‘Dexter’ Season 5 Finale Review & Discussion [Updated]

Published 4 years ago by , Updated December 14th, 2010 at 7:22 am,

dexter season 5 finale dexter tied up Dexter Season 5 Finale Review & Discussion [Updated]

Last year, fans of Showtime’s hit series Dexter were left in shock. After witnessing an entire season of truly wonderful performances and anxiety-filled storytelling, a sense of calmness set in as Dexter plunged his knife into the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow). But with Trinity’s dying breath and allusive rhetoric, the meaning of “it’s already over” had not yet been fully revealed.

With the revelation that Rita had been Trinity’s final victim, the world wondered what would come of everyone’s favorite blood-spatter analyst. As Dexter season 5 began, a dulcet tone appropriately accompanied the season premiere. From that, the given appearance of this season would be a sense of reflection for Dexter. Given what resulted from his brash temptation with fate, it appeared to be an earnest endeavor.

Of course, as this season continued, Dexter began to show signs of transitioning through the infamous 7 stages of grief, albeit with killing. Through this murderous reflection, Dexter stumbled across Lumen (Julia Stiles), a woman who presented the famed vigilante with an opportunity for redemption.

Now, with companion in tow, Dexter set out to exact revenge on Lumen’s would-be assailants. Unfortunately, with Dexter focused on things ahead, he unknowingly left himself open to attacks. With Quinn still questioning Dexter’s innocence in regards to Rita’s death, he hired the corrupt Stan Liddy to keep an eye on Dexter. Conversely, Deb has once again found herself unknowingly on the trail of her serial killer sibling, as the recent string of murders in relation to the “barrel girls” had raised suspicions about an experienced vigilante coupling.

With Deb inching closer to finding out her brother’s deep-dark secret, Lumen currently awaiting slaughter, Quinn questioning Dexter’s actions and Jordan Chasing having to confront Dexter’s dark passenger, there are only two things that are certain…

Anything can happen and no one is safe.

Episode Description:

Dexter’s situation grows desperate when he discovers that Lumen’s been set up. Despite knowing he’s being baited into a trap, Dexter risks everything to make sure he doesn’t fall into the same mistake again. In the Barrel Girls case, Debra lets her personal feelings lead her instincts once she concludes that vigilantes are more than just a theory. Quinn finds himself in a troublesome situation, which only Dexter can help him out of.


The term “acceptable” rarely finds its way into television reviews. While that particular word represents – for all intents and purposes – an adequate reception, when it is actually put into practice, it often brings with it a notion of disappointment. This disappointment stems from having inflated expectations, especially when it is often unwarranted.

With that, the Dexter season 5 finale was unfortunately acceptable.

dexter season 5 finale jordan chase Dexter Season 5 Finale Review & Discussion [Updated]

Throughout this season, the theme of redemption was extremely apparent. If not with the numerous philosophical innuendos, than defiantly with the heavy-handed grandiose statements that were consistently uttered by many of the characters. It is with this same heavy-hand that the character of Lumen was developed, executed and concluded.

For all the many seasonal story-arcs that Lumen received, the character served no other purpose than to allow the character of Dexter to slightly evolve past his current state. Sure, the implications that Dexter now knows he can be seen and loved for the person he truly is and the notion that his dark passenger may not be permanent will have positive effects on subsequent seasons, the drawn-out nature by which those realizations were acquired made the season, on some level, feel empty.

Lumen, as a whole, slowed this season down. Including Lumen in Dexter’s killing process was an intriguing plot, but when executed, it was generally over-emphasized and drawn out. This seasonal flaw served to replace actual angst that the series is known for with artificial tension stemming from Lumen’s inability to emotionally progress at an acceptable rate, given her present surroundings.

dexter season 5 lumen Dexter Season 5 Finale Review & Discussion [Updated]

If the disposable nature of Lumen’s character wasn’t obvious throughout the season, it was most certainly evident by the manner in which they wrapped up her character. With a simple look and a brief revelation to Dexter, Lumen was gone. While Lumen could certainly return in following seasons, her character served its purpose for this season and is no longer needed. If her character were to return, I would take that as a sign that the producers were unable to adequately development a rich story-line for their current season.

Fortunately, the character of Lumen did bring with her one redeeming aspect, Jordan Chase. The casting of Johnny Lee Miller as the character of Jordan Chase was a wonderful decision. While his character started out as simply a wealthy control-freak, the revelation of the character’s back-story and his transformation into an eccentric psychopath propelled Jordan Chase into an intriguing and suitable nemesis for Dexter. Even though Chase’s final moments were brief, they were executed with such emotion that it resonated perfectly with the viewer.

