‘Dexter’ Review: “Make Your Own Kind of Music”
‘Dexter’ season 8 slices up the 9th episode of its final year with “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” as Dexter uncovers Zach's killer and the true "Brain Surgeon" to have a surprising connection to Dr. Vogel, while Deb debates returning to Miami Metro, and Hannah's security becomes threatened by a U.S. Marshal ('Sons of Anarchy''s Kenny Johnson).
Last week’s ‘Dexter’ episode, “Are We There Yet?,” saw Dexter and Hannah pursue Zach Hamilton (Sam Underwood) for killing Dexter’s neighbor Cassie, while Deb debated whether or not to turn in Hannah herself. So how does “Make Your Own Kind of Music” continue the 8th and final season?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Dexter’ season 8, episode 9, “Make Your Own Kind of Music”!
Dexter and Hannah spend time in bed, before Dex decides to visit Dr. Vogel with news of Zach, and Hannah plots to meet with her old friend Arlene for money to leave the country. Over in Zach’s studio, Vogel recognizes “Make Your Own Kind of Music” as a tune she often played around her patients, before Dexter finds a blood sample left behind by Zach to identify his killer. Upon learning of Hannah’s stay, Vogel warns Dexter he can’t straddle both psychopathic and emotional worlds without consequence.
Outside of Miami Metro, Batista again offers Deb her old job back, before Quinn arrives and tasks Deb with looking into Zach Hamilton. Upstairs, Deb asks her brother about his involvement with Zach Hamilton, quickly deciding she’s better off not knowing, before Dexter finds a familial DNA match from the blood at the scene, which shares ties with Vogel.
Confronted with the news, Vogel reveals that she had two sons decades earlier, the psychopathic of which, Daniel, drowned his younger brother Richard before being put in a mental institution and dying in a fire years later. Back in his lab, Dexter ages a photo of Daniel 40 years and recognizes the face as Cassie’s boyfriend Oliver Saxon (Darri Ingolfsson). Just then, a federal marshal named Clayton, who's been assigned to Hannah’s case, arrives to warn Dexter of her presence in Miami, after which Dexter warns Hannah not to drive to Arlene’s without him.
Deb throws Quinn off Zach Hamilton’s trail by providing an alibi, before Quinn asks her to learn what she can from Jamie about catching Cassie’s killer. Across town, Dexter and Hannah arrive to Arlene’s to pick up her money, but Hannah is forced into hiding by the arrival of Clayton. Clayton expresses his suspicion to see Dexter there too, but Dexter covers by claiming to be in a relationship with Arlene and says he is helping her pay the bills for her new home.
Deb learns from Jamie that Cassie had planned on breaking up with Oliver before a trip to the Bahamas, putting Deb and Quinn on his trail. Upon questioning Oliver in his home however, Oliver lies to Deb and Quinn by saying that Cassie had been the one to push for the Bahamas trip. Outside, Quinn expresses his excitement to be working with Deb again, before kissing her and promptly spoiling the moment.
Deb returns home to find Dexter and Hannah waiting, taken aback at her brother’s request to let Hannah lie low there for the time being. Deb explains that they’ve grown suspicious of Oliver Saxon, but Dexter warns her to stay away from going any deeper. Dexter himself pays a visit to Saxon’s apartment, only to find it emptied, though he manages to snag a DNA sample from a soda can in the trash. The next day, Harrison expresses his wish that they could see Hannah again, before Dexter gets an e-mail confirming Saxon’s soda can DNA matches Zach’s killer, Daniel Vogel.
Dexter shows Vogel the photo of her grown-up son, but Vogel pleads with Dexter against killing him, and suggests placing Daniel in another intensive care facility instead. Dexter lies by agreeing to consider her method, as both plot to exploit Daniel’s surveillance of Vogel’s computer, scheduling Vogel’s visit to a diner she took Daniel as a boy. Later, Hannah assures Dexter he did the right thing by lying, before they agree to leave Miami behind and make a new life for the two of them and Harrison in Argentina.
The next day, Matthews alerts Batista that Zach Hamilton has gone missing, and Batista meets with Deb to once again offer her old job back, something she agrees to consider. Deb returns home to find Hannah cooking and cleaning, and reluctantly eats Hannah’s food as she laments thinking about whether she could ever go back to Miami Metro. Elsewhere, Clayton pays a visit to Dexter’s apartment to suggest that the Hannah leads haven’t paid off, though he does take note of Harrison drawing a blonde woman in a portrait of his family.
The next day, Elway chews Deb out for holding back information about the Hannah McKay case, while Dexter arrives to Vogel’s to prepare for their attempt to confront Daniel. Dexter drugs Vogel’s tea to gently leave her out of harm’s way, before surveying the diner where Daniel is arriving. The man sits at the counter, ordering coffee and playing “Make Your Own Kind of Music” on the jukebox, eventually giving up on his mother arriving. Dexter follows Daniel to the parking lot, but soon realizes that Daniel slashed his tires, and will next head for Vogel’s house.
Dexter arrives to Vogel’s to find her intact, and apologizes for deceiving her, though she insists on handling the matter herself from then on, regardless of the consequences. Dexter protests that he considers her family, though Vogel points out she can no longer trust him. Dexter leaves in defeat, thinking about his life with Hannah in the future, unaware that Daniel was already in the house preparing for tea with his mother.
Last week we lamented that "Are You There Yet" seemed too fitting a title for a final season installment dragging its feet toward the end, and thankfully "Make Your Own Kind of Music" finally manages to pick up the pace a bit. Not only has Dexter's blissful future with Hannah been placed in jeopardy by the arrival of a U.S. Marshal, but it seems the Brain Surgeon hits far closer to home than ever by revealing himself as Vogel's long-lost son.
For as much as we appreciate the attempted parallel of season 1 in that the true big bad turns out to be a long-lost member of Dexter's family (biological brother the first, spiritual brother in the final), Daniel Vogel's arrival comes up a bit short in driving up excitement for the final three episodes of the series. The character feels appropriately creepy, and creates some genuine stakes in his unstable connection to Vogel, though we're hard-pressed to attach such value with characters we've only known over the course of a single season, and barely at that.
Not only that, but the idea of hinging the finale on a final showdown between Dexter and Daniel would seem to rob focus from the show's main character, whose only real conflict at this point in the narrative lies in smuggling his fugitive girlfriend and son to an imaginary life in Argentina. We have Deb to worry about, sure, but too much of the tension surrounding 'Dexter''s ultimate end has come from manufactured circumstance, rather than our own investment in the characters. We grimace to see 'Breaking Bad''s Hank gently attempting to coax Skyler into confession, but do we really care at this point if a U.S. Marshal clues into Hannah's whereabouts, if Quinn rediscovers his love for Deb, or if Dexter can balance his emotions with a psychopathic lifestyle?
Don't gets us wrong, we're glad to see the final season develop its ultimate trajectory at last, though three episodes to turn around our investment in the ending seems like a tall order for a series so uncertain of what it wants for its own main character.
What say you? Did you get your fill of darkly dangerous ‘Dexter’ drama? What did you think about the latest episode of the final season? Stay tuned for the latest from ‘Dexter’ season 8, and join us next week for a new episode recap of “Goodbye Miami” on Showtime!