Monday, December 15, 2008

Dexter, "Do You Take Dexter Morgan?": Nice day for a red wedding

Spoilers for the "Dexter" season three finale coming up just as soon as I break my hand...

Yawn.

The worst part of this season was that there were a few really strong episodes late in the year that seemed to reverse all the slack pacing and dull storytelling from earlier on. Because of those episodes, I got my hopes up that the early duds were misdirection, or a slump that the production team pulled themselves out of, and that the end of the season would be much closer to season one (Dexter kills his brother) than season two (Lila goes insane and has to be put down). And so when we got to this underwhelming finale, it was a lot more disappointing than if I had just written off the season as a misfire a few weeks ago.

Having bumped off Miguel last week, the show spends most of "Do You Take Dexter Morgan" on quiet reflection, sort of following the pattern of shows like "The Sopranos" and "The Wire." The problem is that Miguel's death felt abrupt, and very little of the reflection felt earned. There were a couple of strong scenes -- Dexter taking the thorn out of Ramon's paw, Dexter forgiving Harry and committing himself to being a better father -- but overall it was a fairly aimless hour.

Among the missed opportunities from this episode, and from this season:

• How do you put Dexter in the clutches of another serial killer and allow him to escape so quickly? That should have been an entire episode right there, and now they can't even go there again because they did it here.

• Whatever happened to the idea of Dexter exploring what it means to kill outside the Code of Harry? Again, because they introduced the idea and then abandoned it so quickly in favor of having Dexter and Miguel get involved in their father-son/mentor-protege relationship, the writers really can't go down that path again.

• What exactly was the point of all the Quinn/IAD nonsense if it was never going to go anywhere? I suppose it was to show us that Deb earned her shield the right way, as opposed to taking Yuki up on her offer to rat, but that was an awful lot of time spent on an irritating character who wound up being a red herring.

• This isn't a missed opportunity, but it bugged me just the same: what was up with Miguel's wife's total lack of reaction to his death? I get that they were separated at the time and that she thought he'd been stepping out on her, but that is one cold fish if she's going about her business like the man she was married to for years wasn't just garrotted and skinned(*) to death.

(*) Speaking of which, given what a high-profile case this is, don't you think the coroner's going to notice that Miguel got skinned post-mortem, which doesn't match King's MO?

Really, if it hadn't been for that lovely shot of the blood dripping onto Rita's wedding dress -- a symbol of what this marriage really means for her, as well as something that felt like it should somehow be incorporated in the opening credits -- I think the episode would have been a total loss. As it is, I want to hope that his season was just a misstep for the "Dexter" creative team, but I've been worried for a while now that there's only so much life in the concept, and it feels like they've run out.

What did everybody else think?

47 comments:

Chris Littmann said...

It all felt very A-to-B-to-C, didn't it? So much so I am questioning if I even need Showtime anymore.

And the Quinn stuff this season was the biggest joke of 'em all. Was it purely misdirection for the identity of the skinner? And I like how they flaunted how he had all this money and made him seem dirty, only to casually explain it away that he had some sort of inheritance or something. Certainly a frustrating season.

Susan said...

I agree - the scene with Dexter on the table with the Skinner should have been longer, tenser, and more revealing. Instead, it was done so quickly that it was clear that they just wanted to wrap up the skinner storyline and get Dexter to the wedding.

I admit, it made me really happy to see Deb go for Anton, and to see LaGuerta recognize that Debra needs to have a personal life as well as a professional life - LaGuerta was playing mentor to Deb there a bit, and I liked seeing that. But yeah, all that stuff with Quinn - not to mention Deb's half-assed investigation into her dad's affairs - was a waste of time.

I really did enjoy the scene with Dexter and Ramon, especially the reveal that a lot of Ramon's mistakes were in service to covering up for Miguel. Which made sense - Miguel clearly manipulated everyone he knew - and also made it clear that Dexter didn't have to remove Ramon. Ramon had a chance to be a good man, especially now with Miguel gone.

I also loved the blood on Rita's dress. It made me wish this was the final season and that was the final shot. I'm not sure I want to see another season of Dexter killing and getting away wth it, especially now that he's married to Rita and living in the same house with her kids and a new baby on the way.

mrsb said...

Blah. What a rip off.

I also want to know why the coroner didn't notice that Miguel was skinned after the murder.

And why did Dexter have to duck out of the building when the cops showed up for the skinner? Wouldn't it have been an easy sale to just say the guy grabbed him? He'd just "killed" Miguel, Dexter's "best friend", so it wasn't outside the realm of possibility that the skinner had grabbed Dexter. Why did he have to leave?

And won't they notice that there is unmatched blood at the scene, from where Dexter was cut? Wouldn't that blood sample will stay on file as unidentified?

I'm very disappointed that they sped through the whole Dexter vs. Skinner thing.

I'm also disappointed that we didn't get to see the cat fight that surely happened between Miguel's wife and LaGuerta at the reception after a few drinks.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And why did Dexter have to duck out of the building when the cops showed up for the skinner?

I think he feared people looking at him differently if they knew he was capable of overpowering and snapping the neck of a badass serial killer. Much of his cover depends on people thinking of him as an average, slightly nerdy guy.

Bobman said...

And won't they notice that there is unmatched blood at the scene, from where Dexter was cut? Wouldn't that blood sample will stay on file as unidentified?

