“The Damage A Man Can Do”
Season Three, Episode Eight
Airdate: November 16th, 2008
In my review of the show’s third season finale, I tore into Dexter for missed potential, for failing to take advantage of its early season ideas and instead investigating something interesting but not compelling. This isn’t to say that the show’s decision to focus its attention on the relationship between Dexter and Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits) was a poor one but rather that it felt like the story never fit the season in a way.
What it did provide, though, was a number of solid episodes that delved into the ramifications of their friendship. “The Damage a Man Can Do” is the most simple of these moments: not wrapped up in the show’s drive towards a conclusion, or in the show’s divided attention at the season’s opening, it answers the question of what could happen if Dexter Morgan had a partner, a friend who helped him with his dark secrets. The episode boils down Dexter’s dark passenger into a shopping list, and a series of disguises and actions that feels wonderfully scientific.
It’s also perhaps my favourite episode for Miguel Prado: while the late season reveal that he was in fact more dangerous than we first imagined wasn’t contrived or forced by any means, this was a moment where you started to see something more in Miguel. I love how quickly he delves into the spirit of things: his disguise at the casino bar was one of the season’s funniest moments, while his look of almost sexual pleasure at plunging the knife deep into their victim may be on of the year’s creepiest.
It was an episode that felt like a turn: a turn from a confusingly naïve character who knows Dexter’s secret to a man who presented a very clear danger to the people around him. The show has never been good at developing supporting characters, operating at its best when Dexter is front and center, but Jimmy Smits brought to Miguel something that made the season’s progression feel, in an episode like this one, far more accomplished than it was overall.
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