Dexter Season 8 Episode 8 "Are We There Yet?" Review by Gracie

Dexter Season 8, Episode 8 "Are We There Yet?" review by Gracie: "This episode was by far one of my favorites of the season. It felt way back on track, and was also simply a very well written episode – not surprising, considering I find Wendy West to be one of their stronger writers.

However, I still find people complaining, and most of the time it tends to people who just… well, they just hate Hannah. I can’t really change your opinion, but I can tell you why I do like her (read this post). And why I think their relationship is important. There’s gonna be a lot of that here, especially since Hannah and Dexter were such a huge part of this episode. Read the whole review, after the jump.

Regardless of your opinion about Hannah, though – this was a good episode. It had that perfect blend of dark and funny that I’ve come to love from this show so much, it had a bombshell at the end that really jolted the season with endgame energy, both Dexter and Deb came to important conclusions, and y’all… Michael’s butt. That. Butt. Literally the only complaint I have is that I wish there were more Dexter and Deb scenes. But hey, it was one episode, and there was a lot of other stuff that was going down so I understand. As long as they don’t keep doing that.

“I would give everything to feel nothing again.” – This, really, is the line at the core of the episode. Perhaps the most important thing, about all of this, is how much he is feeling. It all started in season 1 when his brother broke him open. Season 2, when Lila ignited his passion. Season 3 and 4, when he truly fell for Rita, and had a son. Season 5 and 6, when he realized how badly he wanted to be a good father. Seasons 7 and 8, when he realized just how important his sister is, and when he found a woman who could see him and take him exactly as he is, from the get go.   He says that line in reference to Hannah, but I take it in regard to everything. Feeling isn’t easy. Being human isn’t easy.

Just think about it. Season 1: “Pretend. You pretend the feelings are there, for the world and for the people around you. Who knows, maybe one day they will be.” Fast forward season 8: “I would give everything to feel nothing again.”

Think how far we’ve come. This is what the entire series is about. It’s about a man who never thought he could feel… learning to feel.

And that’s where I think Hannah McKay comes in. I think that loving somebody and wanting to have a future with them is a huge part of Dexter’s metamorphosis from monster to man and it is why I am enjoying the direction the show has taken. Do you recall season 4? When Dexter was tossing the bodies into the ocean, looking up at the moon. If I recall, he spoke of how maybe someday soon he could change, he could stop. Because after everything he went through will the Trinity Killer, he had come to realize that maybe killing wasn’t the lifestyle he wanted anymore. He thought maybe he could find a way to stop, because it was dawning on him that he truly loved Rita and his son.

And then something terrible happened and gutted him deeply. He lost her. The person who inspired him to change was ripped away from him. It felt like punishment, and it was devastating. He continued to kill because it was the only way he felt he could have control. And eventually, after mentally repairing, he fell back into his lifestyle, because it was… well, what he knew. He was fine with it, changing was not even on the horizon… until now.

What I am getting at, is that the progression of Dexter and Rita in season 4 is mirroring the progression of Dexter and Hannah in season 8, in a sense. In both seasons, he’s realizing how much he truly loves them. In both he’s realizing, he loves them enough to perhaps… change.

But there are significant differences. For one, Rita had no idea who he was. But he was in love with her because of her innocence, kindness, hopefulness, and positive energy. It made him feel like he could have something to really look forward to. Hannah on the other hand… she knows who he is and he doesn’t have to fear rejection because of it. He’s in love with her passion, her drive, her truth, and her strength. The future he dreamed of back then never would have been completely honest, but the future he is dreaming of now is. It makes the future he’s dreaming after now even more important. Even more appealing.

And it’s not even just Hannah. It’s Deb and Harrison too. He’s finally at a place of peace with Deb, at an understanding. And he finally understands that, regardless of Hannah, Deb is what grounds his life. He loves her, he needs her, he wants her. And with Harrison, the older he gets the more Dexter wants to give him a good future. He is at a place of truth with all three of them and I think at this point, he feels so much love for the three of them, that he is coming to the realization that he’s starting not to give a damn about killing anymore. His desire for Deb, Hannah, and Harrison, is trumping his desire to kill, in a way that has way caught him off guard.

Harry: “Killing consumed you. Crept into everything you did. It was all you had. But now…”
Dexter: “Now I have Harrison.”
Harry: “He isn’t a complication. Hannah is.”
Dexter: “She’s more of a distraction.”
Harry: “Or, is it possible there’s a stronger desire in you now? Stronger than the need to kill?”

What his inner dialogue is saying, is what if Hannah’s not distracting him from what his life is. What if Hannah’s actually leading him to the next place? What if she’s helping him see that a life and his family is what he truly wants more than anything?

Dexter blew it off a little bit at first. He was resisting it, because he’s always resistant to change. And he was fully prepared to say goodbye to Hannah, he was dutifully doing all he could to help her but was not reinitiating anything… and then she kissed him. And he completely, wholly, 100% gave himself over to feeling. He forgot about the world. He forgot about best course of action. Her forgot about everything but her, he let his feelings completely consume him. And you could see it by the way he loved her in that scene. I’ve seen people say, the raw sensuality of that scene was just nice for the viewer’s eyes. Y’know, because people like sex. And I’m sure it was on some level, but I don’t really see it like that. Dexter has never had sex like that before. The purpose of showing his gentleness, sensuality, him kissing her like that – it was to physically show you that Dexter Morgan is feeling more human than he ever, ever has.