Maybe Dexter assumes he will be the blood guy anyway, so he doesn't have to reveal that any unidentified blood was found at the scene.

The Sandy Llama said...

It sucks when something conforms almost exactly to your lowered expectations.

Really, I got Showtime in the wake of Arrested Development getting cancelled and the rumors about that show being revived on the network. Brotherhood convinced me to keep it. I tried Dexter because it had Michael C. Hall and because the pilot was written by a dude who co-wrote the best episode of The Sopranos (one of the best episodes of televsion, really).

One of those dudes didn't stick around and Hall is the only reason to keep watching at this point.

It's weird, given that Charles Eglee and Adam Fierro joined the staff, I figured this show would get better. They'd written for a show that could reconcile the dynamic Strike Team action with some really interesting procedural stuff. The Strike team was incredibly compelling, but the Barn action (by that I mean Dutch/Claudette) was usually (when given the opportunity) able to match it. But, this show isn't The Shield. The Miami Metro Homicide portion of the show rarely rises to the level of the Dexter action. And, given that alot of the Dexter action this season was (as you pointed out) underdeveloped... Well, it's not good.

It's really shocking to me that a post-Shield thriller that treads on similar grounds (morality based questions) would actually be consistently less daring. Shane did more reprehensible things than Dexter ever has. Shane devolved, while Dexter ('I'll cut your eyelids of your face', shouting at the first victim we see and a very utilitarian approach to his relationship with Rita) has evolved (seeming to actually want to marry Rita, not viewing it as a cover and his kills are much calmer, quieter) . I guess that's why The Shield grabbed me by the balls (and made them tingle) while Dexter evokes a pretty hearty "meh".

dez said...

How do you put Dexter in the clutches of another serial killer and allow him to escape so quickly? That should have been an entire episode right there, and now they can't even go there again because they did it here.


Not only that, but they lifted some of the story from the second novel, so now they can't give us Dr. Danco from that novel, either, bleah.

The ep felt way too rushed. Like you pointed out, there were a couple of nice beats, but overall, meh, although I do like that Rita has her own secrets she's been keeping from Dexter. I'm hoping he pursues that next season. I also think Deb will return to her investigation into her father's affair next season.

Something better happen with Quinn next season or I'm going to be even more pissed than I am now that they wasted all that time with the IAD chick.

Anonymous said...

Sandy Llama:

I agree with a lot of what you say, except for one thing. The notion that Dexter manages to continue to function in the world need not be less daring than Shane devolving.

Suppose Dexter starting killing people the audience might consider innocent? Suppose he jeopardized Rita/Cody/Astor's lives in ways he felt justified but we the audience would not? Suppose Deb was a damaged counterpart to Dexter whose wholeness could only be achieved by, well, putting her stepbrother down? Suppose Dexter managed his "addiction" therapeutically, just falling off the wagon occasionally?

These are all pretty radical possibilities that the show has touched on, but it has never explored them in full detail. The first few seasons went into enough detail to be compelling (Will Dexter kill Doakes?) even if they displayed a lack of nerve at the end (Lila ex machina). But this season has just been a mishmash of missed opportunities. The show gestures towards more interesting plotlines than it delivers.

It is easy to think of ways to raise the stakes on the show for the coming two seasons -- Have Astor stumble upon Dexter's duffel bag, for example. But it isn't clear that the writers of the show are willing to push the character that far into psychopathy. It's a shame too, because I think Michael C. Hall could deliver the performance such a storyline would require.

Brent said...

The weird plot hole that was striking to me was the very end with Dexter's escape from the crime scene. No way do the cops let someone escape out the back window and no way do they not eventually link Dexter to the crime scene. I mean they would see there was a struggle not too soon before they got there. His hair and blood would have been on the scene. Dexter would absolutely have been caught. The interesting story would have been him trying to explain his presence there. Having him climb out a back window and the case being closed was decidedly uninteresting.

Anonymous said...

The whole episode felt like a set-up of the next season --

Hyde said...

Maybe Dexter assumes he will be the blood guy anyway, so he doesn't have to reveal that any unidentified blood was found at the scene.

Dexter probably has a honeymoon coming up. Still, King clearly didn't launch himself over the edge, and there will be obvious signs of a struggle inside the building. If the police showed any interest in this, the viewers weren't told about it.

And after Angel's spiel about King's background and how dangerous he was, it's not believable Dexter could have overcome him so easily; nor is it believable that King would show no curiosity about how his quasi-partner Miguel wound up both dead and skinned. Finally, isn't it odd that no one noticed Dexter missing, with his car left (presumably) at the store and his wedding just around the corner? Nobody was looking for him during that period King held him captive?

I agree that the finale was a huge letdown, even worse than last week. Some of the apparent red herrings like Quinn and like Rita's lying might carry over till next season, even though Quinn's portrayer is not listed as part of the main cast (the Laura Moser stuff was clearly meant to point us toward a key Season 4 theme). Still, we deserved some kind of Quinn payoff for all the time spent with it this season.

The Sandy Llama said...

These are all pretty radical possibilities that the show has touched on, but it has never explored them in full detail. The first few seasons went into enough detail to be compelling (Will Dexter kill Doakes?) even if they displayed a lack of nerve at the end (Lila ex machina). But this season has just been a mishmash of missed opportunities. The show gestures towards more interesting plotlines than it delivers.

