‘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. I have a question: whose car was it that Dexter was driving when he was headed for the abandoned camp to save Lumen? It looked a red Chrysler Neon. He broke the window with a big rock and later crashed it as he was driving up to the house where Lumen was tied up. How did they get rid of the car? Did they just leave it there? Again, whose car was it?

    • Looked like a Pontiac Grand Prix. Probably just a random car.

  2. I think one of the main points that people are somewhat overlooking that the review made was that when Michael C Hall is not onscreen, the show was seriously lacking. One of the reasons season 4 was so great was that John Lithgow could carry the show when Dexter was not on screen. Julia Stiles just didn’t fill that role as Dexter’s side kick, and as good as Jonny Lee Miller was as Jordan Chase, his role was fairly minor until halfway or so through the season.

  3. I’m thinking that the Quinn story will be a main focus in season 6. However I am seeing things in a different light. Quinn wasn’t the most honest cop the entire time he has been on Dexter. I’m hoping to see Quinn make some sort of discovery of Dexter because of his recent blood work. I can see them develop some sort of understanding of one another and Quinn actually helping Dexter feed the passenger in some way. (Like what Miguel could have been.)

    Such an awesome show. I’m going to keep watching to the end with a smile on my face.

  4. I have watched the past 5 seasons in just as many weeks… hooked is an understatement, so good to watch fiction with depth and difference rather that an all too frilly bunch of over actors…

    Fantastic concept, story, plot, characters and delivery! bring on season 6!

  5. It seems to me that everyone has forgotten about the envelope Quinn got from Stan Liddy. That envelope is still waiting in Quinns drawer.

    • what episode (and how far into it) was the envelope seen in? i’d like to go back and re-watch that scene.

      • Dexter would have broke into Quinn’s apartment again and taken the file whilst he was in jail. No brainer

    • I have to agree that Deb knows.  In on of the last scenes in the park, I swore she said (forgive my terrible paraphrasing ) that Dexter should be happy now that “this” is all over. “This,” I want to think she is insinuating,  being his vigilante stint with Lumen.

  6. This season ended on a rather contemplative note, which is all fine and good, but I’m not really giddy with anticipation for next season like I was after the season 4 finale. Quite frankly, I’m not even sure what they could do next season to keep the show’s momentum going. It’s becoming a bit formulaic for my liking.

    I would have really liked for Deb to have pulled down the curtain. That would have shaken up the entire series even worse than Rita’s death did.

  7. I’ve been a fan since the show started and have’t missed a episode. I can understand why they went with a bit more feel good finale, especially after the shock(yet excellent) ending of season 4.I only feel that there were too many loose ends. Namely how can the case be closed if nobody knows that Chase is dead, except Deb,Dex and lumen and what happened to the other Vuentez brother?
    My suggestion for the ending would have been to get rid of Chase in episode 11 as his death was inevitable and then rather make Liddy the main focus in last episode and maybe make him the villain for the next season. This show remains the best series I have ever seen.

    Lets hope there is still plenty of Dexter to come.

  8. I like Dexter.

  9. Deb finding out/knowing that Dexter was involved in the “curtain” scene would have most likely been the biggest boom in the etirety of this show. Cummon guys, I think there would have been more than a couple tears. Her disgust with the villains and deep sympathy for the victims while watching the tapes lead us to the scene where she looked the other way. As far as Quinn goes, I definitely think he will play a huge role in season 6. His connection with Dex/Deb is so interesting and unpredictable at this point, and one would assume that it would be a positive one with Dex (because of the love between Quinn and Deb, and the blood work by Dex at the end). Lastly, I think that Dex will most likely meet another womain in season 6. It can’t be an innocent Rita or a troubled Lumen- so it will be very interesting to see how this show introduces us to another (if it happens). Masukas humour was great as always, and lets hope we see a little more of Bautista in this next one. Can’t wait!

  10. I thought week to week the show maintained it’s excitement, but the finale was just too easy to write. You don’t do what Lumen did and just go back to your normal life. Liddy had so much “stuff” on them, yet that really didn’t go anywhere.

    There are some disconnects – having Harrison around in bits and pieces I bet is sort of a nuisance for the writers. Is he a father, does he live in the apartment, the house, does Deb live with him,his other kids popping in and out,,,,,the storyline making him a father and family man at times doesn’t fit anymore.

