Jul 8, 2013

Dexter: "Every Silver Lining"

By Mike Horky

Dexter is a show that loves to surprise its audience, as proved by the miraculous comeback from season six that the show managed to pull off in the majority of season seven. Tonight’s episode, "Every Silver Lining" pulled the exact kind of surprise, improving drastically from last week’s premiere, and introducing key plot points that could give us a deeper understanding of Dexter as a character. It also made good use of Evelyn Vogel and brilliantly expanded on the relationship between Deb and Dexter.

Dexter as a series has been all about getting its audience to figure out who Dexter is as a person. Is he merely a psychologically disturbed serial killer, or is he much more than that? Tonight’s episode finally begins to shed light on this question, through Evelyn Vogel. From the opening scene, Vogel is revealed to have been a part of Dexter’s life since he was ten years old. She helped his father Harry in developing the code that Dexter used to abide by, shown through old video interviews and a great use of ghost Harry (finally). Harry came to her in desperation to try and help his son, whom he already suspected to be mentally disturbed. It’s Vogel who suggests bringing Dexter up as a normal member of society, and bring some good out of his serial killer behaviors. This plot point is crucial in our understanding of the code, as something more than a poorly thought out way to make Dexter likeable as a character. The code is revealed to be an experiment by Vogel to prove that psychopaths like Dexter are not bad people, and can be reworked to find their special place in society. This puts Dexter at a crossroads this season, as he may have finally found a person who understands him, and yet he finds himself unwilling to trust her because he feels betrayed. Not just by his father, who he thought to be the guiding spirit in his serial killer life, but also by Vogel for turning him into what is essentially a test subject. But Vogel finds herself wanting to harness her subject to help track down the latest Miami serial killer, cleverly dubbed The Brain Surgeon, who’s been leaving pieces of his victim’s brains on her doorstep. Thinking he could be one of her former patients, Vogel finds herself vulnerable, and using her one successful patient, she believes she can bring this killer down. Cue Dexter to find out the killer is a man named Lyle Sussman through stolen crime scene evidence, and the case seems to be already solved. But shockingly, Dexter proves to be wrong, and the killer is revealed to still be at large, using Sussman as a forced accomplice before brutally killing him as well. This is frustrating for Dexter, a man who has seldom been wrong before in finding killers, and it is here that his relationship with Vogel sets in. Now he actually trusts her, as she comforts him, letting him know that he is perfect and acting as the mother he was robbed of early in life. For once, Dexter has found a person who understands him and embraces him, which is a big plus for him in a season where the one person he cares about (Deb) has practically thrown him out of her life. For Dexter, Vogel is the best chance anyone has in understanding who he is as a person, and what his place is in society. The scenes between Charlotte Rampling and Michael C. Hall this week are phenomenal, with each playing off of the other brilliantly. Rampling’s soft-spoken nature pairs brilliantly with her conniving dialogue (written by one of Dexter’s better writers, Manny Coto), and Hall’s reactions are always terrific, displaying deep emotional turmoil with each surprise Vogel reveals.

But this episode wasn’t all about Dexter and Vogel; Deb gets plenty of time to shine as well. Fresh off of her sting with criminal Andrew Briggs, Deb is trying desperately to find out where he hid his stash of stolen jewelry, so she can get a cut of it from the freelance agency she works for. The good news is she finds the jewelry. The bad news is hired hit man El Sapo finds her, beats her senseless, and takes the jewelry. It could have stopped there, but Deb tracks him down and shoots him point blank in his car. This is pivotal moment for Deb, who’s been emotionally compromised and spiraling out of control ever since she killed LaGuerta last season. She’s irrationally killing people now, and lying about it. When Dexter visits her and asks her about her injuries from her fight with El Sapo, she lies in an attempt to distance herself from Dexter, which is normal; he did influence her to kill LaGuerta. This leads Dexter to find out about her most recent kill through evidence at El Sapo’s crime scene. Deb has suddenly become the one thing Dexter could have never thought of; she’s becoming a killer like him. Her motive for killing El Sapo is non-existent, and Deb is no longer the innocent victim Dexter sought to protect with his serial killer methods. Now she’s the kind of person he’s been stopping for years, and it’s his fault. Dexter exposed Deb to his secret life, convincing her subconsciously that killing those who deserve it is just because holes in the legal system let criminals like El Sapo off easy. In this sense, Dexter has created a monster out of Deb, which is brilliant development for both characters. Dexter now must live with the guilt of turning his sister into a killer and losing the one stable emotional partner he had left in the world. He begins to realize the consequences of his actions, a welcomed element that has been missing in past seasons. Meanwhile, Deb must deal with losing her past self and gaining her new dark passenger, all while losing in Dexter what he is losing in her; someone who understands her. The scenes between Carpenter and Hall are as brilliant this week as they were last week, and Carpenter is definitely shining this season. She plays the emotional wreck that Deb has become with such brutal force, that at times it’s almost unbearable to watch. "Every Silver Lining" manages to answer so many questions, and bring so much character depth to the foreground, making the rest of this season seem very promising. It’s a huge step for Dexter’s persona, and a huge step for what could be his downfall.

Grade: A

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