Season 1 worked so very well that it took me by surprise and gripped me from start to finish and I carried this into the next season, meaning that it felt like it started a little slowly and took a few episodes to get going. This may or may not have been the impression had I come to it with season 1 more of a memory from months ago but it was how it felt to me. The plot this time sees Dexter struggling to do his thing for a while and, just as he gets back into it, his deep sea dumping ground is discovered by divers, sparking a manhunt for another Miami serial killer. Most of the season is spent with this net closing while at the same time we have other pressures from Doakes, Laguerta and new character Lundy. It doesn't quite hit the consistency of the first season for me but it is still a very good collection of threads that get more and tenser as the season rolls on.
Not all of it works as well as other bits though. Certainly the thread with Lila takes up more space and is more significant than I would have liked it to be. This is most evident at the end of the season where she seems to be moved into a convenient character to try and keep the viewer on the side of Dexter by having her responsible for Doakes' death in terms of actual actions. This is a problem generally though because, although Dexter is a dark show, it is not so dark that it can function with you actively disliking the title character – OK he may not be a "good guy" but it is clear who we are meant to side with and normally this is easy to do. With the final few episodes putting him against Doakes with only one real outcome, I (like many) really felt for Doakes and he was clearly the "good guy" out of the two and, while the script keeps his hands clean, it is hard not to feel sorry for Doakes while also putting the blame for his death squarely on Dexter. This reveals that the show is not as complex or as dark as it maybe appears because it doesn't cope well when the monster that is Dexter starts to come out. While killing "bad men", the show can easily carry the weird, dark humour and drama but the writing is not strong enough to keep the viewer close while actively pushing us away (which in my view was happening with the latter stages of season 2).
This is not a significant problem though because mostly season 2 continues to hit the strengths of the first season by being weirdly off-beat, well written and engaging across a range of the characters in different ways. It also continues to capture a murky "look" and "feel" that helps it a lot as well. The cast continue to be very strong with their characters. Note I'm not saying that these are the best characters ever made but they do work within the context of a "different" drama series that works on a season long thread or collection of threads. Hall plays his character very well and it suits him to go through a range of emotions and struggles that the script give to him – even if the show is not up to making him a repellent character, it is clear that Hall can deliver that if required. King is a stronger presence than before even if his character is reasonably one-dimensional, he does play off Hall very well. Carpenter has a bit more of a character to work with this time round and, while she is not complex she is certainly interesting – although Benz's performance suffers a bit from her character and situation being less interesting to me in this season. Vélez, Zayas, Carradine, Remar and Lee are reliable and make for a strong supporting cast.
Season 2 of Dexter continues to be great television. It is perhaps not as daring, complex and dark as it would appear to be on the surface but it is still engaging and satisfying across the whole season. It does have a few more noticeable weaknesses than season 1 and it is not keen to let the viewer be anywhere but on Dexter's "side". This would be a good area for the show to explore but it is not one it coped with well in regards Doakes and it is also the reason I will leave a bigger gap before starting season 3, so that I can come to the title character with these feelings reduced somewhat.