It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since I began this series. I had expected to be done with it in a few days but apparently something (I couldn’t tell you what) got in the way. Well, I’m finally ready to say a few words about season 3 of the hit Showtime series Dexter.
Two years ago I said that season 3 was my least favorite of any season. I think that’s still true but season 6 is a close second. I’ll have more to say about that whenever I get around to writing about it.
Season 3 begins with Dexter killing a man in self-defense while on the hunt for someone else. The man he kills, Oscar Prado, turns out to be the brother of assistant district attorney Miguel Prado portrayed brilliantly by Jimmy Smits. Prado is an intriguing character because he seems to be a composite of past characters, namely Special Agent Frank Lundy and Dexter’s brother Brian Moser. Allow me a moment to justify this interpretation.
Prado finds in Dexter a confidant; someone whom he trusts and whose lead he follows. He really believes that Dexter is doing all he can to find his brother’s killer. This is reminiscent of Lundy who trusted Dexter to help him spearhead the manhunt for the Bay Harbor Butcher. Little did both men know that in each instance, Dexter was hunting himself and leading them astray the entire time!
But unlike Lundy, Prado comes to find out Dexter’s secret. He witnesses the “dark passenger,” and like Dexter’s brother Brian (a.k.a. The Ice Truck Killer), he finds a kinship with Dexter. Prado is, himself, a sick puppy who wants to literally be Dexter’s partner in crime. And he becomes just that, for a brief moment, but he’s more similar to Brian than Dexter in that he doesn’t much care about Harry Morgan’s code of conduct. He’d rather kill indiscriminately, which is something Dexter can’t have.
What made Prado’s character so compelling was that Dexter felt genuine affection for him just like he did his brother. They become close to the point of killing together, but on the normal side of things, Dexter asks him to be the best man at his wedding. Remember, Dexter has had to fake all of his normal interactions, but this comes off as genuine. Prado is his friend. In the end Dexter is forced to put him down just like he did his brother because let’s face it, Dexter kills killers.
The problem with season 3 wasn’t the arc with Prado (whom I neglected to mention used to be involved romantically with Lt. LaGuerta). It certainly wasn’t with the character of Prado, who was, as I mentioned above, portrayed brilliantly by Jimmy Smits. The problem was that throughout the season Dexter was chasing a Nicaraguan serial killer called “The Skinner” when the real villain was Prado. The climax of the season was Prado’s death, which was set up to look like the work of “The Skinner,” and yet the season ends with Dexter putting “The Skinner” down in lackluster fashion.
There was also a lack of suspense. There was never a time throughout season 3 where it felt like Dexter was really in trouble. Even when he was kidnapped for his bachelor party (something we don’t find out until the beginning of the next episode), we never actually thought anything would happen to him. Combine all of this with the weak side stories about LaGuerta’s romantic past; Deborah’s fling with a confidential informant; or her looking into Harry’s former informants (i.e., Dexter’s mom); and we’re just left with an okay season. The happy ending where Dexter escapes “The Skinner” and makes it just in time for his nuptials left me saying, “meh.”
Thank goodness season 4 would come back with a vengeance thanks to an incredible season-long performance by John Lithgow. More on that later.