Dexter is watching videotapes Dr. Vogel made decades ago – interviews with Harry Morgan who was struggling to understand his foster son’s fascination with and, eventual propensity, for murder. Harry talks about the time Dexter saw his first murder scene when he was 10 years old and how Dexter took his first trophy home – a shard of glass with blood on it, the very thing that became his habit during his own killings – taking blood from his victim’s cheeks, saving them on slides and then squirreling them away inside the air conditioner in his apartment. Dr. Vogel tells Dexter about how she and Harry came up with the Code in order to channel the serial killer in the right direction. She also wants Dexter to see her as his spiritual mother. When he asks her why she didn’t report him, she says that he got under her skin and she came to care for him.
Dr. Vogel also has a more pressing problem and wants Dexter’s help. The missing piece of brain from that puzzling crime scene was left on her doorstep, in a jar wrapped in butcher paper and she fears that she might be the next victim of whoever, possibly a former patient, committed the crime. Dexter tells her that he doesn’t take requests, but she says that she thought a DVD she has might help put things into perspective for him. In that DVD Harry and the doctor discuss Dexter first killing where he made his subject look at pictures of his own victim’s, something that became a trademark of Dexter’s. Dr, Vogel explains that what guides Dexter is an innate sense of justice.
Debra is at Elway’s office and is explaining what happened to Briggs. When he asks why she was sleeping with the guy, Debra tells him that it was just part of her job. Elway expresses some concern for Debra, telling her that she looks tired and dehydrated, then offers her an “energy” drink, supposedly to help her electrolyte levels. Why the usually over-cautious Deb drank the damn thing doesn’t make sense, but it matters later. Debra gives Elway a key to a storage unit that she took from Briggs before the police arrived to investigate his death.
Miami Metro is called to another crime scene, and another victim whose skull has been cut and a piece of his brain removed. Dexter notices a plastic bag nearby and takes it as evidence. After a cursory examination of the body, Quinn dubs the killer “The Brain Surgeon” and Masuka seems to take almost giddy delight in the name. Now, Masuka has always been in Dexter’s shadow, a good analyst, but nothing like the genius of Dexter. He’s had to cover for his partner more times than we can count while Dexter has been busy keeping Miami’s streets free of all types of miscreants. We can make whatever we want of Masuka’s reaction to Quinn’s off-handed remark, but it does lend itself to a couple of theories about where Vincent Masuka may be going in this final season. Right or wrong, I always enjoy engaging in theories – mine or anyone else’s.
Elway and Debra set off for the storage unit but Elway begs off, saying that he has some other business to attend to. Deb, never one to let a little danger stop her, heads out alone. When she opens the unit, she finds the bag with the stolen jewelry, but doesn’t make it out. El Sapo has been following her, and after a fight, he leaves with the goods and Debra is on the floor, inside of the unit.
The Brain Surgeon, or at least who is supposed to be him, is identified as a man named Lyle Sussman from a bloody fingerprint found on a piece of duct tape. Dexter runs with the information and makes his way to Sussman’s cabin, a perfect place for some killings. He takes a quick look around and it sure looks like someone’s been busy there, but poor Lyle is outside, hanging from a meat hook. Batista and Quinn are a couple of steps behind Dexter, and only find out about the cabin from Sussman’s mother. Before they can make their way there, El Sapo’s body is found, in his car, shot to death. Dexter is really worried about his sister at this point, and sees a bit of glass with some blood on it, which, given the scene, can’t be El Sapo’s. Of course, he takes it for his own reasons, concerned that it might be Debra’s. Masuka searches the car and finds a second gun in the glove box, which we know is Debra’s. Dexter heads for Debra’s house and finds her passed out, drunk, on the sofa. She wants nothing to do with him, telling him that the last she wanted was to hate him, but there they are and it is what it is.
Dexter then goes to see Dr. Vogel and tells her what he found at Lyle’s cabin. He wonders aloud about an accomplice but Vogel stops him. She says that Dexter has an inherent need to be tight, to feel superior. Dexter tells her that she talks about him as if he were some alternate species, like he’s lees than human. Dr. Vogel assures him that it’s quite the contrary. In her strange version of the workings of the human mind, psychopaths are not mistakes – they’re gifts – alpha wolves who help the human race survive long enough to become civilized. In fact, she says, they’re an indispensable demographic. She adds that the traits of psychopaths exist in all sorts of successful people including politicians. Now that’s one point that even I can find some validity in.
Dexter confirms that the blood from the glass of El Sapo’s car is Debra’s and he knows that it won’t be long before her gun is identified as well. Debra is at the station talking to Quinn about Briggs, well, her version, anyway. When Quinn shows her some pictures of El Sapo’s body and the crime scene, Debra goes nuts. Dexter steps in and takes her outside, into an alleyway. There he tells her everything he knows about what happened. Debra doesn’t really remember everything and tells Dexter that all she knows is that she found herself out by El Sapo’s car, standing over his already dead body. That energy/electrolyte drink Elway gave her is looking more sinister by the minute. Dexter is confused but is still worried about how that gun of hers is going to look when Masuka finishes his tests on it. Debra tells her brother that he can switch it out of evidence, replacing it with another gun. Now Dexter is starting to really come apart, and asks her what if wasn’t there to do that for her. Debra, who can out-crazy, out-argue anyone at a moment’s notice counters with “do you really want to play the what if game?” Hey bro, “what if you weren’t a serial killer?” Ouch, touche, game over – for now.
Dexter does what he has to do and takes Deb’s gun out of the evidence room, putting another in it’s place. As he does so, he realizes that he does that more often than he can remember – for himself. Doing it for Deb is going to take some getting used to.
Dexter gets a calls from Dr. Vogel who’s in an absolute panic. According to her, there’s someone in her house and she wants Dexter to come over and find out what’s going on. When he gets there, she tells him that she hasn’t seen anyone leave. Dexter checks the whole place out and finds no one inside. She goes back inside with him, turns on the lights and, what do you know? There’s a DVD on her desk, which she claims isn’t hers. Vogel plays the DVD and the two of them see Sussman killing the last victim, but there’s a gun to his head and the hand holding it is wearing a blue surgical glove. Sussman was coerced into doing the deed, but by whom?
Dexter, who has always been able to figure out the minds of other killers, was wrong about Sussman and the thought of being wrong is maddening him. He tells Vogel that he was always good at stalking and killing but he’s not anymore. The situation with Deb, the fact that his secret has destroyed his sister is throwing him off his game. He tells Vogel that he’s a mistake but she doesn’t see him that way at all. No, she thinks he’s exactly what he needs to be. Perfect. Vogel then embraces her spiritual son from behind and Dexter clasps her hand, comforted by the fact that someone, like Hannah McKay, understands and loves him for what he is. Perfect.
There were a few scenes between Batista and Quinn, where Angel, aware of the fact that Quinn is seeing Jamie, urges him to better himself by taking the sergeant’s exam. Jamie argues with Angel and Quinn and they sort of break up, or not. It’s a storyline, with very little relevance, but there you have it, for whatever it’s worth.
This episode was directed by Michael C. Hall.