Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dexter, "All in the Family": Ac-ting! Gen-ius! Thank you!

Spoilers for "Dexter" season three, episode four coming up just as soon as I get my room upgraded...

I'm going to be brief here. This was the last episode I saw in advance, and it's now been so long that, even with my notes, I don't feel especially connected to it -- and that's even beyond the general dissatisfaction I had with the season when it started. Maybe my opinion will start changing as we move forward, and I don't want to dwell too much on a feeling of unease I haven't been able to entirely place to begin with.

One thing did really bother me about this episode, though, and that's the ease with which Dexter manipulated the brothers Prado. We've known for a while now that Dexter's claim to not have emotion is a lie, that he can't admit those feelings to himself or else it would be harder to cope with his monstrous side. But we also know that Dexter is quite socially stunted, and while he can fake certain basic modes of behavior -- having fun with the kids, buying donuts for the other cops so they'll like him -- he runs into trouble whenever anything more complicated is required. In the same episode in which he handles the pregnancy announcement and the subject of marriage so ineptly for so long, it doesn't feel right to then see him play a very elaborate mindgame on Miguel and Ramon. Either he has a strong understanding of social cues and what makes people tick, or he doesn't. And here, his behavior seemed less about being true to who Dexter is than to serving the needs of the script. Because of that inconsistency, I couldn't even really appreciate Michael C. Hall and Julie Benz's work in the scene where Dexter finally proposes the right way.

Anyway, enough complaining. Hopefully, the season starts clicking for me in the way it seems to be doing for many of you.

What did everybody else think?


evie said...

Well, this posting was a buzz kill after enjoying the episode. I don't see the contradictions -- he's obviously very good at understanding human nature, even if he's not good at dealing with the people close to him. And I really like the epis with Jimmy Smits. It's all good to me.

Anonymous said...

After the way Dexter expertly manipulated Doakes (who was obsessed with him), it's no surprise to me that he's able to do so with the Prado brothers (especially that hotheaded younger brother, who seems like Doakes without the suspicion of all things Dexter). Dexter's problem is that he now has to keep his eyes on two possible nutjobs instead of one.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I think you're confusing Dexter the hunter with Dexter the hunter-gatherer. When Dexter was setting up Ramon, he was basically manipulating him in the same way he has many of his victims before killing them. But when trying to play the role of family man and provider, Dexter's a lot more self-conscious, since he knows that Rita will survive the lies he tells. That's why he could only figure out how to propose by appropriating the lies of someone so delusional that they didn't even know they were lying. So I don't really see any incongruity.


Anonymous said...

I would have preferred more time with Rita and less with the not-completely-convincing Prado plot. Julie Benz does what she can with the role, but oftimes it can feel like a plot convenience -- Rita gets pregnant but explicitly absolves Dexter of parental responsibility (so that he can muse in voiceover about parental responsibility); Rita experiences job trouble but explicitly absolves Dexter of spousal fiscal responsibility (allowing Dexter to muse in voiceover about spousal responsibility). Her behavior isn't completely implausible, but it verges on the saintly, and it sometimes gives the impression that Rita and Dexter never talk about anything (like their future) until Dexter or Astor or Cody has an awkward outburst.


Anonymous said...

I think Dexter definitely understands emotion, despite his saying he doesn't feel it -- obviously he feels it, too. He doesn't always understand his own emotions, which is why he botches so many of his interpersonal relationships.

I had no problem with him manipulating the Prados, since he so masterfully manipulated Doakes (who was a very smart cookie). So I found it completely plausible.

Also, Miguel is obviously a little wiggly when it comes to morality and what is right and wrong (e.g., his ignoring the Chickie Hines evidence). Not surprising that he would be OK with keeping really big secrets.

Anonymous said...

Not surprising that he would be OK with keeping really big secrets.

I'm still wondering what really big secret we're going to find out about Miguel because there's something very hinky about that guy.

ITA with the other posters that Dexter's a good manipulator with other criminals. Alan, maybe you need to rewatch the episode with that in mind?

Susan said...

Alan, I disagree with your main concern about Dexter's manipulation of the Prado brothers for two reasons:

1. Dexter's first attempt to get Ramon to blow up in front of Miguel backfired - he learned that instead of blowing up, Ramon spoke to Miguel and they actually "had a really good talk," according to Miguel. It took Dexter some time to figure this one out.

2. What Dexter did figure out is that Ramon's use of alcohol made him pretty easy to manipulate. All Dexter had to do was lead Ramon into an alcohol-infused situation, introduce Miguel into the mix, and the rest took care of itself.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling said...

I run a fansite for Hulu, and I was wondering if you would like to be a member of a panel for our Hulu Awards Ceremony.

You would be one of 20 panel members who would be asked to suggest and vote on the best Hulu content in a variety of categories.

Please let me know if you are interested. Either email me at, or leave me a comment here:

Be sure to include your name, website, and email address if and when you respond (and I really hope you do).
Matt "The.Hulu.Man"

Anonymous said...

Best line of the night - "Family man...sounds so upstanding and harmless...much better than lives alone and keeps to himself" lol.

Anonymous said...

^That was a great line. More of Dexter's deadpan self-awareness :-)

Butch said...

Would Rita's pregnancy be covered under Dexter's health plan, since it is a pre-existing condition?

mbtoole said...

I think you've made up your mind that you don't like this season and are now looking for points to validate that opinion.

Dexter's whole life has been about manipulating people. He does so on a daily basis with Deb, Rita & the Kids, his friends and co-workers?

Why is it such a leap to think he'd have no trouble manipulating the Prado brothers, particuarly when self-preservation is (as it always has been) the end-game of his machinations.

Anonymous said...

Best scene of the show was Dexter calling Ramon from the payphone. That accent had me hitting rewind a few times..!!
Am I the only one that sees the miscarriage coming for Rita? I really didn't think the writers would go through with the pregnancy, that it would string along far enough to get Dexter to propose. Also Rita's blow up to the bitchy bride was hilarious. That is what I love about this show the total jump from grotesque to comedy. I totally agree that Ramon is Doakes all over again but we'll have to see where that goes. I initially thought the Jimmy Smits addition was going to be a bad idea but have grown to really like him in that role. His scenes with Dexter are very good. Now Maria is playing the same role as she did last season with Doakes with Chicky Hines; the lone crusader of the unjustly accused. The storyline with Angel and the vice cop was totally unnecessary. I have a feeling though that he'll cross paths with her again and they'll get together. I'm really starting to like Quinn. His scenes are good, his dialog and insight into each of the characters is right on and he's got that mystery with the internal affairs that keeps you guessing with each scenario. And you just know Deb's subplot this season will be working with IA to investigate him. I also have some sneaky suspicion that she's going to hook up with Quinn's informant Anton. They had that whole fight like cats and dogs one minute thing and will be ripping off their clothes the next. Nothing says love like a song called Skinny White Bitch..!! LOL I'm also a bit disappointed so far in Vince's character this season. He was great as the wisecracking gutter mouth and this Forensics Quarterly subplot is getting old. Although I think it provided for a great opportunity for Quinn to tell him the truth about his personality and need for attention so we'll see if he takes it to heart and we see him act differently this season.

Anonymous said...

one question about the vice cop/pro:
Whats exactly her job? Bringing guys to talk about crimes? And why is Batista not allowed to see a pro? some US laws??
Was her intention to arrest Batista when she was showing up in his office?