And then, at the end of the episode… “Every contact leaves a trace. Every thing, and everyone we touch is changed in some way. But the changes… they’re never what we anticipate.

The change he’s talking about I think, is suddenly deciding, no, I want that future. I don’t think he expected Hannah’s return to make him feel that way. And I don’t know if he thought he could ever feel that way (wanting a future without killing) again. But he is feeling that way again.

And you know… Hannah and Dexter, in general, were just really well done this episode. Their chemistry was crazy, and you could just tell how much they enjoyed being each other’s presence. I’m having trouble finding the words to even explain exactly how it was well done, but it was. I felt it was very, very organic.

Another thing that made Hannah and Dex really great this episode? Was actually Hannah and Deb’s scene. I’m just going to transcribe it for you… it’s extremely, extremely important and loaded with so much that it’s worth a couple read throughs.

Hannah: “You know, I have done some terrible things in my past, but I have come to realize that as people we’re all horribly flawed, some more than others—“
Deb: “I’m not interested.”
Hannah: “But we all have a will to survive. And in extreme situations, people do extreme things.”
Deb: “That doesn’t make it right.”
Hannah: “Sometimes right or wrong doesn’t make it into the equation! Sometimes there are other forces driving us!”
Deb: “What’s driving you?”
Hannah: “Dexter.”

Hannah: “I don’t enjoy killing.”
Deb: “Then why do you do it?”
Hannah: “Because sometimes it’s the only way I know how to solve a problem! When somebody comes at me, or threatens me, and my life –”
Deb: “Like ME?”
Hannah: “I could have killed you the other day and it would have made my life a hell of a lot easier. But I didn’t.”
Deb: “Why?”
Hannah: “Because I love your brother! And I’ve learned how much he cares about you and I didn’t wanna hurt him. … He loves me too, do you really wanna hurt him?”
Deb: “…….. My brother screws up everything.”

Let me lay this out for you. Hannah unknowingly lays out a parallel that hits Deb in the face. Think, for a moment, about what Deb did to LaGuerta. Think about how she’d do it all over again. Then think how what Hannah just said, perfectly explains what Deb just did. That people are horribly flawed, and in extreme situations (the situation in the trailer) we do extreme things (killing LaGuerta). And in those situations, right or wrong doesn’t even come into the equation. Other things drive us, like Dexter. This is undeniable to Deb and it’s what spurs her silence. Because suddenly she realizes… that what she did to LaGuerta, she did for the exact reasons Hannah tried to kill her. Can she hate Hannah for that without being a hypocrite? Not really.

And then the second part. I guarantee you Deb thought Hannah got off on killing or something, but here Hannah’s like, “no, I DON’T. I don’t like to but sometimes I just have to.” I think that comes as a shock to Deb. And then once again, Hannah’s words can be applied to Deb and LaGuerta. Deb doesn’t like to kill, but it was the only way she knew how to solve the problem, because something was threatening her life (and by life I kinda mean more like… her world). Once again, she acted for the same reasons Hannah did. And finally, Hannah reveals that – well she truly HAS learned her lesson. That she may never touch Deb again, because Deb is everything to him, and she never wants to betray him or manipulate him again. I don’t think Deb thought Hannah capable of that kind of growth but yet, Hannah did grow in that way. And Deb knows it’s true, because Hannah’s currently backed into a corner not trying to kill her.

And she put something else into perspective for Deb that I really appreciate. That maybe, she could try to get along and let her be, for Dexter.

Now I love Deb to death. I think she was right to have that kind of reaction to Hannah upon her return – after all Hannah did try to murder her. And I don’t think Deb is in the wrong for anything she did. But I am very glad Hannah put that into perspective for her, and in fact she might have been the only person who could do that. However, Deb’s events with LaGuerta I think are the only reason she is able to accept and back off of Hannah. Before she killed LaGuerta, Deb never knew how far she would truly go if backed into a corner – you either lose all that’s left of your family, and the only person that matters to you, or you kill an innocent. And that’s how Hannah feels all the time. You either lose everything that matters, or kill an innocent. Now that Deb has made the same kind of choice Hannah has made, she is able to, strangely, understand her. And I’m so happy Hannah and Deb came to a place of peace fairly quickly, because I was sooooo not about watching another fight again.

In fact, I’m hoping for a good relationship between the two. Scenes between Hannah and Deb are some of my very very favorites and I’d like to see them together more. I want to see them interact and I’d even like them to become friendly, though I don’t know that that’s ever feasible. But, at least they are at a stalemate.

You know, sometimes it can be very difficult to be a fan of Deb AND Hannah, especially since the fandom is so polarized. I just try to look at them from very unbiased perspectives though, and it makes it easy. But anyways, through thinking out all of this, I’ve come to realize a couple things about Dexter and Deb and Dexter and Hannah.

