[Blu-ray Review] ‘Dexter: The Fifth Season’

The third season of Showtime’s Dexter was a low-point for the series, carrying less conflict and more face-palming close calls than ever, so it makes sense that in a way, the fifth season is a redo. Deborah is still seconds behind America’s favorite serial killer as he allows his dark passenger to take hold, but it’s almost as if someone realized that having his partner-in-crime and enemy as the same character wasn’t as interesting as they hoped (Lord knows they tried by having Dexter kill Miguel Prado’s brother, causing the Assistant District Attorney to go AWOL), so they tried again by splitting them into two separate entities and casting the almost always enjoyable Julia Stiles as Lumen, his soul mate, pupil and quasi-replacement for Rita.
Warning: spoilers from here on out

Each season goes out with a bang of sorts and five’s biggest transgression is that the finale doesn’t really seem that significant, in the sense that you feel bad that Dexter is alone again but it’s very self-contained and practically wraps the series up with a nice bow. The blood-spatter analyst is still dealing with a lot of issues from previous storylines, such as Rita’s death, the permanent stain Arthur Mitchell has left on his life and the impact of the events on everyone else in the precinct.

Like Doakes in the second season, Quinn has become obsessed with Dexter’s flimsy alibis and aloofness and after becoming involved with Deborah, brings on Stan Liddy (Peter Weller). Weller is great as the disgruntled ex-cop out to prove himself as a valuable investigator, though the inconsistencies brought up because of his storyline aren’t welcome. This season is about Dexter redeeming himself and the aftermath of the Trinity Killer on everyone around him, so why is Deborah not in mourning over Lundy? She has a love interest in every season, but she has had no time to heal; Dexter, on the other hand, has never had a love interest on a spiritual level that he could reveal his true self to, so it makes sense in his case. Deb is also seems shocked than Quinn – someone she considers a good cop – could’ve potentially murdered some people; it’s like she completely forgot about Doakes.

The infrequent use of Harry (James Remar) seemed a bit strange at first, then even stranger when he didn’t appear when Dexter needed him most. He shows up to pat his adopted son on the back for developing “normal” emotions, but chastises him for wanting to rescue Lumen because of his attachment to her. Not only do these actions contradict each other during the same season, but it’s disconnected from precedents that have been set before it. Dexter is supposed to SEEM normal, not actually be normal; that’s part of the appeal.

For all the things they touch upon from last season, the missing Fuentes brother is never brought up, nor are the workplace promotions from last season, but in the wake of the Trinity Killer, that’s excusable. If only the same disregard was used for Angel and Maria’s relationship, which has never been anything more than a poor excuse for a subplot that goes absolutely nowhere and has no bearing on the main storyline whatsoever.

The Bonnie and Clyde relationship between Dexter and Lumen works spectacularly. Without the early hesitation to embrace Dexter and her dark passenger, the character would’ve fallen apart; Lumen doesn’t know him at all and it would’ve felt rushed and unnatural. The boss-battle hierarchy of Lumen’s aggressors was an appropriate approach to the eventual resurrection of normalcy, but her departure from the show feels premature. It’s warranted in a self-contained scenario, but not in a season that was all about branching out and exploring the series’ mythos.

As beloved as Dexter is, the close calls are becoming harder and harder to swallow. Seinfeld knew when to call it quits and so should he. There’s only so many more high profile cases he can be directly involved with before someone finds out and when they do, it should be Deborah who lifts the curtain, bringing the jealousy of her brother’s relationship with Harry and living in her father’s shadows full circle.

Showtime’s Dexter: The Fifth Season looks as good on Blu-ray as previous seasons; kudos to Paramount, once again, for keeping the show’s transfers consistent. Most of Dexter takes place at night and in shadows as he slinks around, dispatching foes, and the 1080p encode has deep, varied blacks along with excellent shadow contrast. These scenes are occasionally grainier than they should be and a tad murky, but daytime colors are vivid, edging out the Showtime HD airings. Same goes for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1, which gives a crisp and clear representation of both the dialogue and Daniel Licht’s score. The extras – available via B-D Live only – were unavailable at the time of this review, but they include interviews with various cast members, Reflecting on Season Five: Julia Stiles and episodes one and two of The Borgias and Episodes.

Score: 4/5
Blu-ray: 3/5