I’ll agree with all of that. I felt, despite the Lila storyline, Season 2 was a quality idea. Instead of creating another killer and attempting to one-up the Ice Truck Killer drama, they just turned it inwards and made it about Dexter. They credibly developed Deb in the process, too.

Season 3 (and this might have helped Alan to enjoy it more) should have been about Dexter beginning to fall apart. I don’t think he needs to full-on, Shane style self destruct and kill one of his coworkers (or Deb, or something) because they found out the secret or any other such analogous situation. I just wanted to see the beginning of the end (Shane’s Season 4 arc would work better, as a vague template. Shane strays from his Harry and messes up. Dexter strays from his and everything stays exactly the same.)

Instead, the writers want (presumably at the networks insistence) Dexter to be likable and his arc is more about him becoming a real boy. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty awful series unifying arc, especially looking back at that interesting pilot/concept.

Anonymous said...

I've defended this season for the most part, but that really was a big snooze. When Miguel was taken care of in last week's episode I assumed that it was because the writers obviously had something big planned for the actual finale. Instead we got the most boring hour the show has ever done. All of the Quinn stuff was a huge red herring as was Deb's investigation into Harry's past. I liked Ramon's reveal that he had been cleaning up Miguel's messes, but I was kind of hoping it would turn out that he had been the one to kill Ellen Wolfe and that Miguel had taken credit for that story too...and that Dexter had killed outside the code. At the very least I was hoping we'd learn that Miguel was using Oscar to do his dirty work the way he'd been using Dexter and to hear Dexter tell George King "I'm the Bay Harbor Butcher." But apparently the entire city of Miami has forgotten about the Butcher. And now I'm gonna try to forget about this awful finale.

Andrew said...

Well, it's starting to look like I made the right decision to check out of this show after season 2's copout finale.

belinda said...

Did anyone catch the Michael C Hall interview at the end of the episode? My recorder cut off when the show ended, and was wondering if the interview provided any interesting tidbits.

But yeah, like most of you, I was let down by the anticlimatic ending of this season; it seemed like this season they had all these interesting angles they could have played up (killing outside of Harry's Code, being a father figure (to his fetus AND Miguel), negotiating with other psycho killers, how to do away with murdering a high profile guy (which hello? we never got much of that), etc.) and for some strange reason they never did. The pacing of this season was definitely underrated, and looking back on the season one wonders why it had to be so dull at the beginning and so rushed (with the murder of Miguel and the Skinner - who I totally expected a more in depth psychological chat instead of the 3 minute one for BOTH these characters, but especially Miguel) at the end, leading to what Masuka would say has been light foreplay and no orgasm at the end. Balls.

Not to mention that they've really upped the nonsensical plotholes this year. Which is a drag on any show, but all the more obvious on a good one.

But having said all this, should this season had gone differently, I wouldn't mind this particular slow paced ending as a wrap-up to the season. The Harry bit, the LaGuerta and Deb bit, and surprisingly the Ramone bit was excellent (leading one to think why not spend more time with Ramone as a character given he ended up being quite an interesting one, and definitely one that was more interesting than Freebo, Quinn, Angel's gf, King, etc...), and I enjoyed some of the closure it gave, even though I'm still grumbling about the whole season in general.

As to whether Dexter as a TV show is creatively dried up given the closed circumstances of the main character, I don't know. I thought that it would be difficult to continue the series after season 1, and look how great (or even better, I might say) season 2 turned out to be. So, yeah, I'll be watching next year, and hopefully the writers can get it together and give us something good again.

belinda said...

When I said underrated (in describing the pace of this season), I meant sub par. There were huge problems in the pacing, and thus I think that contributed to the underwhelming resolutions at the end of the show. Hm. Apologies.

Michael said...

Certainly a disappointing season, but I'll bitch about it for a week then be back for season four when it starts. I've only been reading this blog for a couple months, but I'm wondering if Alan (or anybody out there) watches "Brotherhood". The current season, which ends next week, has certainly been better than this season of "Dexter". In fact, it may be the best series Showtime has going right now.

Antid Oto said...

Boring.

Anonymous said...

"That's it?
That's it.
That's it!!!!"

That was exactly my reaction to the finale.

I feel like I was used for a booty call.

Fielding J. Hurst said...

I agree, but a bad episode or season of Dexter is still better than most other crap on TV.

Anonymous said...

Kristin at Eonline has an interview with producer Clyde Phillips where he defends the finale:
http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/watch_with_kristin/b73361_dexter_boss_defends_controversial_finale.html

Sandy said...

But that's the thing. I didn't particular think that the finale needed defending; it was more of an entire season of missed opportunities which needed defending. I wasn't upset with the normalcy of things in the ending (which I do think is a nice contrast to the previous 2 season finales), I was upset over the lack of story/character development over the 12 episodes. They obviously had the time to flesh out all the interesting possibilties this year, given the slow paced first couple of episodes (come to think of it, way up to the point when Miguel became a student was kind of a doozy), and yet they chose not to. Which is the real bummer, and not the lack of action in the finale. More like the lack of interesting solutions to the scenarios given to us. Anyway.

Brian said...

They have been greenlit for two more seasons already though, haven't they? So maybe all of the Quinn stuff was the writers thinking further ahead.

Anonymous said...

Great review. I agree. What did I think? I was a huge Dexter fan, even when things started to look a little shaky at the end of Season 2 (shark in the water!) But this season was the single worst decline in quality in a TV show I have seen since...maybe ever.

