[WARNING: SEASON 8 SPOILERS AHEAD!]

After eight seasons of Dexter – about Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a Miami Metro P.D. blood spatter expert and serial killer of serial-killers – the final three episodes are nigh. We now know the identity of the killer known as the Brain Surgeon, and the stage is set for the final conflict. Showtime has released a gripping new trailer for the last three episodes.

After a season spent eliminating various former patients of Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling) as suspects, her maternal feelings toward Dexter are put to the test now that we know that her supposedly dead psychopath son, Daniel (Darri Ingolfsson), is alive and murdering people under the name Oliver Saxon. Saxon has trained his sights on Dexter, who he sees as competition for his mother’s affection.

The new trailer teases this endgame, as Dexter appears torn between escaping to Argentina with wanted fugitive Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) and confronting Saxon, since Dexter’s sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) and his son Harrison are all in as much danger as he and (most likely) Vogel are. It seems likely that Vogel’s guilt over abandoning her son will prevent her from assisting Dexter at the expense of her safety.

The revelation that Dr. Vogel not only knows exactly who and what Dexter is but in fact helped Dexter’s adoptive father Harry work out the killer’s code he passed on to Dexter was the first hint that this final season would bring the whole Dexter saga full circle.

The theme of family has always been central to the show’s narrative, from season 1’s first big bad, the Ice Truck Killer – revealed to be Dexter’s long-lost brother – to season 4’s big bad, Trinity (as played by John Lithgow), who appeared to be the stable, family-man murderer Dexter always wanted to be.

While Dexter has grown at this point – thanks in no small part to Vogel – it’s still unclear if he’s no longer a monster… or if he’s just a different kind of monster now. Hunting down Saxon – while sticking to his own rules – could not only mean sacrificing the life with Hannah that he wants, but also jeopardize his progress and his relationship with Vogel. Their trust has already been shaken, and Vogel could face choices just as impossible as Dexter’s.

In the end, the final hours of Dexter will come down to the choices the characters will make to protect their family. With the authorities closing in on Hannah, with Saxon revealed – and with an actual hurricane on the horizon (a hint that the final showdown will feature a battle against the elements?) – the stakes are as high as they’ll ever be. We’ll soon find out how the game is going to play out.

The final three episodes of Dexter begin with “Goodbye Miami,” airing on September 8, 2013 @9pm on Showtime.