So this is a bit odd and out there for my usual Impressions. However, I recently rewatched this season, and I think it’s a bit underappreciated. Season 1 was a great start, 2 people really enjoyed the FBI hunting Dexter, and season 4 is rightfully praised because of John Lithgow’s fantastic performance. After that, reactions to the seasons seem to vary, but when talking about the first 4, not many people mention 3. I think it’s a solid season and stronger than 2 (mainly due to the Lila plot) and even 4 in ways. Jimmy Smits gives an amazing performance as Miguel Prado, getting ahead of myself a bit, but I just wanted to explain why I thought I would try something a little different and give thoughts on the full season. Heck might consider doing it for others. I digress.
Some spoilers, but I will try to limit them a bit.
Season 3 starts with Dexter accidentally killing a man while going after a drug dealer and murderer. He finds out the next day that that man is Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado’s younger brother. Dexter shaken up by the mistake begins to research the man, something Miguel notices. They circle each other until one night Dexter goes after the drug dealer and suspected killer, and Miguel catches him after Dexter has done the deed.
Supposedly motivated by gratitude, Miguel begins to insert himself into Dexter’s life and befriend him. Dexter finds himself enjoying the novelty of making a friend and even trusting Miguel. Eventually, Miguel finds out about Dexter’s secret, and slowly we start to see Miguel unravel a bit, showing who he is underneath.
Kind of big spoilers, but if you go in knowing just that, you should still enjoy the ride. Which speaking of –
This ride is pretty damn fun. The subplot is iffy, it is not the best, but it is hardly the worst. Debra is passed over for her detective shield and thrown off the career-making Prado case for running her mouth. She beings to get desperate to wrap up her own case, which ends up being connected to Prado’s and is, in fact, looking for another serial killer. I did not see the last two seasons and only vaguely remember 5, but this is the only season I can think of that featured another serial killer that takes this kind of backseat.
-I would have to rewatch season 5 to see how I would compare the people Lumen is hunting to this statement. However, considering Lumen is Dexter’s focus and they are her’s Dexter still seems more intent on them than he is the skinner in 3.-
Debra also has difficulty deciding how she feels about her new partner Quinn, who is kind of a weaker character, especially as a half fill-in for Doakes – he also distrusts Dexter but never as well developed. Still, their team developing is not bad, if not the most compelling side plot and characters.
I do find this to be one of LaGuerta’s better seasons. LaGuerta is a really inconsistently written character, something that troubled me the whole show. In some seasons, she is barely tolerable, while in others, she is better. This is one of the better ones. Her friendship both with Miguel and people on the opposite side of him is compelling, and we see a lot more humanity in her. For purposes of this season, I really like her. Overall it bothers me that she is clearly easy to write in a likable but still strong way, but that they didn’t decide to consistently do just that.
Where this season really shines is all about Miguel Prado. To me, his is one of the most compelling and interesting counters to Dexter throughout the series. I even find Bryan and, yes, Arthur Mitchell to be slightly overshadowed by him in ways. His ability to bring people under him and the great control over his mask, almost always, is fascinating, especially when it starts to slip. Jimmy Smits manages to jump between the different versions of Miguel with ease, and it creates a captivating and honestly a bit terrifying character. I find myself wanting to see the best in Miguel because he again, almost always, pulls off hiding himself so well.
And yet equally well done are the brief previews we get of who he is. The season is worth two watches just to see the hints that Miguel gives us over and over. Bryan wasn’t featured enough as Rudy to really have that same experience, although there is something to be said for his counter to Dexter. Lila seemed too obvious to me from the start. Miguel, though, is just so well written and performed, so you might miss a few of the peeks at his anger. Some stand out, but you almost find yourself excusing them; a few, though, are more subtle but telling.
It’s also pretty interesting to watch Dexter want a friend, and one out of actual friendship, not some sense of obligation or trying to learn from them. He seems to like Miguel and really likes the notion of letting his mask off a little. You know there is no happy ending for Dexter, and whoever he hooks up with each season, it’s the nature of the show, but I found myself wanting it with this one more than any other, possibly because we, the audience, get manipulated right along with Dexter. Or perhaps it’s because Dexter is making a connection not based on blood relation or sobriety and sex (which was a terrible motivator for Dexter, but that’s another pickle), but rather a genuine desire to connect and have a friend. It’s kind of one of the most human he’s ever been… I mean, in his own Dexter completely lacking humanity way.
A few of the side plots I am eh about, but I find myself coming back to this season more than others (except maybe the first) and even enjoy it more than seasons that are broadly more appreciated.
If you are giving the show a watch, especially with the upcoming season, but aren’t planning on watching the full thing, put this season on your to-watch list. Most people are going to tell you four, which is a good one, by the way, but this one is right up there with it, and for me personally, edges it out. And again, credit to the amazing actors who played against Michael C Hall. I certainly get why Lithgow gets so much praise (he damn well deserves it), but Jimmy Smits deserves that love too.
Bottom line. Watch seasons 1-4 but especially this one.