Dexter and Deb is my favorite relationship on the show. I love it more than anything. It’s so beautifully complex, and fucked up. They’re siblings, they’re each other’s secret keepers, they’re best friends, they are the foundation of each other’s lives, they would kill for each other, they endure, and their relationship is just so…. Complex and confusing and so hard to describe that the only way Deb could describe it was in love. But what Dexter is, is not easy for Deb. She deserves to know the truth of who he is and I’m glad she does now. And she loves him and will always choose him, but he is also the worst possible thing for her. At least at this point in his life, the point in which he is a killer. What he does torments her and her sense of morality. He brought her from the black and white to the grey.  Having her know too much about his life has damn near destroyed her. Truly, Deb is safer and happier not knowing the gory details of those parts of his life. She even said it in 705. She doesn’t like it, but she gets it, and it’s just better at shore for her. So as much as I love her, and them, if they are all that each other has… it weighs on her. And she deserves more than that. She deserves to be happier than that. Which is part of why I like the presence of Hannah. Deb and Dexter aren’t going anywhere, they mean very much to each other, and Hannah fills in the blanks that Deb can’t for him. Well Deb could… but it wouldn’t be fair for her.

Hannah is able to shoulder everything that Deb cannot, because of her past. She can see what he has done plain as day, and not be hurt or tormented by it. She can accept it with ease. When Dexter is with Hannah, he is not reminded of all the times he’s fucked up. He can be 100% honest with her and not have to worry about hurting her. With her he feels like things are okay. Those are things I think he deserves and I am happy that Hannah can give him those things.

…This is gonna sound like a tangent, but I swear it’s not. Okay so, remember from season 1 episode 12, Born Free? When Dexter is killing his brother. And Dexter tells him, “You’re the only one I ever wanted to set free.” He means set free from his demons. And then Brian tells him, “You’re the one that needs setting free little brother.” And it’s so, so true. The only way Dexter will be free of his demons is in his death. He’s been through so much, he’s done so many things that he can’t take back… he can only leave them behind, by dying. So then think about Deb. How can Deb be set free? … The unfortunate answer is, the same. Dexter’s death. Because as it turns out, her demons lie within him. He’s more than just her demons – there are good parts to him too – but that’s where her demons are. And she’ll only be free of them in his death, too.  So as much as I love Dexter and Deb’s relationship and don’t want Dexter and Deb to be apart… and as much as I love him and want him to have a happy life – it honestly… is the only way that they will be set free. ISN’T THAT THE WORST?

Other little things in the episode, now that I’m done vomiting feelings about Dexter/Deb and Dexter/Hannah. I think Zach was really well done in this episode. I was a bit ambivalent about him for all of his episodes before this, but he was so well written in this episode it actually sold it for me. He was like an obnoxious child but alas, I have tolerance for obnoxious children, and I also found him very funny so I found myself really enjoying his presence and surprisingly sad when he was found dead. He was growing on me and I was loving his and Dex’s rapport. I mean… I knew it was coming. But still.

The little serial killer dinner was brilliant. There was something so delightfully absurd yet real about it. Much like the scene with Dex, Hannah, and Zach in the car, and he goes “are we there yet?” That had me cracking up. But what’s really of interest is what they started to figure out at dinner… Okay so, someone put something on Zach’s door to cut him. He bled, and somebody used his blood to frame him for the murder of Cassie. Which means, whoever murdered Cassie, knows that Zach murdered Norma Rivera. Or at least suspects it. Then, when Dexter and Hannah leave Vogel’s, Dexter makes a point to say, “You can take Zach home, right?” Or something like that. So as far as we know, Vogel is the last person to be with Zach alive. Either she did it, or he was taken after she dropped him off. But it is unlikely Vogel did it, as Zach’s murder was staged as a Brain Surgeon murder, and we know for a fact Vogel is not the brain surgeon unless she has DID or something. But we DO know that the brain surgeon is definitely tied to Vogel. The brain surgeon was playing Make Your Own Kind Of Music when forcing the fake brain surgeon to kill a guy. Vogel was also listening to that song when kidnapped by Yates. And now again, it is left playing with Zach dead in his home. This suggests a highly personal connection between Vogel and the brain surgeon, a connection that I suspect goes deeper than patient/doctor. My best guess is that it is a family member of some sort, a son or the husband that was mentioned. And it is not entirely confirmed, but highly likely, that whoever murdered Cassie also murdered Zach.

If you don’t like speculation, skip the rest of this paragraph…. The best theory I’ve heard thus far is that Oliver Saxon, Cassie’s boyfriend at the time of her murder, is the brain surgeon, and perhaps Vogel’s son. I think this is a pretty good guess, and I would bet on it. As for why Vogel has a son she’s never mentioned, and as for why he’d be doing this, that’s beyond me. But that’s what I’m excited to find out!

Last, I just wanted to mention……… Harrison was so perfect this episode. “My name is Harrison!” Looks like SOMEBODY inherited daddy’s sass. Also. Harrison’s zombie drawing and fistbump forever.

That concludes my review/ideas for this week. Hope you enjoy!"
Randy Tepper/Showtime

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