Dexter “Our Father” early episode review

Here there be spoilers…

Dexter Morgan, America’s favorite serial killer, returns for the third season of Showtime’s hit horror series feeling pretty damn good about life. His nemesis on the Miami police force, Sgt. James Doakes took the heat (literally) for the Bay Harbor Butcher murders and will trouble him no more and Dexter’s psychotic, gross English titty vampire NA sponsor Lila has also been dispatched. Picking up a few months after last season’s finale, Dexter has settled into blissful domesticity with his longtime oblivious girlfriend Rita and her two children and his job as a blood spatter expert has been largely uneventful. Oh, and he also went to the carnival, a story he relates to his dentist in a funny, loaded opening scene that shows Dexter doing a lot more than riding a Ferris wheel. The “Dark Passenger” that resides within the cheerful, normal-looking family man did not go on summer vacation. He continues to satisfy his homicidal tendencies with the blood of criminals who have escaped conventional justice.

The opening episode brings with it some shake-ups at the Miami PD headquarters. Dexter’s foul-mouthed sister Debra still has her eye on a detective badge, which seems in easier reach now that Deputy Angel Batista has been promoted to Sargeant. She also has a new soccer mom haircut. And Internal Affairs is asking her to investigate a fellow officer, a cute new partner who may become this season’s failed love interest. (It wouldn’t be a relationship for Deb if something about the power dynamic was normal and healthy.)

Dexter’s intended target for this episode is a drug dealer named Feebo who has murdered two female co-eds. However, when he goes to the house of the dealer with the intention of killing him, he ends up in a tousle with someone else and kills the stranger instead. It is the first time Dexter has killed a person he did not know was guilty of some terrible crime. This goes against the only internal law he has ever known: The Code of Harry. His belated adoptive father, knowing of Dexter’s sociopathic nature established rules for his foundling son to keep Dexter out of prison and on a certain path, twisted as it may be. The first rule being: “Be sure.” Dexter has a lot of daddy issues to deal with (he’d fit right in on Lost) brought to the surface again by his father’s upcoming birthday memorial and, now, the breaking of his rules. I’ve mentioned how much I normally hate voiceovers, but the ones on Dexter work for me. They lack that portentous, pretentious tone so apparent on Heroes and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (now notably absent in the second season.) Dexter is about a man with two lives—the exterior facade of normalcy and the inner horror he tries to hide. The voiceovers are a direct line to the monster that observes and judges the world around him. That monster can be hilarious, satirical, and smart. Self-reflective, too, as Dexter marks his newfound feelings of unrestrained independence that are guaranteed to lead him into trouble this year.

Dexter’s victim may not have been as innocent as he first appeared, but he was well-connected. He was the younger brother of Assistant D.A. Miguel Prado, played by Jimmy Smits. My gut reaction is to wonder where the writers will go with such a guest spot. Another charismatic, high-powered figure complicating Dexter’s life seems a bit too reminiscent of Keith Carradine’s fantastic turn last season as FBI agent Lundy. But it’s too early to tell.

Also too early to tell is how the last few minutes’ bombshell revelation will change the direction of the show. I won’t spoil it here, but I welcome readers’ reactions to it. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming, but I suppose those are the best kinds of TV twists. “Our Father” was a satisfying premiere with a lot of good setup. My only complaint would have been to see a bit more closure on last season. Doesn’t anyone miss Doakes as much as I do? I understand the character couldn’t continue to dig into Dexter’s dark side week after week without turning into a complete cartoon, but I miss his air of hilarious badassery. But mostly, it was just great to have a new episode of Dexter to watch. From the opening notes of that upbeat yet sinister title sequence to Dexter’s shocked face before the cut to black, the series continually forces viewers to put their sympathies with the least likely of figures and creates a self-aware horror-noir hybrid not to be missed by fans of blackest humor.

Dexter premieres Sunday, September 28th at 9 P.M. ET/PT on Showtime.

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