Jul 15, 2013

Dexter: "What’s Eating Dexter Morgan?"

By Mike Horky


Dexter’s persistence has always been his downfall, whether it’s with hunting his kills, or maintaining his relationships. Often he ends up hurting more people than helping them, which hasn’t been the primary focus of Dexter as a series. More so it’s been about focusing on what Dexter can get away with, rather than what his actions do to others. In tonight’s episode "What’s Eating Dexter Morgan?", the consequences of Dexter’s actions come full circle, as Deb’s emotional downward spiral puts both herself and Dexter in serious trouble.

This season has spent a lot of time focusing on Deb’s emotional turmoil, and her evolution as a character since killing LaGuerta. It’s strange, seeing as the show is called Dexter not Deb, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. This episode basically showcases Deb hitting rock bottom, as she finds herself drinking to excess, further distancing herself from Dexter, and in the pivotal moment of tonight, blatantly confessing to murdering LaGuerta. It’s an amazing development in Deb as a character, because everything she’s experienced in her life has culminated up until this moment. She’s been a volcano of emotions ready to burst, and she finally does, letting it all spill out in a volley of tears and sobbing. Unfortunately for Deb, she isn’t taken seriously, and her confession of being guilty is taken much more metaphorically than she had hoped. This is in part because nobody has thought of Deb as being capable of killing someone, but also because her decrease in emotional stability makes her appear delirious. Jennifer Carpenter has been playing emotionally wrecked Deb brilliantly this season, and tonight’s episode featured a tour de force performance from her. Her confession to Quinn at Miami Metro is almost unbearable to watch, as she breaks down over murdering LaGuerta. What’s brilliant about this scene is the way Carpenter balances the drunkenness of Deb and well as the emotionally crippled aspect of her, giving Quinn a reason to consider her babbling more of a metaphorical guilt over LaGuerta’s death than a literal guilt. But even if others can’t see Deb’s guilt, she sees what kind of person she’s become. In a scene prior Dexter convinces Deb to join him for dinner so he can show her a man whose life she saved when she was a detective. Both Deb and Dexter sit as they watch this man with his family, and Dexter reminds Deb that she is the reason this man is still alive. There’s a glimmer of happiness in Deb’s face as she begins to realize that she was a good person. However she still understands that who she was isn’t who she is now. She’s a killer, now experiencing her guilt harder than ever, mostly at the fault of Dexter.

The theme of Dexter destroying lives plays a big part in the Dexter and Vogel story arc, as they find themselves dealing with The Brain Surgeon’s murders. But now because of Dexter’s involvement, the killer has both Vogel and him in his sights, leaving two pieces of brains (labeled his and hers) on Vogel’s doorstep. This prompts Dexter to track down another of Vogel’s former patients, Brian Galuzzo, to see if he’s the one they’re after. And after Dexter tracks him down it looks promising; Galuzzo is clearly hiding something, and upon entering his house Dexter finds the man harvests people and eats them. While this proves that he isn’t The Brain Surgeon, it doesn’t stop Dexter from setting up a kill room (FINALLY), and stating that he and Galuzzo are a lot alike in that they consume everyone around them. This is substantial in describing Dexter as a character, because his actions tend to consume his loved ones. In the fourth season Dexter’s actions consumed Rita and caused her death. In this season, Dexter has consumed Deb, causing her to spiral out of control. He can’t live with the fact that he has made Deb the way she is, which is why he tries his best to make her life worth something again. However, as Vogel points out “you admitted to being the cause of her pain. How can you be the solution?” This raises the question as to why Dexter continues to interfere with Deb’s life if he knows all he’ll cause her is pain? The answer Vogel suggests is that Dexter is selfish, and only wants to look out for himself. When they find out that Deb has confessed to murdering LaGuerta, Dexter rushes to interfere, but not out of fear that Deb will destroy her life. It’s out of fear that Dexter will be dragged down with her, and he can’t let that happen; not with a son to look after. Charlotte Rampling excellently plays off this idea of selfishness in her delivery of Vogel’s lines, as her conversations with Dexter convey a conniving undertone that slowly backs Dexter into a corner until he’s emotionally exposed and confused over what his whole life has been about. Vogel asks Dexter why he’s decided to spare Deb when he’s killed or put away everyone who knew of his secret. The best part about this is that Dexter doesn’t have a definitive answer other than it’s because he has a strong emotional attachment to Deb. But is it as strong as the emotions Deb has for Dexter? She’s stuck up for him, protected him, and even killed for him because she does love Dexter. But Dexter can’t decide if he shares the same love for her. It’s this mystery that makes Dexter such a fascinating character. He’s not like other serial killers because he has some form of an emotional consciousness. He has feelings that influence his decisions, and whether these feelings are of selfish origins, or of a deeper emotional context doesn’t take away from the fact that he is unique. It’s this uniqueness that attracted Vogel to Dexter to begin with, and it’s what’s made this series interesting for the past seven years. This episode provides as many questions as it does answers, but that’s not a bad thing. It gives the series more to chew on as Dexter enters what could be his final days.

Grade: A-

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