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Dexter: Season 3 - Review

Dexter: Season 3

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

WHERE some US shows display signs of flagging once they hit their third season, Dexter is one of the elite breed that just seems to go from strength to strength.

Season 3 of the series may not have boasted as many firework moments as Season 2, but it progressed the story and its characters in new and ever more intriguing ways, and boasted a genuinely riveting new ‘friendship’ between Dexter (Michael C Hall) and incoming series guest Jimmy Smits.

It also showed a more sensitive side to Dexter, as well as David Zayas’ Detective Batista and Jennifer Carpenter’s feisty Debra Morgan.

That’s not to say the violence wasn’t forgotten. Rather, Season 3’s storylines were set against the backdrop of the search for another serial killer, known as The Skinner, as well as the death of the brother of Assistant DA Miguel Prado (Smits), who was inadvertently killed by Dexter himself.

As Dexter attempts to cover his own tracks, he forms the friendship with Prado that comes to define the series, as the powerful Assistant DA proves sympathetic to Dexter’s dark secret and even offers to become a recruit.

It’s this slow dynamic that proves such rich character building, as Dexter slowly begins to place his trust in a new person (against the advice of his late father), while attempting to get his relationship back on track with Rita (Julie Benz) and her children.

Smits, just as he was in NYPD Blue, is a towering, enigmatic presence… an apparently charming wolf in sheep’s clothing. His manipulation of Dexter early on displays a terrific sleight of hand, playing on the ‘good guy’ persona the actor has fostered during previous TV incarnations.

And yet, when Dexter comes to realise the deception, Smits proves a clever adversary… one that requires a tremendous battle of wits to conquer.

Incredibly, however, audiences may even find themselves rooting for Smits at times, such is the charisma he brings to Prado, especially during the family bonding scenes. But there comes a point when even his actions cross the line.

Hall, meanwhile, continues to grow into the central figure of Dexter… adding more and more nuances to a complex, troubled individual whose decision to show a more humane side to his persona leaves him open to manipulation.

Strong, too, were the developing relationships between the lonely Batista and a vice detective, and Debra’s latest dalliance with a police informant. It’s a measure of the quality of the writing that every central character gets a chance to shine, and are part of the Dexter family we have come to know and love in spite of their all too apparent flaws.

The violence and criminal element also continued to grip, with the search for The Skinner providing many twists and turns, as well as the odd macabre moment. As ever, the killer proved elusive until the end, when he too had Dexter in his sights.

The resolution to the series, therefore, was suitably thrilling and tense… but tempered with a rare moment of happiness for Dexter as he finally tied the knot with Rita.

As ever, then, Dexter continues to shine as one of the bright lights of American TV – violent, dark, twisted and morally dubious for sure, but all the better for it. Given that Season 4 is said to be even better still, it’s time to catch up if you haven’t already.

Certificate: 18
Episodes: 12
UK DVD Release: August 16, 2010