While Deb deciding not to pull back the curtain was a beautiful example of her characters growth, the fact that it was too obvious of a metaphor of her unawareness of her brother’s “extra-curricular activities” left the sentiment moot. On the other hand, the character of Quinn – who had numerous fluctuations in his feelings for Dexter – went through many stages of evolution throughout this season and when the season 5 finale concluded, the audience was left in the dark about how exactly he currently feels about Dexter – a wonderful touch that could easily be missed.

dexter season 5 deb quinn Dexter Season 5 Finale Review & Discussion [Updated]

In this past season, particularly these final episodes and specifically in the season finale, Quinn and Deb had more realistic and rewarding character evolution than Dexter and Lumen combined. With Quinn and Deb having half the screen time of Dexter and Lumen, it shows that the producers are able to still deliver rich storylines. Unfortunately, I feel that what resulted in the season 4 finale forced everyone to attempt a more overt approach with Dexter in season 5. Instead of continuing with the repercussions of Dexter’s activities, the season focused more on the positive consequences that his actions have. While endearing for a single season, it will quickly become stale if continued into the next.

As I originally stated, the season finale of Dexter was acceptable. While there were hints of genius, it was generally not up to the high standards that one has come to expect from Dexter. Of course, one could say that about this season as a whole. So, in that aspect, the finale was exactly what one could expect.

Perhaps the fault lays not in this season’s execution, but with my gluttonous expectations for exquisite storytelling.


While you’re here, feel free to check out some of our previous Dexter coverage:

Showtime to Renew ‘Dexter’ for Season 6
’Dexter’ Season 5 Premiere Review & Discussion
SR Pick: ‘Dexter’ In 60 Seconds
’Dexter’ Has Nothing on These Serial Killers
‘Dexter’ Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion

Dexter airs Sundays @8pm, on Showtime

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  1. Series 1 was good. Series 2 was great. Series 3 was good. Series 4 wavered. The ending sucked.

    Until Series 4 the show had moved quickly, but with Series 4 the writers started to drag things out like they do on network TV where nothing much happens and the same scenes are played over and over again. We also saw Dexter do increasingly stupid & reckless things; It’s hard to root for a protagonist who invents their own problems. Killing Rita was a writer’s mistake: she was Dexter’s anchor and it showed the writers moving into the ‘let’s f* with the audience’ trap which have ruined othershows. I felt like I’d been conned. If they don’t care about the characters, how are you supposed to? Leaving the kid in a pool of blood was pretty sick TV. And I don’t mean sick as in cool, attention-worthy and tell your friends you-must-see-this. I mean sick as in sick. There are some lines even a show about serial killers shouldn’t cross.

    John Lithgow could carry Series 4, but Julia Stiles couldn’t carry Series 5. For a character who supposedly went through hell, she was too calm and clear-headed most of the time. Yeah, she had her odd panic attacks, but she rapidly recovered (within seconds!) and at all other times it was like nothing ever happened to her. The writer’s even had have her constantly telling us she was traumatized, because to look at her you wouldn’t know it. The bad guys in this season were pretty boring; compared to Rudy (a sick and twisted individual), Trinity or Miguel (Rage!) Jordon, Chase and ‘Dan the Dentist’ were a scary as an infomercial.

    Too many lose ends too. Quinn should suspect Dexter but despite Weller’s murder is suddenly okay with it? Doesn’t make sense. Same with putting Deb in the kill room and *not* having her rip down the plastic. The writer’s have telegraphed we now never need to worry about her happening. It’s a real let down. I’m not saying she should have done it, but if she wasn’t going to do it they shouldn’t put her there.

    There was never any tension or suspense at all. Even at the end of each show I had no burning urge to watch the next one. There was never any fear. It was like Dexter, Lumen and everyone was along for the ride. Because we know the writers will now bump off supporting characters for cheap thrills, the audience is aware of that and knows not to get attached. It was mediocre TV.

    Series 5 was at least watchable enough that I could watch it to the end, but it’s maybe 20% of the show it once was. I’ll give Season 6 a go, but if it doesn’t improve I’m giving up.

  2. I couldn’t agree more.

    For me, Lumen killed the entire show, in record time. Not only do I not really enjoy Julia Stiles’ acting, her character just does not belong in this series.

    Lets take a look at the main killers and lovers Dexter has encountered so far. In my opinion, all of them, save Lumen, brought a unique aspect to the show.

    1) Brian. Dexters brother was a short lived character, but vital to the plot and to developing Deborah’s character. He was just as sinister and quick acting as Dexter, but had no issues outright lying to people, whereas Dexter seems to always lead on to the people close to him that his answers are only half-truths.
    He did not develop much, so his character played a great part in the first season.

    2) Lila. Hot, and with an english accent, Lila was very sinister and while she was not “intelligent” per say, she was very witty and manipulative. She kept things moving quickly and created many interesting scenarios for the show to develop for almost a full season- creating problem dynamics between Dexter and Rita, and saving Dexters ass from Dokes. Looking back, it would have been great if Lila had escaped and returned in Season 3 or 4 (or 5 when the show started to fail hard) seeking vengeance, but given the fact it was only season 2, I can’t say I wasn’t happy with the way she died.

