I want to start off by talking about the traditional weak points of any "Dexter" episode: the police storylines not directly involving Dexter himself. And, sure enough, we get more dead weight with Pascal having a meltdown and losing her command back to Laguerta, followed by the not very interesting revelation that the other woman Pascal was losing her mind over was Laguerta.
But on the other hand, the Doakes subplot was a nice bit of shading for both the character and the universe. We knew Doakes had been in Special Forces and had done some unpleasant things there, but this is the bluntest the show's been about how badly that stuff scarred him. Dexter asked way back in the series premiere why Doakes was the only cop in Miami who can smell the monster on him; it's because Doakes is part monster, himself, just better at holding onto his own leash.
As for the Bay Harbor Butcher arc, we're entering potentially interesting, potentially dangerous territory for the series. I continue to like everything they've done with the story thus far, and thought the twist of Masuka finding the algae on the stones and not the corpses was brilliant. Dexter's such a blood maven that the rocks probably never occurred to him as anything but a utility for weighing down the bodies.
That said, Dexter scrambling around trying to sabotage the case against himself reminded me more than a little of middle-period "The Shield," where we'd see Vic Mackey be an episode and a half away from going to jail forever, only to wriggle out of the trap again and again. I love "The Shield" dearly, but feel like the series has definitely been diminished by its longevity and the number of Houdini escapes Vic's pulled. I don't know how many great seasons there are in the "Dexter" concept, but within that, I think I want this season to be the only one (other than a planned final one) where Dexter himself is the target of a manhunt. I'm assuming in the end he's going to escape Lundy's task force somehow, someway, and I'm fine with that -- the cost of doing business in series TV is accepting that certain parts of the status quo can never be changed -- but if I'm feeling itchy in the fourth episode of the season (and one in which Dexter really doesn't accomplish much of anything with his dumpster/refrigeration unit stunt), I worry how played out the concept might seem by the end of the year.
Or maybe I'm just crabby because I first saw this episode nearly a month ago (though that was my reaction at the time) and have been waiting ever since to see episode five.
A few other brief thoughts:
- I'm undecided about Lyla. On the one hand, Jaime Murray's certainly not unpleasant to look at, and I'm enjoying the concept of Dexter co-opting the 12-step world so he can finally unburden whatever soul he has without getting into trouble for it, but there's something a little too calculated in the writers' conception of Lyla the bohemian artist who makes Dexter want to throw caution to the wind.
- JoBeth Williams as Rita's mom! Does JoBeth Williams ever not give a good performance?
- I'm really intrigued by Deb's story so far this year. She and Dexter don't share the same genes, and what Rudy put her through came at a far more advanced age than Dexter's own childhood trauma, but what are the chances that she could become a monster herself?