Dexter season premiere recap: Deb's Gone Wild

Debra spirals into self-destructive debauchery while Dexter struggles to contain his anger as the Showtime hit returns for its final season.
Ep. 01 | Aired Jun 30, 2013

THIS IS ALL DEB'S EATEN TODAY: Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) is lost at the Pink Motel

We stopped. There were reasons. EW.com was recapping so many shows on Sunday nights in the fall, something had to go. Dexter drew the short straw. Given season 6, could you blame us? So we quit recapping. But then: Deb found out. And last year's season seven was urgent and gripping (though I still haven't entirely forgiven Dexter setting up kill room at the Miami airport). So now here we are. The final 12, with recaps resumed just in time for Dex's deadly descent.

My credentials: I read Jeff Lindsay's Darkly Dreaming Dexter back in 2005. I've seen every episode. I spent a few days on the set of season 8 a couple months ago (actually a pretty fascinating time, I'll drop little bits from the set visits during the recaps). Season 2, when Miami Metro chased the Bay Harbor Butcher, is my favorite (I know, most love season 4 -- Trinity -- but for me the show is always best when Dexter is scrambling to keep from getting caught). Basically, I'm a longtime Dexter fan, but not an entirely uncritical fan, so this recap won't be 100 percent gushing.

So let's go to Miami and meet up with our anti-hero. The episode is titled "A Beautiful Day" and we hear an acoustic version of "What a Wonderful World" as Dex explains that LaGuerta's death six months ago solved all his problems. Harrison is doing well in soccer -- no surprise since he's apparently taking steroids. Dex got the bowling team back together and he's having recreational sex, which is interesting. Dex typically has sex as part of a relationship-driven package deal. But Dex becoming more human is a big component of this season and this is the first of several signs of that evolution. I really like the shot of the last petal from Hannah McKay's orchid falling as Dex's date sheds her dress. Very nice -- the petal shot, I mean, not her boobs... well, those are nice too, but they're really not the point of this -- forget it!

Dex shows up late to the Miami Metro team dedicating a bench in LaGuerta's honor and with Harrison in tow. Debra is notably absent. We learn she quit the force in a rather awesome way -- she went out to lunch and never came back. Batista, who abandoned his plan to retire and focus on his tourist-trap restaurant after LaGuerta's death, notes his dining room is filled with boxes of her stuff. A little red flag goes up in our heads -- Do LaGuerta's boxes include that incriminating video of Deb at the gas station?

Dex chats about his sister's absence, clearly knowing less about her whereabouts than they do. This is something Michael C. Hall is always good at -- acting a certain way for Dexter's coworkers while sending an entirely different set of information to the viewer. Dex tries calling Deb's cell phone but her voicemail is full.

Ah, here's Deb. We see she's coked out of her gourd in a skeezy motel room. She hoovers up a line and is panting over an equally skeezy low-life criminal named Briggs. She's smoking, drinking, snorting and screwing. She's desperately trying to forget her actions last season as well as punish herself. But it's amazing how much a setting impacts things. Consider this: If you merely upgraded the hotel room to a suite at the Mandalay Bay, suddenly the whole context of this scene could shift from "Deb in hell" to "Deb's wild Vegas weekend."

When sober, Deb only wants one thing -- to catch bad guys. But this Deb wants to rent a speedboat and buzz cruise ships. I'm ashamed to admit I'm rather enjoying the GGW version of Deb. It's like she's only a couple days away from shooting a Reality Kings video.

NEXT: Cereal aisle face-off; Dex flips out

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