What's Eating Dexter Morgan?
|"What's Eating Dexter Morgan?"|
|Episode no.||Season 8
|Directed by||Ernest Dickerson|
|Written by||Lauren Gussis|
|Original air date||July 14, 2013|
|Running time||50 minutes|
"What's Eating Dexter Morgan?" is the third episode of the eighth season of the Showtime television series Dexter. The episode originally aired on July 14, 2013. It was directed by Ernest Dickerson and written by executive producer Lauren Gussis, who have both worked on the series for several years.
In the episode, the protagonist and titular serial killer Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) and Dr. Evelyn Vogel (special guest star Charlotte Rampling) continue to attempt to track down the "Brain Surgeon" serial killer, which leads Dexter to a cannibalistic serial killer. Meanwhile, Dexter's sister Debra Morgan's (Jennifer Carpenter) mounting guilt over killing María LaGuerta to protect Dexter in the previous season begins to consume her.
The episode received mixed reviews, with reviewers critical of its "meandering" pace but praising Deb's character arc and Carpenter's performance.
The police think Lyle Sussman (Scott Michael Morgan) is the "Brain Surgeon", a serial killer who removes pieces of his victim's brains, and shut down the case and focus on El Sapo (Nick Gomez), a hitman hired by the mob who Deb killed in the previous episode. Dexter, however, knows that the real killer killed Sussman.
Deb is arrested for drunk driving and damaging city property (a parking meter). She calls Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington), who manages to get the charges dropped. Quinn expresses his worries about Deb, which she shrugs off.
Deb and Jacob Elway's (Sean Patrick Flanery) newest case involves a woman (Rebecca Staab) who thinks her husband is having an affair. They take photographs of him in the act and show it to her, but she denies it is her husband. Elway notes to Deb that she is in denial, a theme which parallels Debra's denial of Dexter being a psychopathic serial killer.
Dexter and Dr. Vogel continue to try to hunt down the Brain Surgeon. Vogel finds the occipital lobe, the part of the brain used for seeing, on her doorstep, which Dexter theorizes means they are being watched. Dexter goes through a list of her patients and suspects Ron Galuzzo (Andrew Elvis Miller), a fitness equipment salesman who once murdered his friend. Vogel suspects he might want revenge on her since she helped institutionalize him. Suspicious of him when he denies knowing Vogel, Dexter breaks into his house and discovers he is a cannibalistic serial killer, finding body parts and organs in his kitchen and fridge.
Dexter and Vogel also discuss if Dexter really loves Deb, and Vogel thinks he only thinks he loves her, and only loves the things that Deb does for him. She also notes how she and Harry (James Remar) disagreed over the most important rule of the Code; while Harry thought it should be to never kill an innocent, Vogel maintained that it was most important to keep his cover.
Dexter takes Deb to dinner and tries to assuage her guilt by pointing out a man dining in the restaurant with his family, identifying him as a man she saved in a shootout with the Fuentes brothers in the fifth season. This only works to further her guilt, and she shows up to the police station drunk, prepared to confess to LaGuerta's murder. Quinn subsequently calls Dexter, and he and Vogel arrive to try to convince her to remain silent. Dexter gives Debra an injection that renders her unconscious, telling Quinn she fainted, brings her back to her home and handcuffs her to a couch.
The episode ends with Dexter strapping Galuzzo to his kill table and noting how he is similar in how he "consumes everyone he loves."
In its original American broadcast, "What's Eating Dexter Morgan?" was watched by 2.43 million viewers, down 90,000 from the previous episode.
The episode received mixed reviews. Many critics questioned Vogel and Elway's true intentions; however, Vogel's character and Charlotte Rampling's portrayal of her was well received. The cannibal plotline was received more negatively; critics were more enthusiastic about Jennifer Carpenter's acting and Deb's arc.
Matt Fowler of IGN, like Queally, praised Vogel's continuing role in the series but thought the cannibal plotline was "comical." He felt the episode retread some of the ground made in the previous episode.
Kevin Fitzpatrick of Screen Crush called Galuzzo's plot "cartoonish" and was weary of the Brain Surgeon arc as a whole. Like others, he praised Jennifer Carpenter's portrayal of Deb, writing that Carpenter "continues to deliver a strong performance in allowing the character to unravel." He criticized the scene with Deb in the police station, noting how convenient it was that no other characters saw her and that Quinn seemed "dismissive" rather than suspicious. Cory Barker of TV.com also criticized how the writers took advantage of Quinn's "idiocy." Gregory Eckert of Paste also noted how the writers used Quinn to be always just on the edge of discovering Dexter's secret.
Cory Barker also praised Carpenter's portrayal of Deb's despair and hopelessness. He criticized that the episode seemed to put the characters into "forced situations," especially in the last third.
The Huffington Post 's Alex Moaba praised Carpenter's acting and noted that Deb has hit "rock bottom." However, Moaba also wrote that "damaged Deb is getting to be a little bit of a drag." Alyse Wax of Fearnet, however, thought that Deb was close to but not at rock bottom, and was desperately trying to redeem herself. Alan Sepinwall also praised Carpenter and noted that show was shifting its sympathies from Dexter to Deb. IGN's Matt Fowler also praised Carpenter's range.
Writing for TV Fanatic, Matt Richenthal wrote Deb's scenes were "terrific" and "riveting," and opined "Jennifer Carpenter once again pour[ed] all she has into Deb's collapse. It was impossible not to be teetering on the edge of one's seat as Deb entered the police station and fell apart, wanting to confess it all."
Writing for Paste, Gregory Eckert noted that the Brain Surgeon arc and Galuzzo's story seemed insignificant in the season's arc, pointing to the conflict between Dexter and Deb as the main dramatic crux, opining "As long as Deb is out of control, Dex is a mere shell of his old existence."
Bill Harris of the Toronto Sun noted the growing importance of Debra's character arc and the differences between Dexter and her, writing "Dexter is the name of the show. But Debra is the story of the show."
Joshua Alston of The A.V. Club was positive of Evelyn Vogel's character and her motherly and "tough love" relationship to Dexter, writing "Vogel makes no apologies for what Dexter is and loves him because of his homicidal tendencies, not in spite of them." Though he felt the Brain Surgeon arc was moving slowly, he felt it had potential.
Andrea Reiher of Zap2it also saw Vogel as Dexter's surrogate mother. James Queally writes "Vogel is great as a mediator in the show's philosophical arguments", and Matt Richenthal also praised the debate the character brought up in whether Dexter really loves Deb.
Cory Barker thinks Rampling's performance is Emmy-worthy and praised the thematic grounds the character helps cover; and her role to both "praise and interrogate Dexter's processes."
Sepinwall also found Dexter and Vogel's conversations interesting, especially in how (in his opinion) Vogel misunderstands Dexter as being incapable of love toward Deb.
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