802: “Every Silver Lining…”

s8,Original Air Date: July 7, 2013

This week’s episode took us more into Dr. Vogel’s involvement in “creating” Dexter and raised quite a bit of suspicion as to what her purpose is for this season, other than the obvious roles of helping out with “The Brain Surgeon” serial killer investigation as well as revealing herself as Dexter’s “spiritual mother.” It seems as though Dexter is going to cooperate with Dr. Vogel, whereas Debra is becoming more of a vigilante herself. Here is my treatment of season 8 episode 2, “Every Silver Lining…”.

Examining Dr. Vogel

Dr. Vogel claims that the missing pieces of the brains of the victims that Miami Metro finds end up on her door step after each victim. She also suggests that the killer is one of her patients trying to send her a message. Several people on Tumblr have suggested that Dr. Vogel is the killer; however, if this many people have arrived at that conclusion already, it wouldn’t exactly be a brilliant conclusion to the series (sorry, guys). The writers are better than this, I think. If she is the killer, I think that there is much, much more to it. Charlotte Rampling, the actress who plays Dr. Evelyn Vogel, says that she thinks that everyone will be very surprised as to see how the series will end. I just had a horrible idea – that this is a Truman Show-esque type ending. Oh, please God don’t let this be a Truman Show-type scenario. Michael C. Hall has said that there are a ton of twists and turns to the plot, so it wouldn’t be all too far-fetched to say that we are meant to think that she is the killer for a great deal of the season. For now, I think we are all focusing on the wrong person. I’m not exactly sure who we should be focusing on, but I do think we should still keep an eye on Dr. Evelyn Vogel.

There’s a faint idea rolling around in my brain that Dr. Vogel may be a psychopath. Do you recall how she listed off the traits of a psychopath in a textbook-like manner? That’s how Dexter learned his emotions – by a book, by what others told him. Dr. Vogel seems like she may lack first-hand experience with any of these emotions. She did create a textbook on profiling psychopaths, so that is her excuse to speak in such a clipped, specific manner. Furthermore, we even hear Dr. Vogel saying to Dexter in the first episode: “We both chose murder. Maybe we’re both a little crazy.” This feels very much like how Dexter and Lila related to each other and found out each other’s secrets.

Dr. Vogel says that she has tried several “unorthodox methods” on other psychopaths. Dexter was the only one for whom she provided a code. She says that she believes that “there is a place in this world” for people like Dexter. “Psychopaths are not a mistake of nature. They’re a gift … they’re alpha wolves who help the human race survive long enough to become civilized. An indispensible demographic.” If she truly believed this, then her efforts were not malevolent or in vain. Clearly her experimentation on Dexter was “successful” by her standards. My question is now whether she trained any psychopaths after Dexter. Could she have trained Brian Moser, Dexter’s brother? In a way, Dr. Vogel is “playing God,” just as Dr. Frankenstein did; however, she is also making a case for the nature v. nurture argument that I’ve brought up before.

Dr. Vogel admitted to “convinc[ing]” Harry that Dexter’s urges were unstoppable; however, she did suggest that “they could be focused.” Dr. Vogel conditioned Dexter and helped to prepare him to be a well-trained serial killer. In effect, Dr. Vogel “made [him] what [he] [is].” In essence, Dexter may not have become a serial killer had Dr. Vogel not intervened – had Harry not sought outside help. This all puts into place why Harry got physically sick the first time he walked in on one of Dexter’s kills (we were showed this scene a few seasons back – one of the ones where Michael C. Hall was given a ridiculous wig and made up to look like a teenager or a twenty-something. It wasn’t clear.). Harry did not realize the ramifications of what he was doing. It all makes sense now why he would toss his cookies. Saying that Harry “operated” under her guidance makes it seem like she’s the Superintendent of the Psychopath Factory.

Going off of the notion that Dr. Vogel was trying to figure out ways on how to keep psychopaths in what they were “meant to do,” she was treating each of her patients as test subjects – as lab rats – as an “alternate species” or “less than human,” as Dexter said. Dexter does not trust her for this very reason, but Dr. Vogel says, in her defense, that she “developed a framework for [his] survival. That’s what mothers do.” She even tries to sell the idea that she cares for Dexter – I don’t know how believable this is. Even Dexter smells the bullshit radiating off of that excuse. She does offer interesting leverage, however: she cannot go to the FBI or Miami Metro with her concerns about the serial killers sending a message to her, or that he/they might come after her because of the illegal procedures she used that would indubitably destroy her reputation and career. It is interesting, however, that Dr. Vogel tries to make it seem as though Dexter owes her. He didn’t ask for help – Harry did. It is funny, however, that Dexter says: “I don’t take requests.”

