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" gives "Dexter - Season 5" a 7.5."
Written by on 24 August 2013.
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Dexter - Season 5

After a great first season of 'Dexter', I was, like many others, very much intrigued by the series’ namesake. The search for the origins of what Dexter calls his dark passenger, like it has been done in the first season, offers the potential of a great character study. Unfortunately, the writers had something entirely different in mind for the show's second and third season. But then there was the fourth season, in which Dexter becomes fascinated by the Trinity Killer, and the shows’ focus returned to Dexter’s struggle to find his true self once more. The season ends with a chilling climax in which Trinity kills Dexter’s wife. Enough material to draw from for the fifth season, to go deeper into the impact this has on Dexter and his lifestyle, one would think. But I am not entirely sure the show succeeds in doing just this.

According to the showrunners, this season will be about Dexter’s journey through the seven steps of the grieving process. The first episode starts right where the previous season has left off. Dexter is trying hard to be a good father, because like Harry tells him, his children will be his salvation if he ever hopes to live a normal life. But Dexter wouldn’t be Dexter if he didn’t feel the need to open Pandora’s box once more. And what comes out of it is more than he could have ever imagined.

At his first kill after Rita's death, a guy that goes by the name of Boyd Fowler, Dexter discovers this man’s next victim in the house, Lumen Pierce. (The writers, however, seem to have forgotten that Dexter kills a guy in a toilet in the first episode, one that doesn’t even fit the code). The two of them bond over their mutual pain and one by one they start to track down and take out Fowler’s accomplices, which contributes to Lumen's healing process, as well as Dexter's grieving process. He puts it into words by saying he can’t take revenge for Rita’s death, but he can avenge what happened to Lumen.

In the meanwhile, Quinn is juggling two Morgans at once; not only is his romance with Debra being revived, he also starts suspecting that Dexter might have played a bigger part in Rita's death than it seems. He calls in the help of the recently unemployed Liddy, whom he pays to follow Dexter. Fortunately, Quinn is a much lazier cop than Doakes, or his love for Debra is stronger than his suspicions of Dexter, either way, he gives up quite quickly. Liddy on the other hand smells blood and keeps tracking Dexter. This initially less entertaining storyline proves to be much more exciting than expected when it comes to a confrontation between the two. The ease with which Dexter takes out Liddy is more of an anticlimax, even though Quinn’s involvement promises an interesting starting point for next season. The central storylines concerning the day to day police work fell a bit flat this season, in my opinion. And I will not even get into the relationship problems between Batista and La Guerta, which flatten the initially interesting characters.

After the climax of the fourth season, I had high hopes for the fifth, but I also acknowledge the difficulties of following that. A super villain like Trinity is hard to exceed and, altogether, this season's villains (Boyd Fowler, Jordan Chase, and Stan Liddy) were quite a smart solution to that and certainly kept me on the tip of my seat quite a few times.

Nonetheless, the writers seem to have little interest in exploring the psyche of a serial killer once again, and the series sticks to the conventions of the traditional cop show, even though it’s being done from the vigilante's point of view. Dexter’s connection to Lumen derives from his desire to find someone who sees him for who he really is but we have seen this in so many previous seasons that I wish they had tried a different angle this time.

So, the writers have found a way to tell a story with the same elements and following the same set of conventions each season. Does that make 'Dexter' boring to watch? Certainly not. The storylines are well-written overall and more importantly: exciting. 'Dexter' is definitely better than the average series but does 'Dexter' reach its full potential with that? I, for one, believe that there is so much more to go on with such an interesting theme as a righteous serial killer. But I am afraid we will have to wait for that till the very last season.
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