The anxiety in season 2 of Dexter should be excruciating. Showtime’s gruesome drama, about a serial killer (Michael C. Hall) who only murders evildoers, has created quite a conundrum for our vigilante. On the ocean floor near Miami, dozens of bags containing his victims’ body parts have been discovered. Now he’s in the middle of an investigation that may lead right to him. The situation seemed destined to stir up some No Way Out-style breathlessness — but instead, it feels like a chilly, middle-stakes chess game. Obsessed cop Doakes (Erik King) continues to suspect Dexter, but his idea of dogged pursuit is simmering and being buff. New, eccentric agent Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) is also on the hunt, but — though disarmingly likable — he’s almost as impassive as Dexter himself. Another cast addition — Dexter’s manipulative, hot NA sponsor (Hustle‘s Jaime Murray) — is trouble, but so far it’s of a soapy Melrose Place variety. Of course, it’s emotionless Dexter who gives the whole enterprise its air of detachment. What was a hitch last season is now a liability: He’s such a cool operative, it’s impossible to feel panicky for him — or even particularly uneasy.
Despite Dexter‘s failed attempts at tension, the show’s oddball cast of characters still has draw. Dex’s cop sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), recovering from her near-fatal relationship with the Ice Truck Killer, is the standout. Territorial, tough, and truly unnerved, she now thinks she’s a freak. The irony is that she’s the most normal human being in Dexter‘s world. B-