Dexter: Season 5 (2010)

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Overall Rating 87%
Overall Rating
Ranked #161
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Connections: Dexter

Dexter Morgan, Miami Metro Police Department blood spatter analyst, has a double life. When he's not helping the Homicide division solving murders, he spends his time hunting and killing bad guys that slip through the justice system. He spends his sun-drenched days solving crimes - and moonlit nights committing them. But not to worry, our cool-blooded Dexter doesn't kill just anyone. He reserves his homicidal hobbies to taking only the lives of other killers. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: January 16, 2011
Warning: Season Four ended with a major, show-changing event. Seriously, it was huge. This season picks up where that one left off, and naturally, I'll be spoiling the hell out of said event. If you haven't seen it yet, stop reading now.

With that out of the way... holy fuck, killing off Rita at the end of season four? What a way to take the season out with a bang, and what a way to ensure a massive turnout for the season premiere. There were so many ways that the writers could have used this event to kick off the next season, and they went with the wise choice of using it to paint Dexter (Michael C. Hall) in a more human light. Oh, sure - there's a brief scare where the blame for Rita's murder was placed on our hero thanks to a bad choice of words on his part, but that is quickly cleared up and we get on to the real meat of the season.

So, the meat of the season smells a little something like this: Cody (Preston Bailey) and Astor (Christina Robinson) are naturally torn up about their mother's death, and Astor lays the blame solely on Dexter - you know, mommy wouldn't have died if he hadn't come into her life, yatta yatta yatta. Astor decides to move in with her grandparents, and knowing how helpful his relationship with Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) was, Dexter tells Cody to tag along with her so that the brother / sister combo isn't broken up. Yes, the kids are all but gone in this season.

That leaves Dexter plenty of time for Lumen (Julia Stiles), the new woman in his life. Wait, who? Well, Dexter had decided that the best way to deal with the loss of his wife was to get back into his routine of knocking off the bad guys, and this lead him to the house of a murderer who was never brought to justice. Nothing terribly novel about this one, but just as Dexter drives the knife into this man's heart, he hears a noise... and looks over to see a woman watching him do the deed. This woman is Lumen, a young lady who was passed around between a group of men as a sex slave before being sent here for one final round of torture and rape before being stuffed into a barrel and dumped in the lake.

This puts Dexter in a bit of a bind: Harry's code tells him not to kill an innocent, but it also tells him not to get caught. How does he get out of this unlikely situation? Why, he takes the young woman in, nurses her back to health, and discovers that she wants revenge on all of the men who hurt her. Wishing to achieve a sense of atonement for not being there when Rita needed him, he agrees to help her track down and murder those bastards one by one. A successful motivational speaker by the name of Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller) gets wrapped up in all of this down the line, but I'll leave the specifics for the virgin viewer.

As if that wasn't stressful enough, Dexter's old buddy Quinn (Desmond Harrington) still suspects that there is more than meets the eye with our favorite blood-spatter analyst, and he employs grizzled veteran Stan Liddy (Peter Weller) to find out what is going on when Dexter is off the clock. Liddy definitely digs up some dirt on Dexter, but who will see it? Throw in a handful of serial killers and assorted criminals (though no "main" killer), add a few more short-lived plot elements, and you have yourself one hell of a season.

One of the big things that I enjoyed about this season was that the writing was much tighter. By that, I mean that the flow of the storyline seems more natural, and the predicaments that Dexter finds himself in seem more threatening. In previous seasons, we were bombarded with moments where everything seemed to be over for our hero: he'd leave behind an incriminating piece of evidence, a victim would get away, someone would find out his secret, what have you. Then, in the span of just a minute or two, our hero would snap his fingers and make his problems go away. They were cheap plot devices to ensure that you'd tune in next week to see what happened, and they really did get annoying. This season has a few of them, but they are used extremely sparingly and to a much lesser extent than any previous season. Episodes do end in cliff-hangers here, but they are legitimate parts of the story that are genuinely expanded upon when the next episode rolls around.

Oh, and as for a massive cliff-hanger in the closing moments of the season finale? Nope, nothing. The series could end here and there would be no loose ends, but there is plenty of pieces of the story that can be picked up and expanded upon when the next season inevitably premieres. The writers have a fresh slate to work with, and it should be an interesting run of episodes. I'll admit that I was looking forward to some huge revelation or some big shock to close out the season, but honestly, I prefer it this way.

Getting back to the actual quality of the content found here, I simply loved the vast majority of it. Again, it's written so much better this time around, and the situations that Dexter finds himself in are suspenseful to say the least. Obviously, we know that he isn't going to get caught and thrown in jail (the show would kind of be ruined at that point), but he does come damned close time and time again. He always finds a way out, and that is where the true fun of the show comes into play.

The acting is all top-notch, with the series regulars doing just as good of a job here as they did in the previous seasons. As for the new-comers, Julia Stiles was pretty damned good in her leading role. I wouldn't say that she gave an amazing performance or anything like that, but she was certainly above average and held her own alongside Michael C. Hall. Jonny Lee Miller also brings in some great scenes, but the real star of the season is RoboCop himself, Peter Weller. He plays the sleazy cop to perfection, and watching him do what he does constantly causes the audience to call for his blood. The man is a terrific actor, and seeing him here makes me want to see him in more roles like this.

Some shows tend to go downhill after their first couple of seasons. Dexter is not one of them, and in fact, I think that I love the show more now than I did back when I got hooked on the first season. I'll concede that it is becoming a bit formulaic to an extent, but when the writing is this good, the characters are this engaging, and the acting is this great, some allowances have to be made. Personally, I thought that it was almost a perfect season, so a 9.5/10 is in order.
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