Dexter returned to the airways this week and brings us back into the dark and twisted world he inhabits. The show started by recapping the last season, in particular how Dexter (Michael C. Hall) freed himself from Harry's (James Remar) influence and how Sgt. Doakes (Erik King)was blamed for being the Bay Harbor butcher.
A warning before you read on: this is a detailed review of the first episode of season three of Dexter and it contains heavy spoilers. Read at your own risk.
The show starts innocently enough with Dexter visiting the dentist as part of his 'normal' routine and getting a crown installed. During the conversation with the dentist we see (through flashback) that Dexter has been busy with his compulsion to kill, still only choosing evil people, but killing nonetheless. Right away I was struck again by how perfect Michael C. Hall is in this role; he plays the chameleon character of Dexter to perfection, effectively being menacing and creepy yet portraying a mild-mannered facade to the world.
Dexter continues on in his mission to rid Miami of criminals who evaded the system. He focuses on FreeBo, a drug dealer who killed two college girls and got away with it due to a bad police warrant. Dexter pretends to be a junkie to stake out FreeBo's home and decides that this man is the next one to die. Dexter breaks in that night and stumbles on FreeBo fighting someone, the man attacks Dexter, and in the struggle Dexter kills him. This becomes the pivotal action of this season so far as it is the first time Dexter has killed without planning.
This is another example of the quality of the show and how it continues to surprise us. Dexter is faced with this unplanned incident and he knows he needs to resolve it. Michael C. Hall is excellent again in his portrayal of Dexter as he reacts to this turn of fate, both surprised yet resolved to regain control. His biggest concern is not that he killed someone (he is a sociopath after all), but that he doesn't know WHO he killed.
Dexter has to wait until he is called into the scene for the investigation and he goes to visit Rita (Julie Benz). She is incredibly passionate and despite Dexter's predicament he puts himself into his 'normal' boyfriend mode and stays with Rita. Julie Benz is great once again as Dexter's love interest; even though her life is in balance she still adds a very interesting side to Dexter's life, showing us he can be human as he interacts with Rita and her children (whom he genuinely cares about).
The following day Dexter is called to the scene and finally discovers that the victim was Oscar Prada, a youth worker and brother to prominent Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prada (Jimmy Smits). Miguel Prada and his brother Roman are understandably upset and very passionate about tracking the killer. Prada has a close relationship with Lt. Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez) and as a result the investigation for Oscar's killer is given the full attention of the team.
With the addition of Jimmy Smits to the cast we now have a very strong, seasoned actor whose character is determined to get to the bottom of his brother's killing. Shortly after he is introduced we have a tense scene between his Prada character and Dexter, with Dexter explaining how Oscar Prada died, according to the blood trails, of course. Miguel Prada then questions Dexter on why he was looking up Oscar in the sheriff's database. Dexter says he is concerned about this killing and it bothered him so he wanted to learn more. Immediately you can tell that Miguel Prada and Dexter Morgan will have pivotal scenes together and it made for exciting moments.
Dexter's life becomes further complicated near the end of the episode when he is called in to investigate a Jane Doe, who turns out to be FreeBo's girlfriend Teegan. Dexter cannot reveal he knows who the girl is, but it leads him to believe FreeBo is still in Miami and killing again, which means Dexter can continue the hunt.
During all of this, Dexter's sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) is being approached by Internal Affairs to become part of the investigation of a new detective on the team, Quinn (Desmond Harrington). She refuses to help, but they continue to approach her.
In the final scene of the episode Dexter finds out why Rita has been so passionate — she is pregnant. The look on Dexter's face says it all; this is a season of change and he is not sure if he can handle it. What started as a normal controlled life a few days ago has become a time of turmoil and confusion for Dexter.
It was really satisfying watching this episode, all the cast is so comfortable in their roles and in particular Michael C. Hall and Jimmy Smits give standout performances. This is some of the best drama television has to offer and an outstanding episode. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for Dexter and both his lives.