Some spoilers below…
I know that other contributors to Den of Geek haven’t warmed to Dexter in the same fashion, but I think it’s a smart and eclectic show that encourages the viewer to think harder than most. But I can accept that its pace can be somewhat underwhelming at times, which is a criticism I’d certainly level at the first 15-20 minutes or so of the new Dexter season opener.
It doesn’t help that we’re nearly 7 minutes in before they’ve given up with the ubiquitous title sequence and revisiting the previous season. Then they introduce a new couple of characters, a new cop to replace the unfortunate Sgt. Doakes and an internal investigations officer who’s pursuing him. Small fish, that can be fried later I’d suggest.
The relative normality of Dexter’s life in this first half of the episode begins to grind a little, I mean purely for plot development – why doesn’t he kill someone?
He builds up to do exactly that and then, like the show can do so well, the entire thing turns on a dime and he ends up killing a complete stranger totally by accident.
What happens in the second half of the running time is pure Dexter adrenalin rush, as he’s drawn into investigating a murder he committed. But that’s not the best of it. The man he unintentionally killed was the little brother of Miguel Prado, a hard-ass assistant district attorney and head of an influential Miami family. He’s brilliantly played by Jimmy Smits, who’s come back from Star Wars cameos with a vengeance. He and Dexter have a scene at the murder location that made the hairs on my neck stand up, Michael C. Hall playing off Smits was quite electrifying. As Smits looks set to be part of much of this season I’m very encouraged, and at the same time curious to see where they’ll take these developments and characters.
The message of episode one is that Dexter has moved beyond being Harry’s instrument of vengeance and is taking his own personal path. In doing so he’s listening to the spirit of the code he was set, rather than the detail in the rules. By definition that could make any murders he commits more likely to expose him, as he’s started to act spontaneously. The season theme appears to be the loss of control and then the reacquisition of it, but it’s early days yet.
Somehow I’ve got the feeling that Dexter might collect plenty of blood sample souvenirs this year, as he strives to create his own code and rules. If it lives up to the second half of this opener, I think this could be the strongest Dexter season yet.