Spoilers for the "Dexter" season three premiere coming up just as soon as I go to the dentist...
This is going to be a weird review, and possible a weird season of reviews for me with this show. Like I said in my column on Friday, and as I hope I made clear all through season two, this is a show I have loved and passionately championed for two years, and even though there's not one thing I can put my finger on that's wrong with the new season, what I've seen so far has frustrated me. In fact, there were moments in various episodes -- good moments, with Michael C. Hall saying and doing interesting, Dexter-like things -- where I really had to fight the urge to put something else on instead.
Maybe this ennui goes away the deeper into the season I get, maybe not. I wrote a few times last year that "Dexter" feels like a show that should have a very limited shelf life, that the concept and character aren't built to run for season after season. And though there's no shark-jumping or fridge-nuking or Landry-killering to be found in "Our Father" or any of the next few episodes, I can't help thinking that I've seen as much of Dexter Morgan's world as I need to.
If that feeling solidifies as I see more episodes, I may just taper off on these reviews, or simply shift to open thread posts at a certain point in the season. After all, the episodic discussion last year was pretty good with or without me involved, and until or unless I can articulate my unease better, it may be pointless to keep weighing in on every episode. I don't want to be a weekly killjoy if I can't find anything to complain about other than the show's continued existence, you know?
Now, for some specific thoughts on the themes of "Our Father" as opposed to my malaise:
Can Dexter change?
That's the question he asks himself at the end of the episode, and the question Harry asked himself years ago. Harry decided the answer was no, which has led to the Dexter we see before us today. But Harry's long gone, and we've seen that Dexter is capable of doing and being more than either he or Harry ever imagined. His relationship with Rita, started as a cover identity to support his true passion, has become real. He cares for her, cares for her kids, even if he insists to himself (and to us, his unseen confessors) that he's incapable of feeling anything but a need to kill. But so long as things stayed status quo, Dexter was never going to have to challenge Harry's (lack of) belief in him, and his own self-doubt. But with Rita apparently pregnant with Dexter's child, things are going to change, and Dexter's going to have no choice but to change with them. And once he realizes that he can change, what then? What does he become at that point? More normal, or less?
The end of last season had Dexter promising to explore new rituals, new ways of killing, but as we return to his life, he seems to be going about things the same way as always until he accidentally kills Oscar Prado, youngest brother of powerful Miami DA Miguel Prado, played by the mustachioed Jimmy Smits. As Dexter says, he's never killed anyone before that he didn't "vet" according to the Code of Harry. For most of his life, the Code has successfully channeled his psychosis into the most socially constructive path possible, short of incarceration or death. Dexter has convinced himself that he has to kill according to the Code; what happens if he discovers that he's not very troubled by going off-mission? He doesn't join Deb at the bar to toast Harry because he wants to let go of the old man; does that mean letting go of the Code, too? And how many bodies get dropped if that happens?
(I should say, by the way, that I'm not fake-speculating based on what I know is coming in the next few episodes; these are the thoughts I had when I watched "Our Father.")
Again, these are promising directions, and even if I wasn't in the tank for Smits based on "NYPD Blue," I would find him a very good choice to play off of Michael C. Hall this season. But for whatever reason, I'm having a hard time stirring up any emotions about it all -- which feels oddly, disturbingly Dexter-like.
A few other random thoughts:
• With Doakes' unfortunate passing, it makes sense that Angel would wind up as the new sergeant, though all of LaGuerta's talk about the responsibilities of that rank never seemed to apply to how Doakes carried himself. Taking Doakes' place as a body in the squad, meanwhile, is Desmond Harrington as Quinn, the object of Internal Affairs' interest. As always with "Dexter," all the office politics are only necessary in that they prevent the producers from overworking Michael C. Hall, but they always pale in comparison to the main storylines. That said, I did like David Zayas and Jennifer Carpenter's drunken bonding at the bar.
• Not a fan of Deb's much-discussed new haircut. Anyone else?
• I laughed at Masuka asking Dexter, of all people, to proofread his article on the Bay Harbor Butcher. He has no idea how perfect that choice is.
What did everybody else think?