The premiere Dexter of Season 8 started off pretty tame (as tame as Dexter can be, anyway). Things pick up six months after Season 7 ended and Dexter seems to be pretty content. He's coaching Harrison’s (who is huge now, by the way) soccer team, he got the bowling team back together (remember Bowl Till You Bleed?), and he's back to the good old days of smashing white mannequin skulls to determine murder weapons. Ah, it's like Season 1 again...
... Until LaGuerta's memorial reminds us that a ton of crazy stuff has gone down since Season 1 and we couldn't get back there if we tried. Debra didn't show up to the memorial, which isn't surprising. She left the force and now works as a PI for a private firm. Batista gave up his restaurant, came out of retirement, and replaced Deb as Lieutenant. He seems to be handling the transition well. Deb, on the other hand, is suffering from a severe case of PTSD after killing LaGuerta.
The first time we see Deb this season she's snorting a line of coke. (This definitely isn't Season 1 Deb.) She's in some shady motel with some sleazy guy. A jewel thief, he's the subject of Deb's case, but she’s really pushing it as far as the whole undercover thing goes. Dexter, who hasn’t heard from Deb in over a month, tries to help her out, but Deb is pretty freaking pissed off at him. When he finds her in a supermarket with said sleazy guy he finds out just how pissed she is. "I shot the wrong person in that trailer," she tells him, before dismissing him as "some loser."
Well, now Dexter's pissed, so pissed, in fact, that he almost strangles some guy who cut him off in traffic. Only when Dexter sees the guy's son in the backseat does he go back to his car. Harry's there, of course, and he essentially says what we're all thinking: What the hell, Dexter? Get it together before you do something really stupid.
Meanwhile, Jamie is sleeping with Quinn. Honestly, Jamie, why? I get that Quinn is a tortured soul and all, but you can do better. And Quinn knows it, because when he hears Batista come in the front door he high-tails it out Jamie's window like some teenager. A real class act, that one.
Back at the station, Miami Metro is assembled for a briefing. Earlier they found a victim with his skull sawed in half and a piece of his melon scooped out like it was a, well, you know. To assist with the case, recently reinstated Deputy Chief Matthews brings in Dr. Evelyn Vogel. She's an expert profiler who focuses on the brains of serial killers (as if Dexter didn’t have enough to worry about). She speaks with Dexter privately in the morgue, with the body of the victim, empty skull side up, in between them. Talk about an ominous sign. She mentions the Bay Harbor Butcher and how Doakes didn't fit the profile. Dexter, after this visibly uncomfortable situation, goes to Matthews. He tells Dexter that Vogel's return to Miami was sudden and unexplained. Again, an ominous sign.
And cue Dexter doing that really stupid thing I mentioned earlier. Jamie drops Harrison off at the precinct so she can have a night off. What does Dexter do? He takes Harrison with him to look for Deb. He leaves Harrison in the car when he gets to Deb's motel and ends up killing the sleazy guy. His death isn't shocking; some hit man called El Sapo was going to kill him if Dexter hadn't. But now Dexter realizes that, just like Deb told him, he's lost. He leaves her, only to realize that Harrison's gone missing. He finds him around the corner, but his scare allows the weight of his actions to sink in.
The end of the episode finds Dexter sitting on LaGuerta's memorial bench, and just when you think the premier was relatively easy to deal with, Vogel shows up. She hands Dexter a photo of a child's drawings of Dexter and dead bodies wrapped in plastic. Dexter confronts her, aggressively. She tells him he can't kill her, and when he asks why, she says simply that it would go against Harry's code.
The end has begun, and it is going to be bloody.