Dexter’s season 8 premiere, an episode entitled “A Beautiful Day,” began with a montage of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) resuming the outward illusion of the dutiful everyman and father – coaching his son Harrison’s soccer team, getting the bowling group back together, dating, etc – to the tune of “What a Wonderful World.” Who’s missing from the montage is Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), Dexter's beloved sister who shot LaGuerta in last season’s finale to keep him from being found out as a serial killer. Unlike Dex, Deb’s conscience won’t allow her to forgive herself.

It’s been six months since LaGuerta’s (Lauren Velez) death, and the Miami Metro homicide team is memorializing their late captain with a park bench. Dexter show’s up late, while Batista (David Zayas) is giving a speech in her honor. Deb isn’t even present, and we learn that she quit the force by one day going out to lunch and not returning. Batista, however, has recommitted himself to Miami Metro after LaGuerta’s death. When his coworkers ask him how Deb’s doing, an uncomfortable Dexter fumbles for lies to mask the fact that he hasn’t been in contact with her either. After the memorial dedication, Dexter makes a futile attempt to call her, hearing the automated message that her voicemail is full.

Where is Deb? She’s at a the dive-y Pink Motel snorting lines of coke, puffing on a joint and guzzling back brews with a sketchy guy named Briggs who she’s having sex with. It’s later learned that she’s working for private crime-fighting firm Elway Investigations, and she’s there to take down Briggs for a jewelry heist. The sex, drugs and alcohol are basically Deb’s way of going undercover – while undercover. She hasn’t checked in about the case with her boss for two weeks, which Dex learns when he pays him a visit.

Meanwhile, Dexter, panic-stricken, goes over to Deb’s bungalow to see why she’s not answering her phone. He finds mail overflowing her mailbox and seems to fear she may have killed herself as the vision of Harry Morgan (James Remar) urges him to leave. Before Dexter heeds his dead father’s advice, he discovers a half-smoked joint, Adderrall and a lot of Xanax. He makes up his mind to find her and fast. During his trip to Elway Investigations, Dexter is summoned to his day job.

The crime scene is grisly. A young man lies splayed on his back by a lake. The back of his skull has been sliced clean through. When the Miami Metro team removes it, they realize the killer also scooped a piece of the guy’s brain out. Although not much else is learned about the body or who killed the man, it becomes the pretext for Dr. Evelyn Vogel’s (Charlotte Rampling) arrival.

When Dexter gets a chance to focus back on Deb, he cracks into her online banking records by correctly identifying her account password as “f—king password.” Her last few purchases indicate she’s in Fort Lauderdale and frequenting a local market, so he drives there and posts out. Sure enough, he spots Deb emerging from a vehicle with Briggs, making out with him as they walk inside and cracking open a beer from a display once inside. Dex confronts Deb when she’s alone. She tells him she’s working a job that she hates him and “I shot the wrong person in that trailer.” Hurt is all over Dex’s face.

At Batista’s house, Quinn (Desmond Harrington) and Jamie (Aimee Garcia) are having sex – that is, until Batista comes home and Quinn looks for a sneak escape out the side door. When Jamie goes to chat with her brother, he leads her over to the boxes of LaGuerta’s stuff. Among the items stashed away are search warrants to bug Dexter and Deb’s phones. He tears them up and mutters something about his ex-wife never being able to let anything go. The discovery of the warrants, however, makes it seem possible that the video of Deb filling the gas cans up before her and Dex set the church ablaze in the season 6 finale is also among the boxes.

Dr. Evelyn Vogel, who Capt. Matthews (Geoff Pierson) says was compelled to help out with the recent murder, gives her opinion on the case so far. She asserts that the murderer is likely a serial killer, and begins listing off characteristics for which Dexter clearly fits the bill. He feels her eyes on him, and suspects that she’s onto him and knows he’s the Bay Harbor Butcher. Later, when she summons him to the morgue, she brings up Sgt. Doakes. When asked about how he was in the office, Dexter says he was quick to anger, which Vogel immediately says is very much unlike a serial killer, and goes onto mention the Bay Harbor Butcher’s Code. If Dexter ever felt “got,” it was then.

He’s distracted from Vogel’s knowing gaze when he discovers that Deb could be caught in the crossfire between a hired gun and Briggs. The guy she thinks is going to try to buy the jewels off Briggs, is really just a hit man named El Sapo. When Dexter gets to Pink Motel, he lures Deb outside and alerts her to the danger. She rejects his protection repeatedly and Briggs finally comes outside to see what’s going on. What does Dexter do to solve the problem? He knifes Briggs dead, leaving his sister in tears and forced once again to protect him from the law. After a few sobs, she tells him to leave and calls in a murder, making up a story as she goes along.

Dexter is distraught, realizing that he messed things up with Deb even more. While sitting on LaGuerta’s bench, Vogel approaches him with a file. They contain pictures drawn by a severely disturbed kid – a young Dexter. He chases after her and holds her up against a wall. "You can't kill me,” she says. “Because I don't fit Harry's code.”

Whose side is Vogel really on – the law enforcement’s or the serial killer(s)? Will El Sapo be coming after Deb? Is Batista going to pick up LaGuerta’s torch?

Dexter airs Sundays on Showtime at 9/8c.

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