Another week, another cheery episode! As it begins, Dexter watches from afar as Zack Hamilton — the creepy son who, as Dex discovered last episode, kills his dad's mistress — takes photos of a car accident and its victims.He follows the kid all the way to... Vogel's house? What the what?!
Later, Dex confronts the good doc about why she would take on Zack as a patient after what happened with Yates. She says that working with dangerous people is part of her job.
At her office, Deb meets with Masuka and shows him documents detailing the dire financial straits of his newly-resurfaced daughter, NIkki. She advises him to wait it out.
Elway tells Deb to look into his sister Susan's boyfriend, thinking that the guy is a duplicitous scumbag.
Meanwhile, Dex responds to a stabbing case and spots Zack photographing the scene. (The kid has a real blood fetish!)
Dex invites Zack across the yellow tape for a up-close view and lets Zack take more shots. Zack asks questions about the killer's tactics under the guise of curiosity, though Dex knows better.
Later, Dex meets his new neighbor-flirtation, Cassie, for peanut-butter-and-Nutella fries. (Um, yum.) It's a quasi-date, but Dex can't exactly reveal much about his life and therfore comes off as a bit boring. "Dating is harder than I remember," he narrates.
Afterward, Zack invites Dex to his photo studio, one wall of which is plastered in hyper-gory photos. "He treats the blood like a swimsuit model," Dexter observes.
At the station, Batista tells Matthews that he's torn between promoting Quinn and Miller to sergeant. Matthews just assumes that Batista just wants him to make the decision easier for him and tells him to grow a set of balls. (Zing!)
Dex meets Deb at his place for a steak dinner, even though Dexter really botched the meat. They swap stories about their jobs and try to bond again in their own stunted way.
"It'll get easier, Dex," she says. "We're just getting back in the saddle, you know?"
The next day, Batista tells Quinn that he has decided to promote Miller over him.
Quinn, refusing to give up, wants to double-down on the Norma Rivera case and his investigation into Zack. Dex is worried that he'll always be watching the kid, so he tags along on Quinn's stakeout. They talk about Quinn's career trajectory and then about Deb. Quinn knows that something is going on between Dex and Deb.
"Somebody s—t in somebody's Cheerios," he observes.
He even asks about why Deb would confess to shooting LaGuerta, but Dex plays it off as a byproduct of symptom of alcohol and stress.
As Quinn watches Zack take photos of women exercising, Dex notices that Zack is actually photographing just one woman, a woman Dex recognizes from photos in Zack's studio — photos that Zack didn't want Dex examining.
At a bar, Elway bugs Deb with a voice recorder for a little undercover work. She flirts with the boyfriend of Elway's sister, who flirts back. But before they go upstairs, Elway attacks the guy. Deb is flabbergasted that Elway reacted so harshly. (What we don't know, however, is how long she was planning to continue the charade. I mean, we couldn't fault her for a little nookie!)
Dex breaks into Zack's studio and finds out that Zack's fixation is a woman named Sofia Fuentes, who works at the marina owned by the family. He deduces Zack takes photos of his victims, so he tries looking for photos of Norma Rivera. And he finds them. Zack had photographed each stage of the process as he murdered Norma.
At Vogel's place, Dex is surprised to learn that she knew that Zack killed Norma. She says she sees potential in Zack, wants to teach him the Code. Dex leaves, determined to kill the kid.
Before he can, though, he has to attend Jamie's birthday party. He tries talking to Cassie but backs off when another guy shows interest in her. (C'mon, Dex! Where is your game?)
As the gang toasts to Jamie, she tries proposing a toast to Quinn's promotion, but Batista and Quinn stop her. (So uncomfortable!) Jamie becomes irate at Batista for giving Quinn hope.
But that's not the only awkward moment of the party. Masuka meets with his daughter, Nikki, and gives her a $5,000 check, saying that he knows that she needs the cash. She doesn't deny that fact but seems genuinely offended that Masuka thinks she's only there for money.
That night, Dex busts Harrison for hiding the TV remote and lying about it, but the little tyke responds, "Daddy, you lie."
Turns out Harrison found the stuffed animal that Dex trashed after he accidentally smeared it with Briggs' blood. Afterward, Dex had lied about its whereabouts, apparently; but Harrison unearthed it and continued to love it, despite the red stain.
"I can live with my lies, but how long can Harrison before he finally sees through them?" Dex intones.
Dex tracks Zack to the marina and sees him waiting for Sofia, but he also sees Quinn stalking Zack. So Dex, the genius that he is, calls Jamie with a B.S. story about Quinn thinking that she's going to break up with him over his failed promotion. She then calls Quinn and tells him to come home.
Ed Hamilton, Zack's dad, meets up with Sofia and kisses her. Dex realizes that Sofia is Ed's mistress. Zack follows Ed, and Dex follows Zack, syringing him and dragging his unconscious body away before Ed notices.
In a close-call, Quinn spots Dex as Quinn drives out, but not Zack's body. Quinn tells him to let him know if he sees Zack. (Ha!)
Later, Zack wakes up to find himself under Dex's plastic wrap. He confesses that he has been killing his father's mistresses to save his mother from drinking herself to death. But Dex says that, while that might be true, Zack kills because he wants to kill.
Zack concurs and talks about his urges to kill, and Dex seems to sympathize.
"You never had a Harry" he says. "Someone to talk to, someone to teach you."
Via voiceover, Dex wonders if he could be Zack's spiritual father. He plunges his knife downward, but to free Zack, not to kill him.
The next morning, Dex and Deb hang out. She tells him about her sting operation with Elway, saying it went terribly Elway likes her.
The conversation turns to Dex's life, and he opens up.
"I'm even thinking about taking on some kind of intern," he reveals. Deb thinks that he's talking about an intern at Miami Metro; we know better.
All of a sudden, Deb says that she's feeling dizzy right before collapsing. Dex rushes to her side.
In from the sunlight outside steps a leggy blonde. A certain murderous florist who dovetailed with Dexter's dark side last season.
"Hello, Dexter. Remember me?" Hannah says.
Just when things were looking up!