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Is family a blessing or a burden? It seems like Dexter's been trying to figure out the answer to that question for seasons now. Maybe for the entire run of the series, really, when we consider his relationship with Deb. On one hand, his life might be a whole lot simpler if Dexter didn't have Deb around, or his son Harrison. But on the other hand. Dexter's family connections are one of the big things that make him relatable. They sort of tie him to the rest of us as an actual human being and not just a psychopath-slash-blood-spatter-analyst. If he had no family, he'd just be a guy who killed people, and he'd have nothing to lose. Well, besides his freedom and/or his life, assuming things ever take a majorly wrong turn.
Family was on the menu during tonight's episode, not just for Deb and Dexter, but for Masuka, and more loosely, a murder investigation that puts father and son as separate suspects. We also saw the close of an arc that always seemed like set-up for something bigger. By that, I'm referring to Yates, the guy who was stalking Vogel. A lot of us thought she was setting that whole situation up as a means of inserting herself more directly into Dexter's life. That turned out not to be the case. The mentally unstable former patient was actually stalking her and looking to take out his mommy issues on Vogel. But after Deb and Dexter tracked him down, while the cops were busy sorting through his many victims' remains, Yates ended up dead, having been stabbed (presumably) through the back by an iron curtain rod. Good thing Dexter's adept at plunging things into people, as it did seem to take at least a little effort to get the curtain rod through the mattress and maybe a box spring and into the killer. RIP Yates. Thanks for creepily inspiring tonight's episode title ("This Little Piggy") with your appreciation for breaking the toes of your female victims.
So Yates wasn't Vogel's way of manipulating Dexter, but I do think he was the writers' way of introducing Vogel to Dexter's life and revisiting his origin story in a way that puts so much of Dexter's "head" Harry's counsel into question. When push came to shove, Harry couldn't live with his part in bringing Dexter's dark passenger to the surface. And when Deb found out the truth about Harry, she couldn't live with it either. Tonight's episode picked up with a family therapy session between Deb and Dexter so they could discuss Deb's decision to try to kill herself and Dexter, and then her decision to try to save Dexter. In the end, Dexter was the one mad at Deb, which is a pretty big turn. But he got over that when Vogel went missing, and by the end of the episode, the three of them seemed to be on more comfortable footing, taking a late-night cruise on the Slice of Life to dump Yates' body.
So Yates is gone, where do we go from here? That's the big question. Between the suicide/murder attempt and the Yates situation, the dynamic between Deb and Dexter has shifted. Deb doesn't seem nearly as angry at him as she did. And she also seemed to handle Dexter killing Yates pretty well, which suggests she's getting her head back together, at least enough to function, which would be a good thing. But we'll have to wait and see. Where does Vogel fit into the picture? Well, she was in the boat with Deb and Dexter tonight when he referenced "family," which I think means she'll be sticking around to nose around Dexter's life and analyze both Dexter and Deb's actions. It seems like the writers may have set her up as a vital part of Deb and Dexter's lives. She knows their deepest, darkest secrets and while she isn't judging them, she could attempt to manipulate them.
In other family-related business, thanks to Quinn's pessimistic - okay, realistic - comments about Masuka's daughter Niki possibly having ulterior motives for showing up in her mother's sperm-donor's life, Masuka has asked Deb to do some digging on the girl. As adorable as Niki is, Quinn's not wrong for suggesting Masuka consider Niki's real reason for showing up in his life. The girl says her mother passed away and she has no one else. That could very well be the truth. I hope it is. But there may be a scam here, even if she is confirmed to be his daughter, which she is. So far though, she seems pretty innocent… unless we're supposed to judge her for her large appetite and the fact that she forgot her bag so Masuka had to pay for her burrito. I do think hitting him up for a meal (or two) might've been what prompted Masuka to take Quinn's advice, but I think it might be a stretch to suspect her based on that incident alone. So we'll have to wait and see what Deb digs up.
Meanwhile, Quinn's working on the murder trial of Norma Rivera, the maid of a rich guy named Hamilton, who has connections to Miami Metro and was having an affair with Norma. It was looking like he might be a possible suspect until creepy-Zach stepped into the picture wearing a pink shirt and an unsettling manner. He approached Dexter to ask him what they found at the murder scene and point out that his dad's an asshole, not a murderer. So he seemed like an obvious suspect from the start, and then there was a witness who saw him near the scene. Said witness later recanted, but right now it's looking like Zach's the guy. This case wasn't settled at the end of the episode, so that's one more loose end that needs tying up.
Jamie set up a double-date for herself and Quinn to fix Dexter up with neighbor Cassie. The date conflicted with Dexter needing to go meet Deb to track down Vogel, and while Jamie refused to let Dexter off the hook, Dexter later conspired with Cassie to cut the evening short. They seemed to hit it off well enough in an introductory sort of way, and this situation definitely has to-be-continued written all over it.
Finally, Angie's throwing her hat into the sergeant ring, putting herself in line with Quinn for the promotion. This could pose an interesting conflict of interest for Batista, who's the one in charge of the situation. I get the impression Angie has a thing for Batista, though he hasn't seemed to notice yet. And we know Batista wants Quinn to get the promotion because they're friends and he's dating his sister. Something's brewing here. We'll have to see how all of that works out.
And that about ends it. Though we're not yet to the half-way point of the final season, tonight's closing moments felt like the step to the next level. I really want Vogel's presence to be worth what this character has done to Dexter's origin story. Right now, I'm choosing to be optimistic that for better or worse, whatever she brings to Deb and Dexter's life will be amazing in terms of how this story wraps up. At the very least, she can be somewhat credited for getting Deb and Dexter back on speaking terms.
If you haven't seen it yet, check out our breakdown of the Dexter panel at Comic-Con here.