Dissecting DEXTER Season Three: A Second Opinion

Yesterday, our host the TV Addict put our favorite serial killer, DEXTER, under the knife, dissecting the Showtime drama and coming to the conclusion that its third season was little more than dead weight, failing to live up to the two previous seasons.

I (Couch Tater), however, couldn’t disagree more.

Season three revolved in large part around our dysfunctional anti-hero, Dexter Morgan, befriending district attorney Miguel Prado after accidentally killing the legal eagle’s brother. Of course, fans of the series know that Dexter doesn’t have friends or even genuine relationships. So to see Dexter get excited — or at least as excited as he is capable of being — even as we cringed, knowing this wouldn’t end well, was the very essence of solid drama. The fact that we knew things would end badly — especially once Dexter began revealing his darker side to his new best bud — led to that wonderfully uncomfortable sensation that leaves viewers wondering when the other shoe will drop.

And while my pal Daniel thinks it is crucial for the folks at Showtime to give DEXTER’s producers a definitive end date so they can begin plotting a killer ending, I can’t help thinking that he’s being blinded by admiration for how well that tactic is working over at LOST. But where as that show is a complex story in need of a beginning, middle and, most importantly, an end, DEXTER is, at heart, a character drama. And it’s important to remember that at heart, the show is not simply about a serial killer and the trail of bodies he leads in his wake, but is, in fact, a complex, multi-layered psychological drama about damaged human beings. From Dexter’s romantically challenged sister to the cops who make up their foster family, these are deeply flawed, incredibly detailed characters. The crimes they solve are little more than a reason for us to come back each week.

Already, the groundwork has been laid for what I suspect will be the series’ most rewarding season to date. By marrying Rita and becoming a father to her children, Dexter is allowing himself to be lulled into a sense of normalcy, despite the fiasco his relationships inevitably devolve into. The blood dripping down the gown of his unsuspecting bride foreshadowed in a chilling manner just how doomed the groom’s misguided attempt at family life undoubtedly is.

This is not to say that DEXTER is a show without flaws.

I can’t help but wonder if scenes involving socially awkward Angel and his love interest landed on the cutting room floor, explaining how she went from standoffish declarations of “I don’t date” and an obvious eschewing of PDA’s to making out with him in the middle of the squad room. And it is most definitely time to let Dexter’s late father rest in peace. His near-weekly appearances are beginning to feel too much like what they are: a lazy plot device used to tell the audience things we should be smart enough to figure out on our own.

In the end, if there is one thing Daniel and I agree upon, it is that our favorite serial killer can’t return to the airwaves soon enough. And when he does, we’ll both be here… lying in wait to dissect his every move!

Photo Credit: Peter Iovino/Showtime

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  • Mary

    Thank you for this. I was beginning to think I was the only one who enjoyed this season and the season finale. In the past three seasons all the season finales tied up all the loose strings and I enjoy having the sense of closure at the end. I totally agree with what you said about this being a character drama. Dexter isn’t your usual serial killer, and therefore his POV maybe be different.

  • bws

    Nice post, CT. I very much agree! It’s interesting to think that Dexter became complacent this season as he attempted his move towards normalcy. After the Prado relationship going so sour, I wonder if he will be more guarded in the future. Of course, Dexter’s secrets will be hard to keep if he’s living with Rita and the kids. He won’t have the luxury of staying out all night or being missing for unaccountable amounts of time. Alibis become much more difficult.

  • http://thetvmanifesto.wordpress.com/ Pat

    Thanks for voicing what is apparently the minority opinion — that this season of Dexter felt very rewarding.

  • DB

    I agree, this season wrapped up pretty nicely, it puzzled me that people were craving for more blood in the finale, like possibly killing off rita, wtf. I was glad they have a happy ending, or a new beginning, and it’s good to see our favorite serial killer does have a chance at a somewhat normal life. I wasn’t really on board with him getting a protege at first, but they did a great job as the season went on, all in all, a very satisfying season.

  • Sylvia

    I liked this seasons show it was different. I knew Prado was going to die because their is no way 2 serial killers can be on the show hehehe. I really liked the Prado character.

  • allie

    I enjoyed this season (of course none will ever be as good as the first, but I think that’s because it was new and unique).

    I disagree about an end date. I think that the writers do need to build to something otherwise the show’s plots could get a little ridiculous. But I’m still thinking 4-5 more seasons could be managable.

    I’m looking forward to next season where presumably there will be fallout over Deb finding out her father had an affair with Dexter’s mother. I also wonder if she’ll discover Rudy was Dex’s brother… I hope the season doesn’t just focus on Dexter and Rita because that’s a little boring. It’s an important aspect to see Dexter struggling with normal life, but it shouldn’t be the only element to the show.

    I wonder how much longer we’ll have to wait until Deb finds out Dex is a killer and has to decide whether to sit on that information or not. I can’t imagine Dex ever killing Deb (it’s not within the Code since she’s innocent). I wish I was a fly on the wall in the writers’ room!

  • K.K.

    Thanks so much for the second opinion….didn’t think about the foreshadowing!!

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