Tonight, America’s favorite serial killer returns as Dexter season 5 begins. Following the shocking events of the season 4 finale, fans of the series have been left waiting over nine months to see what’s next. With the loss of Rita, the only person that made Dexter feel human, the moniker given to this season, “Now What?,” couldn’t be more appropriate.
With season 5 proverbially setting sail, one has to wonder what Dexter producers have in store for us. Following one of the most terrific displays of storytelling and acting on television last year, it’s going to be hard to top the John Lithgow and the Trinity Killer storyline. Fortunately, with Sara Colleton, John Goldwyn and the addition of former 24 executive producer Chip Johannessen, we’re in good hands.
Instead of just a single big-bad that’s even more nefarious than Trinity, the producers have promised three big-bads will take his place. While three may sound like they’re attempting to do too much at once, I assure you that from the episodes that I’ve seen, they’re handling it perfectly.
Preview (courtesy of Showtime)
In the aftermath of last season’s chilling finale, Rita’s death has left Dexter feeling responsible - possibly even… guilty. Unable to deal with the trauma, Dexter makes a drastic decision that will impact everyone around him. Quinn stirs up trouble at the station when he notes that Rita’s murder, which is being pinned on the Trinity Killer, doesn’t fit his normal murder profile. Things get even more heated when Quinn suggests to LaGuerta that they look at the husband, Dexter Morgan. Meanwhile, Quinn offers Debra much needed support, causing her to see Quinn in a new light.
Review [SPOILERS AHEAD]
Picking up immediately after the events of the season 4 finale, the Dexter season 5 premiere can be described as a direct continuation. For the most part this episode completely diverges from the typical layout and plot progression that one would expect from this series. There is no intended target or an introduction of a soon to be Saran wrapped nemesis. Instead, this episode is focused directly on Dexter’s reaction to Rita’s death and how someone completely void of emotions copes with the loss of the one person who made him feel human.
Dexter’s progression through the season premiere is truly the rawest representation of his inability to exhibit human emotions. Though past seasons have touched upon this, it has never been so apparent until now. The level at which Dexter is unable to display even the most rudimentary of emotions can, at times, be extremely disturbing as it is the first time that we, the viewers, see the true extent of his emotional paralysis.
Following Dexter’s unintentional proclamation of “I did it” to the first officer arriving on the scene, it’s obvious that our inscrutable blood spatter analyst is physically, mentally and emotionally shaken – an unwelcome response, no doubt, to someone who has survived solely by controlling such behavior. Fortunately, in this moment and many, many subsequent moments in this episode, Deb is there to rescue Dexter from himself. In true Deb fashion, she gives the FBI a few expletives mixed with some suggestions on where certain objects may be shoved and buys Dexter some time to reflect on recent events and attempt to compose himself.
Of course, with Rita being Trinity’s final victim, Arthur Mitchell’s family searching for the illusive Kyle Butler and a storage locker filled with killing tools and blood slides, there’s no time to do anything but cover his tracks - something that serves to only further worsen an already imbalanced serial killer.
And then there are Cody and Astor…
When we last saw them, they were going to Disney World with Paul’s parents. As the two motherless children return from a fun-filled vacation to Dexter’s apartment, something is noticeably amiss. When Cody and Astor question Rita’s absence, Dexter reveals to them the fate of their mother in a scene so shocking that it could possibly surpass Rita’s bloody death scene. After a few moments of stalling, Dexter matter-of-factly states, “A man came into our house, your mother came home and he killed her.” Adding to the already unsympathetic telling of their mother’s final moments, Dexter attempts to simulate actual, human emotions by repeating something he heard while at the funeral home making arraignments for Rita’s funeral, “I am sorry for your loss.”
While Dexter may proudly state that he is good with children, this moment most certainly contradicts that statement. And, as children, they have no problem expressing their observations to the apathetic Dexter Morgan. As Astor runs to her grandparent’s car, she cries, “...I can tell just by looking at you that you don’t even care.” This accurate observation by a grieving child serves to propel Dexter, and his dark passengers, into literal and metaphorical dark waters as he (and they) decide to run – from everything.
Of course, an episode of Dexter wouldn’t be complete if there wasn’t a small appearance from his dark passenger. Without giving much away, let’s just say that in this instance, Dexter’s dark passenger provides him with an outlet to deal with all of his pent-up emotions. Although, I’m not sure that this particular brand of therapy follows any of Harry’s rules.
In the end, the season 5 premiere of Dexter is a supplement to last season’s finale rather an introduction to a new season. While that may initially turn off viewers if it were any other series, I have no doubt that right now what Dexter fans want to see is the conclusion and final goodbye of the late, great, Rita Morgan.
[Side note: There is a scene early on where Masuka, kneeling next to Rita’s body in bathtub, comments, “I imagined her naked plenty of times, but nothing like this.” Not only was this in poor taste from the writers, but completely contrary to Masuka’s character, especially towards someone like Rita. Throughout the many times that I’ve watched the premiere, that scene repeatedly bothered me.]
Fans of Dexter have been waiting over nine months to see the season 5 premiere. Fortunately, it completely delivers in every way possible. For those that are looking for the next big-bad and/or plot twist, I’m happy to say that episodes two and three will provide you with both… and Dexter’s life will never be the same – again.
-Dexter airs Sunday's @9pm, on Showtime
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