From the day Dexter (Michael C. Hall) picked up his first knife and made his first cut, his days were numbered. For one cannot embrace the life of being a serial killer and not wonder how long the run can last. The number one rule of Harry’s Code has always been: don’t get caught. But last season Dexter was caught in the act twice, first by his sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) and then by Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Velez). Starring into the crosshairs of fate, Dexter persuaded Deb to cover up his dirty little secret time and time again last season, which she did willingly out of love for her brother. But the ultimate sacrifice was in the season’s finale when Deb had to make a much more heart-wrenching choice: to kill her brother or to kill her boss. As that fatal shot rang out and Maria’s body shuddered, nothing will ever be the same again. The look on Dexter’s face said it all: he knew Deb would be irrevocably destroyed having been forced to take an innocent life.
With the crushing weight of guilt and self-doubt eroding Deb’s tenuous mental health, this eighth and final season explores whether Deb will be the undoing of herself and Dexter. Having resigned from the police department and embracing the seedy world of private investigation and bounty hunting, Deb’s baser instincts are both in-control and out of control. Unable to look at her brother, let alone be around him, she has fled everything to do with Dexter and his life – she abandoned her career as a cop and has spiraled into a very dark hole where booze and pills are merely a means of inoculation against the pain and mental agony ripping her apart from the inside. It is succinctly illustrated as Deb heart-brokenly yells at Dexter, “You made me compromise everything about myself that I care about and I hate you for it — I shot the wrong person in the trailer.”
Dexter, on the other hand, is surprisingly affected by Deb’s downward spiral. She has always been his rock, the one person he could count on to have his back no matter what. But Deb’s disappearance from his life has left Dexter unexpectedly uncertain how to move forward without her. He frantically searches for her, seeking her out and trying to make sure she is safe and not a threat to herself or others.
Season 8 also introduces a few new faces that are key in the Deb-Dexter drama. The first is Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling). A neuro-psychiatrist invited to consult on a particular new string of murders, Dr. Vogel proves to be key to Dexter’s past and instrumental in helping him through this painful period with Deb.
Then also bringing a bit of flare to Deb’s life is her new boss, Jacob Elway (Sean Patrick Flanery), who honors Deb’s stubborn insistence on working alone and yet tries to keep a protective eye over her as well.
This season is all about Deb. Everyone is hovering protectively and jumps at every little thing she needs – even former flame Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington), which pisses off his girlfriend Jamie (Aimee Garcia), Angel’s little sister and Dexter’s nanny. Even when Deb was a cop, she was always perfectly able to take care of herself and can be lethally dangerous when she wants to be. But her emotions are explosive and short-triggered. Any little thing sets her off and no one wants to be around when she unleashes all that self-flagellation. It will be curious to see if Deb can find a way to regain her tenacious strength or if she will surrender to the emotional free-fall.
Just as Deb was forced to examine her feelings and her relationship with Dexter to figure out his place in her life, so will Dexter this season. Deb is no longer his beloved sister; she is his biggest threat. She not only knows his secret, she has shared in it and also taken a life. That burden may be too much for her and if she completely spirals out, she may end up taking Dexter with her. But life without Deb proves too painful for Dexter to bear either. Without her, he is lost; alone and uncertain of his place in the world.
When confronted with the idea that Deb is the mirror in which Dexter sees himself and it is only then that he finds his place, Dexter is quick to reject the idea. He wants to believe that his love for his sister is pure love because she is his sister and not some emotional anchor. But the reality is that he does feel at sea without her.
The tortured relationship between Dexter and Deb has always been the heart of the series and it is never more evident that this season. Dexter gave up the love of his life for Deb last season – Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) – proving yet against that their brother-sister bond was strong than romantic love. But that bond between Dexter and Deb is strained to the breaking point, and at some point, it is going to snap — and only one will survive.
That’s what this seasons promises. It will be a test of whose love is greater and who can carry the burden of Dexter’s secrets longer.
To see who prevails, be sure to tune in for the 8th season premiere of DEXTER on Sunday, June 30th at 9:00 p.m. on Showtime. The first cut may hurt the deepest, but the final cut will haunt forever.
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