The following article contains spoilers, so if you haven’t
seen the most recent episode, I advise you not to continue.
Great television is hard to come by. After the finales of The Sopranos and Six
Feet Under, I found myself at a loss for quality television. A number of shows came and went (whether I
liked them or not), but nothing really stuck out by being different or
unique. Enter Dexter Morgan.
In September 2006, cable network Showtime debuted Dexter, based
on a series of novels written by Jeff Lindsay.
It was a gamble for the network, considering the show asked the audience
to sympathize with a cold-blooded and meticulous monster who poses as a Miami
police blood spatter analyst by day.
Well, we are fast approaching the season three finale of Dexter,
which shows that Showtime’s gamble proved to be a winning one, even though this
season was indeed one of the rockiest of the program’s young life. Season one opened and closed with a bang,
delving deep into the life of Dexter Morgan, as well as his girlfriend Rita and
sister Deb, all the while subtly developing such great secondary characters as
Doakes, Masuka, Angel and Laguerta. The caliber
of storytelling finesse, as well as nail biting tension, was indelible and quite
unlike anything we had seen on television.
By the time the first season’s finale debuted, viewers wanted to know
how Dexter would deal with the villain of the season, the Ice Truck Killer, who
also turned out to be Dexter’s biological brother. I, for one, was not disappointed.
And neither was the program’s faithful audience, which can
be seen in the form of the record breaking second season debut numbers. However, something was missing. Some of the magic was gone; instead, replaced
with an unwelcome mixture of melodrama and soap opera storylines. While I may be in the minority with my opinions,
season two stumbled out of the gate, plain and simple. I understand that, especially with a show
like Dexter, the show should come up with a number of different ways to develop
the characters, as well as challenge the viewers. But then, around the sixth episode, something
happened. The old Dexter returned,
easily adapting the storylines that the writers had spent half a season on
creating. I found myself enjoying old
characters even more than I did the first season, while second season
characters Lila and Lundy proved to be welcome additions to the Dexter
canon. Looking back, at the start of
season two, it appeared as if the writers were suffering from the dreaded
sophomore slump. But in the end, a new
angle of Dexter was revealed, showing just how twisted and surprisingly human
the title character really is.
I was anticipating season three as soon as I read that Jimmy
Smits was added to the cast and from the season premiere he didn’t
disappoint. His character, Miguel Prado,
has proven to be a likably multi-layered character, amidst a world filled with
despicable characters. Of course, I’m
talking about the Miguel that quickly befriended Dexter, not the one who turned
out to be a much more terrifying monster than Dexter could ever be as the end
of the season approached.
While this season has proven to be the program’s, as well as
Showtime’s, most successful in terms of viewership, I couldn’t help but feel
that the creative change behind the scenes (being the departure of showrunner
Daniel Cerone) were far too obvious, while certain storylines failed to contain
the necessary punch require to ensure a long lasting season. Even so, the third season is quickly turning
out to be the best in the short history of the series. I find that, at this point in time, the
writers have finally discovered how to effectively marry its unique brand of
dramatic tension with jet black humor.
One such example is last night’s episode, I Had a Dream,
which (SPOILER ALERT) finally saw the demise of Miguel at the hands of
Dexter. In the past three episodes, the
mental game of chess that both Dexter and Miguel had been playing on each other
revealed a new facet of Dexter’s character; one that was always there, but
never blatantly addressed. Simply put,
Dexter has a heart. And it wasn’t until
Dexter’s final meeting with Miguel that we, the audience, truly saw Dexter as
an avenging angel.
The final four minutes, in which Dexter reveals the true
fate of Miguel’s youngest brother, is the best bit of television I’ve seen all
year on any television show. Everything
seems to be bursting at the seams, with a tidal wave of insanity likely to
flood over Dexter and his loved ones next week.
It takes a unique program to pull the viewer in and refuse
to give them any leads as to where the story is headed. In a world where almost all television shows
are punished for challenging and thrilling the viewer, it’s refreshing to watch
a show like Dexter grow unexpectedly stronger every season, while also winning
new viewers in the process. If you haven’t
watched Dexter or had no interest in it, this is the season that should make
you change your mind.