    It is really going to be tough to top “Arthur” and season 4. Hopefully the writers can recover and pull it back together for next season, be it the last one or not. What would a good ending be for this series?

  11. As much as I love Dexter I felt virtually no suspense watching any of this season. Dexter isn’t going to get caught yet and it makes scenes like the whole curtain one feel a bit lacking in some respects. If Deb had pulled down the curtain it would have been one of the greatest momeents in the history of the show but obviously thats almost impossible to handle from a writers perspective

  12. Ok on face value its a soft happy ending, but after watching the ending over and over again, I am leaning to the conclusion that Dexter actually killed Lumen. Not that he wanted to but he has to take all precautions to protect his secret. He can’t risk Lumen knowing about him and him not knowing where in the world she is.

    • This is an extremely good observation, in retrospect, I think it is a possibility… and perhaps also why he was so angry, as it meant he would have to destroy something he loved… unlike the sexy UK babe that earned his vengeance in Season 2, this one deserved to live!

      Regardless of what happened, this is a real possibility, and if we post great ideas like this, given the writers seemed to struggle a little, we might be able to even create out own arcs in Season 6 ;-)

      Anyhow, I think Lumen was sexy, and I want her back… but each season must be unique, and it would be unlikely…

      So whats next – maybe I should actually read the books!

    • Dexter was already set to let her leave and go back home knowing his secret and name even BEFORE he connected with her and had feelings for her. It is utterly impossible to think he killed her after all they had been through. She was the only person he had connected with that knew him for who he truly was.

  13. If it was up to me, I would have written a different final episode for this season:
    After all of Lumens rapers are death, she finally realises what she has done and is disgusted about herself. She finds herself in a completely mental state of mind in which she feels remorse and wants to tell everything to the cops. The only thing Dexter can do to prevent this is to kill Lumen himself. Now that would be quite an ending, wouldn’t it?


  14. I’m a huge dexter fan too, and I enjoyed reading your comments–it gave me some more insight.
    I agree that the 5th season must be seen as a whole. If you actually think about it, I can’t imagine Dexter getting over the death of Rita any other way. However, I have some additional insights to add to this, as well as a rebuttal.

    First off, you had mentioned that the issue of Quinn “knowing” and not really sure what he is going to do about it. Quinn does not “know.” The only thing he knows is that Dexter killed his friend. He never had any suspicions of him being a serial killer–only a wife killer. So Quinn knows nothing about the real Dexter. He will continue to know nothing because Quinn won’t and can’t do anything about the information he learned, or even anything he suspects.
    The earlier episodes established that he puts Deb’s feeling above finding out about Dexter. Therefore, because Quinn and Deb are in a fully committed relationship (one in which I believe will last), he is tied to Deb in a way that exposing Dexter would be analogous to a betrayal of Deb. If he did expose Dexter, or investigate him further he would lose Deb forever.
    Now, he can’t expose Dexter for a similar reason. If he were to expose Dexter as killing his friend, he would have to admit that he hired the friend to investigate Dexter. If his investigation were revealed he would be fired, and Deb would leave him.
    Finally, Dexter lied about the blood on Quinn’s shoe. In the finale Quinn expresses his thanks with a “I owe you one.” I believe Quinn is also keeping silent as a thanks to Dexter, and this appreciation will prevent him from further investigating.

    Ok, now for the rebuttal. You had expressed your dissatisfaction with the fact that Deb did not find out about Dexter in the final kill moment. I disagree. Think about it this way. Imagine that she had found out. If this did in fact happen — an event which the writers have been teasing at for all 5 seasons — I would have felt cheated.

