The Good: Decent plot progression, Good acting, Interesting character progression/conflicts
The Bad: Surprising lack of spark as the series progresses.
The Basics: Dexter Season Two is a roundabout hunt for Dexter as he dodges Sergeant Doakes, an FBI investigation and his own crazed sponsor.
As Dexter ended its eight season run this week, my wife and I sat down and continued our progress through the series. After doing a marathon of Dexter Season One (reviewed here!), we sat down to do a one-day viewing of the twelve episodes of the second season of Dexter. The nice thing about watching a season of television years after it airs, away from the hype, is that the substance of the show is all one has in front of them.
The second season of Dexter eliminates most of the melodrama and soap operatic elements of the relationships from the first season. In fact, Maria LaGuerta’s character element from the first season – a romantic interest in Dexter that was planted in almost every scene they shared – is entirely absent from the second season. The fat is trimmed away, as is most of the mystery about who Dexter is and where he comes from. What results is a tight season that focuses almost entirely on a manhunt . . . for Dexter.
The second season of Dexter finds the Miami Metro Homicide Department still reeling from the Ice Truck Killer. The Department is fractured: LaGuerta has been replaced as the Department’s Lieutenant, Debra has been on leave, Angel is still recovering from having been stabbed, Doakes has been following Dexter and Dexter has been unable to focus enough to kill anyone since he was forced to kill Miami’s last big serial killer. As Dexter begins to get his groove back, he is horrified to discover that Rita’s ex-husband is onto him, as is Doakes. With his sister Debra living with him (out of fear given how poorly her last relationship went), Dexter is even more troubled when his underwater graveyard is discovered.
When Debra is assigned to the joint Homicide/FBI task force, Dexter begins to worry. Doakes is only temporarily mollified, which comes in the wake of him walking in on Dexter at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting (which Dexter is using to mollify Rita). As Dexter’s relationship with Rita goes up in flames – in part because of Rita’s overbearing mother and in part because of Dexter getting romantically involved with his sponsor, Lila. But as Lila begins to prove to be erratic and Doakes renews his suspicions of Dexter and his nocturnal activities, Debra starts a full-fledged relationship with the FBI head of the task force. As her relationship with Lundy transforms from one of father figure to romantic interest, Debra figures out the pattern for the Bay Harbor Butcher (the media name for Dexter). As Doakes moves in on Dexter, the two end up in the crosshairs of Lundy’s investigation!
The second season of Dexter is far less episodic than the first season. The strongly serialized second season is one long manhunt. Fortunately, the show takes the time to reflect on the consequences of the big events of the prior season. Those events have effects which resonate throughout most of the second season, making it very hard for viewers to pick up just the second season and get as much out of it as those who watch the first season before picking this DVD set up.
The characters in the second season of Dexter include:
Dexter Morgan – Still dealing with the death of the brother he never knew, he takes a sabbatical from killing. Hunted by Doakes and having lost the trust of Rita, he enters Narcotics Anonymous in order to create a coverstory. There, he meets Lila, who becomes his sponsor and he becomes emotionally entangled with her. Manipulated by Lila, he struggles to stay ahead of the FBI task force investigating the Bay Harbor Butcher while reconciling with Rita,
Debra Morgan – Reeling from the near-miss with the Ice Truck Killer, she moves in with Dexter because he is the only one she feels safe around. Slowly, she begins to come out of her shell. She begins dating a writer (who she still has trust issues with) and she finds the FBI Agent (Lundy) to be more than just a father figure to her. Assigned to the task force to find the Bay Harbor Butcher, she regains her strength and sense of self,
Angel Batista – He gets into a visualization bullshit philosophy following his split from his wife. Otherwise, he just shows up, though he expresses clear interest in Lila,
Lieutenant Maria LaGuerta – Irked at being replaced, she accepts deskwork while she manipulates her replacement. As the new lieutenant comes unhinged, she publicly supports her, but retakes her position of authority in Miami Homicide. When she returns to power, she tries to keep Doakes in lines, with marginal success,
Sergeant James Doakes – After following Dexter for weeks on his own, he is kept at bay when he realizes Dexter is an addict in recovery. After putting down a wifekiller who was also Special Ops, he starts becoming more and more erratic. As the evidence for the Bay Harbor Butcher begins to point more and more toward Dexter, he becomes obsessed and breaks into Dexter’s apartment, finding Dexter’s slides,
and Rita Bennett – Suspicious of Dexter after her ex-husband puts the thoughts in her head, she is distraught after Paul is killed in prison. After believing Dexter is into heroine and then in recovery, her mother comes to stay and aids in ruining her relationship with Dexter. She is slow to trust Dexter after he confesses he slept with Lila once.
While the acting in the second season is homogeneously wonderful, there is something missing from season two of Dexter. The show is engaging for a viewing, but it lacks a zest that makes it truly exciting or incredible. The show does not have snappy dialogue or witty twists (save one involving LaGuerta and the new Lieutenant) and its very focused plot does not really lead anywhere tremendously unexpected. In fact, especially knowing that Dexter had several more seasons after this one, there was truly only one way that the second season of Dexter could end. As a result, the season is hardly as original or audacious as diehard fans might claim.
On DVD, Dexter Season Two has a few featurettes and a smattering of episodes of other Showtime shows. None of these make exceptional the engaging rising action of the second season of Dexter. This season is entertaining; it is smart, but more entertainment than anything else.
For other works with Julie Benz, please visit my reviews of:
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
As Good As It Gets
For other television and movie reviews, please visit my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |