DVD Review – Dexter: The Complete Fifth Season

Developed by James Manos, Jr.
Starring Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Desmond Harrington & Julia Stiles

WARNING: This review contains spoilers.

Everyone’s favourite serial killer returns after the blinding season four finale that left Dexter (Hall) (and the rest of us) reeling. The season picks up where it left off, with Dexter holding his blood soaked son and poor Rita (Julie Benz) dead in the bath. The first few episodes are really quite slow, but the performances – particularly that of Michael C. Hall – are impeccable, heartbreaking and complex. Even with his duties as blood spatter analyst and trying to figure out his new role as a single dad, Dexter’s ‘dark passenger’ can’t stay quiet for long and he is soon on the hunt for a new victim. The search leads him to Boyd Fowler (Shawn Hatosy), a sadist who kills women and stuffs their bodies in barrels. Dexter gets more than he bargained for when he discovers someone witnessed him murdering Boyd – Boyd’s last victim, Lumen Pierce (Stiles). Lumen joins forces with Dexter and asks for his help tracking down the group of men who raped and tortured her. The investigation leads them to sickening motivational speaker Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller).

The series’ tone is somewhat uneven, and not helped by the frankly unnecessary plot of the ‘Santa Muerte’ killings. However Dexter the show like Dexter himself is very complicated. Standout episodes include First Blood, Circle Us and Take It! I tend to get tired of the plots not directly involving Dexter – the crumbling marriage of LaGuerta and Batista (Lauren Velez and David Zayas) for instance, but they do not take much time. The main issue with the series is having to suspend your disbelief quite so much. Lumen is strangely fine knowing who Dexter really is, Dexter’s supposedly ‘part time’ nanny is really far too wonderful, and the resolutions are as neat as ever, with Dexter never facing the consequences of his actions. But really its main downfall is that it doesn’t really live up to the last series – but that was so well done I wonder if they ever can.

Julia Stiles does a good job as Lumen, and Jonny Lee Miller does very well with surprisingly little screen time or lines. But the standout performance of the series has to be Jennifer Carpenter as Debra. She has been through an awful lot in this show and I am desperate for her to have a good time for once! But in the final episode we see all of Debs’ previous pain come to the surface when she sympathises with Lumen, allowing her and Dexter to get away (of course, never actually seeing their faces.) The scene is tense to the point of grip-your-chair, hold-your-breath, and she pulls it off amazingly.

Overall not as good as last season but hard to see how anything could be – well worth your time and money!

4/5

Extras

Disappointing lack thereof. No commentaries (I do love a good commentary). A few interesting featurettes, the ’20 questions’ feature irritated me – it’s essentially 20 questions with various contributors, each question gets about 1 minute but instead of watching it all in one 20 minute go you have to go through the menu picking each one. Really annoying, I wanted to stop after 5 minutes. Nothing really substantial – very disappointing!

1/5

Dexter: The Complete Fifth Season is available on DVD & BluRay from 05/09/11

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