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Monday, July 8, 2013

Season 8, Episode 2: "Every Silver Lining..." Review by Emily Sofia!

It’s been said that every cloud has a silver lining. So wherever we find some radiant silver beam, is there a storm cloud hitching a brooding ride? If you’re ready to dive into the thick of the fine hurricane that was tonight’s latest Dexter, “Every Silver Lining…”, skip the jump and let’s dance to the beat of the drum! 
“Every Silver Lining…” – Meet Your Maker, Dexter Morgan


Just when you think you know yourself… a smooth-tongued, cool-blooded neuropsychiatrist with a particularly warm interest in you sweeps into the debriefing room and starts to peel your skin back with knowing fingers. It feels a bit strange—a little more than enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck and set the room spinning—but what can you do about it without rocking the boat? It’s hard not to do something, though, when you suddenly find a gleaming pair of eyes set on you that know more about you than you know yourself… more about you than the person who knew you more than you knew yourself. Somebody set themselves to playing god and decided to render you a canvas for their creative vision. And here she is now, playing back the old “tapes” of your dear old dad in a state of disrepair over what you seem to be evolving into.

Here is where we find our emotive, unstable Dexter at the episode’s shocking instigation: un-knowing himself just a little bit more. If Debra’s arctic-cold shoulder wasn’t enough to shake his already shoddy self-perception, he’s getting a good meltdown now. (It’s important to note that Michael C. Hall was the director of this episode—his first time ever on the other side of the camera, and might I just say he KILLED it in a way that involved fewer knives and more “ACTION!”-s and “CUT!”-s… yeah, there’s a bit of irony there. I walked right into that one!) What was particularly striking to me about this scene was the fact that we—as an audience, and even Dexter himself can be included here—have never seen Harry Morgan in a state such as this. He’s carried himself about Dexter as a voice of divine authority, carefully sealing up the “cracks” in Dexter’s person through which dangerous possibilities seem to shine through. We see ‘Dirty Harry’ broken. Scared. Like Dexter was when he lost Harry, as he admits later on to Vogel while on the hunt for the target Vogel has pushed Dexter’s way. Like Dexter is without Debra, now. Vulnerability is the prevailing state here. “What do we do?” Harry cries. Vogel, slow to judge and swift to vie on the side of the “unorthodox,” is ready to step in with the definitive answer. That answer is, in fact, the Code. Vogel’s tapes reveal just how much of an influence Vogel had over Harry and, consequently, Dexter himself—and Vogel reveals that influence not only to relish the opportunity to “mother” this adopted child of hers, but also to employ him in the task of protecting her from a former patient who leaves a rather scarring calling card.

 What Vogel fails to realize is that her every attempt to make Dexter feel “perfect” and necessary as a killer is actually subverting the point she is so persuasively trying to make. How strange, that Dexter would need someone to speak to in the process of mourning Harry’s loss. Most psychopaths wouldn’t seek out that kind of support. They wouldn’t need it. They are disconnected from all but their defining enterprise—the dark deeds by which they secure control. Exceptionally odd, that Debra’s troubles are getting in the way of Dexter’s ability to vet, stalk, kill… why would a psychopath be thrown by a sibling’s errant behaviors? What makes Dexter and Vogel’s relationship so stunning to watch unfold is the fact that Vogel’s motives are nearly untraceable and Dexter’s response to them—as those motives slowly come into the light—is equally unpredictable. Vogel is so sure she’s got a psychopath on her hands, and an extremely successful and efficacious one at that. This special case of hers, however, is rebelling against the mold. The canvas is rejecting the paint, sweating off the masterpiece she strove to set in that stunning frame. Perhaps Dexter was an opportunity she should never have taken. But perhaps she will attempt to recreate, or retrain a man who is now becoming something so much more than she could ever have imagined. She “developed a framework” for his “survival” that’s actually beginning to look more like a twisted self-portrait, and an elaborate means of living vicariously. Could it be that the creation is shrugging off the god’s image? Maybe, just maybe.

