Dismembering the Dead: An Examination of Dexter Season 3

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Dexter Season 2 had its problems but was overall a very solid season. Season 3, though, is the one I have heard is the shows high point, or at least at its best (maybe that is season 4, I am not sure actually).

It at least has a very interesting start to say the least. Dexter accidentally killing someone who does not fit his Code, then becoming entangled with the brother of the victim, the Assistant District Attorney for Miami, is very unique way to start the season out. It grows from their in a way that seems obvious looking at what the previous two seasons were about, but still is unexpected when it’s all put into place. It is strong.

Not every aspect of this season is. Rita has gone from a survivor of abuse and growing from that to a pregnant fiancée. Most of her scenes revolve around Dexter or new friend Syl about relationships, being pregnant, or wedding stuff. Part of it causes her to look for a new job, but having a character be so focused and relegated that kind of status is sad.

Similarly, it seems like Deb’s only change season to season is who she dates. She has an interesting arc as far as that’s concerned. She goes from being a hotshot and dating a serial killer who tries to murder her, to an older man who seems to calm her down, to a chilled out musician with a pension for weed. It seems like the arc of cooling her down would seem obvious. It might just be so subtle that it is hard to notice, but it doesn’t feel that way. Instead it is about getting her detective shield through hard work. That part is super rewarding, and feels earned, but the setup for the season does not follow through.

Other members of the team get some side adventures. Best character, Angel, finds love in a VICE cop who tries to catch johns by being a hooker. Matsuka matures a little and gets an girlfriend who is crazy, and LaGuirta continues the tradition of the female characters revolving around relationships with her ties to the ADA coming into conflict, and building a friendship with a defense attorney. That actual resolves rather well. She gets to do some real detective work, and deal with keeping major secrets.

There is a new detective on the team to replace Doakes, Detective Quinn, someone who does not feel really important at all other than someone from Internal Affairs to pester Deb. Feels like he could be interesting later, but lame now.

I spent lots of time focusing on relationships with this, but that is the most interesting thematic change from season to season for Dexter. Each season has had a different antagonist try to bond with him in a different way. From the Ice Truck killer in season one, to Lila in season two, to the ADA now. They each have incredibly diverse ways and reasons for why they are trying to connect with Dexter. They all paint the same picture, Dexter cannot share his secret or it will cause major problems no matter how much he wants to. That push and pull gives Dexter really interesting dynamics, and gives him more range to play off of.

Oh right there is this whole other, second killer who is skinning people. That plot ends interestingly enough, but feels like it is playing for time more than anything else.

Still, overall really solid. It will be neat to see this show address fatherhood with Dexter’s baby, and get to have John Lithgow!

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