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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Dexter - The Complete Third Season'
(Michael C. Hall, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2009 / Paramount)

Overview: Dexter is an American television drama series that airs on American premium channel Showtime. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a serial killer governed by a strict moral code who works for the Miami Metro Police Department as a blood spatter analyst.

DVD Verdict: After the climaxes that ended Season Two, Dexter's impending marriage and child, you could be excused for believing Dexter would turn over a new leaf. Having narrowly missed being caught in Season Two you would assume Dexter would change his ways, but right from the start of the first episode it's clear that isn't going to happen. Dexter's first kill also sets in motion the events of Season Three. But rather than killing based on his code, Dexter accidentally kills in self-defense.

The killing draws in powerful Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits) and his volatile deputy sheriff brother Ramon (played to intense perfection by Jason Manuel Olazabal). As with seasons one and two plot twists abound against the backdrop of Dexter's impending nuptials. Pressure mounts for Dexter to give up his freedom and his apartment. He's now questioning the wisdom of the code his father Harry taught him. Are his days of vengeance coming to an end?

As with previous seasons the other cast members are more fully flushed out including a budding romance for Detective Batista (played with great warmth and honesty by David Zayas). Dexter's sister Deb (the superbly foul-mouthed Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C. Hall's real life wife) is drawn to a confidential informant who may help her earn her detective's shield or blow her chances for it. At the same time there's complications with Deb's partner Detective Quinn and an Internal Affairs agent Yuki Amado who needs Deb's help investigating Quinn.

A new serial killer, the Skinner, emerges to distract the detectives. In a change from seasons one and two the focus shifts to the rest of this wonderful ensemble cast and away from a heavy emphasis on Dexter. Yet the central plot remains the burgeoning relationship between Dexter and Miguel as both jockey for power and control as events unfold. There's little surprise in the outcome of this lethal pas de duex and in that respect "Dexter" falls into the trap of becoming too formulaic.

But end of the Skinner and the role Dexter plays is a true "didn't see that coming" moment that shows the writers are still on top of their game. Dexter manages to slip away again, untroubled and undetected. But now that he's married what does the future hold? After nearly being killed will Dexter give up the code and the killings? And what will Deb do as she slowly learns more about her father's and Dexter's pasts?

"Dexter" is one of the most tautly scripted, well directed and superbly casted shows on television, and a delight to watch. Season Three was interesting to watch for the examination of the degrees of good and evil. Miguel's unnuanced form of vigilante justice was an interesting counterpoint Dexter's reasoned icy logic for killing that is clearly a metaphor for our own society's debate over justice and Manichean concepts of good and evil.

"Dexter" continues to delight in poking holes in our concepts of good and evil by getting us to root for a serial killer. It will be interesting to see if Dexter's conversion from lone wolf to nurturing husband and father will change that. [TBG] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the following Special Features:

First two episodes of THE UNITED STATES OF TARA, SEASON 1
First two episodes of THE TUDORS, SEASON 3
Interviews with the cast
Dexter By Design Book excerpts