Writer’s Note: If you are reading this review it probably means you are familiar with Showtime’s hit series, Dexter. If not, then this upcoming recap of the fourth season (specifically the season finale) should be avoided, as it contains some pretty big spoilers. You’ve been warned.
The fourth season of Dexter was one of the most riveting in television history, with John Lithgow’s terrifying turn as the Trinity Killer and the utterly shocking season finale. The season finale had the title character walking into the bathroom of his house and seeing his son Harrison crying on the floor in a pool of blood, with his mother Rita murdered in the bathtub by Trinity on the eve of Rita and Dexter’s belated honeymoon. This finale left our anti-hero Dexter as a single father of three, and would forever change the course of the series.
Season Five begins directly where the previous left off. Miami Metro has just arrived on the scene of Rita’s murder and Dexter is in a rightful state of shock. All three children – Aster and Cody, from Rita’s previous marriage, as well as Harrison, Rita and Dexter’s baby – are still in Orlando being cared for by Rita’s parents. In an amazingly shot scene, Dexter is saddled with the task of breaking the news to the children that their mother was murdered; “I’m sorry for your loss,” are the only words he can muster. Dexter is broken, even moreso than he was before.
While trying to hold down a nanny for Harrison with his work schedule, Dexter also discovers a sanitation worker named Boyd Fowler who has killed many girls. Just as Dexter kills him, he finds that he’s being watched by Boyd’s next victim who he’s been holding hostage; her name is Lumen (Julia stiles), and she has seen everything. She explains to him that there were several men who raped her repeatedly while she was held captive, and she wants to find and kill them. Dexter takes pity on her in her broken state, puts her up in his house, and vows to help her find all of the men that did this to her.
Back at the station, Quinn (Desmond Harrington) begins to suspect that Dexter had something to do with Trinity and Rita’s murder. He tries to get permission from LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) to investigate further but she denies him, and he recruits Agent Liddy, another officer to spy on Dexter. Dexter’s sister Debra begins tracking the Santa Muerte killer, who removes the heads of his victims. As Dexter and Lumen track down her captors, Miami Metro begins tracking the same case – the ringleader of these men being a very famous motivational speaker – and they nearly cross paths way too many times.
While season four had tension to spare, season five is much more calm in comparison. This season focuses personally on Dexter, revealing more about him as a character than we’ve ever seen before. Marketing for season five tried promoting the fact that Dexter was trying to juggle his many roles while stepping up as a single father, but that’s really not the focus. This season is a transformation for Dexter. He revealed his true self to Miguel Prado in season three, but not as fully as he reveals himself to Lumen. Lumen and Dexter share a common purpose and he shows her a side of him that he’s never shown to anyone. He and Lumen begin a romantic relationship that is more fulfilling for Dexter than his relationship with Rita; Rita was always a cover for his darker side. Lumen doesn’t see him as a monster.
Just like John Lithgow deserved his Emmy win for his role as the Trinity killer last season, Julia Stiles is deserving of her Emmy nomination for her role as Lumen. Her character is frail but determined, and she plays her with controlled passion. There’s one scene in particular when she is about to get on a plane to leave Miami and she’s instructed by airport security to be pat down that is beautifully shot and perfectly expresses the suffering that she’s endured. Her performance is phenomenal.
This season is unlike any other we’ve seen in Dexter. Previous seasons have been about a major serial killer that Miami Metro is hunting, while Dexter simultaneously hunts the killer off the clock. Season five shows a humanity to Dexter like we’ve never seen before. He’s always had a running commentary that gives insight into what goes on in his head during social situations, but season five has Dexter finally growing comfortable in his own skin.
The audio/visual quality of this Blu-ray release is fantastic, but what Showtime is always lacking in their series DVD/Blu-Ray releases is their extras. The features on this release are only accessible through BD Live. There are interviews with cast members about their roles in season FOUR not season five, which is so frustrating. There are trailers for other Showtime shows, but that’s really about it.
Dexter has become evolved into so much more than just a show about a serial killer. Michael C. Hall has perfected this character who does despicable things, but makes the audience care about him and forgive him for each and every one of his flaws. This fifth season delves further into the more human side of Dexter, a side that makes us care even more about him. This season is a must-own on DVD or Blu-Ray for every Dexter fan, and its release is timed just perfectly for revisiting before Season 6 premieres on Showtime in October.
Showtime Entertainment presents Dexter: The Fifth Season. Directed by: several. Starring: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Julia Stiles, David Zayas, Desmond Harrington, Lauren Velez. Written by: several. Running time: 619 minutes. Rating: TV-MA. Released on Blu-ray: August 16, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: David Zayas, Dexter, Dexter Morgan, Jennifer Carpenter, john lithgow, julie benz, Michael C. Hall, Showtime