Dexter Season 8 Premiere — Matthews Pulls the Strings

The first episode of the final season of Dexter is upon us, so I say, let’s all state our theories now. A good twist is one that most people won’t see coming, but it doesn’t come out of the blue. When it arrives, the viewer will not scratch his head and go, “Huh?” but lean back and say, “Of course.”

While some fans are certain Dexter’s decline began with Julia Stiles, it was Rita’s death that caused a tone-change. In place of the dark humor and occasional satirical jabs, we were suddenly meant to take this seriously. Dexter’s “lifestyle” had consequences. Innocent people we’d grown to care about (even if they were incredibly obtuse) were in danger. Season Five, with its his and hers matching kill outfits, quasi-religious self-help-murder-cult, and over the top misogyny, was an honest attempt to get us back where we belonged.

Then came the catastrophic Season Six and the transitional Season 7. It was in Season Six that Dexter’s internal monologues became deadly dull. Gone were the little asides that gave us a peek into his darkly dreaming mind, placing us in the backseat on a drive with Dex and Harry. No more experiencing the glitz of Miami as “Dahmerland.” Now his inner voice seemed to be providing an ongoing narration of his every waking moment. Its purpose was to tell us exactly what he was thinking because we could no longer get that from the writing or the acting, and needed to be diverted from figuring out “the truth” about the professor. Dexter was dumbed down, and we were expected to be in the dark as well. The whole season turned out to be leading up to the one big moment when Deb sees Dexter in the church.

Season 7 only existed to get us to the shipping container confrontation between Dex, Deb and LaGuerta. Anything else that happened was forgotten.

Now here we are in the home stretch. Sunday night’s final season premiere, It’s a Beautiful Day. Thankfully, the writing was tighter than it’s been for a couple of years. While picking up where they left off was necessary after the Season 4 and Season 6 finales, it limited where the story could go. Starting Season 8 six months later, was a smart choice. Deb’s leaving the force made sense for the character. Staying would have meant falling further down the rabbit hole. Dex wasn’t going to change, and she’d need to cover for him. She may be self-destructive and seeking punishment, but she’s awake, and keeping her brother out of her life is a good decision. Good on the writers for character development that made sense.

There’s speculation out there, fueled by a publicity photo, that Dex will wind up on the table with Deb taking him out. More likely that’s a dream or a fantasy sequence. My guess is the ending will have a touch more humor and irony and a touch less grand guignol.

What’s coming?

Quinn will not be wasted as he has been for the past couple of years. He didn’t just suspect Dexter, he had evidence. The writers put him in a relationship with Jaimee for a reason. Quinn is going to have a close up view of Dexter’s strange hours and many disappearances. If Quinn thinks Dex hurt Deb somehow, or may have been involved in LaGuerta’s murder, that could reignite his fire, and he may be in a position to at least get Batista to hear him out.

Rumor has it that Hannah will be back. Let’s not foret that she also knows stuff, and may be willing to trade that information for a ticket to freedom. She’s done it before.

But the biggest one to watch is Matthews. They’ve pulled him out in small doses throughout the years. He was Harry’s best friend. He knew Harry’s death was a suicide. He knew all about the Moshers, and about Harry’s relationship with his CI. What else did he know?

My guess would be (almost) everything.

Let’s begin with how Dex managed to get his job, and how he managed access to a lot of files he had no business looking at. Sure he sweet-talked Camilla and gave her donuts – she knew things too – but there was more to it than that. Matthews was always there. He’s always been keeping an eye on Dex and Deb. He questioned Dex during the investigation of Doakes. Could he have been trying to make sure Dex had his story straight if he was planning to frame Doakes?

Last season, Matthews didn’t just question Dexter about whether he was the Bay Harbor Butcher, he warned him, let’s him know exactly what Maria had. Why? He knows, and he wanted to give Dexter a chance to cover his tracks, as he did back in Season 2 when he questioned Dexter about the bloodslides. Did he realize telling Dex what LaGuerta had would put her in danger? Maybe, but he also knows about the code, and might have had faith that that would keep her safe. While no love was lost between Matthews and Maria, he can’t be pleased with her demise. If Dexter killed LaGuerta (and Matthews has no reason to suspect Deb), then that means Dex is capable of breaking the code. If Dexter is capable of breaking the code, then, from Matthews’ point of view, something has to be done – either the rabid dog needs to put down (and in a way that will have the least amount of fallout for the department and for Matthews) or he needs to be reigned back in.

That’s why Vogel has been brought on board. It’s no coincidence that she and Matthews have a history. We already know that she knows about the code, and probably guided Harry. This season will be about unravelling the origins of Harry’s code and revealing Matthews’ “behind the scenes” ongoing role in allowing the deception.

Dexter has a powerful protector in Matthews who would not want Dexter’s activities exposed. On the other hand, if Dexter can’t be controlled and there’s too much danger of everything coming out, then Matthews might figure out a quiet way to get rid of Dexter, as much as it would pain him to do so.

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