To counter my own idea, it seems as if Dr. Vogel wants Dexter’s take on the case at hand because she knows he has pretty good insight on these kinds of cases for he’s committed several of his own murders. What better way to get more insight on the work of a psychopath than to ask another psychopath? Dr. Vogel wouldn’t really seem to need his help if she was a psychopath herself. That is of course she’s pretending to be normal – however, Dexter is usually pretty good at sniffing out other psychopaths. He keeps saying how he does not trust her. If I recall correctly, Dexter didn’t really trust Lila or Miguel Prado at first, either. Perhaps Dr. Vogel is shaping up to be a psychopath and we don’t see it just yet. Dr. Vogel has been rather manipulative thus far – between the threatening drawings and her offering him discs that contain interviews with his father, “piece[s] of [his] history,” it is clear that Dr. Vogel will not take “no” for an answer, although she does claim that she knew Dexter would help her anyway.

It’s especially peculiar that a specific section of brain was removed. Whoever is doing this must know their way around a brain. The video that Dexter and Dr. Vogel “find” in her office (I say “find” because I am suspicious of her involvement in this. Perhaps Dr. Vogel is training a different serial killer and putting Dexter to the test against this other serial killer. Perhaps there is another Dexter with a code floating around?) shows someone holding a camera, instructing the “killer” shown on what to do.

Whether or not Dr. Vogel is to  be trusted is up in the air at this point; however, it should be noted that the words that come out of her mouth (“I have faith in you”) are the exact words out of the ghost of Harry’s mouth just a few scenes before. You can see the recognition flicker over Dexter’s face, and I don’t know if that means he decided to trust her, or if he took it as a sign, or whathaveyou. I do want to put my faith in Dr. Vogel, though. For what reason I am not sure, but I do have a feeling that Dr. Vogel will really be an asset to Dexter at some point in time.

To support something I suggested in my post to 801: “A Beautiful Day” – I went into the etymology of Dr. Evelyn Vogel’s name. Believe it or not, this is usually a solid way of figuring out what the characters are up to in the scheme of things. Evelyn is a diminutive of “Aveline,” which stems from “Avila,” meaning “desired.” Vogel was originally a name for a happy person, but today we’ve come to known it as meaning “bird.” So if she’s a desired bird, someone wants to shoot her down. She’s been flying too high for too long fame-wise. Perhaps she wasn’t lying about the serial killer coming after her and sending those melon-ball brain scoops to her. If we recall the bookends of episode 1, and where I suggested that the rainbow kite signaled that there were new players/issues/Dark Passengers in town, this is somewhat fitting. Someone wants to take down Dr. Vogel. Perhaps someone, or several people, are tired of Dr. Vogel making a ton of money off of her work with them. Perhaps someone is tired of being used or manipulated for Dr. Vogel’s Frankenstein-esque experiments. We know Dr. Vogel is successful because episode 1 showed Dexter looking her up and finding information on her best-selling book Crave to Kill and her notable work in neuroscience and psychiatry. It’s not like she’s nobody. People know her. Wherever there is fame, there is also someone trying to take that fame away from you. (If you don’t buy the name etymology as having anything to do with Dr. Vogel’s involvement, take for instance this example. Dexter means “right handed,” “fortunate,” or “one who dyes.” Although Dexter isn’t the one who’s doing the “dying,” he’s sure as hell staining a lot of things with blood. “Dexterous” also comes to mind, as does deftness and skill, which he certainly has. Morgan means “sea circle” – which is quite fun when you think about Dexter’s make-shift “Bermuda triangle” where he dumps all of his bodies into the water.) Speaking of Dexter …

Dexter

Dexter seems to have an “inherent sense of justice,” as Dr. Vogel observed – but he also seems to have an inherent sense of morality as well. He keeps bringing up Debra and how he’s destroyed her. I classify this as a good case of guilt that he cannot shake. Furthermore, you need a sense of morality in order to judge someone, as Dr. Vogel accused Dexter of doing after what she had told him about how she treated each of her psychopathic patients.