It’s written on his once mask-ready face. It’s tugging at every corner—of his demeanor, his occupation, his dirtiest little secret. Debra’s gone, but he can’t let her be. She’s dancing in the arms of harm’s way and it is absolutely ripping him apart. She’s romping around the streets of Miami, living a life inglorious when held up to the picture of her former status as Miami Metro Homicide lieutenant. Even her slick new boss, Elway, is baffled by Debra’s vicious resistance to nearly… everything. Her past is far from fair game. Her present is nobody’s f**kin’ business. Her future is territory unknown and she’ll keep running from any sense of what it could possibly be until she’s facedown and kicking at the air with her heels. Why won’t Debra let herself be loved and forgiven? This is Dexter’s foremost concern, even if he can’t put the words and specific emotions to it. He’d give anything to protect her from the world she’s sacrificing herself to. When El Sapo, the hitman sent to take out Briggs, is found with a bullet in his skull, Dexter loses his ability to focus at the crime scene. He’s seen red, and now he’s seeing Deb. She could be next. Shocked to find Debra crashed on her couch at home with the back door wide open, only blood at the crime scene could convince him that he has other things to worry about entirely when it comes to his wayfaring sister. Just when he thinks it’s about protecting Debra from the big, bad world he is more than well-versed in, it quickly becomes about protecting Debra from herself.


We see it in the cut on El Sapo’s cheek after he evades a violent Debra at Briggs’ storage container—it looks familiar, when you take a second glance. It looks almost exactly like the kind of cheek slice Dexter used to make to complete his blood slide trophies (the origins of which we get a glimpse of in one of Vogel’s stunning tapes). A prefiguring of Debra’s fatal second kill? I’ll be damned if it isn’t. Seeing Debra back at Miami Metro for the first time in a stream of delirious months, Dexter doesn’t hesitate to spy on her briefing time with Quinn over El Sapo’s murder. He's ready to spring as soon as things go south. Breathlessly aware of what Debra has done and heartbroken over Debra’s refusal to make any kind of meaningful contact with him upon her return to the place where they once regularly communed and knocked out donuts and crimes together, Dexter then wrenches her away from the task at hand—one which is quietly breaking and condemning her—to try to bring Debra back to her old self one last time. This is when he comes face-to-face with the grim reality that the old Deb burned away in the smoke of the gun that shot LaGuerta. “Anything can happen in this hell hole that is now my life… your gift to me, Dexter,” Debra spews out, leaving Dexter to clean up the evidence of Debra’s crime, knowing it may not be the last time he has to cover for her. Knowing his sister, best friend and confidante has spurned him as the source of her depravity. This is their new life. They’re two souls chasing each other around an open wound. How is Dexter to own who he is and even remotely function for Vogel when he’s running like a chicken with its head cut off? He has ruined the very source of his humanity and yet cannot fully concede to being a complete and utter monster. The silver lining seems to pale in comparison to the heavy cloud of confusion.

 While this episode devastates on innumerable levels, it also offers many humorous quips from our long-beloved characters and gives us a rich sense of what’s going on with everyone else as we move towards the endgame. Batista continues to push everyone around him to better themselves, including and especially Quinn, with whom he has shared a colorful history that was only glossed over last season. Finally we see Quinn get some semblance of a meaningful story, which collides in a sort of beautiful and tragic way with Debra’s own personal crisis. I was honestly deeply compelled by Quinn and Debra’s scenes and truly look forward to seeing Quinn react to the unfolding truth of where Deb is. There were even season one vibes that surfaced unexpectedly at times and roused parts of me that the seventh season hadn’t really endeavored to awaken—I felt that flawless mix of levity and darkness and ups and downs that had me falling head over heels for this show in the first, and that is honestly the perfect approach to ending a story that’s moved heaven and earth this past bloody decade.

Just when we think we know the name of the game, we’re spun clean around, our spirits destroyed and revitalized all at once. Anything can happen here. Let the sacred ground split.

Leave all of your reactions, predictions and heart messes in the comments as we gear up for “What’s Eating Dexter Morgan” in seven days that are sure to fly! Thanks for hanging in and reading!!

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