This show used to be so well-written but this season it was like a maudlin cop soap opera. There was so much sloppiness and not even that nice final image at the end could save a horrible season. Who cares about Quinn and his IA issues? Who cares about Rita's hormonal pregnancy rantings? Don't even get me started on the depiction of women on the show this season...all of them became emotional wrecks who couldn't function in their jobs for one reason or another. Whereas all the male characters found love, even as some of them were only looking for prostitutes. Good times!

Really, it's not like I don't expect to see this kind of dreck on regular cable TV, but Dexter used to be so much better than this. Scuttlebutt is that the former greatness of the show was due to the now-departed showrunner Daniel Cerone. Whatever the reason, RIP to a formerly great show. Since there's nothing else I like to watch on Showtime, I may cancel my subscription.

Anonymous said...

I had a problem with the skinner thing being wrapped up so easily too, I was hoping for a longer scene. And Dexter didn't have time to clean up the mess so he left his blood and the table knocked over with rope still attached to it. This would seem to imply the obvious, that the skinner had someone else there and that person killed him, not that he committed "death by cop" as Debra says later at Dex's wedding. Some detective she is. What I love most about Dexter is that it's realistic, forensics wise and with plausible police procedure, but that scene blew it. When Dex's box turned up in Season 2 and no prints were taken from it before Dex could get rid of it, I thought I'd let that one go, but this was way too much. Only an idiot cop would think the skinner killed himself with all the other evidence at the scene. Furthermore, an autopsy and proper investigation would reveal that his fatal injuries could not have been caused by the fall. Very disappointing.

Anonymous said...

A dull ending to a relatively dull season.

In the past, I've heard the media incorrectly refer to Dexter as "a police blood-spatter expert who moonlights as a serial killer". The opposite is true: he's a serial killer who moonlights as a police employee.

But in this season, the writers have moved the character disturbingly towards the former description. "Dexter" is beginning to come across as a cop show, rather than a show about a serial killer.

Too much of the focus has shifted to the police station (and all its Barney Miller inhabitants), while Dexter has basically become just one of the cops there who happens to have a secret hobby of playing vigilante on the side. Bad idea.

They desperately need to return the focus to Dexter's dark preoccupation, and return the police subplots to their proper spot in the background.

Dexter should be frightening: both the show and the character. In this season, he was much too domesticated, as if he's beginning to actually become the person he only pretended to be in the past. That might be good for Dexter, but it makes for a boring TV show. There were few scares this season, and too many laughs by comparison.

Also, the producers failed to milk the few opportunities they had, such as the confrontations Dexter had with Prado and the Skinner. Both opportunities provided a chance for some great scenes, and instead both were squandered by being rushed. Way to drop the ball, guys! When life hands you a juicy scene, try to make the most of it, OK?

It goes without saying that it was a bad idea to get Dexter married. The idea of a married serial killer borders on the ludicrous. I could have imagined "Saturday Night Live" doing a parody of what would happen if Dexter got married - and now the show is actually going down that road.

And from a practical standpoint, it makes no sense at all. To pursue his hobby, Dexter would need a _lot_ of alone time. Being a husband & father means staying home all night. And with the burden of a brand new baby underfoot, he'd never manage to sneak out to pursue his dark preoccupation.

On the bright side, the writers deliberately planted the seeds of Rita's lying to Dexter (about her former husband) to give themselves a possible "out" next season.

The introduction of a new character in Rita's life - one she obviously wants to keep quiet - could open up quite a few possible plotlines. They could use the lying as an excuse to break up the happy couple. The ex-husband might come back into her life, either in a threatening way or as a rival to Dexter - or both. Or she could have some serious character flaws that we are unaware of that come to the surface...

The most interesting seeds, though, were those concerning Debra reading Harry's files. They are obviously hinting that she might find out about Dexter's secret.

However, let's stop for a moment and think what she would really discover. One question is whether Camilla's attempt to permanently bury Dexter's files were successful. If they were - if she simply destroyed the files - then the remaining files wouldn't reveal anything about Dexter. All Debra would learn is that one of Harry's female informants was killed in a particularly brutal manner. And she might figure out that it was the same one he had been sleeping with. But that still doesn't tell her much, if anything, as far as Dexter is concerned.

(Speaking of Debra, if Dexter is her older brother, if he was always there in her life, maybe she just assumes he's her natural/blood brother. Has the show ever mentioned whether she knows about the adoption? I can't recall.)

Back to the finale. I don't think Dexter has to worry about any blood he may have left behind at the Skinner's place - after all, he's the department's blood guy, so he would find it easy to dispose of (or modify) the evidence.

Anonymous said...

One thing I forgot to mention.

Why the hell are those blood slides still in Dexter's air conditioner?

Only a moron would keep incriminating evidence in his own home, especially after Doakes already found them. And Dexter is no moron.

And to add insult to injury, he handles both the slides and the case without gloves, meaning his fingerprints would be all over them.

I can see him being obsessed enough to keep them as trophies, but if so he would keep them far from his apartment and boat. Keeping them around home is like putting up a big sign reading "A serial killer lives here".

It's a huge risk - not something a clever person would do. And if nothing else, the Dexter character has always been clever.

Newspapers are dead said...

Ironically, this blog reminds me of Heroes. Started off well, with so much promise, but really lost its way. So horrible, especially the terrible writing.

SR said...