    Deb’s character has slowly been morphing throughout the whole history of Dexter for this moment. When the Bay Harbor Butcher is brought up Deb says something interesting. She says something to the effect that the Butcher is a motherfucker –essentially paraphrasing that she hates him, and hates what hes doing. Dexter rebuts with the explanation that the butcher only kills criminals, and is it really that bad? Now, this is where the interesting line comes in. She says that “Killing is killing. If theres one thing Dad taught us, its the sanctity of human life.”
    Now this view is very black and white. Now compare this to season 5. When she let Dexter and Lumen go, it was symbolizing the accumulation of her development. She evolved from her black and white view to one where she is willing to accept shades of grey — one where killing can be deserved.
    I realize all of you have probably recognized this. But, this was a huge moment for Deb’s character. It is a moment that is necessary to her finding out about Dexter, without fully rejecting him. It is intended as a foundation.
    If this foundation were immediately followed by her finding out the truth — we would lose a valuable and potential storyline. I believe the choice of the writers in the 4th season to leave Deb’s realization regarding Dexter and Rudy’s familial relations unresolved, paired with her final evolution, plants the seeds for the 6th season.
    My theory is that the sixth season will have a subplot about Debras SLOW realization of what her brother truly is. If it was revealed in one moment (as you had suggested it should be) it would be impossible for her reaction to ring true.
    She cannot be expected to fully absorb that her beloved brother is a serial killer the same moment she finally realizes that not all murder is wrong.
    Also, I believe the sixth season will be a helluva lot more suspenseful with Deb investigating Dexter, slowly putting piece by piece together, until the realization of who her brother really is hits, and wrestling with that acceptance. It would have been awful if the writers forced all of this into one moment — when really this pivotal moment can be nurtured to its full potential throughout a whole sixth season. Something that has been teased with, and hinted at during all five seasons of Dexter can’t be revealed in one big moment and deserves a whole season to evolve.

    • Sarah – wonderful review!

      Just to add, an not to take from your comments, I think a few people mentioned the photo more so as a potential risk. However, given Dexter can sneak in and our of places unnoticed, he would probably remove them now if required.

      I think not many of us are taking the comment regarding Lumen being killed by Dexter as a reality, probably because the writers left it very open, however his slightly evil smirk in his eye in that last shot, leads me to think it’s a possibility, but Luman (for some of us) was a strogn character who we want to see agian, so they definately left it open!

      Just a high night to all – Merry Christmas!

      I just got news that I might meet Jeff Lindsay next year when he visits a friend of mine. I’m going to make sure we get drunk and wrap him up in plastic cling film! *joke* anyhow, I’m definitely going to see if Jeff wants to add some parts of my short into his world! (Refer back a few posts to see the url to my movie and download link).

      Although, perhaps adding supernatural beings into Dexter’s world might be jumping the shark – we’ll see!


      The Dark Passenger

      • Apologies for typos… has a few drinks, and res is very high on this lappy!

  15. Something that everyone seems to have overlooked in the season finale is if Deb really did know it was her brother behind the plastic curtain but chose not to expose him. Think about it- if she knew it was him but he did realize that she knew it was him that would leave future seasons up for some memorable surprises.

    I’m of the opinion that Deb did know it was her brother behind the curtain and that’s the real reason she chose not to expose the killer.

  16. So. I’m glad you got your rant out of the way. I agree with the comments made in regards to Deb and Quinn. Also, I agree Lumen was disposable. Nevertheless, I felt like her addition would be welcomed as well. This allowed me to stick in it for those supposedly strung out hours. Personally, I feel that everything in four led to this ending and that they did a fantastic job wrapping up loose ends and giving the viewer hope.

  17. I truly believe those of you who believe Deb knew it was Dexter behind the curtain may not have been paying attention to nuances the writters seemed to go to great length to show. The main one being for several episodes, especially the finale, Deb obsessing over the video tapes of the barrel women being tortoured and killed showing deep emotion and horror. Her asking her brother if he believes if some people deserve to die she wasn’t testing him so much as expressing her own morale conflict (IMO). Dexter’s reply that “some people don’t deserve to live” incidentally I found as brilliant writting.

    As for the envelope Liddy left with Quinn, hard to say how Quinn will never pick up on that with Dexter in future seasons. As posted elsewhere on this blog, all Quinn really suspects is that Dexter may have killed his wife and may somehow been involved with Trinity.

  18. Did anyone else feel that the Lumen character, played by Julia Stiles, was a bit too light weight to contrast with Michael C. Hall? I liked her performance in the Bourne Series, which is an example of minimalist dialogue.

    In Season 5 she didn’t seem quite credible and perhaps mis-caste. I thought her best segment was the brilliant smile flashed as the “Slice of Life” returned from the disposal trip to the Gulf Current. Like the weight bearing down on her was finally lifted.

  19. I am very disappointed because I feel that Dexter should’ve investigated more about what happened to Rita. Because it doesn’t make any sense, Rita didn’t had the pattern to be killed that way by Trinity.

