Well, we have arrived at the beginning of the end. Despite the bemoaning of critics everywhere, Dexter has returned for another season, but don’t cry out just yet, because Showtime has promised that this season will definitely be the last. Do not get me wrong folks, I’d be content to suck up more seasons of the show, but if I’m being honest, Dexter has really been showing its’ seams in the last few seasons.The show is operating on a premise that can only stay fresh so long. The author of the Dexter novels, Jeff Lindsey, has only written seven books, and even he couldn’t keep things moving along without introducing supernatural elements. How far can you push a character like Dexter before you repeat or embarrass yourself? How can you continue to find obstacles and adversaries after already presenting so many? It’s only natural that Dexter has reached shark-jumping waters.Part of the problem is the secondary characters. Despite the different attempts at giving the background characters of Miami Metro meaningful business, the writers cannot find a way to make these characters interesting. Sure, a character like Quinn was once onto Dexter, and now he’s shown in a relationship with Jamie, the babysitter, and this could pose a real threat! But unfortunately, Quinn has been so poorly characterized and performed as a character that I could not care less about what he is up to, or ever will be up to. Batista spends the whole episode upset over LaGuerta’s murder and consumed by trying to sort through her things. Maybe he’ll find something about Dexter! But knowing this show, he won’t, because that would mean that the background characters would actually make an impact on the story, and that doesn’t happen on Dexter.No, Dexter is always more about the guest star. Whether it’s a new villain, love interest, or co-worker, it has always been the major guest stars and characters that have made the most impact on Dexter. Ever since season three, the show has thrived or faltered on the shoulders of its guest presence. When the guest stars are good, this can be fun, like John Lithgow’s stint during season four, but when they’re bad, like Colin Hanks in season six, it can ruin the show, and the show really shouldn’t depend on guest stars this heavily to remain interesting.Fortunately, our new guest star looks like one of the good ones. Charlotte Rampling has arrived in the Dexter world as Dr. Evelyn Vogel, a neuro-psychiatrist who specializes in psychopath and conveniently arrives to assist Miami Metro with a new bizarre case. Yes, Dexter and the gang have a new serial killer to worry about, a guy that likes to scoop out brains will a melon baller, and Vogel has arrived on the scene with a serious, intelligent demeanor and a keen fixation, not just on the case, but on Dexter as well. The two have a fantastic scene in the morgue, feeling each other out, with Dexter playing the defensive against the so-called psychopath whisperer.Like always, when Michael C. Hall has a strong actor to play against, he always shines. The energy between the two reaches frenetic levels when Vogel shows her hand, that she has pictures that Dexter drew as child, that she is on to him. When Dexter tries to intimidate the woman, she remains cool, simply stating that she doesn’t follow Harry’s Code. That little bit of information already has me more than intrigued. Unlike the other, reoccurring threads that could catch up with Dexter, this seems to be most worthy of my attention. And after speaking about our secondary characters and our new guest star, it’s only fitting that we touch on Deb, and boy, do we have a lot to touch on. In the six months since killing LaGuerta, Deb has quit her job at Miami Metro, begun working as bounty hunter for a private firm, and has developed quite the drug habit. Coked up and full of demons, Deb spends her days trying to acquire diamonds from a man named Briggs that she’s also sleeping with. The girl is a hot mess, and Jennifer Carpenter continues to push the character into deeper, more complex waters.In a gut-wrenching scene, a strung out Deb declares that she killed the wrong person, and that she deserves the horrible life that she is leading. Though on drugs, Deb manages to drop beautiful perspective on her and Dexter’s relationship. Through tears, she tells Dexter that she always believed that it was she that needed Dexter, but now she realizes that Dexter needs her, that it’s the only thing keeping him together. The comment is startling in it’s accuracy, so much so that it sends Dexter almost spiraling, lashing out and acting violently even with his son so near. At the end of the episode, Deb finds herself in dangerous company, but I’m definitely more worried about the harm that Deb could cause herself.The beginning of tonight’s episode tried to convince us that Dexter is more normal than ever, and I agree, in a cosmetic sense. The show has set up new obstacles, the Deb and Dexter relationship continues to grow and change, and the background character’s remain as dull as dirt. Yep, pretty normal for Dexter. Yet, Dr. Vogel seems like something we haven’t seen before on Dexter, and Deb’s darkness and contempt for her brother will definitely provide Dexter with an emotional challenge that he has never faced. For a show that’s always been a little shaky, hopefully tonight provided the foundation needed for Dexter to stick the landing.
Den Of Geek Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars