When we last left our favorite police forensics analyst, Dexter (Michael C. Hall), his lieutenant sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), had caught him in the act of doing what he does best: executing serial killers. Spread across four DVDs, these 12 episodes deal mainly with the fallout of having her world come crashing down, with Deb struggling to strike a balance between allegiance to her brother and to the badge.
In the other season-long subplots, Dexter falls for a woman who likely shares his unusual hobby (Chuck's Yvonne Strahovski); Det. Quinn (Desmond Harrington) falls for a stripper (Katia Winter, Arena) at an illicit club he's investigating; and a Ukrainian mafia muscle associated with said strip joint (Ray Stevenson, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) is trying to kill Dexter.
And it seems like each year, someone on the force has to suspect something is Just Not Right with Dexter. This season, the turn falls to Capt. La Guerda (Lauren Vélez).
While it’s interesting to see how Deb deals with the knowledge of her brother being one who gets off on offing bad guys, season seven can be considered one of the series’ “off” years. It’s still worth watching — they all are — but as a whole, this one has too many callbacks to characters you may not remember, too many coincidences for its own good, and too many character motivations too sweeping to swallow. It’s not up to Dexter’s full potential.
Many of its brightest spots come not from the overarching stories, but the one-to-two-episode situations that pit our antihero against his creep of the week. Most notable there is the ex-con who fancies himself the Minotaur, complete with a makeshift maze. It’s a character begging for a horror-film franchise; too bad he finds himself — as they all do — on the business end of Dexter’s syringe.
The DVD set is light on extras, but what is included is substantial: a pair of episodes from Showtime’s The Borgias and the pilot from its forthcoming drama, Ray Donovan. That show stars Liev Schreiber (Goon) as a fixer for the rich and famous. Schreiber’s a solid talent who deserves his own show, but this maiden voyage offered little beyond people in bed, people on the phone, and people in bed while on the phone. But I reserve judgment; after all, Dexter’s very first episode didn’t set my world aflame, and look at that turned out. —Rod Lott
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• Dexter: The Fifth Season Blu-ray review
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• Goon Blu-ray review