"Dexter" season premiere recap: "A Beautiful Day"

Michael C. Hall and Charlotte Rampling in a scene from "Dexter." Showtime

"Dexter" is back for its eighth and final season, kicking off Sunday night with the episode "A Beautiful Day."

We pick up six months after the death of LaGuerta, and Dexter is feeling like most of his problems have been solved -- he's coaching son Harrison's soccer team, got the bowling team back together and his secret identity as a serial killer is still, well, secret.

There's just one thing missing, and that's Debra. After shooting her captain to protect her brother, she quit her job at Miami Metro -- just went out for lunch one day and never came back -- and isn't returning Dexter's calls. Deb is a wreck after what happened last season. She's now working for a private investigator and drinking, doing drugs and hooking up with Briggs, a jewelry thief she's supposed to be going after.

Dexter tracks her down and confronts her in the cereal aisle at a market, but it isn't a happy sort of brother-sister reunion.

"You made me compromise everything about myself that I care about, and I hate you for it," she sneers. "I shot the wrong person in that trailer."

Meanwhile, Miami Metro lands a new case -- a man is found with the back of his skull removed and a piece of his brain has been removed. The case attracts the attention of Dr. Evelyn Vogel, a neuroscientist who studies psychopaths. It seems that the killer stole the part of the brain associated with empathy, which is something psychopaths lack. She also seems very interested in Dexter and later questions him about the Bay Harbor Butcher, mentioning that he seemed to operate with some sort of moral guidelines (a code, perhaps?). Dex plays dumb, but she's not buying it.

Dex finds out that El Sapo, the guy Briggs is planning to sell the jewelry to, is actually a hitman, and realizes Deb is in danger. He tracks down the hotel where she's staying and goes to warn her -- bringing Harrison along for the ride, since his usual babysitter Jamie is otherwise, um, engaged with Detective Quinn -- but Deb refuses to leave. "Aren't you the one who's always saying bad people deserve to die?" she asks. "It kills me. I can't take any of it back."

While they're talking, Briggs shows up. Dexter reacts by shoving him into the hotel room and stabbing him to death. A horrified Deb refuses to let her brother dispose of the body and instead calls it in as a homicide and urges him to get out of there. The police seem to believer her story that she just came back and found him dead, but then we see that El Sapo is watching from the parking lot as she leaves.

The episode ends with Dexter sitting on LaGuerta's memorial bench, where Dr. Vogel hands him an envelope of disturbing drawings done by a kid -- specifically, a young Dexter. He confronts her, and she responds, "You can't kill me...because I don't fit Harry's code." Whoa. Cue the credits.

What did you think of the season premiere? Where do you think things will go from here? Sound off in the comments.

  • Jessica Derschowitz

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