Welcome to the penultimate Blood Spatter Analysts! After all these years, and all the bodies, Dexter is on the verge of making his exit, but will it be triumphant or tragic? Some combination of both? A complete disaster?! Let's find out!

In Blood Spatter Analysts: "Goodbye, Miami" (Week Ten), Dexter realized all he wanted was to take Hannah and Harrison away from Miami, to a place where they could live together in peace, but with the Brain Surgeon still at large, and a threat to his mother, Dexter has unfinished business. He is straddling two worlds- that of a perfect psychopath and of a man dedicated to his family. His indecision impedes his ability to save Vogel from her son.

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***SPOILERS FOR EPISODE ELEVEN TO FOLLOW***

Dexter recovers from the shock of Vogel's death, and begins to remove any trace of his connection to her; the recordings of her interviews with Harry, Dexter's childhood rage drawings, and computer files about Dexter are all cleaned up before Dexter calls the police. The scene offers no clues- Dexter explains that he found the door kicked in and Vogel's throat already slit. He admits to moving the body when he tried to stem the bleeding, but she was already gone. Angel tells him to go home, as his personal connection to the victim would hamper any legal action the DA may eventually bring, and he sees Dexter needs some rest.

Dexter tells Debra and Hannah of Vogel's death. Hannah expresses her condolences, but also shows him the itinerary for their escape, asking if their escape plan is still intact. He assures her it is, but that he must kill Daniel before they leave- he is too dangerous to let live, especially for Dexter's loved ones.

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In his lab, Dexter tries to find a way to track Daniel, when Masuka, exhausted from a fruitless search of Vogel's home, tells him is no evidence at the scene, but Dexter already knows this. He searches the Olvier Saxon cover identity and finds a hospital he condemned as an inspector that was never demolished, then Nikki comes to the lab to tell Dexter that Quinn needs him for a DNA swab. In the interrogation room, he sees Daniel, still known to the police as Oliver Saxon, boyfriend of murder victim Cassie, who suspiciously moved out of his home immediately after she died. Daniel has come to the station voluntarily to rule himself out as a suspect in Cassie's murder, but resists when Quinn tells Dexter to swab him. He knows the DNA won't link him to Cassie, but it will give the police his real identity, which would open him up to further scrutiny. Dexter knows this as well, and he tells Debra this is exactly what he is going to do. She asks him why he is helping the police instead of doing what he would normally do, hide the evidence so he can kill Daniel himself. He tells her he just wants Daniel taken care of, which is a surprise to Debra.

Debra has resumed her position as a Detective with the Miami police Department so she can contribute to the effort to track and capture the Brain Surgeon. When she can't find a pen at her desk she raids Quinn's for office supplies, totally cleaning him out, when she finds the engagement ring Quinn once offered her. He says he left it there in case he ever decided to marry someone else at work.

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Dexter begins his search of the abandoned hospital he discovered and finds Daniel's kill room. Clearly, this place is important to the brain Surgeon, and it is only a matter of time before he returns. Harry tells Dexter to wait for Daniel, but Dex knows he doesn't have time for that with the law closing in on hannah. He finds Daniel's laptop with videos of all his kills, and hatches a plan to use them to lure Daniel into a trap.

Everyone attends a memorial service for Dr. Vogel, who didn't have family or friends in the area. Matthews invites them to Papa's for a drink, where he tells the Morgan siblings that he has always considered them family, and how proud their father would be of them. Debra tells Dexter that these people, the coworkers Dexter has fooled all these years, will miss him. This is his last day on the job, and he should go over to them and pretend he's going to miss them, too. He thinks to himself "it's no longer pretending", but he doesn't vocalize this thought.

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Angel and Dexter have a moment, and Dexter tells Angel that he is a good friend- words we know Angel never heard before, and didn't need, but does deeply appreciate. Angel makes a toast to Dexter, turning the memorial for Vogel into an impromptu goodbye party, and Dexter manages to tell his friends that he will miss them when he leaves.

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"Is this a dagger which I see before me?"

"Yes. Yes it is."

