This season of Dexter has held an incredibly high standard. So high, in fact, I was continually waiting for it to fall off its lofty pedestal from early on. But as the season has progressed from a strong start, it’s actually got even better! Why is it so good?
It’s a perfect storm of excellent scripts, sharp and observed direction and inspired casting. The story over the past twelve episodes has been a runaway train, but what really made this Dexter season tick have been the man-sized acting chops of Michael C. Hall and the amazing Jimmy Smits. I must congratulate Smits in particular. He has been incredible as the complex and convoluted Miguel Prado. His evolution from over-friendly and passionate brother to psychotic conspirator was so impressive to watch. The stand-out scenes of every episode in which he appeared were the ones with Miguel and Dexter, working on numerous subtle levels of understanding and threat.
Which was my only reason for concern about episode 12, Do You Take Dexter Morgan?, because Miguel is dead.
Having spent eleven wonderful episodes loading the chambers of this gun, I just hoped they didn’t manage to jam the breech in what should be a big Dexter pay-off.
The opening tableau is the finding of the body of Miguel, where Dexter dumped him. It seems the whole of Miami’s Police department shows up to see him taken away, including the super-aggressive Ramon, the surviving Prado brother. As Dexter got the other two, maybe he needs the entire set?
What we don’t see, but is then alluded to, is that Dexter is asked to leave Miguel’s funeral, as he and Rita talk about it after they return home. This conversation spills into a reveal about Rita’s mother not attending, much to the relief of both of them. Except she puts something cryptic on her card about the ‘third one’, which Rita says is about the third child she’s going to have. Dexter’s deception metre goes wild; has Rita been married twice before?
That’s a minor side issue. Dexter’s got a much bigger one awaiting him back at his apartment, which has been trashed. The prime candidate for breaking and entry is Ramon, although Dexter doesn’t really want to tell the police that. Ramon has shredded his wedding suit; “That’s personal,” as the ghost of Harry puts it.
Harry lays out the options: kill him or ignore him. But Dexter has no intention of letting Ramon spoil Rita’s semi-special day, and Ellen Wolf’s ring might just be the perfect tool for this job.
Dexter eventually gets to work, where his first job is to check up on his wife to be. Yes, as he suspected, Rita’s going for a third wedding, although her first was at sixteen and lasted only six months. Not the bomb it might have been.
The rest of the department is scouring Miami looking for George ‘the blade’ King, professional interrogator and, they assume, Miguel’s killer.
Debra gets good news from Angel; she’s to be promoted to Detective status. But she’s still got that bee in her bonnet about Harry that Dexter unleashed to cover a careless comment. Has Dexter revealed something real with his little lie?
Maria LaGuerta is also excited, but in a less positive way. She knows the truth about Miguel and is mortified to discover they’re about to name an interstate junction near her home after him! She wants to out the Prado name, but Dexter rationalises that the evidence she gathered wasn’t admissible, and this might not be a good idea for the Cuban community as a whole.
But Debra’s joy is very short lived; she’s only told two people and suddenly Angel Batista finds out that she slept with Anton, information he takes directly to him. Her response is that Angel crossed a similar line when he met his current girlfriend, who he assumed was a hooker at the time. He assumed this wasn’t public knowledge, and is forced to go and relinquish all this information to Maria, who frankly doesn’t want to hear any of it.
This is one of the few plot points that I’ve not entirely followed in Dexter. Because I recall that when Debra slept with Anton he wasn’t actually an official CI (informant), and as such what she did wasn’t against the rules. But her badge now looks like toast!
That’s annoying, but it’s nothing compared with Dexter’s predicament. He picks up Rita’s children, and is being stalked by someone. Is it Ramon or George King?
Dexter runs the next light and causes the trailing car to crash. He reverses direction but the person driving has run. I wonder if that traffic camera caught the occupant?
In the next scene, Ramon turns up drunk and wielding a gun in a public place, which strongly suggests it wasn’t actually him. Debra and Angel arrive before Ramon puts holes in Dexter, and he’s dragged away to jail. Confirmation comes with the traffic photo being sent to Debra, but she’s unaware that Dexter was being followed, so that information stays with her.
At this point I’d rather assumed all the chess pieces were on the board, but the writers of Dexter had another to cleverly lob on. Dexter goes to see Ramon in jail, and a conversation begins that puts an entirely different spin on his brother and the killer he aspired to be. It was Ramon who pushed their father down the stairs, and kept Miguel out of trouble, not the other way around. Ironically, it was Ramon who should have been Dexter’s soul mate! Ramon and Dexter are now good…incredibly.
Dexter goes for a new suit, and muses that the next day he’ll be married! Well, maybe. Because exiting the tailors he’s coshed by George King!
Things look bad for him, but Maria decides to give Debra her badge – hooray! This is the start of some serious emotional instability. Happy, sad, crazy, terrified – we got the lot on offer. Dexter wakes to find he’s a guest of the skinner, although he’s still entirely covered in his skin at that point.
Is this an epoch moment for Dexter? He wants to live to see his son grow, a curiously normal emotion for him. Is it possible to be a reformed sociopath? Well if it is, then Dexter needs to get away from George somehow, but his predicament looks challenging.
But as he so ably points out, a wolf will gnaw its own paw off to escape, and Dexter uses all his skills to get away from George. First he really annoys him by revealing that Freebo is dead, that he killed him and how – which is quite shocking for George.
Then he flips the table he’s tied to over to get loose and ultimately breaks George’s neck in a fight, before flipping him in front of an arriving police car sent by Debra to investigate a clue. Dexter escapes through a window avoiding any explanations about why George might want him, neatly wrapping up that part of the story. He might have a broken hand, but that won’t actually stop him marrying Rita, will it?
For one terrible moment I thought he was going to use Ellen Wolf’s ring to marry her, but he doesn’t. It’s all rather sweet. After the pleasantries we then get a tiny tease of season four, with the arrival of Dexter Jnr. Eeeek!
This was by far the best Dexter season so far, as it avoided the peaks and valleys of the previous ones with a much more consistent tempo. The last story was slightly the downside of the slope from the highs of stories 10 and 11, but it was still very good.
The only plotline that wasn’t really resolved was the Joey one, about internal affairs, but I can’t say that really upsets me. There is a strong suggestion that Harry really was Dexter’s father, although they’ve held that revelation for later.
If only all TV shows were as good as this one….we’d all be homicidal.
Read our review of the previous episode here.