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Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan and Charlotte Rampling as Dr. Vogel in Dexter (Season 8, episode 2) - Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime - Photo ID: Dexter_802_0114

Tonight's penultimate episode of "Dexter" ended with TV's most famous serial killer saying, via narration, that his future "is brighter than it's ever been."

But we know better, don't we? A tropical storm of pain and misery is about to hit with ferocious force. Are you all strapped in for next Sunday's finale?

Who knows how this is all going to go down. Dexter, as of now, has no idea that Deb is lying in a pool of her own blood, having been shot by Saxon. He has no clue that Elway is on Hannah's trail to the airport. And he certainly isn't aware that Saxon is free -- and probably coming after him.

A bright future? You might want to scratch that.

Tonight's episode begins moments after Saxon sliced Dr. Vogel's throat and fled. Now, a dejected Dexter must remove any evidence of his existence in Vogel's life before he reports the murder to Miami Metro. And then he has about two days to kill Saxon and bolt to Argentina with Hannah.

But first comes a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between rival serial killers. To make a long story short, Saxon shows up at Dexter's condo and proposes a truce, which really is a not-so-veiled threat.

Basically, he tells Dexter, I'll forget about you, if you forget about me. We go our separate ways. But then he adds, "If you choose poorly (like his mother did), you will lose -- and you have a lot more to lose than me."

Dexter tells Saxon, "I can live with that," but, of course, he can't. He is convinced that he has to kill Saxon before getting on that plane to Argentina. It's the only way to keep his loved ones safe.

So he flushes out -- and enrages Saxon -- by releasing his kill videos to a local news station. Saxon sneaks into Dexter's condo, but Dexter and Deb spring a clever trap on the scum ball and Dexter soon has Saxon on his table.

Only he can't pull off the kill! Throughout the episode, Dexter has been talking about how he's a changed man -- how the "need" to kill has lessened inside him and how Hannah has become the real "pull" in his life. So he calls Deb to come arrest Saxon and do this thing legit style.

But complications arise after Dexter leaves Saxon behind. The marshal who has been trailing Deb, comes upon Saxon on the table and frees him, only to get stabbed for his efforts. And then, when Deb arrives moments later, Saxon puts a bullet in her gut.

So it looks like we're in for a frantic finish. Will Dexter make it out of Miami to Argentina? Or will he hang back to kill Saxon (and possibly be apprehended)? Will Deb live to wear Quinn's ring? Let us know what you think.

Contact Chuck Barney at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.ChuckBarney, or Twitter.com/chuckbarney