What is happening with Dexter? In its final season and only four episodes remaining (including this one), the writers have given us a snoozer with “Dress Code.” The episode begins with some promise on the heels of Dexter’s ex, Hannah McKay, returning to Miami. Waking up from a Hannah induced drugging, Dexter finds himself on the other side of town. Quickly, he calls Deb and the two are safe, for now. Predictably, Dexter pursues Hannah and discovers she is married to an extremely wealthy but shady Casino tycoon. Dexter follows her to a nightclub which has a strict dress code. He must elicit the help of his new sidekick, Zack, who being wealthy himself, lends Dexter a dinner jacket and secures his entrance. Dexter is not over Hannah and is back to being un-Dexter-like. He is so preoccupied with his ‘feelings’ for Hannah, he can’t keep his life together.
The reintroduction of Hannah has taken this season in a different direction, one I am not a fan of yet. With Hannah in Dexter’s life he is weak. Gone is the cold killer, the funny one-liners, and his careful nature when it comes to keeping a low profile and cleaning up his crimes. Is this where the writers are taking Dexter? To be so in love with Hannah that he will slip up again but this time get caught? However, there might be a silver lining with this story-line. It is clear, at the end of “Dress Code,” that Deb has nothing but contempt for Hannah. Seeing her brother an emotional wreck, could Deb eliminate Hannah? If so, what tailspin would that put Dexter in?
The first half of Season 8 was, on average, great. It had much of the Dexter humor, the development of Dexter and Deb, and another serial killer on the loose. It is clearly evident with “Dress Code” that once the Brain Surgeon story-line ended so too did the writing. Dexter has now become more about tying up loose ends. Does Masuka really deserve as much screen time as he is getting? Don’t get me wrong. I love Masuka. But his character doesn’t need to be nicely wrapped up, nor does Quinn’s or Angel’s, especially in the final season. They are sidebar characters. The real story lies with Dexter and Deb and how things will be resolved at series end.
What was once hot is now cold. Dr. Vogel’s story-line was intriguing and gave the season an emotional charge. While she is still involved in Dexter’s life, her impact has been softened. The momentum built with her relationship to both Dexter and Debora has been cooled. As well, Dexter taking on a young apprentice with only half a season to go feels rushed and predictable. Zack wants to learn from Dexter, but is impatient. With Hannah on Dexter’s mind, Zack won’t be ignored. He leaves a nice little message in Dexter’s neighbor’s apartment. The neighbor’s fate is far too obvious.
While “Dress Code” did propel some elements of Season 8 forward, most notably Dexter’s unresolved feelings for Hannah, it generally fell flat. My hope is that the last three episodes will bring back the magic of Dexter. For those of us who have invested nearly eight seasons, I think we deserve just that.