Dexter recap: The Big Brain Theory

Dex and Hannah take a wild road trip and a serial killer from the past returns to claim another victim
Ep. 08 | Aired Aug 18, 2013

THE SINCEREST FORM OF ANNOYANCE: Dexter (Michael C. Hall) tries to convince Zach (Sam Underwood) to stop imitating him.


5. Dex and Hannah have a getaway. At the marina, Hannah walks toward Dexter in slow motion like she's in a shampoo ad. I wouldn't be surprised if Yvonne Strahovski can actually slow down time when walking in real life. At a beachside dinner, Hannah compares Dexter to a shellfish, saying he's a bottom-feeder who takes out Miami's trash. He's so smitten she gets away with this.

6. Zach Hamilton gets an extreme personality makeover. "This Zach Hamilton character isn't working. Let's make him into a hyper, spastic funny screw-up instead." / "But he's been a brooding creep for the past several episodes!" / "And...?" /  -- That's how I imagine the behind-the-scenes conversation going, but I don't mind. This is the character Zach should have been the entire time.

Here's what happened: Dex tracks Zach down to a plastic-wrapped motel room where there's a new cutlery set on the bed. Looks like Zach went into kill room-modeling overdrive with the tarp and bought knives big enough to slay White Walkers. Dex criticizes the room and starts fixing Zach's mistakes. Harry appears and says, "Better than your first try." Dex replies: "Shut up, ghost dad!" (Okay, Dex didn't say that, but he should have). Zach comes in dressed just like Dexter in a dark knit shirt. Instead of sedating his victim like usual, Dex jams a knife to his throat and demands an explanation for Cassie's death. Zach convincingly explains he didn't kill Cassie and instead was stalking a killer he knows, instinctively following The Code. "What did you think of the room?" Zach says, then looks around. "Did you do something to it?" It's the first of several laughs thanks to New and Improved Zach. Later Dex growls, "Do not 'dude' me." Look, they have chemistry now! (And no, we can't credit this radical change on Zach having a post-kill high, since Harry later notes that Zach is peacefully napping post-kill like Dex used to, and it's not like Zach was acted like this after his previous murder). Zach proudly shows Dex the body in his truck. Sure, the kid screwed up nearly every aspect of the kill room and left a bunch of evidence leading to him, but I'm sure he did due diligence vetting that his victim deserved to be bludgeoned to death... right?

7. Hannah and Deb make-up, sort of: Deb tracks down Hannah and gets the drop on her while she's alone in the motel room. Deb throws cuffs onto the bed and tells Hannah to cuff herself. Now we're talking! Oh wait, Deb just wants to bring Hannah to justice. Damn. Hannah refuses to put on the cuffs and says the only way she'll leave with Deb is if she shoots her. This stumps Deb because apparently she's forgotten how to arrest and cuff somebody herself. Hannah threatens to expose Dex as a serial killer if she's arrested and Deb says, "No one would believe you." Which, as we've seen, is totally accurate. Dex could start stabbing Batista to death and the lieutenant would ask, "Now what is it you wanted to talk to me about?" as he bleeds on the floor.

Hannah tries to explain her actions -- "in extreme situations sometimes people do extreme things" -- which registers with Deb. Suddenly Dexter bursts in -- awkward. Then Zach bursts in -- more awkward. The single funniest exchange this season is Deb to Zach: "Who the f--k are you?" and Zach replying: "Who the f--k are you?" Again, I can't believe I'm praising Zach Hamilton, the Poochy of Dexter season 8, but the character was clicking for me this week. Later, as they're driving back, with Dexter and Hannah in the front and eager young Zach in the back, the kid asks, "Are we there yet?" Dex and Hannah exchange a look. It's a fun moment: they're a serial killer family.

8. Another Dr. Vogel secret hint: Dex, Hannah and Zach have dinner at Dr. Frankenstein's house. Hannah asks Vogel what got her interested in serial killers in the first place and she says, "an incident long ago that I won't bore you with." Okay, I'm not sure whether a lot of various plot points in Dexter eventually pay off, but I'm pretty certain this is a neon-sign flashing HINT. We also know she was previously married to a doctor and he died. Hmm. Dex brings up how he's still troubled by Cassie's murder, apparently the killer put something sharp under Zach's car door handle to get a blood sample to frame him. "I doubt it's anything this table can't handle," Vogel says proudly. Yes, they're like The Avengers of Miami vigilantes.

9. Deb is thinking about starring in the Dexter spin-off returning to law enforcement: Deb gets so frustrated with Hannah wooing her brother, she gives Elway a whiff of fugitive Hannah's trail. Finally, a plot that Elway can get involved in! She later gets out her old uniform and tells Elway she's considering quitting. At least have some homemade electrolytes and think about it, first.

NEXT: The brain surgeon returns! Plus theories

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