Dexter Season 8 Review “This Little Piggy”

“No, I don’t understand! Haven’t you heard anything she said?! I’m stupid that way, my brain is limited! So when my sister tries to kill me, for some reason, it doesn’t make sense!”

Dexter returned this evening with an overall engaging, albeit slightly disappointing installment. Clocking in at only 44 minutes excluding the opening credits, “This Little Piggy” was also the shortest episode of the season so far, but it featured some much needed rebuilding for Deb and Dexter’s relationship as they teamed up to rescue Vogel.

I absolutely loved the opening scene here. Loved it. Every line and every shot was just superb, and it reminds you why Michael C. Hall has been a perennial Emmy nominee for years now (Although it perplexes me how Jennifer Carpenter hasn’t been nominated yet). If you read last week’s review, I was more than a little confused by Deb’s motives of why she drove the car into the lake. I was glad that Dexter immediately addressed the fact that Harrison would have been an orphan thanks to her, and I believe that the rare anger he was exhibiting towards his sister was totally justified. I guess the writers, via Dr. Vogel’s explanation, want us to believe that the car crash is symbolic of their relationship hitting rock bottom, so they can only rebuild from here. Whatever, I’m not buying it. It still seems like the writers just wanted to end the last episode with a big “holy crap” moment and didn’t care too much that Deb’s motives didn’t really ring true. Especially considering the fact that both Deb and Dex are completely unharmed and have both gone about their lives as if they didn’t just drive headlong into a lake and almost drown.

Michael C. Hall was absolutely riveting in this opening scene, and it’s really incredible to see just how much emotion he’s able to convey through Dexter now. Dexter used to be such a blank slate at the beginning of the series, but it’s been very rewarding to see his mental and emotional development over these past eight years. It’s for this reason that I was a little annoyed when his inner monologue pipes up with it’s trademark wit and cynicism: “Family therapy, who needs it?” I get that Dexter’s inner monologue is a staple of the series, and it can definitely be used for good sometimes, but it can also be just as easily used as a crutch. Michael C. Hall is doing such a great job actually showing us how he feels by how he acts and what he says out loud, that there’s really no need for his baritone voice to chime in and confirm “Yup, I’m not feelin’ too happy right now”. Yeah, we get it.

Anyway, we then got some honest-to-goodness character development for Detective Angie Miller! If you didn’t read my TV chat that posted on Wednesday, July 24th (my birthday!), then I urge you to go check it out where I semi-jokingly propose the theory that Miller is the Brain Surgeon. Whether or not she’s a secret serial killer, this is the first time we’ve actually seen any character development for her at all, and it’s almost comically too little, too late at this point. I mean, does anybody care about her struggle to make Sergeant? Come to think of it, does anybody care about Quinn’s struggle to make Sergeant? With only seven episodes left of Dexter for all time, I find it very hard to care about any of this.

Speaking of hard to care, let’s move along to Masuka. We got a little bit more of Niki tonight, as Masuka is now a little nervous that she might be after him for his money. It was nice to see Deb and Vince in a one-on-one together for the first time this season, and I’m happy to see Vince with an actual storyline of his own, but I can’t help but wonder where this is headed. Unless we’re going towards a crazy “Niki is the Brain Surgeon” twist at the end of the season, I don’t understand why we should care about this at all. I normally love all things related to Friday Night Lights, one of my favorite shows of all time, but I was never really a fan of Dora Madison Burge’s character Becky. This storyline needs to get interesting or get dead real fast.

The last little storyline we had involved another secondary character, but this one I actually did like. Jamie convinces Dexter to have a double date at his apartment with her friend Cassie, and when Dexter tries to pull a Dexter on her and totally ditch her at his apartment for hours at a time, she actually puts her foot down! I think it’s very clear that the writers have listened and responded to both the critics and fans who were more than a little disbelieving of how often Dex would leave his son and babysitter alone at his house for hours at a time, so I’m glad that Jamie is actually holding him responsible. This is actually the second time she’s cracked the whip on his crazy hours this season, so I’m definitely glad this is getting addressed. I’m not sure what will happen with this Cassie chick, if anything, but I guess we’ll see.

The main conflict of the episode came when last week’s bad guy AJ Yates kidnaps Vogel. The scenes between Vogel and Yates were adequately exciting, and Charlotte Rampling continues to be freaking awesome as Dr. Vogel, but it sure fizzled out pretty fast. I mean, the dude was quickly and easily bested by an old lady yelling and slapping him in the face. I get that he had serious mommy issues, and Vogel was playing it smart, but if that was actually The Brain Surgeon I would be thoroughly disappointed. The curtain rod through the mattress was certainly a crowd-pleasing moment, but I really hope we find out that Yates wasn’t the guy we were looking for. Maybe there’s still a chance that it’s Vogel. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s Detective Miller!

What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comment section below!

Random Thoughts:

– Every time I hear “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Mama Cass Elliott I will always think of LOST. The song appeared in all of the great Desmond-centric episodes “Man of Science, Man of Faith”, “Adrift”, and “Flashes Before Your Eyes”. However, this song is playing a major role in this season of Dexter as well! It was played back in episode two “Every Silver Lining”, and “Make Your Own Kind of Music” is actually the title of episode nine!

– A little behind the scenes note about Yates being the Brain Surgeon: The official Showtime description of the episode says that “Vogel is captured by The Brain Surgeon”. So this either confirms that Yates is the Brain Surgeon for sure, or maybe it’s just Showtime trying to throw us off since the characters in the show believe him to be the culprit.

– So what’s the deal with Jacob Elway? He did so little in this episode I didn’t even feel the need to mention him in the main review. Is he going to end up being something sinister, or is he just going to be a boring guy that Deb works for?