    3) Dokes. Not gonna go into details, Dokes was a token antagonist (protagonist?) and the macho black dude image worked perfectly for the role. He was not super smart, but he had good intuition which led him to suspect Dexter, and he was super strong and bull headed, creating situations that Dexter could never anticipate. He had to die, and the way he died was well weaved into the storyline. I like the fact that Dexter made several mistakes dealing with Dokes and was only saved my the waif thin Lila. I actually think these were some of my favorite episodes with the banter between Dokes and Dexter.

    4) Miguel. Miguel, possibly my favorite character in the whole show. Extremely intelligent, and with an even better nose for criminals than Dokes, Miguel was Dexters equal in every way- but his ego proved to be his undoing. Miguel and Dexter shared a bond that no otbher character has established in the show, unless you count Lumen, but unlike Lumen, Miguels character was beleivable in his role beside Dexter. With several family members also involved in the plot, as well as Leguerta(sp?), Miguel strengthened the entire season with his charisma and his ability to make Dexter drink and spend time with Rita. Miguel had to die, but he caused serious waves even after his death, keeping the show at a heart pounding pace till the end of the season.

    5) Rita. Arguably the longest standing character close to Dexter aside from his sister, Rita was an attractive woman that for some reason flipped Dexter’s switch. Rita was intentionally designed into the show to be annoying- calling Dexter often when he was just in the middle of killing someone, creating tough situations- and often times he would leave a very important task half-completed to either be there for Rita or to help with the kids later on. Later on, Rita got more and more irritating as she started to get really bitchy and needy, but again, this was intended and that was the point of her character- to show Dexter that living a family life and that of a serial killer as well as a demanding job is nearly impossible. Ultimately, Rita had to die, but when she did she left a gaping whole in the show that needed to be filled. Unfotunately, this brings us to the “gap filler” that is Lumen.