Dexter has enlisted the aid of an old friend, Sylvia Prado(!), to list his condo for sale. She has already gotten a few offers, and now calls Dexter to tell him of a new buyer who is very interested in his condo. Unsurprisingly, it is Daniel, looking to summit with Dexter, offering to part ways, two psychopaths simply agreeing not to kill eachother. Dexter is unconvinced, after the lengths that Daniel went to to kill his mother while Dexter watched, and asks Daniel why he's so confident that Dexter would agree to this bargain. Of course, it isn't an offer at all, but a threat- Daniel knows about Dexter's perfect cover life, with a child, a sister, step children, and even a girlfriend he knows by name. Daniel jokes that he was never good at relationships, his longest one lasting a few weeks, with a woman chained to his radiator. Dexter thinks to himself that these people aren't a cover, but that Daniel can't understand the bonds he has formed. He knows Daniel must be killed to protect those he loves, because it is only a matter of time before he changes his mind and decides to hurt Dexter. Daniel believes that after the death of Rita, if more people in Dexter's life start dying or disappearing then suspicion will turn on him. Dexter agrees for now, but with no intention of leaving Daniel to prey on Miami.

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Deputy US Marshal Clayton visits Elway to convince him to spy on Debra. They both know she is no fan of Hannah, but that she would do anything for her brother. Elway wants his quarter million dollar reward, so follows Clayton's lead. He barges into Debra's home under pretense of returning her belongings from the office and patching up after being rude to her when she quit, but is obviously looking all around her house instead of at her when they speak. Deb tries to get rid of him, but he keeps talking until he sees Hannah's shoes and bag, both obviously expensive (I guess, I have no idea. The shoes were red, red is the most expensive color, right?), commenting that the police must pay better than he thought. Deb knows he knows, so she throws him out and warns Hannah that she has to get out; if Elway knows then the Marshal won't be far behind. Hannah calls Dexter, who rushes to his sister's home, and tells them of his meeting with Daniel. The law is closing in on Hannah, but Dexter must kill Daniel before he can harm his family. Hannah tries to be supportive, thinking this is Dexter's usual need to kill, but he tells them this isn't about who he is, it is just something that needs to be done. Debra takes Hannah to a hotel near the airport, where they bond in their mutual love for Dexter. Hannah isn't as worried about Daniel as she is about the US marshals, and pointedly asks Debra if she has ever known Dexter to back down from something once he has started, and she says no.

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Elway returns to Debra's with the marshals who turn the place upside down looking for proof of Hannah's presence. They find nothing, until Elway finds the airline website where Hannah tried to change their flight to give Dexter more time to kill Saxon before they leave. Due to the incoming storm, all flights are booked, so no changes were made. Elway tells the marshal he can search airline manifests and compare the registered passports. Marshal Clayton says that isn't legal, but encourages Elway to do it anyway, while he puts a tail on both Debra and Dexter.

During this time, Debra attempts to have one last meal with her brother before he leaves Miami forever. Dexter tries to send her away, but she refuses to leave, so they unpack some plates from Dexter's moving boxes and have their dinner. A news report on CTN (Conveniently Times News) alerts the public about Daniel Vogel, and Debra realizes why Dexter wanted her to go. He has forced Daniel into attacking him by making him a wanted man, but Debra is unwilling to leave Dexter to face this killer alone. Dexter pretends to be asleep, allowing Daniel to feel he has the advantage, but as he pounces, Debra jumps out of the closet and subdues him while Dexter injects him with his tranquilizer.

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"Welcome Home." Daniel awakes in his own restraint chair, and the two killers discuss the situation. Daniel jokes that this must mean that Dexter has not taken his offer of truce, and Dexter tells him it is his own fault for not leaving Miami when he had the chance. Daniel smoothly and calmly tells Dexter how much he likes the city, and seems virtually unfazed by his impending death. He'd rather it not happen, but his predicament hardly has any effect on his composure. Dexter tries to explain that he'd rather be with Hannah, that this kill that used to be so important to him- each moment leading up to it, the act itself, and the moments immediately following- this doesn't mean anything to him anymore. Daniel asks why he isn't with Hannah then, and he finally decides he really should be. Dexter has fully committed to the family man persona and lets the psychopath world go.

Dexter puts down his knife and calls Debra to the hospital, telling her he changed his mind, and that she can bring him in, which will make her a hero. She asks what she should do with his knives, and he doesn't care- leave them and say they belong to Daniel, which will probably make him appear responsible for even more murders. Dexter is leaving everything behind. They have a touching moment and hug goodbye. Debra is unable to comprehend that in the morning her brother will be gone, but she assures him this won't be the last time they see eachother. Harry appears and asks him if he is sure about this. Dexter tells him he wants Hannah more than anything, more than killing, and Harry tells him he is no longer needed. Debra calls for backup so she can make her arrest.

