Dissecting DEXTER: What’s Working, What’s Not… And How To Fix


As the old saying goes; When you’re at the top of your game, there’s no where to go but down.

Which is why, following two excellent seasons that culminated in a thrilling face off between Dexter Morgan and Sergeant James Doakes, the downfall of DEXTER was inevitable.

Cue our painfully gruesome analysis after-the-fact.

If this summer’s DARK KNIGHT illustrated anything, it is that a hero is only as good as his nemesis. And with Doakes out of the picture, so to was the only real threat to Dexter’s extra-curricular activities. Not to mention, all the suspense, nervousness and edge-or-your-seat-excitement that came with Dexter always having to think one step ahead of well, everyone.

Instead, we were left with Miguel Prado played by “Special Guest Star” Jimmy Smitts. Putting aside the obvious fact that having Miguel played by Smitts was akin to hanging a “dead man walking” sign on the actor from the moment he entered the scene, was the disappointment that came when Miguel’s story-line went in the complete opposite direction of where we were hoping. Sure, Dexter learning about friendship was an interesting and important road to take. And yes, having Miguel take a liking to Dexter’s special brand of justice was entertaining. But then to ruin it all so quickly by having the two fast friend become enemies over the span of mere episodes. What’s Spanish for “boring” and “predictable?”

Frankly, a far more fascinating option, not to mention where we were hoping things would go would have been to have Miguel secretly be in cohoots with lawyer Ellen Woolf in an effort to bring Dexter down. Just imagine if Miguel’s friendship was simply a ploy to get close to Dexter and gather enough evidence to charge him with murder. Would not a perfect cliffhanger have come from Dexter getting arrested just as he finished uttering “I Do” to Rita? Now that’s what we call a season finale!

But moving along from our CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE: DEXTER EDITION comes another major flaw from season three. The supporting players and their stories. While we enjoyed the character growth shown by Batista, Laguerta and Masuka, we couldn’t help but tire of another Deb relationship gone bad. As well as the show’s futile attempt to create a red herring surrounding Quinn. DEXTER is not an ensemble show. And peripheral story-lines only work when they help contribute to Dexter’s journey.

Which bring is to the complete and utter pointlessness of “The Skinner.” What made the Ice Truck Killer work so well was Rudy’s deep, mysterious and ultimate familial connection to Dexter. While Doakes was a success thanks to the seeds laid out in the show’s pilot in combination with a season and a half of build up. In other-words, if one were to replace Dexter being kidnapped in the finale’s closing twenty minutes with Uncle Jesse and a broken-down tractor you’d pretty much get a very special wedding episode of FULL HOUSE.

Again, please keep in mind. We critique because we love. And to prove it, here are a few suggestions for next season.

Dexter (and by extension, the audience) need to be scared again. After defeating the Ice Truck Killer, Sft. Doakes, Miguel Prado and The Skinner, America’s favorite serial killer (to the detriment of the show) is 4-0. Which is why DEXTER needs to return to the formula that made it so successuful to begin with. Isn’t it about time someone Dexter works with, preferably Deb, but we’ll settle for Laguerta, discover Dexter’s secret? Because at this moment, we can’t help but feel the show is treading dangerously close to SMALLVILLE levels of ridiculousness. You know, how it’s almost laughable that Lex took seven years to piece together Clark’s secret identity.

Another suggestion, and fare warning, this may get a little gruesome. But it’s time to stop looking at Dexter as the hero. The guy after-all is a serial killer and as such, it’s about time he should face some serious consequences for his actions. Let’s put a stop to Dexter’s journey down the path of normalcy and kill Rita. Since the creative team is so intent on having Dexter experience fatherhood with Rita, how does fatherhood times three sound?

Final thought. DEXTER needs an endgame. While Showtime isn’t going to want to us calling for the end of the show that’s put them on the map. The network needs to take a page from ABC and allow the writer’s to end the series on their own terms. That or risk subjecting DEXTER to the most menacing villain of all; audience indifference.

Photo Credit: Dan Littlejohn/Showtime

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  • I liked the Miguel character and he’s a top notch actor. Agree Deb’s relationships are tiring and repetitive and Rita was largely irrelevant this season. Having said that, I still loved the show even though the Ramone unraveling was anticlimatic. Better to have ended the season when he pointed the gun at Dexter. And then do some crazy stuff to start Season 4. But this plot line may be entirely wrapped up. Suppose we’ll see.

  • moss

    boring: aburrido
    predictable: predecible
    there you go, now you can say that dexter es aburrido y predecible….

  • Chris

    I agree this season was the weakest of the three. I think the major flaw was the lack of an overall storyline. Season one had the ice truck killer then the hunt for Dexter and this season had…the skinner? A storyline the show took too long to build up and never fully explained (he wanted Frebo this badly over money? sorry not buying it or caring).
    I also really enjoyed the Smits character and liked the twist they took with it. Would have liked it to come sooner but it worked when they did.
    But i disagree that the show needed a cliff hanger. I like that the show lets each season stand on its own (similar to Buffy’s yearly villains). Hopefully next season will incorporate a better seasonal storyline, maybe borrow from the books again. Also…NEED more scary Dexter. In the finale when Dexter started taunting the Skinner, I realized another part missing this season was Dexter’s menacing “dark passenger.”

  • Doug

    It’s interesting that you mention someone knowing about Dexter’s “other” activities. At the end of the first book in the series (which the 1st season was based on) Deb knows of Dexter’s activities and actually uses his help. Additionally, Rita’s kids are both turning into killers (in the 1st season Rita takes the neighbors dog to a friend because it was so annoying, whereas in the book Dexter learns that the kids actually killed the dog) in the books and this would be an interesting twist since in the third book Cody kills someone to save Dexter.

  • Yes on all points. I thought Rita should have been killed off early in the season.

  • Linda B.

    I thought this last episode was boring and not as intense as the second to last episode where he offed Miguel. I kept waiting for something big to happen at the wedding, and nothing.

    I agree that someone in his inner circle needs to find out his secret – maybe w/o his knowledge. Maybe this whole storyline about Deb finding out about her father cheating w/ Dexter’s mother will lead somewhere next season.

    I’m also getting tired of Deb’s lovelife storylines. Her taste in men sucks.

    I do like how the seasons are self contained and don’t have huge cliffhangers. It’s different w/ regular shows that you only have to wait through summer to see the big reveal, but i’d hate to wait til next October to see how a Dexter cliffhanger pans out.

  • Was anyone else under the incorrect impression that Deb was going to try her luck with women this season?

  • “Aburrido” and “predecible”.

    Couldn’t agree more…

  • bws

    I usually don’t harp on people for not liking something (with the exception of Grey’s Anatomy which if you’re still watching, you better be getting paid) but the critique of Dexter this season is way harsher than I expected. My only nit is that the Miguel Prado cat and mouse game with Dexter should have extended a couple more episodes. The development was solid but after Dexter found out how dark Miguel was, I would have liked their back and forth to extend a little more. I think that was just a limitation of 12 or 13 episodes. It had to escalate quickly near the end. But I will not stand people ripping up the finale because it wasn’t filled with buckets of blood. Isn’t that surprising? It’s not disappointing… It’s ok to root for the serial killer on this show. It’s ok to be happy for him being married. It’s ok. Read Clyde Phillips take on this with Kristin on E!

    Dexter needs to face the consequences of his actions?? Eventually, everyone who knows his secret must die. Including Dexter. That’s the endgame. Dexter dies. If Rita finds out his secret first, she will die. If Deb finds out his secret, she has to die, too.

    Dexter is not a complex show. Each season’s main plot can be reduced to a short sentence. It’s the Dexter character that is so rich and entertaining. I’d put even money on Deb finding out Dexter’s secret next season without him knowing.

  • Ted

    Interesting article, TV Addict, I’m halfway with you, but I have to disagree with you on certain points. While I agree that this season was relatively weak compared to the other two, I still don’t think it was as bad as you make it sound. I must say though, the skinner was totally totally lame. the end, we were left with two half villains that Dexter dispatched of with considerable ease. Also, you are spot on, when you imply that the stakes for Dexter were not high enough this season. In fact, there were hints on an invincibility complex. (I got excited when he got put into a car trunk, only to get let down in the next episode. This is when I feel like my emotions are being toyed with). However, I am beginning to feel the TV Addict was just plain infatuated with Sgt. Doakes. Sure, he was a strong character, but really, he died a while ago–the rest of us have moved on 🙂 , and quite frankly reproducing a character similar to him would have been a step backward for the series. It would have been in the same vein of Deb Morgan’s relationships (I mean, when is she going to fall in love with Kevin from accounting?).

    I agree with bws though–I would’ve liked them to have explored the Prado-Dexter dynamic for a few more episodes. I liked the tension. (Perhaps similar to the tension that Doakes brought with him).

    I viewed this season as an exploration of a side of Dexter. Albeit not entirely convincing, it was an attempt to show him trying to embrace a more human part of himself (wanting friends). Did we need so many episodes to do this? Arguably not.

    Regarding an endgame, I think a revelation of his secret will spell the end of the series. The longer they drag that out, the longer the show goes on for. Point taken on viewer interest, though. However, Dexter can’t get caught–I don’t think so. The most we can expect are close encounters. The writers just have to find creative ways to come as close as possible–and more interesting ways/justifications for Dexter to dispatch of those that learn his secret. Next season, they owe it to the viewers to come a little harder.

    Yes, the series was predictable and at times Dexter appeared untouchable. I think the series is allowed this one. Let’s not write it off yet. Hopefully, next series will pick up.

    Happy holidays, Addicts!

  • Dexter was never meant to be a stationary character. All of his interactions over the past 3 seasons have taught him and caused him to grow emotionally. Watching the pilot now, could you ever expect Dexter to love Rita? Feel paternal to not only his impending child, but Rita’s as well? Doakes taught him about keeping wary of those you associate with, and Lila showed him that passion can be expressed ways other than vigilantism. Why Michael C. Hall hasn’t won an Emmy yet, I’ll never know. I suspect the reason is James Spader, though…

  • tim w. in tx

    This season of ‘dexter’ wasn’t up to par with the previous 2 seasons. The skinner storyline was a disappointment. Miguel Prado’s involvement with Dex had more potential. I’d have liked to see Miguel be the one responsible for the skinner. As for Deb, I kept thinking she wasn’t really interested in Quinn or the CI. And I agree with alot of ur points TVA, especially about this season’s attempt to flesh out the supp. characters. I kept thinking ‘they’re fleshing out the supporting cast.” lol It was so obvious esp. considering the first 2 seasons. Dexter lacked ‘something’ this season definitely. It was ‘good’ but it could have been ‘better.’

  • LaLu

    It’s Miguel PRADO and Ellen WOOLF

  • K.K.

    Wow…..totally disagree with the critique….after watching the whole 3rd season, I thought the second season was weak and the “villain” is really uninteresting at all. I only consider the Skinner to be a plot device rather than an important, Ice truck killer-level serial killer. Prado is always the main villain this season. I do agree there has to be an end to the show, so that it will have an arc, an overall story line that will drive the show and the characters to a new level of relationship. I think next season will have more revelation (Rita’s first husband?) and hopefully more breakthrough storyline. Always like Deb though, I mean it’s not her fault for dating weirdos, serial killers, and CI, look at the guys surrounding her….even her dad is a cheater!! Maybe a lesbian relationship would solve things? (maybe with Laguerta? also, was the relationship between Laguerta and Ellen Wolf straight platonic?)

  • paketep

    Here’s a bit more Spanish. Your review: equivocado 😉

    Also, I didn’t feel like Deb was going to try with women. And Anton wasn’t that bad.

    María, on the other side, had a certain look for Ellen.

  • brady

    i think a good storyline to bring in with rita first husband is a cheating rita. we keep seeing bad things happen to rita but she cant be perfect. a sparked love intrest between her and a returned 1st husband could work well