‘Dexter’ Season Premiere Review: “A Beautiful Day”
‘Dexter’ season eight spatters out the first episode of its final year with the season premiere “A Beautiful Day,” as Dexter finds Deb spiraling out of control in the wake of LaGuerta’s murder, while mysterious new neuropsychiatrist Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling) reveals a shocking secret to Dexter.
Last year’s ‘Dexter’ finale, “Surprise, Motherf—er,” saw Dexter come to a difficult decision on how to end his conflict with LaGuerta, while Deb dealt a killing blow, and Hannah (Yvonne Strahovsky) made a mysterious play from within police custody. So how does “A Beautiful Day” begin the eighth and final season?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about the ‘Dexter’ season eight premiere, “A Beautiful Day”!
For as smoothly as Dexter’s life has gone in the wake of LaGuerta’s death, the Miami Metro team all lament Deb’s absence from a memorial ceremony dedicating a bench to LaGuerta. Dexter pretends to have been in contact with his sister, while in reality we see Deb snorting cocaine and canoodling with her new criminal boyfriend (Rhys Coiro) in a cheap motel room.
Dexter visits Deb’s house against Harry’s advice, and finds her mail piled up with pills all over the counter. He next visits the offices of Jacob Elway (‘The Boondock Saints’ actor Sean Patrick Flannery), a private law enforcement agency where Deb has been working, but Elway explains that Deb has unusually failed to check in during her pursuit of a jewel thief named Andrew Briggs. Afterward, Dexter visits a crime scene for a murder victim in a park before the team realizes the victim’s skull had been cut open, with a piece of brain removed.
Having looked up Briggs and tracked Deb’s credit card usage, Dexter manages to isolate his sister in a Ft. Lauderdale supermarket. Deb acknowledges her absence of late, but insists she doesn’t want to speak to her brother after killing LaGuerta and committing horrible acts in his name. Briggs inquires about their conversation, but Deb pretends not to know Dexter. A short while later on the way home, Dex loses his cool at a driver who cuts him off, and throttles the man before regaining his composure.
Quinn and Jamie Batista find their latest tryst interrupted by the return of Angel, for which Quinn sneaks out while she and Angel discuss the remnants of LaGuerta’s belongings. The next day at the morning briefing, a visiting neuropsychiatrist named Dr. Evelyn Vogel weighs in on the “Brain Surgeon” case, all the while maintaining a suspicious fixation on Dexter himself. Afterward, Dexter reads up on the woman before Batista brings him one of LaGuerta’s vases as a gift, and asks Dexter to forgive the late captain for her suspicions.
Deb learns from Briggs that he’ll soon meet with “El Sapo” (‘The Walking Dead”s Nick Gomez) to fence his stolen jewels, which she ultimately hopes to collect, before Deb calls Quinn to get a verification on the fence’s identity. Meanwhile at the morgue, Dexter responds to a summon from Dr. Vogel, who inquisitively points out their mutual fascination with murder, and asks for help in understanding the motivations of the Bay Harbor Butcher. Suggesting that the Butcher might have had some kind of “moral guidelines” for his killings, Vogel ominously expresses her interest in working with Dexter.
Dexter learns from Quinn that no one in robbery knows of “El Sapo,” but Briggs’ stolen jewelry belonged to vengeful mobsters. Before Dexter can investigate further, however, Jamie drops off Harrison and goes off on her own. Saddled with the boy’s distracting inquisition, Dexter learns that “El Sapo” is actually a mafia hitman, before scolding Harrison for knocking over LaGuerta’s vase.
Still watching Harrison, Dexter finds himself unable to get in touch with either Deb, Quinn or Jamie, and shows up at Quinn’s apartment, unaware of Jamie’s presence nearby. Quinn directs him to the Pink Motel, wherein Dexter parks and sees Deb and Briggs inside. Dexter manages to lure Deb outside to warn her about El Sapo, but Deb still refuses to listen, believing herself to deserve any bad fate that comes her way.
Briggs interrupts once again, for which Dexter attacks the man and ultimately stabs him to death. Tearfully, Deb asserts that Dexter is the one lost without her, and resolves to call in the homicide herself rather than let Dexter dispose of the body. Dexter returns to his car, only to find Harrison missing, but thankfully the boy only wandered around the corner.
Deb leaves the crime scene, unaware she’s being watched by El Sapo, while Dexter stews in his apartment about his sister’s words. Seeking solace on LaGuerta’s bench, Dexter finds himself interrupted once more by Dr. Vogel, who leaves behind a file of murderous drawings Dexter made when he was little. Dexter corners the woman to ask what she wants, and she responds that he won’t harm her, as she doesn’t fit Harry’s code.
And so begins the final season of ‘Dexter,’ not with a bang, but with plenty of fresh blood to liven things up. Naturally, the biggest talking point of tonight’s premiere stems from Deb’s downward spiral, for which Jennifer Carpenter continues absolutely killing it. Much has transgressed since last year’s finale, which rolls forward in a tidal wave of exposition, but both Carpenter and Michael C. Hall’s performances very much sell the deterioration of the relationship.
Elsewhere, the supporting cast certainly haven’t gotten any more interesting over the hiatus, with Quinn once again in another taboo relationship, while Masuka cracks wise, and Batista has understandably returned to the fold as the new Captain. Hell, even Matthews has returned to work! One of the bigger questions of the final season that come to mind remains who, if anyone will pick up where LaGuerta left off in identifying Dexter’s true nature, but we’ve nothing to go on from the premiere.
The arrival of Dr. Evelyn Vogel certainly adds some fascinating wrinkles to the proceedings, both literally and figuratively, as we learn she shares some connection to the formation of Harry’s code, and an intimate understanding of psychopaths at large. We’ve always felt something of a sore spot for ‘Dexter”s underlying premise, that a seasoned police office like Harry would so flippantly write off young Dexter’s mental state and design an elaborate code for serial killing, so Vogel’s ability to shed some light on the matter instills us with great hope for the final season
An overly expository premiere to be sure, but overall one that gets the final hours of ‘Dexter’ off to a very strong start.
What about you? Did you get your fill of darkly dangerous ‘Dexter’ drama? What did you think about the premiere? Stay tuned for the latest from ‘Dexter”s final season, and join us next week for the a new episode recap of “Every Silver Lining” on Showtime