The dust is settling now that Sergeant Doakes is out of the picture and the Bay Harbor Butcher case has been officially closed. Angel Batista has been promoted to Detective Sergeant, which puts Deb’s Detective shield in sight. An unexpected visitor as Dexter as about to kill drug dealer, Freebo, causes Dexter to violate the Code for the first time in his life, killing ADA Miguel Prado’s baby brother, Oscar Prado. With Harry’s birthday coming up, Dexter decides he must move on from the memory of his coward of a father. Dexter is settling into family life, and pretty well at that. Rita discovers that she is pregnant, which is bound to shake things up this season. When Miguel Prado takes a special interest in Dexter’s affairs, we have to start wondering about Miguel himself. Continue reading for the full treatment of Dexter season three, episode one: “Our Father.”
“Our Father”: Religious Themes in Dexter
Right off the bat, the season premiere begins with a reference to the Christian prayer “Our Father,” which plays on a few areas. The prayer speaks of God forgiving His people for their sins and the ultimate forgiveness he will bestow upon them to “deliver us from evil.” Since Harry Morgan is Dexter and Deb’s “God figure” (which is reinforced by the fact that Dexter refers to the Code as the “twisted commandments handed down from the only God I ever worshiped”), we can relate the Code to this promise. If Dexter follows the Code, he will be “deliver[ed] . . . from evil” and harm’s way. A portion of this episode takes place on Harry Morgan’s birthday, a day which the Morgan children celebrate their father’s life traditionally (or ritualistically, if we use “Dexter speak”). The episode celebrates their father.
Dexter proclaims: “my God is dead now,” which plays out in the fact that he does not meet Deb at the Blue Room at 7:30 “as usual” to drink to his honor. A lot of Dexter’s angst (or all of it) stems back to the fact that his father lied and wronged him in several ways, a parallel which emerges when Dexter stands in for Cody’s “Dad Day” at school. He observes the eight-year-old and sees how he just moves on. No more hang ups from how Paul abused him (if you recall, the treatment for 212: “The British Invasion” defines Paul Bennett as a metonymic link between Dexter and Rita’s children). Dexter’s way of “moving on” just as Cody does is not attending this memorial of their father, leaving Deb to drink her pathetic glass of cranberry juice alone (that is, until Angel Batista stops by to pay his respects).
When we talk religious symbolism and themes that run through Dexter, I always think about how Harry’s shadow is forever present in Dexter’s life, just as Christians claim that God is a permanent presence in their lives. Dexter follows the Code just as people follow the 10 Commandments given to Moses. As Miguel Prado ponders at the wake of his late brother, Oscar Prado: “[Don’t you ever wonder about the person’s] life form . . . somehow it’s living inside you?”. In fact, it is. Harry lives within Dexter through the Code.
Yet again, we see Dexter in a religious setting (Oscar Prado’s wake), which was a dead ringer for me for Michael C. Hall’s HBO role in Six Feet Under as David Fischer. The black and white wardrobe and setting was an interesting way to introduce the idea of “all black or all white” in regards to morality. Dexter is only at the wake because he falsely claimed to be moved by Oscar’s death and wanted “to understand” what happened. He does discover, however, that he does not know how to act given the fact that he acted “wholly outside the Code.” Usually his life is black and white, but this is a gray area, as Dexter thinks: “commandments one through ten: don’t get caught.” This situation with the Prado family has got Dexter spinning his wheels, looking for some sort of evidence to justify Oscar Prado’s spontaneous murder. Later on, Dexter will learn that Oscar, in the words of Miguel, did not “[suffer] from the tragedy of perfection.” Although Dexter claims to “have moved on from my father . . . I still need his code, now more than ever. But it has to evolve — become my own.” We can expect from here on out a shift in the Code and the way Dexter operates. There is no more black and white — Dexter is actually attending a black and white wake, mourning the death of his old ideals and his image of Harry, not just Oscar Prado.
Freebo a Freebie?: Politics and the Prados
Fred Bowman, or “Freebo,” was Dexter’s next victim to become “repurposed as fish food” until Oscar Prado showed up. Dexter knows that Freebo’s pink drug house will become a crime scene, so he drives there before he is even called, which I think is silly and careless, but I don’t think anyone calls him out for this (he does lie and say he’s 20-30 minutes away, however). As scary of a case this is for Dexter, Deb is rather excited because this could be the (high-profile) case that gets her a Detective’s Shield; however, due to her loud mouth, she is taken off the case almost immediately after its opening.
We are introduced to the main player for season two early on, A.D.A. Miguel Prado, along with a short bio of his two younger brothers, Oscar and Ramon. Ramon (the middle brother) is a lieutenant in the sheriff’s department and is known for being a “law and order hard-ass.” Oscar, the youngest and least alive of the three brothers, was a coach at a youth club who was confronting Freebo for selling his kids drugs. Thanks to Deb’s investigation, Oscar was “into Freebo for some serious cash.” Calling him a “junkie” is coincidentally what gets her off of the case.