I'll say it: I miss Doakes.

Even in season 1, he was a great thorn in Dexter's side and brought a real sense of menace. Plus, he forced the audience to admit that it was identifying with a serial killer instead of an honest if brutal cop.

Miguel Prado was a poor substitute, save for a few notable scenes in the latter half of the season.

Still, I plan to watch at least the start of next season. It's fallen fare, but it's still better than yet another hour of CSI or L&O.

stephew said...

have to disagree with the general tone of things. Yes, plot holes, yes, imperfect balance, yes the Yuki thing dropped cold and Quinn clearly a red herring. Still, the best hour on tv outside of a rare few not currently airing. Migel's character was charismatic (ive never been a smits fan) and it kept me watching. Michael C. Hall is great, and the cast in general, including the actor who played Quinn. I felt he surpassed the material. I enjoyed the season, i enjoyed the character focus, and while I hope they make things a bit more taut next season, I think it was still quality stuff.

killerlu said...

Michael said...
Certainly a disappointing season, but I'll bitch about it for a week then be back for season four when it starts. I've only been reading this blog for a couple months, but I'm wondering if Alan (or anybody out there) watches "Brotherhood". The current season, which ends next week, has certainly been better than this season of "Dexter". In fact, it may be the best series Showtime has going right now

Funny you mention that, Michael! I watched this weeks' episode of "Brotherhood" AFTER "Dexter", and found myself talking then yelling at the screen. (I know, I know, in the theatre my butt would have been ushered out) But talking and yelling at the screen because the entire show is engaging and suspenseful even while watching all these unlikeable people running around. MUCH improved since that middling debut season.

As for "Dexter", I have mixed feelings. I didn't hate it, i didn't love it. It was better than season two but still I felt too many misfires and dud subplots or even the handling of many of the plotlines.
It is beginning to get sloppy in the forensic and detective details. Not as sloppy as Rita's kids smiling during the fire in Rita's loft back in the Season Two finale but still.
I see many people are not liking "Dexter" as the married man but that is exactly as he has become in the books. (Please tell me i haven't spoiled anything.)
We'll see how Season Four goes but I agree that some of the happenings at the police station needs to go in the background more. Problem for the writers is that they need to keep the cast members happy by writing things for them to do that don"t revolve around Dex all the time.
Perhaps they need some new blood in the writers' room once they reconvene in February. Other than that, I can't believe that I have enjoyed "Brotherhood" more this year.

Anonymous said...

I agree with SR... I miss Doakes. Too bad the series didn't follow the book in that LaGuerta dies and Doakes survives... oh well, that's "art" I guess.

BTW, for those of you who have read the books, would someone please remind me why Angel is always referred to as "Angel no relation" in the book? TIA

Cornelous said...

In response to the above post by "Anonymous" criticizing Dexter's keeping of his blood slides in his air conditioner, you're right that it isn't smart.
Dexter is indeed clever, but let's not forget that he's crazy as well. The man is a serial killer. He isn't a rational being. He is a deeply disturbed individual. Serial killers can be clever or intelligent, but they aren't rational, they have deep psychological flaws. Keeping trophies of their kills is one such flaw. I'm sure Dexter knows it isn't bright, but he's insane. Those blood slides are his trophies are are, in his flawed mind, very important.

sara said...

I may be optimistic but I'm assuming that this episode was sort of ho-hum and left holes in the season because the writers are planning to revisit stuff next season...IOW, not tie everything up in a neat package just because the season's over.

Once I got over what seemed like an overuse of the "voice over" in the first few episodes, I really enjoyed this season. I loved Smits' Miguel and am now fully committed to watching whatever show Smits is on henceforth, totally enjoyed Deb's witty one liners and also chemistry with Anton, and liked seeing some of the characters fleshed out more fully, especially Angel.

I thought LaGuerta's "instant friendship" with Ellen was a misstep and I've never been a huge LaGuerta fan, period, but I do have to give her the nod for what I think was the best line of the episode -- delivered perfectly, too -- "Just how dark of a period was this, Angel?" said after Angel had aired his own dirty laundry and said "There's something else" in order to disclose Deb's. :-)

I'll be back watching next season to be sure.

Languorous Lass said...

In response to Anonymous's question about the "Angel-no-relation" appellation in the books: Angel's last name is Batista. Same last name as that of the Cuban dictator overthrown by Fidel Castro in 1959. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulgencio_Batista Lindsay's first use of the "no relation" thing in the books is mildly entertaining. After that, it gets more and more annoying, and simply shows what a graceless writer Lindsay is.

Hmmm. Lindsay appeared in a bit part in one of this season's episodes. Wonder if he's actually been infecting the writers' room as well?

JamesG said...

I'm more forgiving of the this season and the various weak characters than others, but I'm disappointed with where the show has taken Dexter's character, especially after a very promising start. I really wanted to see the show take a darker turn when Dexter killed Oscar and violated his code. Even later in the season, when he again violated his code and killed Camila, I felt like such an opportunity was lost. Looking back, what significance did violating the code either time really have this season?

I fear that once this show gained some popularity, the writers "sanitized" Dexter's character to make him more appealing to a mass audience. He no longer takes sadistic pleasure in the kills like we saw in season 1. His friendships and relationships, which were originally opportunistic and highly manipulative, are now supposed to be genuine. The show seems to have abandoned the fact that Dexter is a dangerous sociopath and treats murder like any other hobby (fishing, golfing, whatever). He's become too much like Batman and not enough like Hannibal Lecter.

