written by Tim Schlattmann | directed by Stefan Schwartz
This episode covered two important bases very well: Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) undergoing therapy at the hand of Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling), who's determined to make her see her serial-killing brother as a positive force; and Dexter (Michael C. Hall) continuing his search for the elusive Brain Surgeon and finding cable guy A.J Yates (Aaron McCusker), a former patient of Vogel's who underwent a lobotomy at her insistence. While I'm a little jaded when it comes to Dex's almost weekly stalking of villains, Yates had a few quirks that made him more interesting than most—like being the first person to detect Dexter during his reconnaissance with the help of a secret room equipped with CCTV, and avoiding capture by threatening the life of his own ailing father in a hospital. I'm not convinced Yates is the Brain Surgeon just yet, however; mainly because it feels too early in the season to settle on someone.
The juiciest part of "Scar Tissue" was Vogel doing her utmost to make Debra see things from her perspective, by justifying Dexter's very existence and trying to make Deb accept the regrettable murder of LaGuerta as the best outcome of "an impossible situation". Ever since her introduction I've been wary of Vogel's intentions with Dexter, if only because she comes with an accent that screams villainous aims, and this episode wisely revealed some of her deception earlier than I was anticipating. Maybe the writers are quite rightly warier of keeping big secrets going for too long, as the memory of everyone guessing a big twist in season 6 still hasn't faded.
So it turns out, not unexpectedly, that Vogel's using Dexter to clean up a mess of her own creation. Her medical journal details her true feeling about Dexter and his relationship with his sister, and in a later scene Deb played her father Harry's (James Remar) last session with Vogel before he died—which revealed it was a likely suicide, having realised he's helped turn Dexter into a monster. That news isn't anything new to long-term viewers (as Dex made the same discovery back in season 2), but I don't recall it being mentioned since, so you can be excused if it had slipped your mind.
What was exciting about this episode as a whole is how it's changed Deb's perception of her brother, undoing a lot of Vogel's work. She now has to live with the knowledge her father (a) committed suicide and (b) as a direct result of her adopted brother. Understandably, this episode ended with Deb attempting to kill herself, burdened with this deeper understanding, but going one better by attempting to kill Dexter in the process by involving them both in a car accident. It was a genuine shock, although I certainly didn't buy into Deb seemingly having an epiphany and coming to accept her brother, but it was a shame the episode didn't end when their car splashed into a lake. The unnecessary final moments of Deb being rescued by a fisherman and deciding to go back to save her drowning brother confirm she still has feelings, and this will likely be the event that makes her realise suicide and murder aren't an option. She really will have to live with this and try to make the most of a bad situation.
Elsewhere, Quinn (Desmond Harrington) is somehow one step closer to being promoted; a new neighbour called Cassie (Bethany Joy Lenz) is a potential love-interest for Dexter; and Masuka (C.S Lee) discovered he has a sexy daughter who's the result of a sperm donation. The latter might show a new dimension to Masuka as a father figure, but we'll see how things progress. The moment when Masuka's daughter laughed in her father's Elmer Fudd-y style didn't bode well, however.
Overall, "Scar Tissue" was a strong hour of Dexter that significantly altered some of season 8's big relationships (Dexter-Debra and Dexter-Vogel), and proved to be very entertaining in most other respects. I'm not feeling as swept up in the story as I'd have liked, mostly because a part of me dislikes the Morgan's being at loggerheads, and the Brain Surgeon storyline is running on autopilot, but it's certainly been a decent start to the final season. But this is the last ever season, and I really hope the tension and drama begins to spike soon, because I'd hate for Dexter to only get down to the serious business of bringing Dexter Morgan's story to a compelling end in a crazy four-episode rush.