She is visibly shocked when Dexter expresses that he wanted to talk to “someone who knew what [he] was going through” after Harry’s death. When Dexter questions her about her reaction, she states that “people like you don’t usually seek an emotional connection” with anyone. We know that Dexter has done this several times before. On top of the fact that he has seemed, since season 2, to want to confess his secrets to someone – to anyone – we know that he has sought emotional connections with Rita, Lila, Miguel Prado, Lumen, Hannah, and Debra. Clearly Dexter is not a cookie-cutter psychopath. The fact that he has lost his emotional connection with Debra has driven him to anger and remorse, emotions that are not characteristic of a psychopath. He’s told Deb before that he loves her and cares about her, and this season, I’m actually starting to really believe that he’s actually feelings this emotions at this point in time. Did you happen to catch the expression on Dexter’s face when she brought up the fact that she “wanted the opposite” of hating him? In addition, everything Debra’s been doing has caused Dexter to become one giant worrying mess. “That’s what’s been eating at [Dexter],” as Dr. Vogel points out – the fact that he has no idea what Debra is up to and how she feels. This was a clever way to foreshadow the name of episode 3 (and is an allusion to “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” – a great Johnny Depp/Leonardo DiCaprio film). It’s clearly eating away at Dexter – “Psychopaths are a gift of nature. What kind of gift destroys everything it cares about?” Dexter feels that he’s “a mistake;” however, Dr. Vogel says that he is “exactly what [he] need[s] to be … [he’s] perfect.”

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Dr. Vogel said to Dexter last episode: “Serial killers don’t have enemies. Everyone is a potential victim.” This is untrue with Dexter. He has a code, so only those that fit the code, or show potential to, are possible victims. Dexter certainly does have (well, did have) enemies – Doakes, Lila, Arthur Mitchell, Jonah Mitchell, LaGuerta.

Dexter starts to get down on himself when they find out, with the help of the red disc left on Dr. Vogel’s laptop (which Dexter should have taken prints off of), that Sussman had an accomplice in the second murder of this season. He expresses how this is the only thing he’s ever been good at, and now “I can’t even do that anymore.” Dr. Vogel tries to shove the fact that “people like you have an inherent need to be right” down his throat, but this seems to anger and confuse Dexter even more.

As has been previously discussed, it seems as though the issue of the psychopath in Dexter is not “black and white,” as Dr. Vogel asserts. According to her, “psychopathic traits can be found in the most successful CEOs … in the most effective politicians” (my mind immediately goes to the poster that’s been floating around of Dexter’s face in stylized red and orange with the slogan “PUT THE POWER SAW TO THE PEOPLE”). What a statement! I am still not convinced entirely that Dexter is a psychopath, nor that he is not a psychopath.

“Without psychopaths, mankind wouldn’t exist today,” according to Eveyln Vogel. Dexter, however, points out that “there’s a lot of mankind that doesn’t’ exist because of them.” And now we stumble upon our titular allusion: “every silver lining …” has a cloud. Psychopathy is both a blessing and a curse. Right now it’s been looking a hell of a lot like a curse.

Debra

It seems like Dexter isn’t the only one who is beginning to crumble, either. When Elway mentions LaGuerta in Briggs’ apartment, she is quick to defend her honor and her reputation. It is clear that her guilt will not easily be beaten.

Although Deb may be broken, she’s still fully as hell. “What is that shit? It looks like horse piss.” Well, that “electro-shite solution” didn’t look all too bad, in Elway’s defense. She definitely needs it after the beating she took from El Sapo – speaking of which – Jennifer Carpenter tweeted about doing all of those stunts herself. If that was really a cement floor, God bless her. I wouldn’t be all too surprised if one of those nasty bruises we saw while Dexter visited her in her place were partially (if not entirely) real.

