Dismembering the Dead: an Examination of Dexter Season 5

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We’ve come to it. Yup this is where the biggest change for the show has come. Yes, I am talking about that between Season 4 and 5 Michael C Hall was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease and took off from filming for his recover making him look visibly older than before. Oh also there was a big twist at the end of season 5 that shakes up the dynamic of the show, and the last season for show runner before He takes over.

Now doing actual research this is the end of the era for good Dexter. Similar to last season I can see why that could be. The last season ended on a big twist that Trinity found out who he was and killed his wife, leaving his son in her blood, now Dexter must come to terms with that just in time for him to stumble upon the victim of a serial rape group. Now he must work with the victim to take revenge for what was done to her as well as outwit a dirty cop sicked on him by Quinn.

During all of this Angel and LaGuerta deal with relationship problems after their rash marriage, and Deb deal with the responsibility of being a detective and dating Quinn.

This season might be overall better than season 4, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. Season 4 was so compelling because John Lithgow was such a presence. He was a clear threat from both a physical and thematic level. The ring of murdering rapists lead by a self help guru played by the guy who is Sherlock on Elementary, not so much. Though, their plot functions are the same they act on a different thematic level.

John Lithgow’s Trinity was used to show what Dexter could be. Trinity was a monster like Dexter, but treated those around him as shields for that monstrosity. Dexter sees the horror of that in him. Jordan Chase and his merry band of rapists are more of an obstacle for Lumen, their victim to overcome and change. Dexter’s role instead is to train her. Dexter actually brings up Miguel, which is nice cause it seems like they want to forget that season existed, in comparing them.

The difference is that Miguel saw Dexter as a tool for his own ambitions. Lumen, meanwhile, is out for revenge. She sees Dexter as a mentor and eventually friend who helps her cope with her trauma. Dexter sees her in a similar way, but also sees her as his true soulmate.

It would be nice to think that Dexter loved Rita. I am sure he did, but they did not connect in the same way. Rita was some Dexter could escape to. Lumen is a person he could go to. It makes it all the more sad that in helping her, he loses that person in his life. It’s all so interesting and layered.

This season also tasks Rita’s children to act, specifically her oldest, Astor. It works on a story level. Dexter needs to be a single dad. That is not nearly as well explored since he has the safety net of Rita’s ex-husband’s parents there to literally move the kids away. It makes it far less interesting than it could be, but what is done with Dexter and Astor coming to terms is good. It’s a real shame they aren’t good actors. I guess it is good they aren’t more in the season.

Debra working as lead detective and coming to terms with what that means is nice. Her quest to become a detective was well earned. Now that she has to take responsibility and deal with LaGuerta in full it becomes a mix of well realized and groan inducing. The season starts fine. She must look for a group of religious killers in a Hispanic neighborhood and take a rookie on to help. It could be really good to see her train, but after a disastrous failed apprehension of the killers the rookie mysteriously leaves the show. The plot line is dropped, and Deb is placed in records just long enough to realize the main plot with Dexter and Lumen exists. It does not all fee earned. Especially a moment between LaGuerta and Deb where they needs to bond over trust. All falls flat.

It falls flat because LaGuerta is the worst. It’s not the acting. The acting is fine. She just flips between different ends of unreasonable. Sometimes she is too stubborn, other times she is too flippant. There is a whole subplot about her watching out for Angel after a bar fight that only happens because she is so bad at communication. It makes Angel a worse character because he does not bring out what is great about LaGuerta. Angel, as a guy, is still great, but he doesn’t get a lot to do.

Oh yeah, Quinn and his attack dog Liddy, played by Robocop himself Peter Weller. It’s honestly forgettable. Quinn removes himself quickly just to become a reluctant part of Liddy’s scheme to rejoin the police force after he is busted by LaGuerta in the above mentioned subplot. The issue is that it’s unclear why Quinn doesn’t pursue Dexter more. He suspects something between Dexter and Trinity, and is correct but stops. The problem is that he doesn’t talk a lot. Dexter, the character, has the same problem. We are just lucky cause he tells us his thoughts in narration. Quinn meanwhile does not. It makes the side plot feel wasted. Dexter literally just finds out it exists. So much wasted potential. It does have a good payoff.

In the end the day is saved. Lumen goes home, Dexter and Astor bond, and Harrison has a birthday party. It’s a good ending that has Dexter reaffirm how hard it is to make connections.

Now, i mentioned He takes over. I am referring to Scott Buck of Iron Fist and Inhumans infamy. It will take time to watch the show to see if it is as bad as those shows since his episodes on Dexter are not that bad. Only watching will tell.

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