Dexter season 5 episode 3 review: Practically Perfect

Other TV show makers? You might want to start watching Dexter, to see just how these things should be done...

Dexter: Practically Perfect

5.3 Practically Perfect

The mesmeric nature of this show is unabated. It’s engrossing in a way that most shows can’t manage on a good day, but makes it look effortless.

Practically Perfect runs a series of threads that don’t intersect much, as Dexter juggles baby Harrison and his serial killing hobby, Debra chases underworld decapitators and Angel’s troubles multiply.

By far the most entertaining part of this was Dexter’s pursuit of the road kill janitor that goes entirely awry at the crucial moment, when Boyd shoots him with a tranquiliser pistol just after Dex has injected him in the neck. The scene where they came around in the ambulance taking them to hospital, Boyd now aware that Dexter was another killer, built a tension that only grew when they got to the ER.

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In the end, Boyd, like too many amateur killers, isn’t really up to Dexter’s standard, but then who, other than Arthur Mitchell, ever was?

With now a quarter into the season, the true adversary is still masked in the shadows, leaving a trail of gruesome finds for Vince Masuka to investigate. There’s a foreboding about this investigation that hints that, when Debra runs into the people responsible for terrorising this neighbourhood, then she’s not really going to be equipped to handle it.

Another dark undercurrent comes from the Nanny that Dexter employs to look after Harrison, who’s just too good to be true. What’s her secret?

Perhaps she hasn’t got one and the writing in Dexter is installing paranoia, but if the last four seasons have taught me anything, it’s that nothing in this show is in here as dressing. Everything happens for a purpose. And, she’s undoubtedly got more than baby duties on her agenda, I suspect.

The only negative thing I can say about this episode is an issue we’ve had previously where whenever the focus turns to Angel and Maria it tends to slow everything down. But I need to balance that with Vince’s contribution to that relationship, with one of the funniest lines he’s yet delivered. I won’t spoil it here, but I’m still laughing a day later.

And just when I thought the story had entirely run its course, and Boyd was especially fresh fish food, the writers threw a curve ball of classic proportions into the closing scene. This sequence of events was so disturbing and problematic for Dexter that I immediately wanted to see the next story to find out how on earth he deals with this particular challenge.

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Very much like last season, the writers are projecting Dexter on a very narrow path, where he’s continually on the verge of either being revealed or suffering complication overload. They repeatedly ask the audience to confront the moral dilemmas and choices that confront Dexter, confident that the majority of people just wouldn’t know what to do in these circumstances.

Next week represents a third of the season, and I’m hoping that the ‘big bad’ finally comes out into the sunlight to play, and with him, the sort of craziness that only this show can deliver.

Read our review of episode 2, Hello Bandit, here.