What’s eating Dexter Morgan?
Answer: his sister, Deb.
The fourth installment to Season 8 begins with Deb waking up in her car to a police officer’s flashlight. Seems Deb’s descent into darkness has not stopped. Drunken, Deb has crashed her car into a parking meter. The officer, giving her some professional courtesy, asks if there’s someone she can call. Deb doesn’t reach out to her once trusted brother. She has a newly found hatred for him. She calls the next best thing – her ex-boyfriend, Joey Quinn.
Taking a little aside, I have to admit, I really like Quinn. When he first joined Miami Metro in Season 3, he had no impact beyond the fact he was a corrupt cop with a big ego. He filled a stereotype. But over the seasons, Quinn has grown not only as a character, but on me as well, mostly because he’s a terrific screw-up. He dated Deb and then when she didn’t accept his wedding proposal, he went completely off the rails. One of my favorite lasting memories from Dexter is Quinn waking up in his car the night after a bender, legs draped out the passenger window, being woken by the sprinkler spraying the inside of his car. Actor Desmond Harrington, who plays Quinn, does a great job balancing playfulness with a well crafted intense stare, making him surprisingly endearing.
Back to “What’s Eating Dexter Morgan?” Deb’s conscience is getting the better of her. Her life has been dismantled after pulling the trigger last season, and she can’t have the things she truly loved: Dexter and being a cop. Jennifer Carpenter carries “What’s Eating Dexter Morgan?” as she has transformed alongside her character. Deb is not just a disaster emotionally. She’s always been that. Now, as Carpenter solidifies Deb’s fall with her appearance this season, Deb has a horribly dour, bloated look that shows the depth of wretchedness to which her soul has descended.
In “What’s Eating Dexter Morgan?” an overloaded Dexter tries to balance finding Dr. Vogel’s serial killer and making sure Deb doesn’t implode. Dr. Vogel receives two new presents: a His and Hers box set with scoops of brain in them. The brain balls belong to Sussman, the one Dexter thought to be The Brain Surgeon, but he or she is obviously still out there. Although it is now clear Dr. Vogel isn’t the accomplice in The Brain Surgeon murders, Dexter is quickly going through her list, investigating her old patients and finding they haven’t been living a clean life. Dr. Vogel has her own private serial killer taking out many of her ex-psychopathic patients. Is this an interesting byproduct for Dr. Vogel or part of her master plan? Vogel wants Dexter to revel in the psychopath he really is. According to her, he’s perfect. Does she want to create the ultimate killing machine free of any worldly confines, most notably his attachment and apparent love for Deb.
Dr. Vogel talks with Dexter about the Code again, stating that Harry insisted Dexter kill only bad people, but she insisted his first rule was never to get caught. Dr. Vogel then furthers her interest in Dexter’s mind, questioning why he didn’t kill his sister when Deb found out he was a serial killer. Dexter says he couldn’t kill her, he loves her. This peaks Dr. Vogel’s curiosity as she questions Dexter on his love for Deb. What’s eating Dexter Morgan as he struggles finding the answer, stammering on his words? When he responds, he comes up with things he likes doing with her, like drinking beer and eating steaks. Dr. Vogel retorts that his love is a selfish love. But what love isn’t selfish? With regards to others, love is a feeling we receive, it’s how another makes us feel when we’re around them. The ones we love make us feel good, safe and happy. But isn’t that selfish in a way. It’s a special feeling we get inside. Each time we are in that person’s presence, it rekindles the feeling. Why are breakups so painful or the passing of a loved one? Selfishly, we want them back, to stop our own hollow pain. Love or not, Dexter has an attachment to Deb. That apparent feeling could be the difference between life and death at season, and series, end.