I'm really hoping the show takes a darker twist in season 4. Any character trying to control murderous impulses while keeping the semblance of a normal social life show be severely tormented and conflicted. That's the Dexter I'm hoping we see.

Anonymous said...

not a very good finale.

On the other hand Brotherhood's penultimate episode was fire. Man that was just about as good as tv gets.

Anonymous said...

Cornelous said...
In response to the above post by "Anonymous" criticizing Dexter's keeping of his blood slides in his air conditioner, you're right that it isn't smart.
Dexter is indeed clever, but let's not forget that he's crazy as well.



I agree that he's crazy enough to not want to part with the trophies. But he's not stupid enough to keep them in his own apartment - especially with cops running in and out of it on a semi-regular basis. He would keep them, but he would keep them far from home, and free of fingerprints.

I can't help but feel that the writers are simply using the slides-in-the-air-conditioner as a way of ramping up tension whenever someone enters his apartment and comes close to them (such as the cop dusting the air conditioner for prints in the last episode).

It's not believable.

Vic DiGital said...

There was a point near the end of Season Two where I thought Dexter had a chance at being a masterpiece- The point when it seemed like he was really going to turn himself in. It was the perfect next step for the character. And then... they pushed the reset button by having Dexter say "Naaahhh... I like killing. I'm just going to forget the Code and keep on keeping on."

That's when I realized this show wasn't about exploring new territory, but milking the high concept for every last ounce.

I thought it would have been great to see the character of Dexter in a prison environment, or at the very least, going on the run and starting over from scratch in a new city. But they reset everything so Dexter (the show) could give us the same "almost getting caught, but not quite" scenarios and the same Miami locations and etc and on and on.

What Dexter has done is just decided to settle in and give us the same thing only slightly different. It needs "The Wire" level guts to become something more than just formulaic TV (if a serial killing hero can ever truly be called formulaic!).

I absolutely loved the first season and thought season two was good up until a point before it went off the rails, and season three was totally forgettable.

I really don't think there's anywhere for this show to go as long as it keeps going for the status quo.

Mo Ryan said...

Just finally caught up with the last few eps of this season.

Meh.

On second thought...

Feh.

I second many of the complaints that Alan and several other commenters had about the writing.

I miss Doakes too. In addition to being a very funny character, Doakes used to represent what could happen to Dexter if he was found out. I was thinking today -- where's that tension now? Did that tension really exist any more this season? I don't think so, because the writers would just use lazy "whatever we want to happen can happen" writing to get Dex out of any jam.

The supporting characters (Quinn, Deb's CI) were weak, if not worse. So many plots went nowhere or were abruptly cut off. And can I just say, we had a whole arc about Bautista's personal life? Like the actor. DON'T CARE.

This just typifies the kind of slackness we saw this season: he left the effing slides in the air conditioner! So glad someone else pointed that out.

No doubt, there were a few good scenes and a few good twists in eps 9-12. But overall, this show has fallen WAY off. Bummer.

Adam said...

Am I the only one who really liked it? This was a transitional season for Dexter-- his transformation from bachelor to married man. Being married will bring about new responsibilities, and this season was all about making Dexter aware of that. Who better than the Prados, a family torn asunder by "the darkness," to make the point clear to Dexter just how valuable his father's code is, and what a dangerous game he's playing. Before, it was just him at stake. Now, with a family who he vows to protect, his lifestyle now creates new hazards. I'm excited to see the next season.

Undercover Asian Man said...

I know Miguel died last episode, but I didn’t have a chance to comment then so I will do so now. I’m still extremely sad by the missed opportunity of Dexter having a true friend and the complexity and story-telling that would lead to for however many episodes it lasted. There was so much potential in that story line, now left garroted on the table.

Miguel said everything I was feeling in the moment and about the whole season of the show while wrapped to Dexter’s death table, a place that seems to unfailingly bring out the truth from its victims. “It doesn’t have to come to this. It wasn’t bullshit… I tried… I tried to crack that damn armor of yours. Because I saw the possibilities. I still see the possibilities. I just wanted you to let me in. Because I know you, I know you better than anyone else.

“I accept you. I accept you Dexter like a Brother.”

Even after Dexter admitted to killing Oscar, a very vicious indulgence on Dexter’s part since that was the initial wrong in their relationship, Miguel reached out to him:

“Friends forgive. Friends forgive!”

I know that Miguel’s words could have been the desperate pleading of a manipulative man trying to escape a desperate situation. But I believed him then. I believed he meant every word he said to Dexter, about reaching out before and reaching out now, and that it wasn’t a hollow attempt to save him from death. In all instanced before their breakup, Miguel was the one who reached out and put in all the effort to be a friend to Dexter. Even before their Dark Passengers met, Miguel invited Dexter to Oscar’s funeral and to his home. Now that the speculation that Miguel was a grand manipulator that new Dexter was a killer from the start has proved to be false, we know his initial connection attempts were genuine.