    • There didn’t need to be a patern. When Dexter went to Trinity’s house, he had just left and the family didn’t know where he was, then the police showed up. Obviously he was at Dexters, it even showed him breaking into a house for a quick 10 second scene. Then, Trinity says its already over before being killed, knowing he had already finished his payback with Dexter. The trinity storyline is closed and it has been confirmed by the writers and producers that he killed Rita.

  20. I agree that season 5 may have been the least exciting season, but I also think that it was necessary. I was pretty disturbed when I saw Rita in that bathtub, and I didn’t know if I would be able to get over it. However, I can say that after this season’s finale, I felt like I had gotten over Rita’s death. Dexter did the same. Yes, this season may not have been the most exciting, but we can see that Dexter is becoming more human…which can be a good thing for the show or a bad thing. Also, if Dexter didn’t pin Libby’s death on Quinn then that case is yet to be solved. I’m glad they didn’t leave us in suspense. I felt like it could have been a disaster if they tried to out do last years “shock factor” just because they could. Season 3 didn’t leave us in suspense…and then there was season 4. I expect (and hope) it will be the same with season 6.

  21. No he won’t! But Quinn will find the envelope and than get even more suspicious of Dex for Stan’s disappearance/ murder. What happens then ?

  22. Not impressed with season 5. Lumen character is poor and her exit laughable. Lumen brings nothing to an otherwise great progamme. I hope s6 gets back on track with the excellent earlier series.

  23. Just watched the season 5 finale, so I thought I’d look up some reviews. Don’t agree at all with this one. Seems my tastes are exactly the opposite of the writer. The only thing I didn’t like was Jordan Chase. Eh. Nothing complex in the portrayal or the character. I am not a Juila Stiles fan, but Lumen worked for me. I did not find Deb’s discovery of Dex behind the plastic to be heavy-handed – I thought it was perfect. I was not left wondering at all what Quin thought of Dexter. He knows he’s up to something but loves Deb enough and was happy enough to have his own butt saved, to be cool with it. Lumen’s good-bye – while sudden, was perfect and touching. Particularly the line about him carrying her darkness for her.
    The reviews last line about expecting exquisite storytelling is so pretentious as to make me think I would greatly dislike the screenranter. :)

    • I have commented on this season ending before and mentioned how hot I thought Luman was! Recently caught The Bourne Ultimatum on TV and she wasn’t that much of an impact – but I stand by Juila Stiles in Dexter Season 5!

      She was super hot – and a great character – and I liked her acting, perfectly aligned with how someone should behave (or at least I think so)after being kidnapped and kept in a dungeon / room type environment!

      Thinking back – it’s been a while, but I tink Jordan Chase was more of an anti climax!

      Happy Hunting Dex – Season 6!

  24. This reviewer either didn’t watch the season or is incoherent. Lumen was a great character and Julia Stiles did a magnificent job portraying her. Lack of angst? not in this season, the reviewer either needs counseling or a new job….

  25. While Dexter Season 5 received some criticism, it was actually one of my favourites. Dexter finally connects with someone ‘normal and good’ who cares for him despite the fact that he has this ‘dark side’. Additionally, Lumen appreciates Dexter for all that he is which provides him with positive reinforcement. This reminds me of the notion that ultimately your perfect mate will be that person with whom you trust enough to reveal to them your greatest weakness and who not only accepts you for all your strengths and weaknesses but fills the role of helping you to live with or overcome your weaknesses. In a perfect world, Lumen would probably be a pretty good match for Dexter and they would live happily ever, after as they say, but of course this is a television series and it works in stages to, with each new episode, explore a new aspect of Dexter’s awareness and acceptance of himself. Big props to the writers, the actors and the producers, as well as everyone else (e.g. set up folks) for creating such a captivating show. Special thanks to Michael C. Hall for just being absolutely amazing!!!

  26. My husband and I have just finished all seasons from 1-5. Season 6 is on back order! Wow, what a great show! BUT, after watching all seasons and the finale of season 4, we both felt let down by season 5. Lumen’s character was not cast correctly. The actress was not convincing and at times we had a hard time getting through the episodes. While watching this season, we were afraid that she would become a regular on the show, which would have caused us to lose interest. We were actually quite happy during the finale when she decided to leave. We have seen the trailer for season 6 and can’t wait for the DVD to come in…AND, of course we will be watching in September! Way to go, writers of DEXTER!