SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "Every Silver Lining…" episode of "Dexter" contains story line and character spoilers.
It's not a new thing as a "Dexter" viewer to feel sorry for Dexter Morgan. He was born in blood, as he has put it, witnessing as a small child the violent murder of his mother and being left sitting in her blood.
Because of that early trauma, Dexter was also left thinking it was inevitable that he became who he is, the serial killer of serial killers. But as hinted in last week's Season 8 premiere, and unfolded fully for Dex in "Every Silver Lining," his "Dark Passenger" wasn't exactly born in blood … he had a lot of help from his dad, Harry, and Dr. Frankenstein, er, Vogel.
Yes, the "Psychopath Whisperer" is actually the main architect of Dexter's code. Harry, afraid of Dexter's propensity toward violence (killing animals, especially) when Dexter was in his tween years, used his cop connections to seek out Vogel, who specialized in dealing with — as her lovely nickname suggests — others who had the same tendencies.
[Related: 10 of Our Favorite TV Serial Killers]
She and Harry discussed Dexter's actions, and she devised a plan, the "code" Dexter would come to live by. There was no stopping Dexter's murderous urges, she told a crushed Harry, but there was a way they could be "focused": They'd teach Dexter, then just 10 years old, to kill those "who deserve to die."
"I can't help but think of myself as your spiritual mother," the increasingly creepy and manipulative Vogel tells Dexter when she shares his history with him. "I developed a framework for your survival … that's what mothers do."
They also apparently blackmail you in Vogel's world. She's sharing the book of Dexter with her creation now because she needs a favor: Another of her psychopath patients is threatening her life, and she expects her spiritual son to save her bacon.
But What If Dexter Isn't Really a Psychopath?
Vogel gives Dexter a video, showing her discussing with Harry a Dexter kill, in accordance with the code, many years earlier. Her intent was that he watch the clip, see that she was trying to steer him in the right direction, and feel he must help protect her now.
But the video provides an interesting bit of origin info that may become more significant as the season rolls on. Harry tells Vogel that on Dexter's latest murder mission, he did something new: He made his victim, a drug-dealing killer, look at photos of his victims before Dexter did him in.
The act seems to evoke curiosity in Harry, but Vogel passes it off as Dexter having some sort of innate sense of justice … not something we usually associate with psychopaths, right? Could Vogel, who'd already admitted earlier to Dexter that she has a long history of using "unorthodox" methods to treat people, have misdiagnosed Dexter? Could those photos have suggested that Dexter had the ability to feel empathy for his victim's victims, which would prove he isn't a psychopath? Which would mean she and Harry taught him how to become a serial killer … for no good reason?
Later, Vogel explains that Harry forbade her from ever meeting Dexter, and he tells her he wishes she had introduced herself after Harry died, when he could have used someone else to talk to about his extracurricular activities.
She says that's weird, because "people like you" don't usually seek out emotional connections. Hello, paging Dr. Misdiagnoser! Yes, we're definitely thinking Dexter might not be a psychopath. And the person who's going to be at the top of his hit list when he realizes this? When he thinks about how he was not necessarily destined to become a serial killer? When he thinks about all the ancillary deaths and devastation Vogel's code has wrought? Paging the Psychopath Whisperer.
About That Ancillary Devastation…
Deb, still hating on Dexter, is getting flirty with her new boss, Jacob Elway (Sean Patrick Flanery) and tracking down the jewelry from her dead ex-fling, Briggs. She finds the jewelry, but El Sapo, the mob associate hired to nab the jewels from her, takes them and leaves her locked in a storage unit. Cut to … her house the next day, where she's hung-over and can't remember what happened. What did happen: El Sapo was murdered … and Deb did it.
Dexter finds evidence that will prove that, and she asks him to cover it up. More worrisome to him: Deb shows no remorse for this latest killing, and Dexter worries that, since LaGuerta's death and Deb's downward spiral, his sister truly may never be the same again.
Convinced he's ruined one of the only people he cares about and has failed to catch the killer who's stalking Vogel, Dexter dismisses Vogel's insistence that he's one of the "alpha wolves," the psychopaths who "help the human race survive long enough to become civilized."
"Mankind wouldn't exist without psychopaths," Vogel says.
"A lot of mankind doesn't exist because of them," says Dexter.
Vogel: "Every silver lining…"
"Dexter" Short Cuts:
- Dexter's "trophy" habit began when Harry took him to his first crime scene, when he was 10; Dexter took a small piece of glass with blood on it, not unlike his box of slides with his victims' blood on them.
- Comic relief: When Dexter enters the serial killer suspect's apartment, he notes that everything looks so innocent, just like in his apartment. His eyes immediately dart to an air conditioning unit, before he dismisses it in voiceover. His AC unit, of course, is where he stashed the aforementioned box of slides in his home.
- What's up with Elway and his "electrolyte replenishment formula," or, as Deb so colorfully puts it, the orange drink that looks like "horse p-ss"? Are we the only ones getting a creepy vibe from him and that beverage he's pushing?
- Angel busts Quinn, telling him he should take an exam that will lead to a promotion, and that he knows Quinn is dating his sister, Jamie. Angel tells Quinn he'll be OK with their romance if Quinn makes an effort to man up and move up in the department, but here's one time when Angel might have things all wrong. We're still surprised the sometimes hapless Quinn even made it to Season 8, but encouraging him to take on even more responsibility? That's just not a good look for old Joey Quinn.
"Dexter" airs Sundays at 9 PM on Showtime.
- Dexter Morgan