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'Dexter': Another view to a kill

September 29, 2008 |  8:18 am

Like the start of its second season, the third season of "Dexter"  finds our serial-killing hero with a pleasantly fresh slate. Thanks to his crazy ex-girlfriend Lila (Jaime Murray), the threat of Sgt. Doakes (Erik King), the greatest threat to Dexter (Michael C. Hall) at the Miami-Dade Police Department, was eliminated. And just to wrap everything up neatly, Dexter also removed the obstacle of Lila. Now nothing stands between him and murderous, peaceful bliss. 

I was glad to see Lila go. The fun of this show is in watching Dexter do mundane things, like go to the dentist, or interact with people who THINK they're freaks, like Vince Masuka (C.S. Lee) , but obviously aren't when compared with Dexter.  The "passion" of Lila compared with the sweet, somewhat tense Rita (Julie Benz) sapped any tension between Dexter and his artist friend. Plus, the wild-haired, tank top-wearing, sexually rambunctious, free-spirit madwoman, gorgeous artist character felt ...

... a little done anyway. 

I will miss Doakes, however.  It's not too often that the archenemy dynamic can be played with a lot of humor, especially when the hero is a bad guy. Plus, the action at the Miami-Dade Police Department has always been a weak part of the show to me.  I enjoy Masuka the pervert but the various dramas involving Lt. Laguerta (Lauren Vélez) and even Dexter's sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) have taken a far-back seat to Dexter's story. They've simply never been very compelling either as characters or as cops. Maybe it's all that sunshine, as I've become accustomed to the "Law and Order" style of detecting in the dark. Doakes provided the lone tension at the office. 

For the third season, more departmental changes are upon us: Batista (
David Zayas), Dexter's convivial colleague, has made sergeant, so his character having a bit more responsibility may prove to be interesting, especially since he's now a superior to the explosive Deb. Deb, meanwhile, is being stalked by a strangely quirky (or is it quirkily strange?) woman from Internal Affairs who wants her to start spying on the new guy in the department. Is this typical protocol at Miami-Dade?  Why doesn't Internal Affairs do its own work? And why does this woman like to stalk Deb outside the office?  Finally, the department is shaken up by the presence of Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney played by Jimmy Smits. A lot of "Who's the new guy?" mumbling goes around, similar to when Lundy (Keith Carradine) was added to the team last season, only the ante is upped — not only did LaGuerta consider him "the one who got away" (that lady gets around), but he's also the brother of Oscar Prado.  Who is Oscar?  Well, Oscar is the first (seemingly) innocent man that Dexter's ever murdered. In an attempt to knock off a bad guy named Freebo, Dexter had encountered Oscar and in self-defense, stabbed him.  So at least the fun part of the season is set up: Dexter kills, makes a mess and has to clean it up. 

The beginning of the episode finds Dexter receiving solace in routine, but as the episode wears on, he decides that change is good — whether it's Deb's new haircut or that he decides to end the tradition of honoring his father's birthday in order to join Prado's family at the service to honor Oscar. I'm not sure yet whether this change IS good. Thus far, the premiere hasn't given much indication that the non-Dexter plots will catch up to the rest of the show, despite the changes in the order of things — until one last change at the end, of course: Rita's pregnancy proves potentially very interesting indeed.

— Claire Zulkey