Dexter season 7 episode 1 review: Are You…?

It's time to get out the plastic wrapping again, as Dexter returns for a spoiler-heavy season seven opener...

This review contains major spoilers. 7.1 Are You…?

In a word: wow. For six seasons the story has flirted with the whole idea of Dexter being revealed to others, and by that I mean people who are alive, not just pre-imminent death.

But we don’t start there, instead it appears that Dexter is on the run, heading to the airport. That’s the rather simple narrative puzzle, is he really running and what happened to cause him to do that?

We then return to the critical point at the end of season six where Debra walks in on the demise of Travis Marshal, as if the series never actually paused for nine months. Their conversation is a difficult one, where Dexter lies very poorly, and Debra is pretty much willing to accept whatever he says, initially.

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But the real crossing point is where she goes to get the petrol, linking her to the death of Travis, and leaving a clue for someone else to find later. Before we’ve got much time to take in the enormity of what just happened, poor Mike crosses paths with a Ukrainian killer and ends up in a body bag for his troubles. As a character Mike was fine, if lacking much of a back-story or many alternative interests away from police work, but he didn’t deserve to die did he?

He’s killed by the excellent Enver Gjokaj, who was one of the few good things about Dollhouse, in which, incidentally he also played a character called ‘Victor’. He only really gets one proper scene which is the one where Dexter catches up with him, which is a shame because he’s a good actor that deserves a part that lasts more than one episode.

If I’ve got a real complaint, and it’s a mild one, it’s the scene where Dexter finds himself at Miami International Airport. The idea that you can buy a ticket, enter international departure and then not get on the aircraft or cause a security scare is a stretch, as is then getting out of there with a body and somehow back into arrivals. But then we’ve just swallowed that Debra believed any of the BS Dexter gave her to explain the frighteningly efficient killing equipment he just had handy. Except she didn’t really buy it, and we knew as much by her reaction.

The other minor characters get to chew the fat about their lives in the episode. LaGuerta gets a blood slide clue to follow, and Louis seems intent on making Dexter’s life even more problematic than it already is as a means to shorten his life expectancy.

But most of this is small talk and a prelude to the main course, the reveal for which the death of Travis was something of a dry run. Dexter comes home from a relaxing evening with Victor on the boat, Slice of Life, and finds Debra will all his slides, killing equipment and the whole sorry truth laid out.

Debra: “Did you kill all these people?”Dexter: “I did”Debra: “Are you a serial killer?”Dexter: “Yes”

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Umm… Dexter scores heavily for truth, and yet very poorly for ongoing family relationships there. The genie in this show is really out of the bottle now, and whatever rules applied before have just been completely scrapped.

Where the opening scenes in the Church lead us to think that maybe Dexter would get off the truth hook, the final scene puts him squarely on it, with all the implications that revelation suggests. Would Dexter kill Debra? It’s not something we’ve been asked to consider, but it is a question that might get seriously asked at some point.

As much as I generally liked this story, it was remarkably short on laughs. A good giggle is an absolute necessity for Dexter, and almost without exception it was deadly serious throughout. But in all other respects this is the best start one might reasonably expect. Season six didn’t really take-off in the way it looked like doing at one point, and season four is still the high-water mark of the show. They’ve now played the major trump card they’ve been holding for six years, betting heavily that they can top the drama of season four with what they’ve got planned. We’ve been told that the show ends in season eight, so this is the first step in a narrative to take Dexter where we’ll leave him in 23 more episodes.

I love this show, and the ending of this one made me scream for the next, which is exactly the way it should be.

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