Saturday, December 18, 2010

'Dexter' Season Three (2008)

Starring Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter and Julie Benz
Developed by James Manos Jr.

If there's a major theme in the third season of Showtime's "Dexter," it's trust.  Practically everything that happens in this season revolves around characters trusting other characters, or perhaps the lack thereof. 

Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) has settled back into life as usual after the events of Season Two.  The crimes of the Bay Harbor Butcher have been pegged on the deceased Detective Doakes, and Dexter is free to continue his work.  He's also back together with Rita (Julie Benz) and the kids.  Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) is close to becoming a full detective with the Miami PD.

But, of course, something must happen to throw this happy little world into chaos.  One night while Dexter is preparing to kill his next target, he gets into more trouble than he'd bargained for and, in self defense, ends up killing the wrong man.  Enter Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits), a prominent assistant district attorney.  Turns out the man Dexter kills is Prado's younger brother, Oscar.  Dexter is brought onto the case the next day in his capacity as a forensic analyst.  But Dexter still hasn't killed his original target, who is now on the run.  When he finally tracks him down and kills him, Dexter is shocked to discover that Miguel has, as well.  Now Miguel knows Dexter's secret, but instead of turning him in, Miguel keeps that secret and strikes up a friendship with Dexter.

As time goes on, however, Dexter slowly begins to realize that Miguel is incapable of the self control that Dexter displays.  He can't follow the Code, and instead of killing murderers and rapists that deserve it, he instead begins to kill anyone who gets in his way.  Now the two are locked in a battle of wits, each trying to gain leverage over the other.

All the while, Debra along with the other detectives, Angel Battista (David Zayas) and newcomer Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington) are on the trail of a killer known as 'the Skinner' who strangles his victims and then cuts off some of their skin before dumping the bodies in a public place.  Debra is approached by an Internal Affairs detective who is investigating Quinn, and she can't seem to figure out which one of them is jerking her around.

Lastly, Rita informs Dexter that she's pregnant, and Dexter is forced to explore the possibility of becoming a father.  In order to do right, Dexter proposes marriage and he and Rita prepare to become husband and wife and build their family together.

As I said, trust is a major theme in this season.  Dexter and Miguel build a relationship that is based upon a mutual need to keep their secrets.  Miguel's slow descent from respected district attorney to half-crazed serial murderer destroys his relationship with his wife, Sylvia (Valerie Cruz) who has struck up a friendship with Rita.  Dexter begins to suspect that Rita is hiding something from him.  Every character relationship in the show revolves entirely around trust, as everyone is keeping secrets from someone else.  The question is whether those secrets are worth keeping, and how that will affect the relationship in question.

The third season represents an important step in the development of the Dexter character.  Dexter is forced to examine his future, the possibility of raising a son of his own.  He also finds, for a time, his first true friend in Miguel.  He finally knows what it's like to have someone he can trust, someone he can be himself in front of.  True, Dexter loves Rita, but he knows that if she knew the truth about him that it would destroy her, and the family he's trying to hard to build with her.  Miguel allows him to have a vent.  It was fun to see Dexter forming a relationship with another person, but of course it wasn't meant to last.  Miguel is unlike Dexter - he's unable to keep it from getting personal.  Dexter is capable of being objective about his kills, of making absolutely sure that the 'victim' deserves it.  Miguel can't understand this, and thinks he can simply use Dexter to remove those who stand in his way.

Jimmy Smits does some excellent work as Prado, starting off a very suave, charismatic attorney.  By the end of the season, he's practically a wild man, capable of going off at any second.  Dexter's attempts to gain leverage over him ultimately prove fruitless when he realizes that Prado may in fact be truly insane, incapable of being reasoned with or manipulated.  It must have been a lot of fun for Smits to play a character who gets to almost entirely self-destruct over the course of twelve episodes. 

Season three is a winner for "Dexter," moving the characters forward and also loading it up with excellent performances and more fun mysteries to be solved.  Just as entertaining as ever, "Dexter" continues to be sharp and wildly fun entertainment.

See Also
Season One
Season Two
Season Four