12/02/2012 10:00 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2013

'Dexter' Recap: 'The Dark ... Whatever' Pivots Towards The End-Game

dexter recap the dark whatever

Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you haven't seen Season 7, Episode 10 of Showtime's "Dexter," titled "The Dark ... Whatever."

With this season's "Big Bad" Isaak Circo killed off last episode and the Deb-Dexter incest weirdness temporarily put to rest, "The Dark ... Whatever" seemed to pivot towards the season's -- and perhaps the series' -- eventual end-game, setting up a few new dynamics. The walls are closing in on Dexter as LaGuerta -- with Tom Matthews' help -- realized that he is the Bay Harbor Butcher. And Deb got a break in her totally-not-motivated-by-jealousy investigation into Hannah McKay.

Meanwhile, Dexter and Hannah continued to grow closer, and their relationship reached a turning point when they exchanged "I love you's." Like any great romance, they've nurtured their love through great feats of devotion, total honesty and the courage to challenge their assumptions about themselves. Or, in "Dexter" terms: He killed her abusive father Clint, and she pushed him realize that his "Dark Passenger" is just a construct he invented to push away the guilt of all the people he's murdered.

But just after that tender scene, the action cut back to Miami Metro, where Deb had just received the very same tip that Dexter killed Hannah's dad to keep buried. Apparently a woman named Arlene Schrimm witnessed Hannah killing a creepy guy in a halfway house after she got out of prison for the Wayne Randall murders. And Deb enlisted Batista's help to follow that lead, even after Dexter served up the Phantom Arsonist to Miami Metro on a silver platter earlier in the episode.

So the battle lines are drawn. Deb is trying to break Dexter and Hannah up by sending Hannah to jail. LaGuerta and Matthews are closing in on Dexter. Who will protect who? This will get very interesting as the season plays out. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Thoughts, theories, musings:

Theory Of The Week: It seems inevitable that Matthews will sabotage LaGuerta's investigation somewhere along the way. LaGuerta and Mathews are strange allies, and he must still be holding some resentment toward her for forcing his early retirement. Plus, he was friends with Harry Morgan and mentored Deb, whose career would probably be ruined by these revelations that her brother is the Bay Harbor Butcher. Their alliance just doesn't make sense. It would be like Susan Rice enlisting John McCain's help with an investigation into Benghazi.

Miami Metro should probably institute some sort of "You are not allowed to date anyone who is even peripherally involved in an active police investigation" rule. Do real police departments have rules like this? Quinn's relationship with Nadia, the stripper who works in the Koshka's club, has been ridiculous for a while now, and the storyline culminated when Quinn shot Nabokov in his office and then had Nadia shoot him in the arm to make it look like self defense. Quinn has now taken bribes, destroyed evidence in a murder case and gunned down a mobster. It seems pretty clear he can't make it out of this season alive. But how do you think he will meet his demise? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Some people tend to do their best thinking in the shower, or on the toilet, but not Dexter. He had his second major epiphany of the season whilst standing over a taped-down body on his table, with his knife raised above his head and ready to strike. A few episodes ago he decided to jump Hannah's bones instead of killing her. And in this episode, he decided not to kill the Phantom Arsonist Joseph Jensen, opting to leave him passed out for the department.

In taking control of his "urges," Dexter re-defined the code. He killed Hannah's dad even though he wasn't a murderer, although he seemed like a pretty awful guy. But he's now willing to kill to protect the people he loves. And still, he kept his word to Deb that he won't take cases from Miami Metro. I enjoyed watching Dexter's breakthrough, because his moving away from the code has the possibility to shake the show up a bit, and to help "Dexter" avoid falling into the trap of becoming too formulaic. Here's to the new code.

I talked more about the episode with Katy Waldman for Slate's "Dexter" TV Club. You can check out our discussion over at Slate.

What did you think of this episode? What did I miss? Leave your thoughts and theories in the comments.

"Dexter" airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on Showtime.

Dexter Season 7 Photos
Dexter Season 7 Photos