Some minor spoilers follow
When we last saw Dexter, he had an optimistic outlook on life even after the loss of his wife and partner-in-crime, and was seemingly content with raising his son and developing some sort of normalcy in his life. Well, normalcy aside from the fact that he moonlights as an avenging angel who takes down killers that have slipped through the cracks of the system.
The showrunners behind Dexter have given the blood splatter analyst a formidable opponent every season, to varying degrees of success. When Dexter was internally struggling to understand his father’s teachings and his family’s history, he was put up against his own brother, The Ice Truck Killer. When he was conflicted about whether his Dark Passenger would destroy his new “family,” he watched his worst case scenario play out before his eyes when he was taken in – in a sense – by Arthur Mitchell.
Considering the ethical and moral issues brought up every season, it’s almost a shock that it took six seasons to pit Dexter against a religious fanatic, but the circumstances have really never been better. Shocked by the physical and emotional loss of two companions, he’s faced with raising his son with the support of his sister and live-in babysitter instead of a mother and feels empty and hollow. From the beginning of the season, Dexter admits he believes in nothing while visiting a Catholic school for Harrison, but begins looking beyond his atheism when he meets Brother Sam, played by the always great Mos Def. His quest for something to believe in is juxtapositioned with the emergence of The Doomsday Killer (Edward James Olmos), a fanatical ex-professor who – along with an apprentice (Colin Hanks) – enacts signs of the apocalypse from the book of Revelation; doing awful things in the name of religion never goes out of style.
The sixth season stands tall among Dexter’s other escapades, with two reservations. The inclusion of Deborah’s incestuous dream, in which she sleeps with her brother, is brought up a handful of times during her psychiatric sessions and never stops feeling too bizarre and creepy for its own good. Dexter is inclined to believe in family over religious deities and since his sister is the only family he has left, the ties between the two siblings are as strong as they possibly can be when one of them is living a lie. The strength of the relationship is there, Deb’s daddy syndrome is there, but it just never works and as the season goes on, it’s almost like the producers realized they made a mistake and dialed it down severely. Whether those feelings will make a return next season due to what happens in the finale remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t be surprising.
Dexter also takes a detour in the middle of the season and investigates Arthur Mitchell’s son, who finds himself surrounded by death yet again. It’s relatively pointless within the context of the season and feels like lame filler; if it was cut out and the season was one episode less, no one would notice and the story arc would feel leaner. Still, the latest season of Dexter is good and gives fans a cliffhanger that’s been long overdue, but with one less episode and wet dream, it could have been great.
Showtime’s HD transfer for the sixth season of Dexter is on par with the other seasons released thus far. Shadow contrast is great, grain is a little heavy and splotchy in some scenes, and blacks are deep and varied. Sadly, the outdoor nighttime scenes are once again not up to snuff, but that can be attributed to the production value; they were a little murky during the Showtime HD airings, too. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track balances the sound effects and dialogue wonderfully, and gives Daniel Licht’s always top-notch score a nice robust presentation.
There’s a collection of interviews with the cast and crew of Dexter and episodes from other Showtime shows that can streamed via BD-Live, but they did not work at the time of this review. Judging from the few minutes of the C.S. Lee interview that worked, they seem of the back patting, floating head variety. BD-Live will always be a joke because you have to have your player hooked up to the internet to watch special features you paid for, and if you don’t have that capability on your player then you’re out of luck. The Dexter sets have never had great special features; maybe we’ll finally get some once the big mega-deluxe box set comes out after the series finale.