Reviews of First Blood (05:05), Everything is Illumenated (05:06), Circle Us (05:07), Take It! (05:08), Teenage Wasteland (05:09), In the Beginning (05:10), Hop a Freighter (05:11) and The Big One (05:12)
Dexter’s fifth season is certainly its strangest. It starts with the aftermath of Rita’s murder and trips its way to a somewhat cathartic ending. New characters emerge, but they can never quite fit into the routine of the show. As the credits roll on the 12th and final episode, it’s hard not to think that season five is the show’s weakest.
The central problem is that Lumen Ann Pierce (Julia Stiles) feels too much like Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits). The two characters only lasted one season, and, in their own way, they are victims of a heinous crime. Miguel lost his brother and wanted retribution in season three, while Lumen is the victim of a horrible network of rapists and torturers. If Lumen had come first, perhaps she would have seemed more interesting and engaging. But, in season five, the entire character simply floats by without leaving too much of an impression.
And that’s a real shame. The side of the victim is a side that is too often missing from the Showtime series. Lumen, if handled correctly and written well, could have shed a light on the other side of these crimes. Instead, Lumen buddies up with Dexter and becomes a vigilante, just as bloodthirsty as her original attackers. That might make for splashy television, but it cheapens a golden opportunity to base this sensationalistic show in some needed reality.
Perhaps the outlandish premise of the series has finally caught up with itself. It was bound to happen: Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) can’t be a serial killer forever. He makes too many mistakes and his insatiable lust for blood bumps up against too many police investigations.
One has to wonder how the Miami Homicide Division could be so blind to a traitor among its ranks. They seem like able, qualified professionals — heck, they even crouch down at crime scenes with their hands on their hips, like David Caruso. That must make them decent detectives. Then why has everyone, except maybe Quinn (Desmond Harrington), left Dexter off the suspect list?
Think about this: His wife was murdered. His sister’s first-season lover was murdered (and was a murderer). His sister’s next lover was murdered. His mother was murdered. His step-children’s father was found mysteriously dead. He’s got access to all the murder files, blood samples and police equipment. He’s routinely checked out reports and made phone calls to fellow officers about suspects who eventually died.
This refusal to investigate is frustrating, but I understand that the series will end once Dexter is found (unless we’re in store for a prison murder series!). This makes everyone look stupid, except for Quinn, who probably is the only character to blossom in the fifth season. His dealings with Stan Liddy (Peter Weller) are interesting and almost get right to the heart of the truth. Plus, Quinn is the only person in homicide still looking into Trinity and the Mitchell family, a glaring hole that for some reason is dusted under the carpet.
I do still enjoy Debra (Jennifer Carpenter). She has taken a great leadership role around the office, and her square down with Lt. Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) is nicely handled. Vince Masuka (C.S. Lee) and Sgt. Angel Batista (David Zayas) don’t progress one bit in season five. There was one point where I honestly forgot that Batista and LaGuerta are married.
The worst victims are Dexter’s son and stepchildren. They are whisked away without a second thought. Their relocation to Orlando and safe haven with the new nanny (Maria Doyle Kennedy) are the definitions of convenient storytelling.
Jonny Lee Miller does offer a scarily effective portrait as Jordan Chase, a motivational speaker with a sordid past. But his story arc comes too late in the season, and his malevolence is not allowed to percolate like Trinity’s.
Dexter needs to take a breath and get back to the basics. The detectives need to conduct typical detective work. Dexter needs to calm down on the killing. Everyone needs to take a chill pill. For season six, let’s kill one thing and one thing only: Exaggeration.
By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
Starring Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, C.S. Lee, Desmond Harrington, Lauren Vélez and David Zayas