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Marshal Clayton had followed Debra to the hospital, and entered the building while she spoke with Dexter outside, but he did not see Dexter on the scene. He finds a man strapped to a chair, crying about a man trying to kill him. The marshal releases Daniel, who grabs one of Dexter's knives and stabs the man in the chest as Debra comes in, gun at the ready, and warns him not to move. He has grabbed the marshal's gun and shoots at Debra, who returns fire, grazing his shoulder. Debra falls to the ground, blood pooling up beneath her from a wound in her left side. She manages to make a call for help, and backup is already on the way from her previous call, but her fate is unknown.

Dexter, unaware of his sister's injury or the fact that Daniel is at large once again, contentedly packs his bags for his trip while Harrison says goodbye to Jamie. They are on their way to meet Hannah at the airport, who is unaware she is being tailed by Elway.

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Musings and mistakes:

  • First off, this was a much better episode than last week. It was a great second to last episode, which puts them one step closer to a great finale. I know some of you will think they didn't get enough done in this episode, but I think there is enough time to finish this out.
  • Dexter has made it clear that he is changed- his need to kill has been subsiding over time, as well as his insistence on blaming that need on the Dark Passenger, and now his love for Hannah is foremost in his mind and heart. I think we will see the redemption of his biggest failure- the greatest loss suffered due to his need to kill was the death of Rita. If he had stayed with her instead of stalking Trinity, Arthur Mitchell couldn't have gotten to her. We've already seen he is willing to let the authorities take Daniel the normal way so he can be with Hannah, so I have to believe that his change will be rewarded. I also know how foolish it is to hold that hope.
  • With Marshal Clayton effectively out of the way (assuming Daniel knows how to stab a guy, which I'm betting he does) this really only leaves Elway as the only obstacle to Dexter and Hannah's freedom. I would like to see him close in on Hannah in the airport only for her to poison him and watch him wordlessly slump into a chair to be discovered dead of apparent natural causes later on. He really ought to have backup, but I think he is blinded by the reward money. Clayton has promised it to him for his assistance, so I think he will wait for Clayton to return his call rather than trust someone else with the capture or risk sharing the reward.
  • I loved seeing Sylvia Prado again. It makes sense, she is an agent and was a very close friend of Dexter's- she contributed to his wedding, something you do for family- who else would he take his home listing to? It is a nice callback, but it also helps make the world feel real. I dislike shows where important characters are completely forgotten the second they are off screen, but of course I understand the logistics of getting actors to reprise roles as minor cameos. This is why I hate the scourge of celebrity sitcom parents and siblings- they always get a famous actor to play the mother or brother of a character who has never been mentioned once before and will then disappear as if they never existed.
  • Nikki is still Nikki, sort of cluelessly flitting about the station, and acting weird about Vince telling her not to smoke pot but then wondering why she orders a soft drink, but she thinks it is awesomely weird that he is her dad.
  • Debra says the DNA will show Daniel has a "matrimonial" link to Evelyn Vogel. Uhh, not quite, but thanks for playing... Correction: Hilarious, but I heard this wrong. Thanks to Carrie for correcting me. It was funny because it made me think of the time Marge Simpson said she took everything of Homer's when she married him, including his DNA.
  • Dexter calls Daniel "Oliver" when he has him on the chair.

I would have liked to put in more pictures to pretty up the post a bit, but I've been terrified of image searching the episodes, and rightly so: I just saw what looks like a promo ad, but is also definitely very spoilery, and I am none too happy about it, unless it is a major misdirect, but now I have to stress over that for a week, more than I was already.

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So there we have it- the penultimate episode of Dexter, my penultimate recap and discussion, and the very last time I will use the word "penultimate!" I don't know if this will be appropriate to ask next week, so for perhaps the final time, I need to know: What did the blood tell you?

Series finale recap and discussion can be found ahead, in the final Blood Spatter Analysts: Remember the monsters (Week Twelve).

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My special thanks to Zarnyx for starting Blood Spatter Analysts in the first place, and for allowing me to be a part of it.

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