Season 3 of Dexter just keeps surprising me, thanks to the entirely virgin territory it’s prepared to take its anti-hero through. From an entirely personal perspective, this is best story so far this year, and reveals entirely new layers to Dexter’s increasingly complex personality.
This story is called ‘Easy as Pie’, and the exact desert on offer here is Key Lime Pie – as requested previously by the dying Camilla. The theme tying the various story parts together is the things you do for friends, sometimes that they appreciate and other times that they resent.
Dexter is asked to create a list of friends to invite to his wedding with Rita. It’s a disturbingly short list. At one point it’s a list that only contains Miguel’s name, as Dexter finds himself increasingly at ease with his partner in homicide. But Miguel is getting increasingly irritated by defence attorney Ellen Wolf, and tells Dexter that she should be killed. That’s a problem, because she’s certainly outside the rules that Harry defined, and Dexter still runs his life by.
Will Dexter break his rules for a friend? Yet it’s not the only rule breaking he’s been invited to do, because poor old Camilla, dying painfully of lung cancer, asks Dexter for help in ending her life. She’s a friend, and innocent: double jeopardy!
Margo Martindale gives the roll of Camilla her very best shot, brilliantly delivering the rollercoaster of emotion that terminally ill people often ride. She’s funny, desperate, annoyed and sad in rapid succession. A poignant outflowing that even the undemonstrative Dexter can’t ignore, quite surprisingly. Should he kill her? Can he kill her? She’s a friend, and Dexter doesn’t have many real ones.
In the meanwhile, other people’s emotions are surfacing all around. Debra is given instructions to set Anton up to catch the ‘skinner’, yet decides to warn him instead. And Angel Batista is being implausibly romantic to the vice squad lady that nearly arrested him. Is that ‘love is in the air’ I can hear in the background or is that just my imagination?
Actually, it is my imagination. The antidote to all this touchy-feely-ness is Vince, obtuse and as objectionable as ever. His tirade about Asian stereotypes is superb when investigating a death involving stockinged feet. He’s also not too well pleased when it’s pointed out that the suspect in that crime bears a close resemblance to him, despite this being true. Vince’s character is one of the smaller rolls in Dexter, but he gets a well earned moment in the limelight, a trademark of this show.
Miguel arranges a meeting between Ellen Wolf and Dexter, to sell the idea that she’s a nasty piece of work that needs his special attention. Except Dexter isn’t just any serial killer, he’s a methodical researcher. And his research says she lives, much to Miguel’s annoyance. Sometimes, as Miguel says, “it’s for friends to do the hardest things, like saying ‘no’, that makes them true friends”.
Dexter makes one final visit to Camilla, bringing the prerequisite Key Lime Pie. Except this one has one special ingredient, Sodium Pentothal. In their previous meeting she tells him that she read his file, and knows his brother was the Ice Trucker Killer. As she consumes the ‘perfect pie’, Dexter tells her that he killed him, her dying words are ‘it’s good you did’. An awesome scene, carried off by Michael C. Hall and Margo Martindale to perfection. Dexter can emotionally connect, it just takes exceptional circumstances.
I had my reservations about Dexter’s third outing in the first few shows, but this is actually turning out to be the strongest season yet. Bring it on!
Read our review of the previous episode here.