Dexter works on so many subtle levels, but one I especially like is the exploration of the character as a usually gifted but occasionally off-mark actor. I’m not talking about Michael C. Hall himself, but Dexter playing all these roles: upstanding citizen, loving partner, soon to be father, reticent accomplice.
Given that his sociopath mind can’t present these personalities for real, he’s permanently faking something 24/7. This is brought into high contrast when at the start of ‘All in the Family’, he makes a really botched announcement to Rita’s children that they’ll soon have a little brother or sister. It’s not like he’s not trying, but it’s a skill that’s beyond him. However, he’s smart enough to realise he’s not eliciting the desired reaction, even if he’s initially unsure at this point what’s the best fix.
He’s in a equal quandary about Miguel, whose brother Ramon is becoming a problem. Miguel wants to tell him that Freebo is dead, but Dexter thinks that Miguel knowing is one person too many. But troubles are multiplying. Rita loses her job as a hotel receptionist, and Ramon is drinking heavily. Dexter needs to focus, or he’ll drop one of these airborne balls.
An ‘accidental meeting’ between Dexter and Ramon shows that of the two, Miguel’s brother could be the tougher nut to crack.
But each show needs a distraction, and this one is an apparent break-in homicide, where a young woman is coming to terms with the loss of her boyfriend. Through this, Debra starts to see new positive abilities in Joey, and Dexter gets to see the face of true loss even if he can’t empathise with it. The Internal Affairs lady keeps needling Debra to spy on Joey – what’s special about this guy?
So far season three has been very light on Angel Batista, but he gets himself into deep doo this week and therefore in the spotlight. He goes to see a hooker, who turns out to be a vice officer…eeek! Luckily she realises and throws him out of the motel room before the sting goes down. These two meet the next day on unofficial police business, where David Zayas gets to show that his acting skills are beyond just wearing Hawaiian shirts. I suspect we’ll see more of her later in the series.
But back to the problematic Ramon. Dexter needs to isolate him, and the best method is to stir the pot with some anonymous phone calls telling him that Freebo is alive. Ramon goes off on one like a pre-programmed wind-up toy. Job done. Dexter makes a breakthrough in the murder, which points directly to the ‘girl’ as the possible assailant, not an entirely unexpected twist. But Dexter finds fascination in her acting, and the projection of her delusions into a greater emotional vista. Something he can use possibly with Rita and her children. He’s inspired. In the meanwhile Lt. Maria Laguerta is still following the case that Miguel wants closed, more irons in the fire.
But in this season the writers have honed in on the last five minutes of each story to throw the spice in, and this one is no exception. Dexter and Miguel go to a bar where Ramon is drinking heavily, supposedly to tell him Freebo is dead. But Dexter’s plan is entirely different and ends with Ramon being arrested. This leads to an early morning beach scene where Miguel tells Dexter he’s now the only person he trusts. Given the inspiration of the murderess, Dexter proposes to Rita in a believable way. It’s weird…but it works…And as Dexter puts it, he’s an actor who gets the role of a lifetime.
Overall this isn’t the strongest Dexter episode this season, but even with no Dexter deaths it keeps the axels oiled on this smoothly moving machine.
Read our review of the previous episode here.