    6) Lumen. A stupid name, for a stupid broad. Its going to be hard to refrain from profanity here. Where do I start? Lumens character is straight up *stupid*. Since the very first episode she appears in the show, Lumen shows very little brain activity, acting primarily like a monkey or a dog would, and shows very little ability to think her actions through for more than 10-20 seconds at a time, even when directly warned of the dire consequences of those actions by Dexter.
    a) Lumen escapes Dexter, and runs into some normal people in a car with a seat empty in the back. Instead of imploring them for help, she panics (as a result of the torture and rape she has endured), and declines any assistance, letting a murder tackle her instead of taking a chance getting into a car with 3 teenage boys. Lets recap- Dexter: Recently killed someone in front of her in the house she was raped in, drugged her, then kicked open a solid wood door to chase her down. Preferable option to some random kids- no doubt. Okay, even letting this one slip, I think it was a crude tool for the directors to continually fall back on her “weakness” because of the torture she endured.
    b) Lumen, freed from captivity, refrains from telling the police or contacting her family (fair enough). Instead she acquires an expensive .45 caliber revolver (okay?) and starts hanging out in a seedy bar with a wig on to try and catch one of her rapists. She lures him out to a warehouse, and shoots him, pathetically missing 4 out of 5 shots. She immediately calls Dexter and asks for help? Basically, at this point in time I was already losing interest in the show. For Dexter to continue holding her dead weight does not fit with his character, or the premise of the show, in fact, she shouldn’t even really have his phone number or his name… in any case, he drops everything to come help her, only to find she, moron that she is, has let the guy wander away because she “couldn’t stand all the blood”. “The blood” is a 1 X 1 metre puddle on the floor, and she WAS planning on actually killing someone… so… the only conclusion I can draw? STUPID. Way to think this through the bullets leaving your gun, Lumen. So, amid Lumen COMPLAINING to Dexter that the murder she so perfectly planned is not executing properly (as if somehow this is anyones fault but hers), we find out that her decision to shoot this individual was based solely on an “old sweat smell” and “a feeling”. Granted, since this is television, it works out and the guy confesses over a cell phone later that he is one of her rapists, but by this point in time I was ready to stop watching, because honestly, not only is her reasoning totally bogus, the situation the guy was in does not warrant admitting you deserve to be killed, considering he is dying and Dexter was clearly not ready to kill him based on a hunch. Completely illogical episode plotline, yay!
    c)Lumen falls asleep naked in Dexters bathtub, then gets concerned when he walks in on her, naturally, naked in a bathtub. OK?
    d)Despite Dexters urgent pleas for her to not seek out more rapists (after all, he BARELY saved them both from life in prison less than a day ago), Lumen goes out to act on some more “hunches”. She takes her .45 caliber revolver which is clearly way too heavy for a woman her size, finds a random ex-con in a shady area of town that she knows about, and gets ready to take a pot shot from about 40 yards away, her hand trmebling uncontrollably (anyone who has shot a pistol will tell you how stupid this is). Did I mention she is the only woman for miles? It is broad daylight? And everyone else in the vicinity is a rapist/murderer/drug dealer. Clearly a well thought out plan, congruent with all of Lumens actions. Luckily for her, Dexter “magically” saves her again by being there literal seconds before she fires the gun. She protests, of course, as if she has a leg to stand on in the face of his logical assertions.
    d) Dexter needs to break into a house to find information on Cole the “Take It” man. He specifically instructs Lumen to stay in the van, and keep a lookout, and to call his phone if she sees anything. About 2 minutes later, after Dexter breaks into the house, Lumen decides to break a window and come after him. Yes, thats right, not only does she again ignore Dexters explicit directions, she breaks a window and sets off an alarm (coincidentall, she already did this in Boyles house too, and she left blood and fingerprint evidence, so maybe she learned not to CUT YOURSELF WHEN BREAKING GLASS this time around. who knows).
    When Dexter angrily demands why she did that afterwards, she says “I saw a shadow and had a feeling. Something in my lizard brain”(whatever that means). Granted, she did assist Dexter against his assailant, but yet again its just the directors meddling in the show to make things seem natural when in reality noone would have been creeping in their own damn house waiting for Dexter with zero reason to expect such an invasion. Not only that, but I think Dexter has proven many times in the show he is very strong and it takes a lot to actually outmatch him physically. To suggest that Cole could have taken Dexter down is, again, stretching the premise of the show up to this point (In previous episodes, Dex will sometimes will play with opponents before knocking them out. this is an element of the show that should not be degraded as its part of his character. He has been subdueing and killing people for how many years without being caught?)
    e) Dexter and Lumen are at one of Coles conventions, in a hotel, preparing a kill room. Despite his instructions to stay away from the hotel and just pick up supplies, Lumen shows up in the hotel. Dexter EXPLAINS TO HER that her presence in the hotel is a risk factor, because one of her rapists is a security guard for the convention and would likely spot her. For this reason, he insists Lumen stay the night and help him with the kill. When the kill goes awry due to the target having sex with a woman, Dexter waits it out, helping Lumen to fall asleep after she freaks out and has some kind of episode from the sex sounds in the next room (fair enough, she was raped and tortured, but youd think considering they are about to kill the dude that she would forget about it for a moment). The next morning, Dexter leaves to try and capture the guy while he is doing security rounds. Lumen, in her infinite wisdom, decides to take the elevator downstairs and start wandering around the hotel. There is no explanation for her actions… she just sneaks out of the room (looking around warily, as if she remembers the warning Dexter gave her but is just too damn stupid to stop from.. doing stupid things), and makes her way to a TV screen. She sees Dex on the tv, and stands there, staring. Unsurprisingly, one of the rapists spots her staring like a zombie, and naturally runs her down and tries to kill her. Of course if Lumen had simply screamed “rape” or something similar, he could not have touched her, she was surrounded by people in a public place, and she has no criminal record, but, since she is Lumen, she runs for her hotel room and starts to cry for a moment before the door is smashed in. AMAZINGLY, Dexter gets out of the sticky public situation he is in at the convention JUST in time to.. thats right.. save Lumen again.

    I haven’t watched any more episodes, this was the last straw for me. I really liked Dexter, and I still like his character, but the decision to run this whole season on Lumen killed the entire show. Shes a bad actress, and her character having to be continually saved by Dexter does not make me happy that they are becoming close. It has been many episodes since Dexter has talked with Harry, despite some of the closest calls he has ever had, and continual screw-ups on Lumens part. Rita left a hole that needed to be filled, but introducing a 1 dimensional character with no brain and no strength doesn’t cut it for this guy.

    Adios, Dexter. It was a good run while it lasted.

  3. Interesting that the rules say no profanity. That’s the reason I can no longer watch what was once my favorite show. The character “Deb” uses the “F bomb” so much I don’t think she can put a sentence together without it. I now try to watch Dexter by muting all of the garbage coming out of Deb’s mouth. The ultimate is Jesus F…..g Christ. I wonder what would happen if she said “F……g Muhammed?”

    Goodbye Dexter – you are great but your sister is an insult to every conversation you have with her.

    • You sound really mad there, panic attacks from hearing some curse words?

    • I guess we have a religious butt hurt over here .

  4. What a horrible review. I personally blame people who think like you do for the travesty that was season 6 after such a strong season 5. Of course you won’t approve this comment though…

  5. Quinn would have to be an idiot to figure out that dexter was not a serious killer and therefore most probably the bay harbour butcher, still alive. Not happening. Weak writing. Just saying.