Dexter has been able to talk – or kill – his way out of every close call he’s had in the last six seasons. But the Jenga tower of lies he’s built to cover his murderous nature starts to teeter big-time when Deb figures out who he really is. (Still feeling all warm and fuzzy about him, Lt. Morgan?)
It’s a bold start for a season that could go either way. Let’s face it: There are a lot of sharks in the waters off Miami, and it’s not inconceivable that Dexter might jump one in the weeks ahead. But let’s get things off on the right (dismembered) foot by dissecting the major developments of the Season 7 premiere, “Are You…”.
NO GOING BACK | In the episode’s opening moments, we see Dexter driving to the airport like a madman. He’s got various passports and cell phones in his go-bag, his credit cards have been frozen and he hastily buys a one-way ticket to Budapest using a fake name. It looks very much like he’s fleeing, but we’ll get to that later. Before you can say, “Are there complimentary peanuts and/or air marshals on this flight?” we flash back to the final moment of the Season 6 finale: Doomsday Killer Travis is dead on the slab, Dexter’s stepping back after the kill and Deb’s brain is working furiously to reconcile what she knows with what she just saw. Of all parties present in the church, Travis is definitely having the best time. “I snapped,” Dex tells Deb, who’s shaky and reeling but not so far gone that she completely buys his heat-of-the-moment explanation – after all, Trav is methodically shrink-wrapped up on the altar. Dexter does some quick talking that gets even quicker – and more forceful – when she wants to call the station to report the death. It’s times like these that I remember that the character I root for week in and out is really a super messed-up human being. “How does this look?” he asks, and she had to admit the entire scenario is “Pretty f—ing weird.” (Ever the poet, our Deb.) After she vetoes dumping the body, he suggests making the death look like a suicide. He presses her to get on board; when she agrees that Travis’ death will look like the young killer set up “one last tableau,” it’s clear that Deb has sipped the serial Kool-Aid. Her world is completely torn asunder. Poor kid, it’s like someone kicked her puppy. Oh wait, Deb never had a puppy – as we learn via a flashback-within-the-flashback – because Dexter’s homicidal tendencies have been screwing with her life for about as long as they both can remember. Anyway, she rallies to get some gasoline and they hastily set the place aflame, but Dex accidentally drops the slide with Travis’ blood into a grate on the altar and doesn’t notice. In the words of Rick Perry: Oops. After a cup of coffee by the water (can’t blame them; My Dunkin’ Donuts addiction yields to nothing), the Morgan sibs are called back to the scene. Deb can barely hold it together – though her hair, as always, looks gorge – but puppetmaster Dexter is almost enjoying himself as the clueless brave men and women of Miami Metro fall to the exact conclusions he wants them to. But after most of the group heads out, LaGuerta notices the slide, which survived the blaze intact. So she uses her scrunchie to protect it from fingerprints as she fishes it out of the grate. (Side note: For once, her irritating tendency to overaccessorize serves a higher purpose.) If you think for one second she doesn’t put two and Doakes together, it’s made clear when she later asks Masuka whether anyone in the department keeps blood slides. The only one that did was the former sergeant, he replies, “aka The Bay Harbor Butcher.” Later, Dexter realizes he doesn’t have the trophy from his latest kill… and his problems are about to get much, much worse.
BAGGAGE, HANDLED | As he mulls the case while driving home, Mike calls Deb to wonder why Travis’ car wasn’t at scene of his death. She weakly offers that he probably walked to the church, and Mike’s so tired that he’s all, yeah, that’s probably it. His curiosity is short-lived, though; after pulling over to help a guy with his flat tire, Mike opens the guy’s trunk, finds a dead stripper in there, and dies after the driver shoots him in the chest. Goodnight, Det. Anderson. Here’s the investigation, shorthanded: The Ukranian stripper danced at a club run by George (Boomtown‘s Jason Gedrick) who, along with Mike’s murderer Viktor, works for a foreign bigshot named Isaac. George and Isaac think Viktor’s on his way outta town, but as the big flashback ends and we find ourselves back with Dexter on the highway, we realize that Dex isn’t going on the lam at all – he’s running to intercept Viktor before his flight. In a voiceover, we hear that Dex isn’t only doing it to rid the world of another scumbag; he really needs a kill to help him focus. He incapacitates Vik in the men’s room (nice syringe skills, bro), restrains him with luggage straps (sweet improv), snuffs him out in the lost baggage department (where I’m pretty sure I saw the purple raincoat I left on a flight back from Panama a few years ago) and transports his corpse in a surfboard bag before dumping it off his boat.
MOMENT OF TRUTH | His peace of mind restored, Dexter returns home… where Deb has ransacked the apartment and is sitting on the couch with his slide box on the table in front of her. Eep. Earlier in the evening, all of the questions he either deflected or had too-easy answers for (including but not limited to why Travis was trussed up in the exact same way as she was when Brian tried to kill her in Season 1 and why Dexter just happened to have plastic sheeting, a rubber apron and sleeve guards in his car) made her call him – and catch him in a lie when Jamie said he was working late. One more perusal of the Ice Truck Killer file jogged her memory, which suddenly coughed up the visual of Dexter holding something sharp and shiny as he and Brian argued about whether or not to do her in. So now she’s sitting before her adopted brother and once-though-possibly-not-anymore object of affection, wearing a fresh coat of lip gloss (side note: the hell?), and it goes a little something like this:
DEBRA: Did you kill all these people?
DEXTER: I did.
DEBRA: Are you a serial killer?
There you have it, folks. Dexter closes his eyes immediately after the admission, and the moment is filled with as much relief as regret. The person he’s closest to in the world finally has seen him for who he really is. (For now, we’ll just push aside the knowledge of what’s happened to almost everyone else who’s learned his little secret.)
Now it’s your turn. Did the episode live up to your expectations? Did Deb react the way you thought she would? And let’s not forget some of the smaller, though still important stuff: What did you think about Angel and Quinn’s make-up at the bar (aww) and Louis closing Dexter’s financial accounts – hence his inability to use his credit cards in the opening sequence? Hit the comments with your take on the killer season premiere!