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Dexter: The Fifth Season


Lab results prove this series is still killer.

Rod Lott September 12th, 2011

When season four of "Dexter" ended with our favorite forensics scientist/serial killer (Michael C. Hall) defeating the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow), only to find himself outsmarted in the final moments, viewers gasped and thought, "Wow! How are they going to top that?"

dexterseason5

Now that season five is out on Blu-ray and DVD, those of us without Showtime finally have our answer: They couldn't. They didn't. Still, that's not a knock against what remains one of television's half-dozen-or-so greatest shows. When people today say that TV is better is most movies, they mean "Dexter."

Picking up literally moments after season four's shocking end, this season begins with — first-episode spoiler — Dexter as a suspect in the murder of Rita (Julie Benz), and left alone with an infant at that. It's not like you can take your baby boy with you to hunt, capture and execute serial killers ... can you? Part of these dozen episodes fund him worrying if his son isn't wired to become equally as felonious one day, even if it is for the right reasons.

But Dex's true partner isn't his progeny, but his prodigy: Lumen (Julia Stiles, "The Bourne Ultimatum"), whose name has to be an inside joke, given Dex's line of work. An abduction victim whom Dexter saves from becoming a murder victim while he's doing he his own murder thing, she has some serious rage issues to work out, and Dexter reluctantly takes her on as a pupil and, as the arc plays out, a potential replacement for Rita.

As with all seasons of "Dexter," Hall is bar-none excellent — essential for getting the audience to root for someone they would despise in real life. Are we ever going to give this guy an Emmy? (After Jon Hamm, of course.) While I'm not a fan of Stiles, she rises to the challenge of the brand-new role, fitting in quite well.

Of course, that's easier to do when the B stories of your supporting cast aren't nearly as interesting as your own. Story lines involving Dex's fellow employees — especially his slutty detective sister (Jennifer Carpenter) never match the intensity of our main man. And the ongoing insistence of detective Quinn to expose Dexter is the same game we saw Dex go through in the sophomore season.

As for special features, they're special, all right ... but only if your Blu-ray player is Internet-equipped for BD-Live access, which mine is not. That means I'm unable to see the first two episodes each of fellow Showtime series "Episodes" and "The Borgias." I remember the first-season set of "Dexter" had a similar sneak peek of "United States of Tara," but right there on the disc, and it made instant fans of my fam. Perhaps the same would occur here — who knows?

I do know this: I wish season six of "Dexter" would hit video concurrent with its premiere. —Rod Lott

 
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