’s house, he tracks a credit card purchase made at the Fiesta Key. Deb shows up and continues her conversation about Hannah. Dex discusses Hannah wanting him to kill her husband but that he didn’t do it and that once she gets her new passport, she’ll leave. Deb wants her in jail. Jaime tells Dex that he’ll watch little Harrison at Quinn’s house, because she can’t handle what happened to Cassie.

At the marina, Dex photo’s Hannah and then invites her to go with him to the Keys. Meanwhile, Deb asks Elway to join her on tracking down Hannah, mentioning there’s substantial reward for her capture. When they go to the marina they find that Hannah’s boat is gone.

Jaime and Quinn are eating dinner while Harrison is watching TV. Jaime is still scared about Cassie’s murderer and Quinn tries to console her.

Deb is checking the tracker she placed on Dexter’s car and then calls him. Meanwhile, Dex explains to Hannah about Dr. Vogel and Zach and that Vogel created the code that Harry taught him. When Deb calls him, Dex gives her the runaround, which Deb realizes instantly. After she speaks with Elway, she thinks Hannah may have killed her husband herself.

The next day, Dex and Hannah are eating at the beach and Hannah wonders what Dex “Calls her” when she’s not around. He teasingly calls her “Fiendish Florist” but eventually says he just calls her “Hannah”. They notice the police near their bench and then leave to find Zach. They drive to the hotel and Dex spots a window that is covered in plastic. He breaks in and discovers a “kill room” complete with knives similar to Dexter’s. Harry appears and asks Dex if he “has” to kill Zach. Zach decides to use the room himself for Zach.

At a cafe, Quinn meets Cassie’s date and shows him a picture of Zach. He recognizes Zach from somewhere but can’t place it. At Miami Metro, Matthews, Quinn, and Misuka watch Nikki spruce up the lab and then Matthews asks Quinn about his status with Cassie’s investigation, which Quinn says there’s no solid leads.

Zach enters his hotel room where Dex and Hannah are waiting for him. Zach denies killing Cassie and says that he’s been tracking someone named (Sean Decker) who confessed to him he strangled a girl to death during an intimate encounter. Zach shows Dex Sean’s body in the trunk of his car, to which Dex chastises him for not having a back-up plan and now using plastic in the trunk. He agrees to help clean the car and hide the body. Zach offhandedly mentions Dex to watch his hand on the car door and that he cut himself earlier. Dex wonders if that’s where Zach’s blood came from with Cassie’s murder.

After Hannah dumps the plastic from the hotel room, Deb finds her and tries to put her under arrest. Hannah and Deb argue about Dex, meanwhile, Harry speaks to Dex in his car about passing the torch to Zach and that his feelings for Hannah could be leading him into a need that stronger than his killing urges. Back at the Hotel, Dexter shows up and asks Deb what she’s doing there. Deb admits he bugged Dexter’s car but then leaves when Zach arrives.

At night, Dex and Zach are at Vogel’s house, when Vogel invites them and Hannah to dinner. Dex is reluctant but Vogel persuades him. Vogel and Hannah meet and they eat dinner. (Getting strong vibes from a Hannibal episode here, especially when Vogel calls it an “old family recipe”) As they eat, Vogel remarks about Hannah and Dexter’s feelings for one another and that “The greatest obstacle is boredom, not danger.” She surmises that Dex and Hannah are a good couple and possibly a bad couple as well. As Dex refers to Cassie’s murder, Zach requests to view the pics. Though they are remarkably similar, they believe Zach was framed.

Jaime is at Angel’s house with Harrison. Harrison drew a zombie, Angel loves Jaime’s cooking. This scene really felt oddly inserted…

Deb returns to her office and Elway asks about Hannah. Deb wants to drop the search and Elway is confused as to why. Deb confesses she wants what she does to matter and Elway wonders if she’ll go back to being a cop.

Dex asks Vogel to drop Zach off. (eyes roll here for the obviousness-ness that this will bring) Dex then drops Hannah off at another hotel. They flounder around her departure instructions and then Hannah makes an advance toward Dexter. Dexter reciprocates and they (narfle the garthok) er, have a passionate night.

