Another deliberately structured episode this week, as Miguel and Dexter’s relationship has devolved into a nasty rivalry more quickly than anticipated. It’s a treat and a relief for the show to revert back to the mode it’s in now, a breakneck, almost giddy series of suspense cues and constricting subplots that surged through the entire episode.
That said, curiously, and little disappointingly, the show’s elevated tensions have meant very
different things for the stars. On one hand, Michael C. Hall
remains fantastic, dryly evocative of Dexter’s highs and lows and now
capable of playing the part with only his eyes. But Jimmy Smits, whose
always welcome presence helped keep his character tolerable even when
his arc felt listless, has taken the sudden shift in tone without his
signature grace and calculation. Miguel has become a caricature of a public official
drunk on power and self-preservation, and with Smits’s wide-eyed acqusience to the simplicity of the material, his performance is at risk of becoming one
That isn’t to say he doesn’t serve his purpose, which is to provide
Dexter the latest foil that he must take down every season. The show in
the past has afforded higher personal stakes to these often overblown
Faustian struggles, but with nuptials and a baby on the way, perhaps a more escapist bent suits us better this time around.
And yet, even though this week’s episode was taut and easily the most fun of the
season, the real question is if the show manages to bring together the disparate elements of this
often uneven season into a clear vision for what’s to come. With two
more years guaranteed on the way, our hope is that Dexter finds more
sure footing in the next several episodes, not to mention the sense that the progression of
this story is headed somewhere real in the future.