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'Dexter': Closing out the third season -- the Morgans are gonna be all right!

Dexter I was trying to figure out what specifically it was about this season of "Dexter" that failed, by and large, to elicit that sensation of horrified delight that I felt with the first season, and I think it's that the audience saw so little of Dexter the Serial Killer. We rarely saw Dexter (Michael C. Hall) kill someone simply because it was on his list of things to do -- each murder was a part of a much larger storyline.  And while I can see the appeal of ideas such as "What would happen of Dexter got married?" "What would happen of Dexter had a friend?" I think back to my days as an "X-Files" fan and remember that I always liked the stand-alone episodes of the show more than the ones that were tied into the bigger plots.

With tonight's finale, other than groaning over Maria Laguerta's (Lauren Velez) assertion that Deb Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) was one of the smartest cops she knew, I was left trying to remember what happened earlier in the season that made each end-tying moment so significant.  Why would the Skinner care that Dexter killed Freebo? Also, whatever happened to that Internal Affairs lady who was hanging around earlier in the season and, really, all Dexter needed to do to deal with Ramon Prado (Jason Manuel Olazabal) was listen to his daddy issues? And aw, happy endings for two cops dating people they possibly shouldn't. Everything worked out perfectly. Everything!   

The very last image of the episode, however, reminded me of why I do like this show. It was rather ridiculous how Dexter set it up so that Deb thought she caught/killed the Skinner when he did it himself, but it led to the hand injury that left that beautiful trickle of blood on Rita's (Julie Benz) wedding gown. It was a gorgeous image and a wonderfully dark way to close out the happy-family wedding scene. Maybe that's what was missing from the season -- while there were plenty of killers, there was no blood, and the show has always used blood as its favorite substance, splashed it around in an extravagant, fabulous way. After all, that was what made Season 1's Ice Truck Killer so noteworthy -- the lack of blood left in his victims. 

We didn't learn much about the upcoming fourth season of "Dexter" other than, predictably, it will cover Dex's life as a new husband and father. While I understand the need to draw the other "Dexter" characters more into the show, I hope next season we take leave, a bit, of Dexter's other friends and acquaintances and just focus on the trials and tribulations of being a serial killer who only gets three hours of sleep a night thanks to a new baby -- now that'd make you want to kill someone.

-- Claire Zulkey

(Photo courtesy Showtime)

Comments () | Archives (12)

I agree with your critique. This season I was truly Dexter deprived -- the other characters are just not that compelling to take up screen time away from Micheal C. Hall. Jimmy Smits was excellent as Miguel -- it was a great storyline to see Dexter have a friend, a friend that, of course would see his demise by the hands of Dexter.

The biggest flaw of the season were the final 3 episodes -- everything was just a bit too easy. I wish the skinner and Dexter would have had more to do with each other, more struggle, more psychological drama before Dexter killed him and got away. The writing was a bit lazy on the last two episodes.

With all that I have just wrote, I will still be back for season 4 with bells on.

I was left wondering what that trickle of blood during the final scene really meant, but i guess you are right when you say "reminding us of the why we like the show". He is the blood guy after all!

Dexter, in contrast to a lot of real serial killers, is not a sexual sadist. He's basically a normal guy with a quirk and a mission. I can't imagine that becoming a husband and father would be easy for him but I'm not sure it would be impossible, either.

Good critique. I like that the crux of the season was in the season and not trying to ram it into the last episode as is the pattern that most series seem to follow. When dex was kidnapped for his bachelor party we saw the captive dex for the first time. And he did too, which is why we knew that the skinner wasn't going to do much to dex in the last 2 eps. Well, he did get captured again but I didn't think it was as bad as the first one. Proby cuz dex was nonchalant about it.

I thought the episode prior to the finale was far too rushed. Miguel was a great character and I would have preferred to have him around longer, playing cat and mouse with Dexter & Laguerta. His death was far too quick.
I expect next season will be all about family - Dexter's and Deb's. My concern is what they will do once Dexter's backstory is revealed. Will Deb discover his secret & kill Dexter? That seems the logical ending since that would probably have been what her father would have eventually been forced to do, had he lived longer. After all, Deb is a cop, through and through.

This season was about Dexter discovering his similarities with others--essentially his humanity. While he is still by and far a "different" person, he now understands more about his role in a society he must live in. Now he's a father, and while the blood droplet at the end foreshadows his need to kill and what affect that may have on a new family, Dexter for the first time understands that his life must be shared--he has a duty to someone outside of himself. Despite my own enjoyment of his ritual killing during the previous two season, I respect this year's effort as a stand alone chapter in the Dexter saga with its own complexities and messages.

That being said, the new writing team did not prove to be as strong as year's past.

I think making each episode more close ended (where each ends with Dexter killing the bad guy) would be a mistake. The show would be more akin to predictable broadcast TV procedurals in that scenario. I agree with bellajj that it would have been great to see much more psychological drama between Dexter - Miguel and Dexter - Skinner. The opportunity that was missed in both cases was that both Miguel and The Skinner were very much like Dexter, but they were guys who couldn't control their "dark passenger." Ending the season with Dexter still keeping his in check was fine, but leaving the question a little more open ended as to whether he can maintain that control forever would be more interesting. I like the foreshadow that Deb may learn that her father had an affair with Dexter's biological mother, which is only one step away from finding out that Dex's brother was the Ice Truck Killer (and why he really targeted Deb).There was also a hint that we may see Rita's first husband emerge as a shadowy figure in Season 4. As a final note, Masuka's moments were very funny this year; maybe we'll see more of or learn more about him next season. A good season overall this year.

The blood on the dress was classic. Dexter's blood dropping onto the white dress, on Rita's back where she can't see it's there. Perfect final scene of the season.

This season was a bit rushed at times, with a few plot lines that led to anticlimactic resolutions (Dexter v. Ramone, Dexter v. King, Quinn's IA probe) but the season was still thoroughly enjoyable. Season 4 will be about Dexter juggling family and his darkness, but I'm sure a few more twists too. I'd like to see Showtime invest in an extra episode or two, though, to prevent the rushed feeling we all felt this year.

wow you people are far off IMO...i mean you seem to have a lot of issues with season 3; what are your feelings about season 2? do you think dex's love affair with some pale, weirdo british chick was a great storyline? i just got done season 3 and am way more fulfilled than in season 2. doaks stuff was obv cool in season 2, but the guy spent 98% of his remaining days in a CAGE. i do agree miguel was a solid character; which says a lot being i really didnt care for him in the 1st episode. he did meet a timely end though- it would take away from miguel's aura if he stayed around for a billion episodes playing "cat and mouse" with them-i mean miguel is intelligent and taught by the best; drawing out his demise would discredit character, both him and dexter. what it all comes down to for this viewer is intelligence and wit within the storyline. i got that this season. instead of season 2 wherein i picked out every event, and season would where i know who "rudy" was after he was introduced. if you just want to see sociopathic bs then i mean i understand, but i really wanna be surprised and guessing. overall good for dex this season; love the use of wit trapping miguel, as well as the brute bitch slappin force he put on that punkass skinner pendejo.

I think I know what's going to happen next season. Hopefully it follows the story of Jeff Lindsay's "Dexter in the Dark"... I don't want to give anything away, but the montage of Season 4 seems a little deceptive!

I really did love this season, but I was stumped by certain things... the way Dexter was so careless in planning the kill that Miguel learned, or was certain of, his secret through; how they just seemed to drop the IA probe storyline; how no one seemed to bat an eye when the tree trimmer gave his name as "George Washington King"; how Dexter seemed to keep thinking that he'd "one-upped" Miguel at every turn, only to find, it wasn't so; and then, finally, how everything just seemed to "come together" for him to be able to entrap Miguel...? These seemed like blaring weaknesses in this season's writing; and, yes, many anti-climatic resolutions to completely intensely built up situations. Not that I didn't love this season - I did! But, I too hope that this next season will bring back a little of what we haven't seen this season - blood; Dexter "doing his thing", and doing it well; as well as all the maneuvering, and frustrations, of being a married, family man with a killer instinct. How will he navigate those waters without being sloppy? For real. Not just because the writing was rushed, or not well thought out...

Season 2 had this BEAUTIFUL way of bringing focus to every character without losing the main idea. Dexter was interesting. Rita was interesting. Deb, Lila, Harry, and so on. Season 3 failed to achieve that but was definitely still good. Dexter S2 was unarguably the best television will ever have to offer. Julie Benz is the most perfect looking woman I've ever seen. She's absolutely breath taking.


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