I recall so eagerly the first season of Dexter in my dorm room, snug in my bottom bunk bed and watching on my teeny-tiny television set. Not even my psychopathic roommate could deter my utter enjoyment of the escapades of the series’ namesake serial killer. If memory serves, my boyfriend and I devoured the first season in little more than 24 hours. But how can a series based on the conceit of a serial killer who kills other serial characters keep itself fresh and creative? More after the jump:
Certainly, the second season was downright disappointing compared to the first-I had trouble getting through parts and I may or may not have fast-forwarded through some of the more angsty scenes. Something I have learned about this show, though, is that if you miss anything (anything at all), the episode recap will be certain to get you up to speed… to the point of being out-and-out obnoxious.
Let it be known that while I was watching the second season, I kept thinking to myself that there must have been some mistake or oversight in the editing or writing process: nothing could be quite that over the top and yet so painfully sincere. Fortunately, with the subtraction of a particular obnoxious character by the end of season two, the show suddenly became a lot more earnest and a lot less… bad.
I had a difficult time forcing myself to sit down and write this review. Of course there were a myriad of reasons for this (the least of which being a new Game Boy emulator) but I think the most pronounced of reasons was that I was just so under-whelmed by the material I was given to review.
So it was with trepidation that I opened my shiny third season Dexter box and popped in the first DVD. Not bad, I thought to myself. The box itself isn’t as visually striking as the first season but, really, that image would have been difficult to improve upon. The menu is an elaboration of an image found on the back cover and, I think, quite a fitting one for the series.
I will say this of the third season, however: it marks a return to an earlier format of Dexter. Whereas the first season was wrought with flashbacks, this third has a series of dream-like sequences that prominently feature Dexter’s adopted father. This, I think, is one of the redeeming factors of the season and something that keeps it from being too terribly dull.
The third season of Dexter focuses around a protégé of sorts that Dexter accidentally acquires while in pursuit of satiating his own Dark Passenger. Following that development, the other characters are astoundingly… normal. I thought, perhaps, it was just a must needed respite following the absolute calamity of season 2 but, at a point, the peripheral characters just became dull.
The story went places I wasn’t outright expecting though many of the character interactions were thoroughly run-of-the-mill. The cast prominently features the Angry Black Sergeant, the Sassy Latina Lieutenant, the Troubled Sister, the Misunderstood Nerd, etc. All the archetypical characters seem to be horrendous call-backs to John Hughes or the like-a feature that I have never found endearing about the series, even at its inception.
The third season marks the third time that someone has come close to knowing the real Dexter; attempts that, ultimately, have failed each and every time. This is an important theme in the series, yes, but its handling has never been just right. There’s always been something off about it, about how the characters were forced into situations on tenuous grounds. Looking back, some of the premises of the previous seasons were good and compelling, but just how those characters became embroiled in those dramas was utterly forgetful. There are so many convenient elements to the plot as to be unbelievable (ie how Dexter escaped discovery in the second season and how that reason herself disappeared in the last 5 minutes of the season finale).
There are other places to go with a premise such as Dexter’s and I challenge the creators, writers, and actors to exploit and explore some of these new avenues.