Tuesday, 9 July 2013

DEXTER, 8.2 – 'Every Silver Lining...'

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

written by Manny Coto | directed by Michael C. Hall

Michael C. Hall makes his directorial debut with "Every Silver Lining..."; an episode that improved on the uneven premiere and sold this season's big concerns in a more compelling manner. There are two major storylines that are working quite nicely at the moment, and both concern the women in Dexter's (Hall) life, who are moving in different directions. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling) revealed she has knowledge of Harry's Code last week, and here most of my assumptions were proven true. With the help of old VHS tapes, Vogel proved to Dexter that she helped Harry (James Remar) deal with a 10-year-old adopted son exhibiting psychopathic behaviour, and essentially thinks of herself as his "creator" and "spiritual mother". But while Dexter's gaining a maternal figure for the first time, he's simultaneously losing a sister...

Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) continued her downward spiral here, and it looks considerably less likely she's going to 'forgive and forget' when it comes to how her brother's changed her so fundamentally. The killing of LaGuerta could perhaps be overcome given time, but in one of this episode's better twists it was revealed that Deb was responsible for killing El Sapo (Nick Gomez)--the assassin ordered to kill her "boyfriend"--after he beat her to a pulp in a garage. As Dexter came to realise over the course of this hour, the Debra Morgan he knew and loved has gone. And the replacement is someone so extremely bitter and messed up that her sense of justice and decency has been tarnished, turning her into a vigilante. But unlike her brother, Deb's not cut out for that "calling", and would have already been caught without Dex's help covering her tracks at the crime scene.

Carpenter and Hall continue to work really well together, and this new dynamic in their character's relationship is proving to be a great way to stretch them out of a few comfort zones. You really do want to see the Morgan siblings getting on, so it's surprisingly effective on a dramatic level when they're arguing and struggling to make sense of their conflicting feelings. Dex still loves Deb, but she isn't the rock she once was; while Deb wants to love Dex, but he's the root cause of too much of a moral quandary within her.

Evelyn Vogel appears to be slipping into the Debra-shape void that's opening up in Dexter's life, and I'm already a little suspicious of her. Maybe it's just Rampling's accent, but I wouldn't be surprised if she's manipulating Dexter. This episode revealed that the so-called Brain Surgeon serial killer has been sending Vogel the missing portions of his victim's brains, but she suspects the culprit may be a former patient whose testimony against her unusual methods will end her career.

Quite clearly Vogel is a maverick in her professional field (which does make you wonder why she's been called in to advise the Miami Metro), and has an unusual perspective on psychopaths in general—calling them "alpha wolves" of human society that are a necessity in order for civilisation to flourish. So we're already a little cautious around her, because her views are so crazy, which works perfectly in the sense that she talked Harry into channelling his son's homicidal proclivities into vigilantism. It's just that Dexter doesn't notice Vogel's a kook; perhaps because she represents a parental figure who readily accepts him, even champions him, which Deb feels increasingly less likely to. But my prediction is that Vogel's using Dexter to kill a more dangerous "monster" she created elsewhere in her career, and once that's done she'll turn her back on him.

So there was lots of good stuff here whenever Dexter was interacting with Vogel and Debra. The insight into Dexter's past hasn't ret-conned so much that it bothers me, because it's fairly plausible Harry would have sought advice from a left field neuroscientist about his boy. It's also nice to see James Remar getting to actually play the real Harry Morgan again on those video tapes, having been stuck as little more than a mix of Jiminy Cricket and Basil Exposition for a good five seasons or more.

The subplots didn't take up enough time to annoy me, but I really don't care about Quinn (Desmond Harrington) and his new relationship with Angel's (David Zayas) sister, or the suggestion Deb's always going to be his soul mate. The nod towards Quinn getting promoted to sergeant also rings false, because he's done very little to warrant a promotion and was introduced as a pretty shady character back in season 3. I really wish this show had done a better job with its supporting characters, because they're only there to be tolerated in most episodes.

Overall, "Every Silver Lining" worked really well because it spent a large portion of its time with Dexter struggling to make sense of himself and his relationships through the prisms of Vogel (a mirror to his past) and Debra (a door to his future). I can't shake the feeling Vogel's hiding something and Dex is being tricked in some way, and will ultimately come to need Deb's help with her. Maybe Vogel's next book is going to blow the lid on Dexter Morgan in a manner that will keep her out of it, and she'll claim the credit for finding the real Bay Harbor Butcher? Or maybe Vogel really is just a strange woman who appreciates and respects Dexter as a person? But where's the fun in that if we still have a few months of story to develop?

7 July 2013 | Showtime