It's the beginning of the end, "Dexter" fans. The final 12-episode season of Showtime's blockbuster serial killer drama starts tonight (9), picking up six months after the stunning events in last season's finale episode (SPOILER WARNING: Do not read further if you've been meaning to catch up on "Dexter" but haven't gotten around to it yet! Also, Season 7 is on DVD now, so get with it!).
To recap, in the Season 7 ender, Lt. Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) finally caught serial killer Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall, who grew up in Raleigh and graduated from Ravenscroft) -- only to be shot dead by Dexter's sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter).
When Season 8 begins, Deb has resigned from the police department and completely unraveled: numbing her feelings with booze and drugs and taking ridiculous professional risks as a private detective. And she's cut herself off from everyone from her old life, including her brother.
Unfortunately, a good bit of the first few episodes of the season deal with Deb's sad spiral -- which is totally understandable, but it does get very old, very quickly. What is much more interesting this season is the appearance of psychiatrist and serial killer expert Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling, pictured here with Hall), who has known Dexter -- or known of him, at least -- since he was a child. In fact, Vogel is the originator of "The Code" Dexter's adoptive father Harry taught him; the code that guides Dexter to satiating his bloodthirst by killing only the bad guys (well, for the most part).
Vogel surfaces because she needs Dexter's help: a serial killer who removes portions of his victims' brains is targeting her, and she wants him caught (and brought to justice, Dexter style), before he kills her.
After watching the first four episodes of the new season, I'm much more interested in this relationship than I am Dexter's relationship with Deb -- at least until she gets her act together a little more. There's only so much Debbie Downer a person can take. We'll also get more of Dexter's murderous love interest, Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski), a little later in the season.
But of course, what we're all waiting for in that final episode is to see how things really end for Dexter. Is he finally discovered by his police colleagues? Does he end his days in prison or slip off into obscurity? Or maybe he meets the kind of end he has personally delivered to 125 (and counting) people during the show's run? If so, by whose hand?
There's a lot to look forward to this season. And it all begins at 9 p.m. Sunday on Showtime.