Miguel Prado’s slogan is: “A safe Miami is the only Miami,” which coincidentally coincides with Dexter’s “taking out the trash” mission. He was the top prosecutor in Florida three years in a row and is “dedicated to fighting crime.” Insistent on avenging his brother’s death, Miguel takes a special interest in those working on his brother’s case, which leads him to discover that Dexter had been searching the databases for information on Oscar (we find this out after Miguel calls Dexter up to explain the blood and series of events to him). When Miguel asks for reassurance as to Oscar not suffering a terrible death, Dexter asserts: “the blood never lies.” Indeed it does not. Perhaps Miguel sniffed out Dexter as a fellow psycho-/sociopath, just as the barking dog in the car does to Dexter, or perhaps he is just as upset about Oscar’s death as Dexter is confused by it; one thing is for certain: Miguel is an intimidating man with connections. Furthermore, Maria once had an intimate relationship with Miguel, who “will always be the one that got away,” which makes his case a priority on Miami Metro’s list. (Just a quick aside: Maria has slept with Esme Pascal’s fiancée, Sergeant Doakes while they were partners, now Miguel Prado, and by the looks of it, she has Angel Batista either in her grasp, or has her eye on him. Perhaps she is sleeping her way to the top, which is what Captain Matthews indirectly accuses her of every single time he criticizes her performance. It may be sexist, but in Maria’s case, it is also true).
We feel the heat that Dexter does as he carefully collects his tooth that Oscar knocked out of his face the night prior to be replaced into his mouth (like a trophy) by his dentist. Lucky for him, Oscar’s murder is pegged on Freebo, and Dexter gets a “freebie,” quite a relief after last season. Other than the fact that Miguel and Dexter likely share the DNA that inclines them to be psychopaths, the two share another bond: self-blame and guilt for a family member’s death. Miguel is convinced that if he had been with Oscar that he could have saved his life; similarly, Dexter blames himself for his father’s death. These bonds will become particularly relevant throughout the course of season three. One that hits home now, however, emerges when Miguel asks Dexter: “[do] you have a brother?”. Although Dexter’s cell phone rings at the perfect time to give him a moment to think and silently mourn his late brother, Brian Moser, alias Rudy Cooper/Ice-Truck Killer, he claims to only have the “one loud sister,” Debra.
Detective Joseph Quinn
We are informally introduced to Sergeant James Doakes’ replacement, Detective Joseph Quinn, who, at this point in time, acts as a puppy as he grins and smiles at Debra. Little does he know that he is dealing with a post-Special Agent Frank Lundy Debra, one who has matured and has lost her sense of self, for she changes herself depending upon the guy she is with. She had given up working through lunch and began listening to Chopin and eating cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches; she even cut her hair short. She has “[given] up men, liquor, and smokes” for the past twenty-seven days, a feat that she seems rather proud of. Despite the fact that she feels that she is a “model of fucking perfection,” she still has her potty mouth going for her, which inclines Angel to pull her from the Oscar Prado/Freebo case. Quinn’s first involvement in Miami Metro is calling in a favor with one of his past Confidential Informants, Anton, with whom Debra meets.
Debra’s involvement with Quinn’s past does not stop there: Yuki Amado, a woman from internal affairs, offers to help Debra out with her detective shield if she works to get information from Quinn. Apparently Quinn’s time in Narcotics led him into some questionable territory, which needs investigating. Despite the fact that Deb suspects Quinn of acting like she is a “potential lay,” she denies Amado twice, for her cop buddies are her “friends,” not just “badge numbers” to her. Whether or not Deb’s conviction will hold up throughout the season is beyond me (frankly, I don’t remember), but we shall all see!
Freud Would Chuckle at the Morgan Siblings
Deb confesses, in so many words, her feelings of inadequacy regarding her career and her father’s recognition of her and her achievements. She explains that Harry already had his Detective’s shield by the time he was Debra’s age, which conveys her insecurity. Given the fact that Harry has been dead somewhere between ten and fifteen years, it is certainly time for the Morgan siblings to move on; however, the two have some serious hang-ups when it comes to Harry and Dexter’s birth mother. Debra “still lives her life trying to please our father;” however, Debra criticizes Dexter of “kill[ing] your father so you can become your own man,” but I see it slightly differently.
Dexter chose Rita over celebrating his father’s birthday; because Deb accuses Dexter of “kill[ing]” their father, and because he goes to sleep with Rita (who coincidentally is a dead-ringer for Laura Moser), this is the much-talked-about Oedipus Complex in action. Although he does not literally castrate Harry, in Dexter’s flashbacks from last season, Dexter figuratively castrates him and his serial-killer-creating bravado when he walks in on Dexter’s kill room. Dexter’s grudge with Harry has hit an all-time high, but Debra urges him to realize that “Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was there for [him].”
“Rita is the scaffolding” that holds up Dexter’s facade of a normal life; Dexter seems to be enjoying the idea of sex, and of being a father figure to Astor and Cody. Coincidentally, we discover at the end of the season premiere that he and Rita have conceived, which could either be a monster child or a God-send. This is perhaps one of the bigger plot lines for the third season, and it shall be interesting to observe how Dexter becomes increasingly more paternal as the series progresses to both Rita’s children and his own.
And now to put a “number” on this episode. Dexterity (neat-handedness, puns, trickery, clever sayings, placements, etc.) will judge all of the small things that I pick up on. The higher the score, the more fun I had picking apart the episode for hidden clues. Entertainment (how much I laughed and enjoyed the episode) will judge how excited I was on average throughout the episode, as well as after it for the upcoming episodes. “Xtremity” (how dramatic, but also how believable the episode was, edge-of-the-seat, white knuckles, the “holy shit” factor) will judge just how jaw-dropping the episode was.