This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home—to watch the latest and greatest of Dexter’s eighth season, “This Little Piggy”! (And did not regret a single heart-pounding minute.) Is there any healing to be had for our two murder-burdened Morgans? What will it take to get them seeing eye to eye and dancing cheek to cheek, if anything? Does Vogel make it out with all piggies fully intact, much less her life? Skip the jump to check out my review of the madness!
“To hell with both of you. Don’t forget to write this down.”
"I don't hate you."
"I couldn't imagine my life without you in it."
“Well, the family that kills together…”
“If anyone really knew us, they would run screaming.”
“Tonight, you brought us… why?”
“I wanted to be with family.”
The fifth installment of a season that’s proving to be a vigorous workout for the Dexter-dedicated heart and spirit takes us from a place of fierce feuding to freshness, rejuvenation, and resolve that we have not even remotely witnessed since before Debra first walked through that church door and stepped behind the plastic curtain (perhaps found for the briefest moment before Wayne Randall’s suicide in “Sunshine and Frosty Swirl”). The clanging dissonance of Dexter and Debra’s less-than-comfortable couple’s therapy session rather quickly dissolves with the disappearance of Vogel… a kidnapping that is accompanied by broken windows and briefly preceded by a little jam session to The Mamas and The Papas’ “Make Your Own Kind Of Music.” (Does this sound familiar, people? Think of that lovely little video left by the Brain Surgeon for Vogel and Dexter’s viewing pleasure.) At any rate, I was stunned to see just how quickly Dexter bounced back from a place of rage and seething sarcasm, the likes of which we haven’t quite seen since Dexter’s fantasy of destroying his office over Miguel Prado’s trespass in season three. I was also reminded of Dexter’s struggles with family life at the onset of season four. At that point, it was the spousal and fatherly fatigue wearing on his ability to obey the Dark Passenger’s calls that had him irked; this time around, it’s the sense of devastation and betrayal that inevitably follows his beloved sister’s attempt to plunge them both into a doublewide grave. After all he has done for her to protect her, how could she subvert everything and expect understanding in return? Michael plays the scene with a surprising touch of volatility that leaves us as sore and stunned as Debra, who has very suddenly come to a place of clarity about her need for Dexter. For them both to endure, together. Amazingly, we actually arrive at this elusive destination by the episode’s ending as Dexter, Debra and Vogel commune together on the Slice of Life, reveling in the power of family to allow outcasts to belong. The world need not know them if they only know and accept one another.Even Masuka’s colorful little subplot ties into the overarching theme of family that is explored in the episode. Just as Dexter and Debra are redefining their understanding of what family truly means, Masuka is just beginning to get a taste of family life with the arrival of his curly-headed twenty-year-old daughter. What does it mean for a guy like him to have a flesh-and-blood dependent, someone as hungry for companionship as he is (hopefully neither to the extent nor in the way that, well, we've known Masuka to be)? And, as he says to Debra at Elway’s private investigation firm, “What’s the catch?” I enjoyed Debra and Masuka’s interchange about the doubts and reservations Masuka has about this strange and lovely girl drifting in from the blue and into an eclectic life he’s peopled with coworkers and, more importantly, babes and fantasies thereof. He isn’t so much concerned about the fact that his daughter might be trying to do a wallet swab (even after she milked their coffee date for every pretty penny it was worth—copper diggin’!); moreover, he is afraid to become invested in someone who might just consider him to be a strategic step forward in the winner-takes-all game that is life. He doesn’t want to be stepped on or fooled. Peculiar though he may be in terms of style and approach to womankind, he’s no jackass. (If we didn’t already know that from the times in which he’s mastered the “cold-hearted b**ch with a fourteen-inch strap-on” that is science!) Debra is able to affirm him with her newfound understanding of just what family means. She’s kept the entirety of hers at bay for the past few months—and with a vengeance deeper than most would dare to comprehend. Her perception of Dexter was overtaken by distrust and hostility, demons which the waves of the lake into which she and Dexter plunged seemed to exorcise from her broken spirit. I like that Masuka was able to benefit from the new faith that Debra is building in her own family, and that some bridges are being erected between the minor side-stories and the central drama at hand.
It is difficult to say what exactly is happening with Quinn, however. The poor guy is desperately—well, with the subdued, half-interested kind of desperation that is the quintessential Quinn way—trying to prove himself to his former partner and boss, Batista, a man whom he has failed both on the job and in their private sphere. Maybe they just need to smoke another joint together and call it good! At any rate, the ladder rungs that lead to that coveted sergeant position seem to be oil-coated as he vies with Angie Miller, a character whose straight-edged, stale normalcy almost makes my spine tingle. Thankfully this episode didn’t leave room for any unnecessary sex shenanigans with Jamie, who got to display her feisty side by cornering Dexter into a rather untimely double date. The lush, easygoing beauty that is Dexter’s next-door neighbor, Cassie, snags a wee bit more screen time this episode, though an earnest encounter with Dexter has yet to take place and should by the next episode. While it is doubtful that she and Dexter are going to plow forward into a romantic tryst—really, now, the Showtime writers should know that bloodshed and kill rooms get us going unlike any infatuation-fueled coupling, especially this late in the game!—I hope that their future interactions will prove enlightening for Dexter in some sense. I see her as more of a didactic figure than one who moves the drama forward, although [little spoiler] the new boyfriend she lands later on might create some interesting friction. Why else would the girl next door suddenly become part of the hectic endgame? Especially with Hannah McKay due to drop in as a blonde-haired nuclear bomb in mere days?
Returning to the issue of Vogel’s Brain Surgeon blues and Dexter and Debra’s joint mission to liberate her therefrom: I absolutely relished every scene in which Vogel appeared. She's no ordinary damsel in distress. We’ve seen her try to tame the wicked beasts within the troubled Morgans, but her diverse approach to the matter of disarming Yates was thrilling and terrifying to behold. If ever there was a woman one could call a chameleon, it would be this daring lady doctor—she’s something like a dark Mary Poppins, ever pulling new tricks and furnishings and weapons out of her mysterious strategy bag. The way she lithely—if not with a bit of sweat on the brow—moves from her sympathetic croonings to forcibly assuming the identity of Yates’ abusive mother is enough to get us questioning what she’s capable all over again. If Charlotte Rampling doesn’t snatch a Golden Globe nomination or win for this kind of madness, I’m not so sure I want to continue my stay in this solar system. It was also fascinating to watch Dexter and Debra rushing over to Yates’ hideout while listening to Vogel’s discussion with the killer she just slapped the living hell out of. One can only imagine the thoughts that must have been rushing through Dexter’s head as he listened to the way Vogel spoke of Yates’ kills as a means of seeking out the intimacy he never got to experience with his mother, whose click-clacking heels around the bed promised unimaginable hurt. It always comes down to the mother, doesn’t it? Another important line to note: “This is real human connection. What you have with your victims only pales in comparison.” Consider this in the context of Dexter and Debra’s relationship. Dexter has been blinded for so long to the richness of life that he finds in loving and being loved by Debra. The only intimacy he used to be consciously aware of was that which he shared with his victims by exposing his true self to them before snuffing out their lives, ensuring that his secrets would never see the light of day. Now that he is fully known by Debra, however, the truest sense of intimacy that he has and acknowledges is found in his connection to her. On that note, I more than thoroughly enjoyed watching Team Morgan bust onto the scene and work as a team to free Mother Vogel. The two of them feed off of and support one another in their own unique approaches, ultimately recovering Vogel—but not without Dexter making a truly legendary kill by ramming the hidden Yates through the bed with an enormous freaking post, going in gladiator style. It was as epic as a reversal of Arthur victoriously pulling out the Excalibur from the unbreakable stone. Has Dexter ever landed a target with greater finesse!? Seriously. I couldn’t help but cheer at that incredible move, one which Debra is actually… proud of, rather than rocked or petrified by. Suddenly the family is drawn together through a sea of impossible circumstances. They then take to the sea in Dexter’s trusty vessel, all of them finally accepting one another and receiving that rare gift of acceptance in return. The family that slays together, stays together. The family that kills together… chills together? Or, more accurately, spills. [Wink.]
How did “This Little Piggy” strike you? Be sure to leave your thoughts on next week’s exciting promo, as well! Looks like Quinn’s fervor for justice will put Dexter back in his crosshairs yet again—this time involving a new protégée of Vogel’s that just might drive a stake between her and the son who once was so “special” in her conniving eyes. Let’s talk below! Thank you so much for reading!!