Dexter‘s season opener attracted 1.5 million viewers, proving that it’s still one of the strongest shows on a cable network.

We’re a few days later than most on reviewing and discussing the premiere episode of Dexter, but here we are nonetheless. Be warned before reading the rest of this article that it will include MAJOR SPOILERS so unless you either watched the premiere yourself (and why would you really be interested in reading this if you didn’t?) or if you just don’t care about whether or not you’re spoiled, you might want to stop reading.

Good to go? Let’s begin then.

Episode one, entitled “Living the Dream,” picks up roughly a year (give or take a few months) after the end end of season 3, with Dexter’s wife, Rita (Julie Benz), having had his baby. We catch up with our favorite serial killer now trying to cope with the sleepless nights and tiredness of being father to a young child.

The opening sequence was particularly chilling and memorable, with the introduction of John Lithgow’s serial killer who we see preparing to and subsequently murdering a woman in a bathtub. What was especially creepy about this scene was not only did Lithgow’s character kill someone, but he was lying in the bath (naked, as was the woman), holding the woman in front of him before slicing her leg open until she bled out. Okay, I apologize if you’re eating while reading this, I’ll leave the rest of the gruesomeness to the show itself…

This sequence was intercut (no pun intended) with footage of the familiar sequence of Dexter driving his car with his, “Tonight’s the night,” narration. We assume he’s about to kill someone, as he usually does, but we find out that, “Tonight’s the night,” is referring to him hopefully getting some rest from his new baby son (an early imitation of the title sequence showed off Dexter’s tiredness in a very funny way). This is one of the key points of season 4’s first episode, and I assume those to come, in that Dexter’s time now belongs to his family (along with Rita and his new baby, he also has Rita’s kids, Astor and Cody to deal with) and thus he can’t kill. However, family duties are also taking away from his job as a blood-spatter analyst (something which he’s usually unrivaled at).

Dexter the family man.

Dexter’s fatigue gets serious when, as he’s giving evidence in a murder case in court, he actually confuses cases, causing the defense to deem his work (and the entire prosecution against the killer) incompetent. Of course Dexter, being the decent guy he is (when not killing), fully admits to his mistake.

Other than Dexter, we of course have his sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter – Michael C. Hall’s real-life wife, FYI), who’s still dating “The Skinner” victim, Anton Briggs (David Ramsey) and is still trying to find out who her father cheated on her mother with (Dexter’s biological mother, if you remember). Detective Angel Batista (David Zayas) is no longer dating Gianna, but in quite a surprising turn of events is now sleeping with Lt. Laguerta (Lauren Velez), behind the back of everyone else (obviously…). And Detective Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington – a welcome addition to the cast last season, as he continues to be) is still working with Miama Metro (he starts to get on Dexter’s back after the “mixing up of cases” incident mentioned above).

Of course, the opening sequence of Lithgow’s killer chillingly murdering someone in a bathtub wasn’t for nothing, and Dexter is assigned to the crime scene because of the buckets of blood (“Talk about your bloodbath,” the ever sarcastic Vince Masuka remarks at the crime scene). We start to see hints of just how much of a professional Lithgow’s killer is; he’s not just some idiot criminal who kills people and runs – he takes his time and thoroughly cleans up after himself.

Even if Dexter now has a family, that doesn’t stop him from eyeing up another potential victim: the man who got away with murder after Dexter mixed up his case (a perfect opportunity). He hasn’t killed someone in months which, as we’ve seen before, causes much tension and anxiety for Dexter. It’s like watching a junkie desperate for a fix, but with other factors (which now firmly includes a family) stopping him. Towards the end of the episode, we see Dexter setting up to kill in an area that we haven’t seen in the show before – a boxing ring.  He covered the boxing ring with his trademark plastic sheets, shrinkwrapped his victim to the table, quickly killed him (he had to rush as Rita called and asked him to pick up medicine for the baby ASAP) and after cutting him into pieces, put him in the car and rushed off.

Continue on to read discussion of the Premiere…

One of the nice little surprises of the episode was the return (much to the surprise of Deb) of Special Agent Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine), who’s now retired but is in town investigating (on his own time) the allusive “Trinity Killer.” Although it’s never explicitly stated, we can gather that this is Lithgow’s killer that we saw at the start and towards the end of the episode. With regards to the latter, we had another chilling scene which showed Lithgow’s killer in a shower with the heat turned WAY up, as he looks up and screams. Creepy stuff and excellently played out (without barely uttering two words) by Lithgow.

John Lithgow "turns up the heat"

As a whole I am glad to say that Dexter season 4 so far has continued with the quality of the first three seasons, thankfully not degrading over time as happens with a lot of shows (*cough* Heroes! *cough*). Although it was the first episode of the season and thus still “getting into the groove,” as they say, there’s already plenty of stuff to chew on: from Dexter trying to balance his family, work and killing life, to supporting character dilemmas like Deb dealing with Lundy’s return and, of course, the introduction of, “The Trinity Killer.”

And like most great shows, the episode ended with a WHOPPER of a cliffhanger: Dexter, after rushing his kill to get the medicine for his baby and get home in time, crashed his car because of how tired he was. We assume he got rid of his victim’s body parts, so at least Dexter doesn’t have to fret when someone comes to help him after his crash (what an awkward thing to explain…). Of course, there’s no doubt our favorite serial killer will be fine, but it certainly gets your attention and makes you want to tune in next time.

What did YOU think of the Dexter’s season 4 premiere? Do you think the quality has been kept as high as the first three seasons? Tell us your thoughts and opinions on the episode below.

Episode 2 of Dexter Season 4, entitled “Remains to be Seen,” airs on Showtime on October 4th (this Sunday) @ 9pm.