As I’ve said before, their relationship deteriorated because of moves Dexter made, not because of Miguel, who was only forced to counter-move as Dexter became more and more vicious. Dexter exposing Ellen’s body was the opening salvo. Dexter confronting Miguel in Miguel’s office and telling him in no uncertain terms that they were to go there separate ways, while Miguel was still attempting to repair their friendship even then. Dexter put Sil into the mix via a lie to Rita before Miguel had to counter with the investigation of Deb and the CI. Dexter stole Ellen’s ring and threatened Miguel with it even when Miguel was happy with a quid-pro-quo deal and an end to their adventures, escalating the conflict. Dexter was the aggressor in the deterioration in all instances, and, save for the end of their relationship when it was well beyond repair, Miguel held out hopes to maintain a friendship, or at least a professional respect where they stayed out of each other’s way. Even as late as Dexter’s Bachelor party, there was Miguel trying to repair and connect, and Dexter rebuffing him.

This season could have done so much more with the topic of friendship between Dark Passengers, and how fascinating such a dynamic would be. In Season Two, the internal struggle in Dexter was between Harry’s Code and self-preservation, with Doakes caught in the middle. And all indications were that Dexter was choosing self-preservation over the Code, at Doakes’ expense. This season could not only have been about what friendship really means between members of the Dark Fraternity (most of the season right there, full of comedy and horror), but also Dexter’s internal struggle between Harry’s Code and Dexter’s need for true companionship. If and when Dexter makes the choice of Harry’s Code over his own desires for a real friend this time, and he must really lose a best friend, the impact to him and the audience could have been devastatingly moving, as a true sacrifice would have to be made. Instead, we get a pissing contest that seems sudden and out of place, and an action-based ending once again, leaving the questions about emotion and lack of emotion hanging. It’s a letdown because the writers did the bare minimum with such a rich vein of material.

I counted two kills this season alone that Dexter committed that did not meet Harry’s Code and makes me still feel he was being hypocritical towards Miguel. The first was obviously Oscar Prado. I believe there were very few viewers who thought that storyline would end where it did – nowhere. We imagined Oscar would be revealed as a blatant killer or otherwise despicable, instead of just a druggie, because how else would we still feel good about Dexter and side with him against Miguel? But no evidence ever surfaced about Oscar being more than what he appeared. Does Dexter have a self-defense argument for Oscar? Maybe. But this last episode had the Skinner attacking Dexter with a knife, just like Oscar, and in this case Dexter had a broken hand and was in a much worse defensive position (on the ground having just freed himself barely), and yet was able to beat up and subdue the Skinner and control him in a choke hold. It makes it hard to believe he couldn’t have knocked out and subdued Oscar with two good hands and the element of surprise against a druggie (and not a homicidal killer), instead of choosing a remarkable perfect stab in the aorta that even amazed Vince. The first sin was Dexter’s committed against Miguel, and his gloating about this kill to Miguel at the end seems even more tasteless now that Oscar was “innocent”.

The second Codeless kill that was glossed over was the Cheerios Man who photographed Aster at the beach. Dexter did some research, and knew CM had never killed before and did go to jail for his previous crimes. And while his photo of Aster and other kids was no doubt creepy, it wasn’t even illegal. Yet Dexter killed him because of the personal affront CM had committed by photographing Aster, and even stole his milk.

Dexter has always struggled with Harry’s Code. I’ve read the counter-arguments here that try to state that the Code is a real part of Dexter and not an artificial layer, and something Dexter would obey innately, but there is just too much evidence that this is not the case. There is a reason Dexter calls it HARRY’S Code and not My Code or even The Code. Dexter treats the Code more like a diet program for people with heart conditions. He knows he needs to stay within the Code to maintain his long-term health, but doesn’t see much wrong with straying once in a while when he feels like it, as an indulgence.

I don’t mind this, and actually think it’s more realistic for Dexter to give in to his urge to kill more often than a logical Code would allow, but only if the writers fully acknowledge that Dexter is being hypocritical as part of his lack of emotional maturity. I don’t get that feeling from the writers though, and still feel they are lionizing Dexter’s actions too much to appeal to a mass viewing audience. Dexter thus feels like he is losing his Dark edge, and the show suffers for it. When Dexter unmasks late at night and is in kill mode, it should not feel like Clark Kent going into the phone booth to emerge as Superman, as the audience cheers, which it all-to-often does. Instead, when we see Dexter about to kill, it should be more like watching a sober loved one with a past drug problem breaking down and shooting heroin. We still love our child, but feel absolute dread that he cannot stop himself from harming him and us with his actions. This should be the natural reaction to someone who kills people for pleasure, but that edge has all but disappeared.

That is why I feel they missed a lot of potential by having the writers try to force the audience to hate Miguel suddenly and turn his character into another deserving a-hole that should die. The biggest atrocity that demonstrates this constant sanitization of Dexter’s action is the reaction of Sil to Miguel’s death. It’s the first time I’ve really been mad at the Dexter writers and exasperated at their choice. They really want us to believe that Miguel’s death was so justified that even Sil has no reaction to the brutal murder of her children’s father? That Sil would just be a smiling face at Rita’s wedding, helping her get into the dress and getting makeup on Aster’s face? Really!?! Is this “Dexter” I’m watching? I was just stunned that they are going THIS far in trying to keep the audience on Dexter’s side and deny the darkness of his actions - that Sil would be devastated, that the Prado children he met would be destroyed and wounded forever, that the wedding would be morbid with the known best man (and fellow bachelor-party attendee with Vince, Quinn, and Angel) murdered just a day before. This writing is just unforgivably false, and makes me worry that what interested me most about “Dexter” as a show – the exploration of darkness and the impact hidden darkness can have to all those around it – has now been cast-out in favor of lovable Dexter.