When Dexter gets home, he finds Zach sitting in his chair, dead with half his brain missing along with the Mama Cass song playing in the background. A quick summary of shots shows Vogel getting another brain piece delivered, Dexter dumping Zach’s body in the ocean and Elway still investigating Hannah.

The next morning, as Hannah prepares to leave the marina on a small plane, Dexter arrives and pleads for Hannah to stay. They embrace silently.

(END SUMMARY)

I refer to “substance” at the beginning of the review and this 8th episode into the season, feels a bit laid back comparatively to the last two episodes which really centered on Dexter’s calling to train a new recruit. Once more the writers head-fake us with a return of the Brain Surgeon (which always seemed likely considering the guy who took the wrap was no brain surgeon, just wasn’t) Although I’m left with a bit of a disappointment feeling because I thought their direction seemed more organically appropriate, but that would have left Vogel on the back-burner for the rest of the show and it looks like she’ll be very much front and center for the remaining episodes. And quite honestly, if that means keeping Hannah over Zach, then I agree, Hannah is a much more endearing character and someone who Dexter truly needs.

And there’s where the theories shift focus. It’s more than obvious that Vogel is the one responsible for Zach’s killing. My theory doesn’t end there. I’d like to suggest that if Vogel is actually the brain surgeon is it possible she’s suffering from a personality disorder? Cassie’s murder seems a bit brutal for something in Vogel’s nature. If she’s responsible I wonder if she’s aware of it. This episode showed us a quick shot of Vogel in her house holding another container of brain matter. Now, was she just getting it, or was she preparing to send it? Still, something’s off with the director’s decision to include that shot, especially when we’ve already cornered her as the one responsible for Zach’s murder, why try to throw us off by showing her surprise? My only conclusion as of this episode is either she’s suffering herself from some mental illness, or whoever is responsible is really really close to her. Now let’s examine that one step closer.

At the dinner scene (Wonderfully shot, I might add) Vogel redirects Hannah’s question about how she got into her profession. Vogel could have lied or made up any kind of excuse but she chose to avoid the answer completely and instead, concentrates more on Hannah’s relationship with Dexter. Vogel mentions there being too much redwine in the meal and Zach immediately agrees, but Hannah compliments by saying it was perfect. In any case, Vogel’s lost her interest in Zach and more so in the development of Dexter’s feeling with Hannah and where that will lead them. Vogel is about that experiment and Zach would just be another Dexter and that’s not new an interesting, in fact, it fits more with her mantra of “The greatest obstacle is boredom, not danger” She has no idea how Hannah and Dex fits and that excites her, so much, she’d be willing to bring back the Brain Surgeon to assess what Dexter will do now.

Having said that, I ask any fan of this show to consider what introducing a new character this late in the season to be the “new big bad evil” and make any kind of impact as he/she is revealed to be the Brain Surgeon. It seems more likely that it’s Vogel…however if it turns out to be Nikki, I’ll just throw my hands in the air and just call it a day.

There was very little development for any character that wasn’t Dex or Hannah, and to an extent I’m fine with that. The romantic release was eventual and to be fair, I’m glad they got their desserts in now, because when it comes to sex, death is shortly arrived soon after, and I’m not talking Zach and his unfortunate demise. (He wouldn’t have made a good spin-off anyway). Bigger things have to happen. With Zach gone, Quinn will be in an endless loop, and Jaime will be forever scared. Angel will continue to play mediator while Matthews endlessly barks down at Quinn for his unrelenting detective-ism toward solving Cassie’s murder.

If Elway indeed is still investigating Hannah, then that will blowback just as Deb may, or may not, except Hannah being with Dex and then all hell breaks loose.

This episode was meant to be warm, and it was. But, there was a lack of theme and an even stronger lack of direction. The twist/reveal at the end was more groan-worthy, than surprising. I had let go of my previous (The Brain Surgeon) isn’t dead theory, but I was prepared to let that slide, until Mama Cass’s song started blaring for the third time this season. Am I really surprised? No. Do I think they’ll try to pull another fast one over us? Yes. I’ll accept that. I’m still not convinced it will be a complete happy ending and but I’m not so sure this is a “pick Hannah or pick Debra” finale kind of vibe. Something’s off but I need another episode to fine tune it. Until then.

No more words

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