Okay, since I’m late to weigh in and there’s already some great discussion of the episode down in the comments below, I’ll register my thoughts on “Go Your Own Way” in the bullet points:
• First thought: Wow. Season Three has been slow to materialize, and more swamped than usual by some lame B-plots, but as Anon notes in the comments, “the third-act shift” really kicks the show into high gear. Tonight’s cat-and-mouse game between Dexter and Miguel was magnificently plotted and suspenseful as hell, showcasing two strong personalities (and two strong actors) who are supremely confident in their ability to gain leverage over the other. So this episode was jab-jab-jab-jab-jab, perhaps my favorite jab being Dexter’s witty reveal of the bloody shirt at the cleaners, but the decisive one being Miguel enlisting the Skinner to do his bidding. Dexter and Miguel have many fine exchanges, but that rooftop confrontation was a doozy: Miguel absolutely will yield no ground to a man he knows is extremely cunning and dangerous, and Dexter walks away with the perhaps too smug assurance that he’s gotten under his man’s skin. Riveting television.
• As usual, happy to see the B-plots folding into the A-plot, starting with the Skinner’s relationship with Miguel and his kidnapping of Dexter. This brings the Miami Metro braintrust, such as it is, to focus on a case that will lead them directly to Dexter, if they’re doing their jobs right. So Dexter then has to get away from the Skinner and slip the Miami Metro noose as well. That bodes well for the next couple of episodes.
• Still not feeling the Anton/Quinn/Deb triangle, which at this point could stand to be more integral to the main plot. However, I did like a few things: Deb’s line about Rita’s sleeping daughter (“She was a champ. She almost made it through Saw 1 and 2.”); the menu screen for a movie called Penguin Town; and Dexter’s usual dumbfounded response to Deb talking about her love life (“I got nothing”).
• Having Masuka plan Dexter’s bachelor party leads to at least one funny line (“If my show does not make people vomit and have an erection at the same time, then I’ve let me audience down”), but the writers are really having to stretch to give him something to do. This is C-plot territory, and I worry the party will be a lame punchline meant to leaven the serial killing/abduction bonanza.
• I like Dexter’s reasoning in the opening scene. Killing Miguel outright, as he would under other circumstances, doesn’t seem like the smart move. Only in the end, after Miguel refuses to be pacified by some tough blackmail measures, does Dexter come to the conclusion that he has no other choice.
• Oh Laguerta, have you ever not fucked up a case before?
• Incidentally, does anyone else feel icky about rooting for Dexter in his cat-and-mouse game with Miguel? TV shows can be very sinister about aligning your sympathies with sociopaths. (See also: The Sopranos, The Shield)
• Fantastic exchange between Dexter and Angel, where Dexter essentially advises Angel against seeking vigilante satisfaction on the guy who beat the hell out of his girlfriend: “I know what it is to want to rebalance an unbalanced world… Some doors should stay shut. You open this, it’s too easy to walk through a second time.” Dexter would never admit it to himself, but that was an act of real friendship.
• I’ll be back at the usual bat-time on the usual bat-channel next week. Based on tonight’s episode, I’m thinking Dexter may be headed for its strongest stretch run to date.