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Vogel has brought up Deb before, as she does in the previews for episode 3. She’s asked why Dexter didn’t kill her when she found out that he was a serial killer. That’s easy – he cares about her! He’s not a psychopath! If he was a psychopath, he would have killed Debra as soon as she found out. The sinister suggestion and expression Dr. Vogel gives when she mentions killing Deb gave me the creeps. I think it’s safe to say that Dr. Vogel is going to try to work her way into Debra’s life as well, as if she owes Harry something. Perhaps trying to fix his family for him. We even see a clip of Dexter, Debra, and Dr. Vogel in the interrogation room at Miami Metro – first off, why in the hell are they having this conversation in the interrogation room where they could be recorded or spied on from behind the two-way mirror – second of all, why are they having this conversation in Miami Metro to boot? She says she’s going to confess everything to everyone. Oh, GOD I’m excited for episode 3! Perhaps this is not what we think it is – Dexter was adamant about not bringing Deb into any of their dealings and about not talking to Deb. Why would he cave in now? I’m predicting that Dr. Vogel went and did this behind Dexter’s back (or got Debra to seek out her help) and Dexter walked in on them in the interrogation room. Perhaps this is Dr. Vogel’s way of outing Dexter and Debra’s secrets (if the possibility of her making another book off of Dexter, the Bay Harbor Butcher, is at all possible). It’s clear that Debra wants a clean conscience and that she wants to be caught or found out or that she even wants to confess. She’s getting sloppier, as we saw with her offing El Sapo after their run-in at Briggs’ storage facility.

Personally, it was heartbreaking to see Debra at the corner of Papa’s. It is so clear that she desperately wants to return to the times when she was still in Miami Metro when she would hang out with the guys – Batista, Masuka, Quinn – and have drinks. She longs for a time when things were better – before she found out Dexter was a serial killer, before Quinn proposed and she rejected him and they split up, before she was lieutenant. It’s clear that Quinn’s stuck in a similar rut, too. He refuses to takes his sergeants test because I think a part of him still longs for Debra. I wouldn’t be all too surprised if they got together this season again. It’s terrible to see her in such pain. I hope all of this is worth it.

Other

Doesn’t El Sapo/Javier Guzman remind you of Johnny Depp? Hey, fun fact: “el sapo” in Spanish means “the toad.” I mean, I guess we won’t be able to figure out what that means since he croaked so soon into the season (see what I mean about name meanings? You didn’t believe me, did you?). Speaking of El Sapo – did you notice the cut on his right cheek? That means he’s about to be exterminated by a Morgan.

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The hint at Lyle Sussman’s air conditioner as the possible location of evidence of his guilt was amusing. Did you happen to notice his set of tools in his cabin out in the woods? They look remarkably like Dexter’s.

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I also enjoy how self-conscious and self-deprecating the show is. Chaucer did that, and look how well-known he still is today! Did you notice the soap opera in the background as Jaime and Angel argued in the living room after Jaime walked out on a date with Quinn? It’s especially funny because it follows a scene where Jaime is yelling at Quinn for thinking of another woman.

Unexplained loopholes:

Where did Debra get the extra gun to shoot El Sapo with?

I’m still waiting to figure out who the two victims are of The Brain Surgeon killer. I’m assuming that the man or woman in charge of the operations tells someone else how to kill the victim, and then goes in post-mortem to cut the back of their heads and scoop out the melon-ball-sized anterior insular cortex.

Now for a list of “funnies”:

“Miami makes more corpses than sunburns.”

“If I were to cop a feel right now, it wouldn’t be sexual harassment anymore.”

(This is funny on two levels – it’s Masuka, and she’s no longer a cop, so he can cop a feel. Ha-ha.)

Overview

And now to put a “number” on this episode. Dexterity (neat-handedness, puns, trickery, clever sayings, placements, etc.) will judge all of the small things that I pick up on. The higher the score, the more fun I had picking apart the episode for hidden clues. Entertainment (how much I laughed and enjoyed the episode) will judge how excited I was on average throughout the episode, as well as after it for the upcoming episodes. Xtremity (how dramatic, but also how believable the episode was, edge-of-the-seat, white knuckles, the “holy shit” factor) will judge just how jaw-dropping the episode was.

Dexterity: 6

There wasn’t much hidden in this episode for me to look for, but there were a few really good puns.

Entertainment: 7

Masuka always seems to jack this score up. Pun intended.

Xtremity: 9

Because Deb’s on a killing spree!

DEX-Factor:   7.3

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