Spoilers for "Dexter" coming up just as soon as I borrow a Buddha and a crucifix to help my next article get published...
"You couldn't picture this, could you? I could've surprised you. There's no reason it couldn't turn out like this." -Dexter Morgan
Some of my proudest moments as a father are when my daughter does something that I know she inherited from me. Some of my lowest moments as a dad come from the same thing. As parents, we want our kids to copy all of our best qualities, and fear that they'll duplicate the worst. And we're just regular people. Try to imagine being Dexter. Did he and his brother turn out the way they did solely because of that traumatic experience, or is it a path they would have followed under any circumstances? And what does that mean for a hypothetical Dexter Jr?
To me, the strongest moment in this episode -- maybe in the four episodes I've seen -- is the one quoted above, where Dexter tears into an imagined version of Harry, wondering if this really was the path he had to follow. From the flashbacks we've seen of Dexter as a kid, it seems like Harry did try to steer him elsewhere, but it didn't take. But did Harry do everything he could, or did his fear of letting the rest of the world find out about Dexter -- say, by sending him to therapists -- end up sabotaging any attempt to reform the kid?
While I enjoyed Dexter facing the fears of impending parenthood, the rest of the episode felt pretty flat to me.
I think Jimmy Smits is giving a very interesting performance as Prado; there's something clearly off about this guy beyond his simple grief about his brother, and so his attempts to push his way into Dexter's life are as unsettling to watch as it must be for Dexter to experience. My problem with the character, and with the Deb subplot about Internal Affairs, is that it trades so much on things we have to be told rather than shown. Prado and Laguerta have some history that they talk endlessly about, and then Angel uncovers info about some case that we're told was a big deal for Prado, but all of it -- plus IAD's interest in Detective Quinn -- is so abstract that it doesn't engage me at all.
Dexter has really been the only fully-formed character on the show, with Deb the only other one who comes close. When someone else's story in some way ties directly to Dexter -- Prado coming across Dexter moments after Freebo's death, for instance -- then I care about them. But as soon as they leave his orbit even slightly, my interest level plummets.
What did everybody else think?