They are even setting up more sanitizing of Dexter’s actions already for Season 4 by making it so that lying to loved ones is going to be OK instead of the more interesting (and dark) conclusion that Dexter’s level of deception and marriage are at complete odds with each other. They have Rita lying about the first husband, and La Guerta holding in a secret about Miguel, and Angel given permission to keep his prostitute visitations “in the closet”. I believe this is a pre-justification for the audience so that Dexter can lie heavily and still be seen as a good father and husband because “everyone else is lying too, in their own way”.

I understand that some market-force choices have to be made since Dexter is Showtime’s most popular show, and that usually means simplifying and broadening what is appealing to an audience. But this is the one show that needs to maintain complexity and moral ambiguity more than any other, and when it was doing so bravely demonstrated what television was capable of as a medium and hooked me with a passion I’ve not had for any other show. I see more and more that the writers are now making safe choices – having Doakes die by someone else’s hand, having victims be so god-awful that no sympathy can ever be given, showing Dexter being an almost ideal father and boyfriend instead of a bumbling, mistake-filled adolescent devoid of emotion, having a complex Miguel devolve into a raving, power-drunk lunatic that needs to be put down – and it saddens and angers me.

I brought up the topic of Harry’s ever increasing visits to Dexter’s mind, with a more confrontational tone and morbid outlook than “Real Harry” ever had. I asked for others’ thoughts about what this might mean, and got some responses on that. The reason I did so was because I had already developed a theory about New Harry and what it meant and how it could be the crux of Season 4, and if my theory was true, how it could turn around the softening trend of “Dexter”. I wanted to see if others were catching the same vibes I was in the hopes that it was a tactical plant by the writers. I will write more about it tomorrow, if there are people still reading these comments. Since this was the Season Finale, a bit lackluster, and is quickly falling off the “front page” of Alan’s blog, I won’t be surprised if not many are reading these comments anymore.

Anonymous said...

Dude, that was a very long post. I will say that Miguel gave Dexter the shirt with the false blood. From that point on Miguel was not being truthful at all.

I think the show is about Dexter becoming "human" and straying away from being a killer. Eventually he'll stop killing and that's probably where the show will end.

Mo Ryan said...

I agree with the vast majority of what UAM said, though I do agree that when Dexter found out the blood on the shirt was cow blood, all bets were off. And he knew Prado would kill again without "code sanction," so that motivated Dexter as well.

But I agree, the moral ambiguity is nearly gone from this show. I said after I saw the first four eps of S3, if Dexter is a show about a guy who kills because he feels like it, I'm out. What the show has become is just lazy and self-indulgent.

I agreed most with UAM's thoughts on this season's wasted opportunity:

If and when Dexter makes the choice of Harry’s Code over his own desires for a real friend this time, and he must really lose a best friend, the impact to him and the audience could have been devastatingly moving, as a true sacrifice would have to be made. Instead, we get a pissing contest that seems sudden and out of place, and an action-based ending once again, leaving the questions about emotion and lack of emotion hanging. It’s a letdown because the writers did the bare minimum with such a rich vein of material.

well said.

Anonymous said...

Vic DiGital said...

But they reset everything so Dexter (the show) could give us the same "almost getting caught, but not quite" scenarios and the same Miami locations and etc and on and on.

And those "Miami" locations aren't even in Miami (at least not since the first season). Take a look at this: http://www.seeing-stars.com/Dexter

Anonymous said...

I disagree with some of your statements. Yes, they could have ended the season with Dexter taking of Prado instead of the episode before but they're following the trend of taking care of the serial killer in the finale which they did. I believe Prado definitely outshined the Skinner and it was difficult to shine focus on both but I felt they still did it in a satisfying way.

Why is it so difficult to understand Dexter to escape from the Skinner? He outwitted him and seem to be always a step ahead. This proves the strengths of Dexter which could lead to a much more threatening situation in later seasons when he is confronted by a much more intelligent and intriguing serial killer, hence John Lithgow's character in the next season which lead to a great showdown.

Just because they tapped some valuable material briefly doesn't mean they can't find more avenues. The creative team on the Dexter is still hands down one of the best staff's out there in television.

I also believe the Quinn setup is meant for later seasons, we still never truly understood the background of him which could lead to some interesting insight. There is much more to discover in Dexter, how will everyone around him react if they discover he's a killer? Is Harry really the man Dexter made him out to be? The blood on the dress is obviously foreshadowing what's to come in their relationship. Looks like Lundy is headed back to Miami ,will Debra and Frank continue where they left off?

Dexter will continue to thrive as one of the best shows on television.

Anonymous said...

In response to it being "ludicrous" that serial killers would marry--Several serial killers in real life have been married, and some with kids as well. Just google "married serial killers."

All serial killers keep trophies. It's usually the thing that seals their fates. ... But it doesn't make them insane. Seriously disturbed, yeah. But Dexter would never be found insane in a court of law. He doesn't think the devil made him do it. He doesn't think he is serving a higher purpose for God (or anyone else). He knows the laws, knows what he's doing is sick and wrong, and knows that most people would find it so, and hate him and punish him. He also knows how to control himself when he has to... when he has to go bowling or otherwise not go kill someone. That level of cognizance, understanding reality and self-control would disqualify him as insane.

Killing AND the trophies are simply worth the risk of getting caught for Dexter.